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Altruism is simpler than we thought?

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From Eurekalert:

The reason people act altruistically is well contested among academics. Some argue that people are innately selfish and the only way to override our greedy tendencies is to exercise self-control. Others are more positive, believing that humans naturally find generosity rewarding and that we only act selfishly when we pause to think about it. The Caltech model suggests that neither side fits all; both generosity and selfishness can be fast and effortless. But it depends on the person and the context.

“We take a very simple model of choice that’s been developed for predicting perceptual decisions–like whether a dot is moving left or right–and adapt it to capture generosity,” says lead author Cendri Hutcherson, who did the work as a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology and now directs the Decision Neuroscience Lab at the University of Toronto. “With this simple model, we are able to explain a huge host of previously confusing patterns about how people make altruistic choices.” More.

Great. Can they put this in a can and market it to people who have a lot of trouble recruiting volunteers?

If these people can’t reverse the downward trend in volunteerism, forget them.

See also: An evolutionary challenge: explaining away compassion, philanthropy, and self-sacrifice

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9 Replies to “Altruism is simpler than we thought?

  1. 1
    55rebel says:

    Funny… our only five human motivators are: Jealousy, Vanity, Greed Lust and Fear. These are God given, BTW.

    Love is NOT an emotion, or motivator, but rather… an modus operandi of sorts; a set of rules/laws that one abides by, that controls/governs these Five God given motivators.

    There is NOTHING, inherently wrong, with these five human motivators, other than the fact, that there are way too many unsound minds running around, giving these motivators a bad rap 😛

    “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the council of saints is understanding: for to know the law is the character of a sound mind.”

    I am selfish, but not heartless.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    55rebel as to:

    “Love is NOT an emotion, or motivator, but rather… an modus operandi of sorts; a set of rules/laws that one abides by,,”

    I have to disagree. I don’t disagree that love should control/govern our actions. But I disagree with the sterile belief that that is all love is. i.e. That Love is ONLY a set of rules/laws that one abides by.

    This quote from a NDE and this bible verse should get my sentiment across to you as to how much more love is than just a set of rules/laws:

    “The only human emotion I could feel was pure, unrelenting, unconditional love. Take the unconditional love a mother has for a child and amplify it a thousand fold, then multiply exponentially. The result of your equation would be as a grain of sand is to all the beaches in the world. So, too, is the comparison between the love we experience on earth to what I felt during my experience. This love is so strong, that words like “love” make the description seem obscene. It was the most powerful and compelling feeling. But, it was so much more. I felt the presence of angels. I felt the presence of joyous souls, and they described to me a hundred lifetimes worth of knowledge about our divinity. Simultaneous to the deliverance of this knowledge, I knew I was in the presence of God. I never wanted to leave, never.”
    Judeo-Christian Near Death Experience Testimony

    1 John 4:8
    Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    So love is clearly much more than JUST a set of rules/laws.
    In fact, according to the Bible, Love is a person and that person is God.

    Of related interest, since God is ‘maximally great love’, and love of one’s own self is the very antithesis of love, then God must necessarily exist in more than one person.

    This following video refines the Ontological argument into a proof that, because of the characteristic of ‘maximally great love’, God must exist in more than one person:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

    A few supplemental notes:

    ABC News – The Science Behind the Healing Power of Love – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t1p-PwGgE4

    Social isolation and its health implications January 2012
    Excerpt: Studies show that social isolation and/or loneliness predict morbidity and mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other diseases. In fact, the body perceives loneliness as a threat. Research from the University of California suggests that loneliness or lack of social support could triple the odds of being diagnosed with a heart condition. Redford Williams and his colleagues at Duke University directed a study in 1992 on heart patients and their relationships. They discovered that 50% of patients with heart disease who did not have a spouse or someone to confide in died within five years, while only 17% of those who did have a confidante died in the same time period.12
    http://www.how-to-be-healthy.o.....lications/

    Human brains are hardwired for empathy, friendship, study shows, – August 22, 2013
    Excerpt: “Perhaps one of the most defining features of humanity is our capacity for empathy – the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. A new University of Virginia study strongly suggests that we are hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us – friends, spouses, lovers – with our very selves. “With familiarity, other people become part of ourselves,” said James Coan, a U.Va. psychology professor in the College of Arts & Sciences who used functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to find that people closely correlate people to whom they are attached to themselves. …”Our self comes to include the people we feel close to,” Coan said. …”The finding shows the brain’s remarkable capacity to model self to others; that people close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it’s very real.”
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....dship.html

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 5:8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    The Judds – Love Is Alive – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lFgBw6-HAg

  3. 3
    55rebel says:

    “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

    If you can’t love Him (keep is commandments), then who are you really capable of loving, bornagain?…
    If I want to know the essence (crux | truth) of something, I always turn to scripture…
    And everywhere I see love defined in scripture, it is always associated with His commandments–the law.

