FacebookTwitterYoutubeInstagramGoogle Plus

What It Means to Be Human: The Enigma of Altruism

Friday, June 12, 2009
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Though many animals display cooperative behavior, human cooperation is distinct. Alan Alda hosts E.O. Wilson, Sarah Hrdy and other leading evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and humanitarians as they examine the origins and evolution of human cooperative behavior.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Alan AldaActor, Author, Director

Alan Alda, a seven-time Emmy® Award winner, played Hawkeye Pierce and wrote many of the episodes on the classic TV series M*A*S*H. He has starred in, written, and directed many films, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator.

Read More


Edward O. WilsonEvolutionary Biologist, Author

E.O. Wilson is a life-long explorer of the natural world whose pioneering studies of ants have led to revolutionary insights across a wide range of fields, from evolution to animal and human behavior.

Read More
Dominic JohnsonEvolutionary Biologist, Political Scientist

Dominic Johnson received a D.Phil. in evolutionary biology from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in political science from Geneva University.

Read More
Sarah HrdyAnthropologist, Primatologist

Sarah Hrdy is Professor Emerita at the University of California, Davis. An award-winning author, Dr. Hrdy’s latest book is Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding.

Read More
Xavier LePichonGeophysicist

Xavier LePichon is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geophysics at the College de France in Aix en Provence. In addition to his groundbreaking work in geophysics and plate tectonics, Prof. LePichon has done extensive research on human compassionate behavior and how society is structured counter-intuitively to the laws of natural selection.

Read More
Rob BoydAnthropologist

Rob Boyd is Professor of Anthropology at UCLA. He studies the evolution of cooperation in large groups, and is the co-author of numerous books on cultural evolution, including Not By Genes Alone.

Read More