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altruism

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    Viruses Have a Secret, Altruistic Social Life

    Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. Social organisms come in all shapes and sizes, from the obviously gregarious ones like mammals and birds down to the more cryptic socializers like bacteria. Evolutionary biologists often puzzle over altruistic behaviors among them, because self-sacrificing individuals would at first seem to be at a severe disadvantage […]

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    Larry David and the Game Theory of Anonymous Donations

    What’s intriguing about anonymous giving, and other behaviors apparently designed to obscure good traits and acts, like modesty, is that it’s “hard to reconcile with standard evolutionary accounts of pro-social behavior.”Photograph by David Hume Kennerly / Getty In a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode from 2007, Larry David and his wife Cheryl and their friends attend […]

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    Hard-Wired for Heroism

    On August 21, 2015, Anthony Sadler, 23, a California college student, was riding a train from Amsterdam to Paris with his friends, Aleksander Skarlatos and Spencer Stone. Skarlatos was an Oregon National Guardsman on who had just wrapped up a tour in Afghanistan, and Stone, an American Airman 1st Class in the U.S. Air Force. […]

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    James Doty’s Helper’s High

    He gave away his last $30 million and felt free—a case study in altruism.

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    Internet Rage, the Flip Side of Selfless Heroism

    Human nature is one of those aspects of the world that can seem inexplicable, too varied and complicated to be pinned down by overarching explanations. On the one hand our species includes people like Garrett O’Hanlon, who was standing on a Manhattan subway platform one recent night when someone passed out onto the tracks right […]