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Old 16th April 2019, 07:39 AM   #1
halleyscomet
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Religious upbringing associated with less altruism, study finds

Religious upbringing associated with less altruism, study finds

Quote:
Children from religious families were less likely to share with others than were children from non-religious families. A religious upbringing also was associated with more punitive tendencies in response to anti-social behavior.

The results were at odds with the perceptions of religious parents, who were more likely than non-religious parents to report that their children had a high degree of empathy and sensitivity to the plight of others.
Having grown up LCMS Lutheran this does not surprise me in the least.
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Old 16th April 2019, 09:00 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by halleyscomet View Post
Religious upbringing associated with less altruism, study finds



Having grown up LCMS Lutheran this does not surprise me in the least.
Also not surprised.

One aspect for me was that I was so burned out on being forced into charity projects throughout my childhood that I was loathe to really volunteer much as an adult. Taking on obligations that pulled me from my family or work was just hard to justify.

As a result, my kids were not forced into charity projects during their childhood, but we would pitch in where they were interested and support whatever charities caught their eye. Now they have their own charitable desires that they are very passionate about without any push or pull from us. It is very rewarding to see them wearing t-shirts from events that we had no idea they were involved in just because they wanted to help out.

Side note: is the entire t-shirt industry supported by non-profits or does it just seem that way when your kids are socially active?
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Old 16th April 2019, 09:40 AM   #3
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I never seen it before this but how true.


My mother had five of us "enrolled" in a church youth group for a long while. CYA or something lead by a guy that was really into making us a huge presence in the community.

None of the kids were gung ho about any of it and some of the parents tried to bug out early leaving them.
Pancake breakfast events, "fun" events that weren't, things supposedly to benefit the community that seemed like for profit venture among the lot.

One day mom suggested we go assist in one but she had stuff to do, my older brother had raslin practice and my sisters vaporized without a word.

And that was the end of us in CYA. Ol' Bill and his big dreams was forced labor in big events nobody else knew where the money went. Nor really cared to participate.

None of us ever engaged in any charity work after that I knew of. Only my older brother seen a church during a mass after we all left home.
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Old 16th April 2019, 02:21 PM   #4
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Very interesting indeed. One would think the incentive to do good, so you would get brownie points with God, would come into play here, but it appears not.

As a blood donor I have wondered about the religiosity of other donors, I see at the blood bank. Two good friends of mine (both atheists) are blood donors also, as are my atheist son and daughter. Mind you I may have influenced the later although certainly not intently. Given the very low percentage of blood donors in the community my observations seem extraordinarily high among atheists.
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Old 16th April 2019, 10:55 PM   #5
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I find it surprising and wonder if there aren't other variables going on. The sample size was large enough:
Quote:
The study included 1,170 children between ages 5 and 12, from six countries—Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.
They missed a lot of religions:
Quote:
From the questionnaires, three large groupings were established: Christian, Muslim and not religious. (Children from other religious households did not reach a large enough sample size to be included in additional analyses.)
There are so many divisions in the Christian religion, for example. I wonder if you split right and left political wings would you have the same findings?

I'm not the least bit surprised right wing plus Christianity equals greedy selfish bastards. (Sorry) But what about all the Christian religious charitable groups? The churches with rainbow flags and those offering sanctuary to immigrants, the churches that sponsor work with the poor in third world countries, I'm sure there are more things on that list.

I think it oversimplifies things to not look at other variables.
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Old 16th April 2019, 11:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by halleyscomet View Post
Religious upbringing associated with less altruism, study finds

Quote:
Children from religious families were less likely to share with others than were children from non-religious families. A religious upbringing also was associated with more punitive tendencies in response to anti-social behavior.

The results were at odds with the perceptions of religious parents, who were more likely than non-religious parents to report that their children had a high degree of empathy and sensitivity to the plight of others.
Having grown up LCMS Lutheran this does not surprise me in the least.