    What you are trying to describe here, is simply a combination of one or more of those 5 human motivators, period. These are where ALL our emotions/feelings come from. If you really stopped and actually analyzed those emotions/feelings, you would inevitably come to the same conclusion. These natural motivators… are NOT evil! You are relying on man’s false understanding (philosophy), for your own understanding. This is why there is so much confusion about love; no one is able to truly define it. “The whole world is being deceived” — Revelation 12:9…. right now, as we speak….on this subject.

    Sin is the opposite of Love….No?
    And what is sin, but the transgression of the LAW.
    It’s a no-brainer bornagain.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    55rebel, like I said, I don’t disagree that love should control/govern our actions. Not in the least. But I do disagree with the sterile belief that that is all love is. i.e. That Love is ONLY a set of rules/laws that one abides by.

    For instance, Is it even possible to truly love rules against jay-walking or speeding? Surely no one really ‘loves’ sterile rules against speeding, especially when they are trying to get their pregnant wife to the hospital?

    Love is so MUCH, MUCH, more than just a set of sterile rules and laws that are written in stone.

    IMHO, To equate love with ONLY ‘a set of rules/laws that one abides by’ is to lose something very important in the translation.

    Like I also pointed out before, the Bible also states that God IS love.

    1 John 4:8
    Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    Thus, since ‘God is love’, then that makes love a living Person. And since God is the ultimate source of all life then that also makes love the ultimate source of all life.

    The Bible, besides not saying that love is ONLY a set of rules/laws to abide by, also states that love is a commodity that you can possess, i.e. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

    In other words, love is not only something that a person does, i.e. to Love God with all your heart, mind strength and soul, and your neighbor as yourself, but the Bible also states that love is an object that you can possess. Love is something that you can ‘have’.

    yet, the funny thing about love being both a possession that you can have and an action that you can take is that in order to truly have the possession of love you must give it away in order to keep it! 🙂

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Music and Verse:

    K-LOVE – For King & Country “The Proof Of Your Love” LIVE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr9YVD05x8M

    1 Corinthians 13: 1-8
    If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
    Love never fails.,,,

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    OT:

    The Majestic Power of a Humpback Whale – video (Illustra Media video clip from new documentary ‘Living Waters’)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgwZZkQ4zgQ

    When It Comes to a Humpback Breaching, “The Language Fails” – July 18, 2015
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....97861.html

  7. 7
    tarmaras says:

    I found a treatment of the game theoretical approach to altruism and evolution in Dalela’s Sankhya and Science: Applications of Vedic Philosophy to Modern Science, Chapter 6: Applying Vedic Ideas. Any thoughts?

    Game Theory and Altruism

    Morality was foreseen as a problem in evolution early on. Evolutionists saw that many animal species are altruistic even to their own detriment. If the intent of the gene is selfish then how does the altruistic behavior come about? The behaviors of collections of rational individuals are often modeled using Game Theory (GT) and this has been brought to bear on the evolutionary genesis of altruism as well. A fundamental premise in GT is that every individual acts for maximizing their payoff, and so evolutionary game theorists attempt to see if sometimes the payoff for even a selfishly acting individual may be maximized by acting altruistically. In general, if each player knows the alternatives of its opponents, GT shows that every game settles into one of two main possibilities. Either the population is stabilized at the Nash Equilibrium where no player in a group is benefitted by changing their strategy unilaterally. Or, if the game has not settled into a Nash Equilibrium, then the evolutionary process actually favors the selfish. Therefore, if actors are rational there is no incentive to be altruistic in games with full information available.

    However, it can also be shown that altruistic behavior dominates in a group if the majority of the group is altruistic to begin with. The payoffs for the majority are higher by being altruistic and the minority also sees that being altruistic increases their payoffs. This is because even an altruistic group will settle down into a Tit-for-Tat (TFT) strategy and reward the altruist and punish the selfish. In other words, if there is a negative consequence for a selfish act, then over a period of time altruistic actions are preferred. If the majority is altruistic, therefore, the entire group tends towards virtuousness. But, for this to work, the majority in a group must be altruistic to begin with, for which there is really no explanation. Assume for the moment that each member in a group is punishing the other members for their past selfish acts. How will any member ever act altruistic in this scenario? To act altruistically, the player must see an example which shows that being altruistic gets you better payoffs. But if everyone is acting selfishly, then no one is going to set a good example for the others. Indeed, any altruistic actions in a selfish group will look silly because altruists will be exploited by other selfish members. An altruist can only be rewarded by other altruists. So, for any altruism to exist at all, multiple such altruists must emerge at once.

