Hell’s Angels

Marc D. Hauser

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI:
Hell’s Angels

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This chapter builds from the many excellent chapters in this volume to suggest that pathological altruism has its origins in two evolutionarily ancient and adaptive mechanisms: in-group favoritism and self-deception. These two mechanisms have coevolved and can, under the right circumstances, be subjected to Fisherian runaway selection, leading to pathological forms of altruism. But what is pathological and injurious to both the indiscriminate altruist and his victims can be highly beneficial and adaptive to the pathological altruist’s group, as when suicide bombers self-sacrifice in a glorious last act. At this level, our inner pathological altruist is close to the surface, readily triggered by powerful ideologies. Once triggered, pathological altruists sprout like spores, spreading rapidly through the environment, on the path to mass genocides.

Keywords: co-evolution; Fisherian runaway selection; genocide; ideology; in-group favoritism; self-deception; suicide bombers

Chapter.  4060 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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