The Old Testament, starting with Genesis, doesn't exactly teach "empathy and sensitivity to the plight of others." On the contrary, actually. Everybody is supposed to be concerned only with the sensitivity of the Overlord, and whoever doesn't obey his commands is punished severely. Nothing less than death and eternal damnation for stealing an apple.
The African creator god Niambe is very different. He has a wife, and when their children misbehave, there's no severe punishment. And unlike Adam and Eve, they don't just eat a piece of fruit they weren't supposed to eat. They kill and eat their fellow creatures, the animals. They also make an awful racket, disturbing Mr. and Mrs. Niambe, so when when appeals to them to keep the noise down don't work, Niambe and his wife pack up and leave!
When I read the story Niambe Leaves the Earth with a high-school class, they missed the point of the story. They thought the story lacked a proper moral since nobody was punished for misbehaving! That isn't proper poetic justice!
And the jealousy of the Christian creator god! Worshipping another one is also a crime worthy of being sentenced to wander the desert for 40 years. No wonder Americans are so upset with each other for obeying the wrong Trump or Hillary!
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Old 17th April 2019, 02:03 AM   #7
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I would have thought this was bloody obvious - christians don't need to think much about charity because the sky-fairy will kiss it all better.
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Old 17th April 2019, 02:26 AM   #8
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What I find most interesting about this is that there's an element of Dunning-Kruger by proxy; parents of children with a religious upbringing believe that their children are more empathic and sensitive than average, when in fact they're less so. It seems that there's the perfect foundation there for a self-reinforcing fallacy.

I wasn't entirely convinced, however, by the data on perception of severity of interpersonal harm. Children with religious upbringings, particularly Islamic, rated harm more severely, but it wasn't clear to me how much that represents an empathic bias in favour of the victims. It's certainly a widely held view that less religious people are softer on punishing criminals; whether that's seen as good or bad depends on a judgement call on whether more severe punishment is a good or a bad thing. Christian and Islamic morality certainly favours punishment in theory, whereas a more pragmatic approach suggests that more punishment doesn't necessarily give a better outcome; but that seems to me more a matter of moral philosophy than personal empathy.

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Old 17th April 2019, 02:34 PM   #9
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As I posted on another thread we have one Israel Folau, (a rugby champ), getting a lot of attention in Australia now. This guy is a genuine "praise Jesus, we are in end times" Christian, and his strident message to others is all about condemnation of sinners. Sinners like adulterers, fornicators, homosexuals and so on are all on his **** list.

Not a lot of tolerance and love being spoken about.
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Old 18th April 2019, 01:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I find it surprising and wonder if there aren't other variables going on. The sample size was large enough:

They missed a lot of religions:There are so many divisions in the Christian religion, for example. I wonder if you split right and left political wings would you have the same findings?

I'm not the least bit surprised right wing plus Christianity equals greedy selfish bastards. (Sorry) But what about all the Christian religious charitable groups? The churches with rainbow flags and those offering sanctuary to immigrants, the churches that sponsor work with the poor in third world countries, I'm sure there are more things on that list.

I think it oversimplifies things to not look at other variables.
In sociology it is almost impossible to cover all the diversity of a population. Of course, a wider range would provide a more certain conclusion, but the five populations chosen in the study seem sufficient to reach a conclusion.

My only reservation is that the article does not give a clue to the control of other variables. For example, the emphasis placed on charity in the education of children. This is a variable that doesn't depend only on religious beliefs but on other types of particular circumstances. For example, in the context of hostility or struggle between religious-political beliefs. I think of the importance that fundamentalist Muslims gave to internal solidarity in Palestine when Hamas was growing up facing Zionism and the PLO. Perhaps some kind of alternative religions are more "altruistic" than the institutionalized ones.

Anyway, the study seems valid to me.
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Old 18th April 2019, 01:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
...

Anyway, the study seems valid to me.
I didn't mean to imply the study wasn't valid, just that the conclusions use a broader brush than I think is warranted. Of course the actual paper may list all those limitations, we just aren't seeing them in this report.
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Old 18th April 2019, 06:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I find it surprising and wonder if there aren't other variables going on. The sample size was large enough:

They missed a lot of religions:There are so many divisions in the Christian religion, for example. I wonder if you split right and left political wings would you have the same findings?

I'm not the least bit surprised right wing plus Christianity equals greedy selfish bastards. (Sorry) But what about all the Christian religious charitable groups? The churches with rainbow flags and those offering sanctuary to immigrants, the churches that sponsor work with the poor in third world countries, I'm sure there are more things on that list.

I think it oversimplifies things to not look at other variables.
I think leftwing Christians are so small in number, they're unlikely to change the overall effect too much. But yeah, I'd bet money you're right.

