Jorge Moll: Humans are Evolving to Selfless Creatures

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Jorge Moll is a neuroscientist who has studied human behavior as they are being selfless. Many scientists believe that humans are hard-wired to be selfish, only considering their own survival, but Moll has found evidence that contradicts this. So the debate, nature vs. nurture, asks if the human species is fighting against their selfish nature and evolving to a more loving and giving species.

Petra Nemcova is a prime example of human evolution into a more giving species. Vacationing with her fiancé at the time, Simon Atlee, they were unfortunately caught in the deadly series of tsunamis caused by one of the strongest recorded earthquakes in history that wreaked havoc in Thailand on December 26th, 2004. Over 230,000 people lost their lives that day, including Simon Atlee. Petra Nemcova barely escaped with her life. She suffered a crushed pelvis that nearly left her paralyzed and a broken heart because she never saw the love of her life again. The nature argument would show that Petra would never return to the place where she lost so much. Petra, however, did return. She launched a foundation to help children whose lives were devastated by the natural disaster. In this instance, nurture won (Inspirery).

In 2006, Jorge Moll along with Jordan Grafman conducted a neurological study that observed people’s brain activity as they were presented with a scenario in which they could donate money to charity or keep the money for themselves. The results of their study showed that when people donate money to charity, the “rewards” area of the brain activates. Their results align with a study done in 1989 by economist James Andreoni. His theory was that giving to charity was a form of impure altruism, which is basically that people give because it makes themselves feel good, rather than giving because others need help. This explains why the “rewards” area of the brain activated in Moll’s and Grafman’s study when people donated to charity.

Jorge Moll is the founder of D’Or Institute of Research and Education. He earned his master’s degree in Neuroscience from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and his Ph.D. in Experimental Pathophysiology from São Paulo University.