Point of Inquiry

Center for Inquiry

Religion & Spirituality, Science & Medicine, Social Sciences, Society & Culture, Philosophy

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Social Sciences 11
Science & Medicine 54

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics. Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins. Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.


Can't Help Helping: Larissa MacFarquhar on Attitudes Toward Altruism

February 23rd, 2016

Episode 504 of 537 episodes

Most of us have no problem operating under the notion that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us. But what do we make of people who do go well beyond that, while asking for nothing in return? Why are often perplexed by those who are willing to put their health and well being on the line for complete strangers? Today’s guest is Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer atThe New Yorkerand author of the new book Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help. MacFarquhar argues that we have a history of labeling people who help excessively as having some sort of physiological disconnect, a mental health condition that causes them to give more than what seems reasonable to the rest of society. She finds this resistance to do-gooders troubling, and that our defensive need to justify their behavior may say more about our own philosophical shortcomings than it does about the altruists among us.