Disregarding our instincts to value "fairness" is a rightwing value. Leftwing Christians have a totally different religion.
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Old 18th April 2019, 06:46 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I didn't mean to imply the study wasn't valid, just that the conclusions use a broader brush than I think is warranted. Of course the actual paper may list all those limitations, we just aren't seeing them in this report.
This is the full text, but no, they didn't break any of that down. https://www.cell.com/current-biology...showall%3Dtrue

It's not a very thorough discussion section.
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Old 18th April 2019, 07:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I didn't mean to imply the study wasn't valid, just that the conclusions use a broader brush than I think is warranted. Of course the actual paper may list all those limitations, we just aren't seeing them in this report.
I think that's true. It doesn't surprise me at all that as a lump, religious people are less charitable. We see constant evidence of this in the media and in life. On the other hand, some of the most altruistic and charitable people I've known were also religious. I grew up with the kind of Christians spurned nowadays by the most prevalent - liberal, New England types. The ones who nowadays have rainbow flags on their churches. And later for a while with Quakers. A lot of those people were activists, and not only gave to organized charities but lived charitably. Alas, they're a pretty small minority in the overall scheme of things. But I do think that the existence of even a small minority of people who see in the Christian message a call to charity, tolerance, peace and inclusion gives cause to wonder the degree to which attributing less altruism to religion might be mistaking correlation with causality.
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Old 18th April 2019, 11:32 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I didn't mean to imply the study wasn't valid, just that the conclusions use a broader brush than I think is warranted. Of course the actual paper may list all those limitations, we just aren't seeing them in this report.
I'd like you to explain this "wider brush" to me better. I have improved my evaluation of the conclusions after reading the full article.
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Old 19th April 2019, 12:34 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I'd like you to explain this "wider brush" to me better. I have improved my evaluation of the conclusions after reading the full article.
Think about it. People come in all varieties. A lot of people are religious because of the home they grew up in.

So, given nature and nurture, do you think altruism is learned? Because I don't. It might be impacted by nurture, but there's clear evidence in primate research that altruism has a huge nature component.

So how do you explain the conclusion, religion quashes natural altruism?

I don't think it does. Something else is going on in that study.
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Old 19th April 2019, 05:58 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
So, given nature and nurture, do you think altruism is learned?
Almost entirely. Kids learn from seeing their parents interact with others, whether that's holding a door open for someone or beating their wife or bitching about minorities while watching Fox News. Sometimes they learn that's not the person they want to be, more often they learn to emulate that behavior, and either way they're learning.

I think this study is interesting, but it should be emphasized it only describes correlation. There are probably other factors resulting in both retaining religion in our secular zeitgeist and raising slightly but detectably brattier kids.
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Old 19th April 2019, 12:16 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Think about it. People come in all varieties. A lot of people are religious because of the home they grew up in.

So, given nature and nurture, do you think altruism is learned? Because I don't. It might be impacted by nurture, but there's clear evidence in primate research that altruism has a huge nature component.

So how do you explain the conclusion, religion quashes natural altruism?

I don't think it does. Something else is going on in that study.
Social altruism is very different from natural altruism. Social learning shapes almost all aspects of altruism: even the stimuli that launch interpersonal help are modified as a function of social learning. Big apes, for example, are highly hierarchical. In general, animal altruism is limited to small groups with identified individuals and occurs in one sense or another. Vertical exchanges are more frequent than horizontal ones. Strictly speaking, altruism is very rare in the animal world. This is not the case of human altruism which is primarily a horizontal interaction.

Religious beliefs are a way of creating one of these new types of social altruism. They foster internal altruism and external aggression. This is what the article shows.
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Old 19th April 2019, 02:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Think about it. People come in all varieties. A lot of people are religious because of the home they grew up in.

So, given nature and nurture, do you think altruism is learned? Because I don't. It might be impacted by nurture, but there's clear evidence in primate research that altruism has a huge nature component.

So how do you explain the conclusion, religion quashes natural altruism?

I don't think it does. Something else is going on in that study.

I didn't see such a conclusion stated although it could be implied.

I noticed the study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation. Interesting, one would think they would not be impressed by the findings. Mind you, the better score of Christians over Muslims might have been encouraging, but the better score of none religious over both not so.
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Old 20th April 2019, 02:37 AM   #20
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Well, the basic idea of the Judeo-Christian belief system is that the Good People go to heaven, and the Bad People go to hell.

That's not altruistic at all if you think about it. The devil is in the details of how they define who is good and who is bad.

