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EGarrett
10th February 2008, 07:56 AM
Note: "Because it's the right thing to do" is an unsupported assertion...and thus not a satisfactory answer.

TragicMonkey
10th February 2008, 08:09 AM
Self interest. We ourselves might be in danger someday, therefore it is in our best interests to foster a culture of helpfulness.

ARubberChickenWithAPulley
10th February 2008, 08:28 AM
I think TragicMonkey hit part of it above, but I read this great article a couple of months ago that I'll share. It's actually about the Natalie Sarkisyan case, where an insurance company refused to pay for a procedure that they considered risky/experimental/unlikely to work. I don't want to turn this thread into another health care or insurance argument, so please don't ;) the article itself discusses some interesting points about America's attitude towards "rescue."

When a health insurer says it won't pay (http://www.philly.com/philly/business/13745557.html)

Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said there was still no escaping emotion as a factor in U.S. medicine.

People here put tremendous effort, he said, into saving trapped miners, little girls in wells, hikers stranded on frigid mountains.

"Americans are interested in spending money on things that work," he said, "but we are also a society that does value rescue."

And, he said, people want to go the extra mile for children. "Seventeen-year-olds and younger have special moral status," he said. "They're seen as people who, I'll just say it bluntly, deserve more."

He said he thought insurers should factor the U.S. penchant for rescue into their budgets, or the rest of us should figure out another way to finance care for people in desperate straits

I know saying we have a "penchant for rescue" is perhaps not detailed insight, but I think it is about accurate: along with what TragicMonkey said, we simply have a culture that values happy endings. It's part rational self-interest and part emotional. And, as the above quote alludes to, who is being rescued is definitely important: if it was "convicted-felon drug dealer dirtbag trapped in well," I'd guess it wouldn't get so much attention. At least, anything other than basic rescue attempts would be controversial, IMO.

skeptifem
10th February 2008, 09:00 AM
people feel good after they help others. I think empathy is another reason.

Gord_in_Toronto
10th February 2008, 09:09 AM
Game Theory shows that a group that in which the members co-operate has a slight survival advantage over groups that do not co-operate. This is selected for by Natural Selection and we end up with such things as empathy to enforce it.

Gagglegnash
10th February 2008, 09:19 AM
Hi

Another possibility: Empathy (and possibly mirror neurons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron)).

We see someone in distress, and we feel distress ourselves. Relieving the original distress makes us feel better by relieving our distress AND makes us feel 'good' by reinforcing the group social bond.

Just an idea, though.

TragicMonkey
10th February 2008, 11:36 AM
We also help others because we might get an advantage out of it. The drowning child you save might turn out to have wealthy and grateful parents. You call the paramedics for the old lady having a heart attack, and one of the EMTs turns out to be really quite hot, and available. The stray dog you take in might cough up a diamond ring it swallowed when it lived with Missy Elliot. The universe is a complex series of interlocking events, and while karma may be a crock that doesn't mean that you won't get cash money and lots of tail from being a good person. Not that that's the only reason to be a good person, but hell, who's going to turn down the rewards of virtue?

fuelair
10th February 2008, 12:05 PM
And then, some people can't not be helpful. No idea why - anymore than I know why I like little kids and they like me (though some evidence makes it seem that I know/intuit little kidness so they see me not as an adult but as a large little kid who plays well). Hopefully there will be no misinterpretation of this - read my posts on weapons if you have any doubts in that area.

steverino
10th February 2008, 01:58 PM
This rescuing mentality is sometimes irrational. If it is a cute blonde child, or a pretty girl, or a puppy, or horse, we value the loss (if the rescue does not succeed) more than if it's just a plain old Joe. When I lived in Chicago there was the case of the two, cute (white) "home-alone kids" in Wheaton, Illinois. The parents left them home to go to Vegas, I think. It was a huge story in Chicago at the time-abusive parents, and how could they mistreat the cutie pies, etc. Then the public became enlightened with the reality that thousands of inner-city kids are left home alone in fatherless homes, or left with an aunt or grandmother, who sometimes lose track of who is being taken care of when, and the perception was that a large fuss was made over two cute white upper-middle-class tykes because they were not poor minority kids.

Gord_in_Toronto
10th February 2008, 02:40 PM
This rescuing mentality is sometimes irrational. If it is a cute blonde child, or a pretty girl, or a puppy, or horse, we value the loss (if the rescue does not succeed) more than if it's just a plain old Joe. When I lived in Chicago there was the case of the two, cute (white) "home-alone kids" in Wheaton, Illinois. The parents left them home to go to Vegas, I think. It was a huge story in Chicago at the time-abusive parents, and how could they mistreat the cutie pies, etc. Then the public became enlightened with the reality that thousands of inner-city kids are left home alone in fatherless homes, or left with an aunt or grandmother, who sometimes lose track of who is being taken care of when, and the perception was that a large fuss was made over two cute white upper-middle-class tykes because they were not poor minority kids.

