A great deal of recent research on evolution focuses on altruism—the tendency of creatures to help others, often at great cost to themselves. This is especially true of human beings, who help one another for a variety of good evolutionary reasons. For instance, people help kin, which is a way of preserving the genes that they share. People help others who are likely to help them back. But the prevalence of altruism also raises an evolutionary paradox: If evolution has selected humans to be nice and kind, how do we explain the high prevalence of jerks?
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