“We may be born with an urge to help”

Nicholas Wade in the NY Times looks at some of the recent research in the possibility that altruism is innate.  There is a definite consensus building that this is so.  There are some problems with some of the research – I heard from one primate researcher than another is idealizing his chimps – but hey!  I think back to the days of listening to decision theorists explain why this can’t be so.

Poor economists, though.  Not only are we irremediably irrational, but we might also be willing to spend energy and  other resources without expecting a return.  

On the other hand, one might worry about how science reaches a consensus, given the lastest stir about climatologists located at the University of East Anglia.  Since ‘normal science’ has always been rough on dissenters and their supposed anomalies, it isn’t clear how unusually unscientific the climatologists have been, but it is very unfortunate that they chose to describe themselves as bad boy conspirators. 

Rush Limbaugh is maintaining that all science is now discredited by this episode, which is an example of why for now he is worse that Sarah  Palin, imho.