Wednesday, 19 May 2010

An Altruistic Straw Man

I just heard a brief snippet on the Radio 4 Today programme.  An Oxford researcher was saying he'd disproved altruism.

This was important (at least to him and the BBC) because so far they have failed to find an evolutionary explanation for altruism.

However, all he had done was to demonstrate that people (presumably picked  at random) do not (in a controlled lab experiment) necessarily behave altruistically.

To leap from that to 'there is no such thing as altruism' which was the tenor of the piece ('you're going to upset a lot of people', gloated the presenter; 'I'm afraid I'm going to sound very controversial' preeened the prof) would be a fallacy that my Oxford professors would have had on toast for breakfast!

1 comment:

sanabituranima said...

Holiness is rare. That's not news.