|BBC News reporter Helen Briggs gushes and opines on some intriguing findings about 'altruism' (using the word as by scientific practice, instead of as by Rand) -- note that the actual article, 'Altruistic Helping in Human Infants and Young Chimpanzees' by Warneken & Tomasello in this week's Science looks like a good read, and doesn't natter on about altruism in the way that usually needles and irritates objectivists.|
In experiments reported in the journal Science, toddlers helped strangers complete tasks such as stacking books.
Young chimps did the same, providing the first direct evidence of altruism in non-human primates.
Altruism may have evolved six million years ago in the common ancestor of chimps and humans, the study suggests.
[ . . . ]
Scientists have long debated what leads people to "act out of the goodness of their hearts" by helping non-relatives regardless of any benefits for themselves.
Human society depends on people being able to collaborate with others - donating to charity, paying taxes and so on - and many scientists have argued that altruism is a uniquely human function, hard-wired into our brains.
The latest study suggests it is a strong human trait, perhaps present more than six million years ago in the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans.
Studies Show Chimps to Be Collaborative and Altruistic
Science Image: chimpanzee, chimp
Image: COURTESY OF E. HERRMANN
In the wild, chimpanzees have been known to hunt together, particularly when conditions dictate that a solo hunter will not be successful. Yet this does not prove that our nearest living relatives understand cooperation the same way that we do: such group hunts may simply be the product of independent and simultaneous actions by many individuals with little comprehension of the need for coordinated action to ensure success. A new study, however, shows for the first time that chimpanzees understand when cooperation is needed and how to go about securing it effectively. And another study shows they might even be willing to cooperate without hope of reward.
Is this a weak spot in the relationship between objectivist thought and science? Or is this merely an example of press gushery -- shoddy popular science reporting as usual?
See 132 further 'science news' reports.