What’s in It for Us? An Israeli Historian Searches for the Origins of Altruism

Prof. Oren Harman, whose book was awarded a Los Angeles Times book prize, says the best way to explain science is through a story.

Well, what do you think? Is there such a thing as true, pure altruism?

Unquestionably. Do you think there isn’t?

I’m suddenly not sure.

When we behave altruistically toward someone, we experience physiological reactions to that behavior. You encounter a homeless person on the street who smells and has blood running down his leg. You feel tremendously stressed and...