    Evolutionists claim that natural selection must act on groups that are altruistic versus groups that are selfish. But how can an altruistic group emerge when the payoffs to an altruist within a group of selfish players are always negative? If nature begins in selfishness, then a single random mutation of altruism will be eliminated quickly. A number of altruistic players must emerge at once, which is very unlikely. For such a group to survive, they must be altruistic to each other but selfish to others. A random mutation that will create a large group that can survive based on altruistic support from other altruists looks highly unlikely.

    GT assumes that every individual acts selfishly and it thus fails to explain altruism. We have to assume that in any altruistic society most players will be altruistic. The altruistic can then use TFT to keep the selfish at bay. But as the selfish players increase altruism rapidly declines. Everyone now acts selfishly and everyone is worse off as a consequence. GT has the potential to explain how a group—in the case of a majority—tends as a whole either towards altruism or selfishness, improving everyone’s life or worsening everyone’s life. But GT cannot explain how these trends are reversed—e.g., why a selfish group will become altruistic or why an altruistic group will become selfish, if everyone in that group has the same basic choices, strategies and payoffs.

    GT is a theory of choices, but it does not take into account individual personalities which will act altruistically or selfishly even if the payoffs are bad. Personalities don’t change quickly—i.e. over a couple of bad payoffs. People with altruistic tendencies think that they may have had a few bad payoffs, but there is still merit in continuing on that path. The selfish too rely on the fact that they would not be caught in the selfish act and that they can cloak it long enough to fool others. GT is inadequate in the sense that it takes individuals to be rational agents who will compute their payoffs at every move. But living beings are not always rational in that sense. Most living beings have more or less fixed strategies about dealings in life. A lion will not stop hunting even if the rest of the animals decided to periodically sacrifice one from their group to feed him. Note how both the lion and the rest of the animals are better off in this case: the lion doesn’t have to hunt and the other animals don’t have to live in fear. But this doesn’t really happen because lions will hunt; it is part of what it means to be a lion—aggressive, not nonviolent.

    http://www.ashishdalela.com/books/sankhya-science/

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    tarmaras, this might interest you:

    “In evolutionary games we put truth (true perception) on the stage and it dies. And in genetic algorithms it (true perception) never gets on the stage”
    Donald Hoffman PhD. – Consciousness and The Interface Theory of Perception – 7:19 to 9:20 minute mark – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dqDP34a-epI#t=439

    Also of note to game theory:

    Princeton Philosophy Dr. Hans Halvorson speaks on “Quantum Mechanics and Mind” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrPxfCsP-uE

    Of note from preceding video: Introducing quantum entanglement/information into multiplayer games allows a new type of equilibrium strategy which is not found in traditional (classical) games. The entanglement of player’s choices can have the effect of a contract by preventing players from profiting from betrayal.

    The reason I referenced Dr. Hans Halvorson’s video is because the consciousness of the brain is now known to be associated with entanglement

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjpEc98o_Oo

    ,,, zero time lag neuronal synchrony despite long conduction delays – 2008
    Excerpt: Multielectrode recordings have revealed zero time lag synchronization among remote cerebral cortical areas. However, the axonal conduction delays among such distant regions can amount to several tens of milliseconds. It is still unclear which mechanism is giving rise to isochronous discharge of widely distributed neurons, despite such latencies,,,
    Remarkably, synchrony of neuronal activity is not limited to short-range interactions within a cortical patch. Interareal synchronization across cortical regions including interhemispheric areas has been observed in several tasks (7, 9, 11–14).,,,
    Beyond its functional relevance, the zero time lag synchrony among such distant neuronal ensembles must be established by mechanisms that are able to compensate for the delays involved in the neuronal communication.
    Latencies in conducting nerve impulses down axonal processes can amount to delays of several tens of milliseconds between the generation of a spike in a presynaptic cell and the elicitation of a postsynaptic potential (16). The question is how, despite such temporal delays, the reciprocal interactions between two brain regions can lead to the associated neural populations to fire in unison (i.e. zero time lag).,,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC2575223/

    The following paper appeals to a ‘non-local’, (i.e. beyond space and time), cause to try to explain the synchronization in neural circuits,,,

    Nonlocal mechanism for cluster synchronization in neural circuits – 2011
    Excerpt: The findings,,, call for reexamining sources of correlated activity in cortex,,,
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1103.3634

    Moreover, when we sleep the quantum coherence/entanglement displayed by the brain in its waking state disappears.
    At the 18:00 minute mark to about the 22:15 minute mark of the following video, an interesting experiment is highlighted on the sleeping brain in which a fairly profound difference is shown in the way the brain ‘shares information’ between different parts of the brain in its sleeping state compared to how the brain ‘shares information’ in its waking state. In the sleeping state, the brain shares much less information with different parts of the brain than the brain does during our waking state.

    Through The Wormhole – Morgan Freeman – Life After Death – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aaf7GC-bkHE

  9. 9
    JoeCoder says:

    How long until we have an evolutionary psychology explanation for evolutionary psychology?

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