Swimmy and self-interest

Submitted by lmcshane on Wed, 11/26/2008 - 10:43.

In college, I studied biology and found myself puzzled by altruism. Why do some animals/people act selflessly in society? Of course, biology's answer puts a genetic spin on it--altruism benefits the species, right?

Second graders read the book Swimmy by Leo Lionni, a testament to altruism and leadership, yet, more and more, baby humans grow up to follow the evolutionary strategy of remoras, the suckerfish that attach themselves to the big fish?

 

So, which evolutionary strategy makes more sense, and why do kids end up more like remoras, than like Swimmy?