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Survival of the Nicest: How Altruism Made Us Human and Why It Pays to Get Alongby Stefan Klein
Synopses & Reviews
This revelatory tour de force by an acclaimed and internationally bestselling science writer upends our understanding of "survival of the fittest" — and invites us all to think and act more altruistically
The phrase "survival of the fittest" conjures an image of the most cutthroat individuals rising to the top. But Stefan Klein, author of the #1 international bestseller The Science of Happiness and winner of the Georg von Holtzbrinck Prize for Scientific Journalism, makes the startling assertion that the key to achieving lasting personal and societal success lies in helping others. In fact, Klein argues, altruism is our defining characteristic: Natural selection favored those early humans who cooperated in groups, and with survival more assured, our altruistic ancestors were free to devote brainpower to developing intelligence, language, and culture — our very humanity. As Klein puts it, "We humans became first the friendliest and then the most intelligent apes."
To build his persuasive case for how altruistic behavior made us human — and why it pays to get along — Klein synthesizes an extraordinary array of material: current research on genetics and the brain, economics, social psychology, behavioral and anthropological experiments, history, and modern culture. Ultimately, his groundbreaking findings lead him to a vexing question: If we're really hard-wired to act for one another's benefit, why aren't we all getting along?
Klein believes we've learned to mistrust our generous instincts because success is so often attributed to selfish ambition. In Survival of the Nicest, he invites us to rethink what it means to be the "fittest" as he shows how caring for others can protect us from loneliness and depression, make us happier and healthier, reward us economically, and even extend our lives.
"This wonderful book could be read as a scientific explanation for a moral imperative to be kind to others. But it is so much more! Stefan Klein, an enticing storyteller, marshals the evidence for the value of altruism — not only to one's family but, much more interestingly, to one's self and one's tribe. Altruism is truly contagious!" Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate, poet, and Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus, Cornell University
"A scholarly tour de force about why generosity makes good sense, Survival of the Nicest is also compulsively readable. Klein argues convincingly that helping others is one of the best things we can do for ourselves." Elizabeth Svoboda, author of What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness
"A thought-provoking and comprehensive review of the research on altruism, Survival of the Nicest validates humanistic principles and has far-reaching implications for today's world — especially for US politics and culture. An inspiration!" Rebecca Hale, president, American Humanist Association, and co-owner of EvolveFISH.com
In a book certain to change our thinking and our actions, science writer Stefan Klein argues that selfishness is self-defeating and proves the evolutionary advantages of altruism.
"The future belongs to the altruists," Stefan Klein proclaims in this wide-ranging and often surprising exploration of why generosity, and not selfishness, is the means to achieving lasting personal and societal success. A highly readable synthesis of an extraordinary array of material — including current brain research and genetics, economics and social psychology, behavioral and anthropological experiments, history and contemporary culture — Survival of the Nicest clearly establishes just how evolution has hard-wired us to act for one another's benefit. At once serious, entertaining, and grounded in the most up-to-date science, Klein's book helps us to clearly understand how and why caring for and about others protects us from loneliness and depression; makes us happier, healthier, and more successful; and can even extend our lives.
About the Author
Stefan Klein, PhD, is one of Europe’s premier science writers, as well as himself a trained physicist. He is the author of numerous books, including the #1 international bestseller The Science of Happiness. His books have been translated into twenty-five languages, and he is the recipient of the prestigious Georg von Holtzbrink Prize for Scientific Journalism.
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