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Author Topic: Selfless Chimps Shed Light on Evolution of Altruism  (Read 2252 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: July 27, 2007, 12:41:44 PM »

Selfless Chimps Shed Light on Evolution of Altruism

"Chimpanzees have now shown they can help strangers at personal cost without apparent expectation of personal gain, a level of selfless behavior often claimed as unique to humans. These new findings could shed light on the evolution of such altruism, researchers said. Scientists think altruism evolved to help either kin or those willing and able of returning the favor — to help either one's genetic heritage or oneself..."

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I'm a bit suprised by the reporting here. Some of the stuff that the article implies is new has been out for years (perhaps decades). However, I'm posting it because it's something that some people might be unfamiliar with (including, apparently, one of the science writers for Fox News.)
« Last Edit: July 27, 2007, 12:42:44 PM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2007, 02:17:26 PM »

Well, scientific research frequently confirms already known theories. However, it is interesting to note the German researcher's bias that children are inherently selfish. I've known this to often not be the case at all; many children, even very young children, will protect a child they feel is being threatened. Oh, sure, they may whack each other over possession of a toy occasionally, but the sense of community seems to be there from very early on. I've known children in a classroom setting to help each other with the work regardless of whether there's a reward (such as extra recess) or threat of collective punishment (such as taking away recess). They even at times help children they normally don't get along with. These are informal observations and certainly don't amount to scientific research by any means, but it is interesting to see.

Note: Though I normally teach eighth grade and up, I have taught as young as kindergarten, so I have some experience in this area.
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2007, 03:17:36 PM »

Reminds me of the book "Lord of the Flies," where you can have a mixed baggage of trouble of children who are alone and rule on their own (of course the symbolism in that book is amazing).
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2007, 12:56:33 PM »


I'm a bit suprised by the reporting here. Some of the stuff that the article implies is new has been out for years (perhaps decades).

Me, too. I know that info has been in my college's textbooks for a while now.

That's interesting to know about children, though. My psychology professor still maintained that children were, for the most part, self-absorbed, and that a positive-reward system of discipline (where you give them something they want for being good) was the best system to use to exploit a child's selfishness.

Reminds me of the book "Lord of the Flies," where you can have a mixed baggage of trouble of children who are alone and rule on their own (of course the symbolism in that book is amazing).

Indeed Smiley

It seems like in that book it was a mixed bag of altruism and selfishness going on...just like life, I guess.
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2007, 12:40:17 AM »

little kids are monsters. I taught them, raised 'em.  From day one they are self-centered and for the first 15 yrs are the center of the universe, that is why they have to struggle with self - this was said by Elder Charalambos.
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2007, 01:07:35 AM »

One of the symbols for Christ in Western Christianity was the Pelican, because it was believed that this bird would altruistically shed it's own blood to feed it's young. So it seems that Religion knew that animals could be altruistic before Science did.  Tongue Wink





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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2007, 06:59:22 AM »

One of the symbols for Christ in Western Christianity was the Pelican, because it was believed that this bird would altruistically shed it's own blood to feed it's young. So it seems that Religion knew that animals could be altruistic before Science did.  Tongue Wink





Actually, Christ is called a pelican in the set of Lamentations from Holy Saturday Orthros - so its not just a Western Christian thing. And I believe that the blood of the mother/father Pelican can save the young from poisoning, which is why they will shed it (the way it was explained to me by Fr. Frank Marangos - if one of the children is attacked by a poisonous snake, the parent will rush to the baby, stick its beak into its chest, rip open its chest and feed the child with blood; the child will live because of the blood, but the parent will die.
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2007, 08:54:42 AM »

And come to think of it, I now remember seeing the image of the Christ Pelican on the right side of the gate tower of Philotheou Monastery on the Holy Mountain.
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2007, 12:28:52 PM »

And come to think of it, I now remember seeing the image of the Christ Pelican on the right side of the gate tower of Philotheou Monastery on the Holy Mountain. 

That's really interesting!  I still need to find an opportunity to go to the Holy Mountain at some point (preferably sooner rather than later).
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2007, 03:57:04 PM »

This experiment is measuring reproductive altruism, the kind where personal chances of reproduction are reduced by physical injury etc., but overall personal happiness is intended to increase, not pure altruism in which the net amount of pleasure would go down rather than up when an action is made for another. The second kind would be much more difficult to prove and may not even exist. The article seems to confuse the two.
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Tags: evolution  altruism  morality 
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