An altruistic God would not create bad people in the first place, only to send them down to be Satan's chew-toys.
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Old 20th April 2019, 12:32 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
Almost entirely. Kids learn from seeing their parents interact with others, whether that's holding a door open for someone or beating their wife or bitching about minorities while watching Fox News. Sometimes they learn that's not the person they want to be, more often they learn to emulate that behavior, and either way they're learning.

I think this study is interesting, but it should be emphasized it only describes correlation. There are probably other factors resulting in both retaining religion in our secular zeitgeist and raising slightly but detectably brattier kids.
Evolution of altruism is evidence you are wrong. Non-human primates demonstrate altruism and a sense of fairness that is a function of the brain.

And more evidence comes from observing toddlers and young children. They demonstrate empathy regardless of upbringing once they pass the selfish stage of development. Again, empathy is a brain function. It can be screwed up, but it need not be learned initially.
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Old 20th April 2019, 12:36 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Social altruism is very different from natural altruism. Social learning shapes almost all aspects of altruism: even the stimuli that launch interpersonal help are modified as a function of social learning. Big apes, for example, are highly hierarchical. In general, animal altruism is limited to small groups with identified individuals and occurs in one sense or another. Vertical exchanges are more frequent than horizontal ones. Strictly speaking, altruism is very rare in the animal world. This is not the case of human altruism which is primarily a horizontal interaction.

Religious beliefs are a way of creating one of these new types of social altruism. They foster internal altruism and external aggression. This is what the article shows.
Non-human primates will unlock the door of an unfamiliar animal of their species when the one outside the cage has food the other doesn't.

I think you have to be careful applying results from one species to another. Look at the difference between bonobos and chimpanzees. They evolved separated by a wide river.
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Old 20th April 2019, 12:48 PM   #23
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Not all studies have reliable methodology.
Quote:
It turns out this past failure to find such altruistic behavior might have been due to the experiments on the chimpanzees themselves.

"Most earlier studies had presented the apes with a complex apparatus that helped them deliver food to themselves or others, often so complicated that the experiments tested tool skills rather than social tendencies," de Waal told LiveScience. "Ours is the first study that uses no such apparatus at all."

In addition to using complex food-delivery systems, past experiments often placed the chimpanzees so far apart that they might not have realized how their actions benefited others.
Quote:
Simple tests of altruism

In these new, simplified experiments, two apes were housed next to each other with a screen through which they could see each other. Then, one chimpanzee had to choose between two differently colored tokens from a bin, one of which represented a pro-social option, the other a selfish option. The pro-social option would cause both chimpanzees to receive a piece of banana wrapped in paper. (The paper made a loud noise upon removal, helping chimps to know that another was benefiting from his actions.) The selfish option only rewarded the ape who made the choice.

In a study with seven adult female chimps placed into various pairs, the scientists found all the apes showed a definite preference for the pro-social option.
This was interesting:
Quote:
The chimpanzees behaved especially altruistically toward partners who either patiently waited or gently reminded them that they were there by drawing attention to themselves. They were less likely to reward partners who exerted pressure by making a fuss, begging persistently or spitting water at them.

"This is interesting because there has been a long-standing view that the chimpanzees only share food under pressure," Horner said. "Our results suggest the opposite — chimpanzees share when there is no to little pressure, but direct pressure or threats reduce sharing, possibly due to negative emotions."
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Old 20th April 2019, 12:51 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Evolution of altruism is evidence you are wrong. Non-human primates demonstrate altruism and a sense of fairness that is a function of the brain.

And more evidence comes from observing toddlers and young children. They demonstrate empathy regardless of upbringing once they pass the selfish stage of development. Again, empathy is a brain function. It can be screwed up, but it need not be learned initially.
I sense that this is true, but it is also pretty clear that it often is screwed up, or that those possessing it are led either to deny it or to misdirect it, but also that under other circumstances those possessing it are taught where and how best to apply it, and in at least some circumstances those not possessing it are convinced that the outward implementation of empathy is desirable or good. Although it seems pretty clear that these days religion does not do a good job of that, there's at least a little anecdotal evidence that it can, or at least that it once could.

I've known a good many religious people who were genuinely good, humanitarian, reasonable, and without prejudice, the sort of people you wish there were more of in the world no matter what they believe about gods. And while it's a good likelihood they would have been good no matter what, they saw their religion as justification and explanation. Their idea of god commanded tolerance, peace and social justice. It's just a pity that most of them are now dead.
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Old 20th April 2019, 01:45 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Toontown View Post
Well, the basic idea of the Judeo-Christian belief system is that the Good People go to heaven, and the Bad People go to hell.

That's not altruistic at all if you think about it. The devil is in the details of how they define who is good and who is bad.

An altruistic God would not create bad people in the first place, only to send them down to be Satan's chew-toys.

Well He creates them good but they become bad, which is their own fault ..... so there.
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Old 20th April 2019, 02:42 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Toontown View Post
Well, the basic idea of the Judeo-Christian belief system is that the Good People go to heaven, and the Bad People go to hell.
The options being:

An eternity of bliss, or
An eternity of torment

That's what they call "free will".
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Old 20th April 2019, 11:35 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Non-human primates will unlock the door of an unfamiliar animal of their species when the one outside the cage has food the other doesn't.

I think you have to be careful applying results from one species to another. Look at the difference between bonobos and chimpanzees. They evolved separated by a wide river.
Altruism is any behavior that benefits another individual at a cost or risk to the altruist.

I didn't say that animal altruism doesn't exist. I said that animal altruism is scarcer and different from human altruism. See here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics...rocal-altruism . Therefore, the most common expression for animal altruism is "reciprocal altruism" to distinguish it from "selfless," typically human, altruism. The abundance of altruistic acts and their specificity suggest that human altruism is basically learned.

There is no clear method for distinguishing between what is natural and what is learned in human beings. Comparison with similar species is one of them. I don't know much about the altruism of bonobos. The altruism of chimpanzees is better known. I know De Waal's research on this subject. What I was saying is basically based on his books.

Last edited by David Mo; 20th April 2019 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 21st April 2019, 07:00 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Evolution of altruism is evidence you are wrong. Non-human primates demonstrate altruism and a sense of fairness that is a function of the brain.

And more evidence comes from observing toddlers and young children. They demonstrate empathy regardless of upbringing once they pass the selfish stage of development. Again, empathy is a brain function. It can be screwed up, but it need not be learned initially.
Non-human primates have a very stratified social order, which itself is almost entirely learned. Sapolsky built his career demonstrating this:

https://youtu.be/A4UMyTnlaMY?t=237

And seriously have you met a young child?
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Old 21st April 2019, 07:33 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Evolution of altruism is evidence you are wrong. Non-human primates demonstrate altruism and a sense of fairness that is a function of the brain.

And more evidence comes from observing toddlers and young children. They demonstrate empathy regardless of upbringing once they pass the selfish stage of development. Again, empathy is a brain function. It can be screwed up, but it need not be learned initially.
Empathy is not altruism.

Human learning can screwed and/or modify empathy. This changes also modify brain functions. There is not an initial brain empathy and some different that is not empathy after. There is a modified brain function. The same for altruism.
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Old 21st April 2019, 04:07 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by halleyscomet View Post
Religious upbringing associated with less altruism, study finds



Having grown up LCMS Lutheran this does not surprise me in the least.
Nor me!!!!!
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Old 21st April 2019, 07:02 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Altruism is any behavior that benefits another individual at a cost or risk to the altruist.

I didn't say that animal altruism doesn't exist. I said that animal altruism is scarcer and different from human altruism. See here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics...rocal-altruism . Therefore, the most common expression for animal altruism is "reciprocal altruism" to distinguish it from "selfless," typically human, altruism. The abundance of altruistic acts and their specificity suggest that human altruism is basically learned.

There is no clear method for distinguishing between what is natural and what is learned in human beings. Comparison with similar species is one of them. I don't know much about the altruism of bonobos. The altruism of chimpanzees is better known. I know De Waal's research on this subject. What I was saying is basically based on his books.
But the bottom line is, rare or not, it evolved. It's evident in young children without having been taught the behavior.
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Old 21st April 2019, 07:03 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Empathy is not altruism.

Human learning can screwed and/or modify empathy. This changes also modify brain functions. There is not an initial brain empathy and some different that is not empathy after. There is a modified brain function. The same for altruism.
You can't have altruism without empathy.
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Old 21st April 2019, 11:19 PM   #33
David Mo
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
But the bottom line is, rare or not, it evolved. It's evident in young children without having been taught the behavior.
Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
You can't have altruism without empathy.
Maybe. It depends what kind of altruism we are speaking of. In any case you can read: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4853733/
This article shows how culture is determinant even in children's altruism. I remind you that I have never denied that altruism may have a biological foundation.

Some forms of altruism are possible without empathy: by reasoning or instinct. In any case, empathy without altruism is very common.
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