And they still have not found the killer of poor little Jon-Binet have they? :confused:

fuelair
10th February 2008, 03:04 PM
We also help others because we might get an advantage out of it. The drowning child you save might turn out to have wealthy and grateful parents. You call the paramedics for the old lady having a heart attack, and one of the EMTs turns out to be really quite hot, and available. The stray dog you take in might cough up a diamond ring it swallowed when it lived with Missy Elliot. The universe is a complex series of interlocking events, and while karma may be a crock that doesn't mean that you won't get cash money and lots of tail from being a good person. Not that that's the only reason to be a good person, but hell, who's going to turn down the rewards of virtue?
By the same token, my first assistance attempt - in my teens- involved an older black woman who had fallen - I sssisted her up, checked to see that she was ok and went on my way. Was stopped by a younger black man who thanked me - was not hesitant with her but reluctant to be thanked - it is what I do. Not thanks or notice (so why am I telling it here - because only one person on this forum knows who I am and I am not worried about that person passing it on - and it is anecdotal but like a lot of other people I suspect). The next two (non-military) were both adult males who had fallen/were not reasonably concious who I put my recent Red Cross First Aid training to use on re: checking if breathing, able to talk, etc. The first was apparently drunk and police observing took over. The second collapsed in the door of a porn store and I checked him while the clerk called police/med. They took over. 3times, no concern about rewards. People should help people if they are able to, And fortunately, a lot of the people here - as well as others I know - will do exactly that. Just part of being human.

geni
10th February 2008, 03:14 PM
Note: "Because it's the right thing to do" is an unsupported assertion...and thus not a satisfactory answer.

Because someone somewhere probably cares about that person and may not be best pleased to hear that you did nothing and may take steps to indicate how upset they are.

TragicMonkey
10th February 2008, 03:27 PM
By the same token, my first assistance attempt - in my teens- involved an older black woman who had fallen - I sssisted her up, checked to see that she was ok and went on my way. Was stopped by a younger black man who thanked me - was not hesitant with her but reluctant to be thanked - it is what I do. Not thanks or notice (so why am I telling it here - because only one person on this forum knows who I am and I am not worried about that person passing it on - and it is anecdotal but like a lot of other people I suspect). The next two (non-military) were both adult males who had fallen/were not reasonably concious who I put my recent Red Cross First Aid training to use on re: checking if breathing, able to talk, etc. The first was apparently drunk and police observing took over. The second collapsed in the door of a porn store and I checked him while the clerk called police/med. They took over. 3times, no concern about rewards. People should help people if they are able to, And fortunately, a lot of the people here - as well as others I know - will do exactly that. Just part of being human.

Ah, but thanks to psychology, you cannot state with certainty that the thought of advantage didn't lurk in your subconscious, influencing your actions. Perhaps the old lady reminded you of your grandmother, and in the murky depths of your psyche you were hoping for ribbon candy and quarters.

Darth Rotor
10th February 2008, 04:32 PM
Why do we save people who are in danger?

[Because she had a nice rack. Because it makes us feel good to help people.

Try this. Be really depressed. Be down. Then, go and help someone else who you see is in trouble.

You feel better already.

Posts above for possible "in the end, physics" contributions to that feeling.

DR

Dark Jaguar
10th February 2008, 07:13 PM
Because they want to live. Do I need further reasons?

Ron_Tomkins
10th February 2008, 10:19 PM
Note: "Because it's the right thing to do" is an unsupported assertion...and thus not a satisfactory answer.


Becaaaauuuuuussseeeee deep down inside we're nothing but self-interested cold blooded miserable people who care about nothing but more power so we can opress the weak ones and gain control of the masses?

rjh01
10th February 2008, 11:42 PM
Mining companies should spend big $ to rescue trapped miners because
1. It improves morale
2. It improves employee employer relationships (or at least does not damage them)
3. The miners might be willing to take minor risks which will improve profit for the company.

Soapy Sam
11th February 2008, 12:16 AM
Because saving people who are not in danger is annoying for all concerned?

TragicMonkey
11th February 2008, 02:38 AM
Mining companies should spend big $ to rescue trapped miners because
1. It improves morale
2. It improves employee employer relationships (or at least does not damage them)
3. The miners might be willing to take minor risks which will improve profit for the company.

4. Not rescuing them alienates the public and that deters investors.

Sometimes it's not that you actually care, it's that you have to pretend to care. And in the end, as long as you do what you ought to, your reasons don't matter so much.

fuelair
11th February 2008, 08:51 AM
And they still have not found the killer of poor little Jon-Binet have they? :confused:
Technically no. After all that was done both accidentally and possibly on purpose to protect the parents and cover/ruin any evidence.

Francesca R
11th February 2008, 09:11 AM
people feel good after they help others. I think empathy is another reason.Another possibility: Empathy (and possibly mirror neurons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron)).

We see someone in distress, and we feel distress ourselves. Relieving the original distress makes us feel better by relieving our distress AND makes us feel 'good' by reinforcing the group social bond.

Try this. Be really depressed. Be down. Then, go and help someone else who you see is in trouble.

You feel better already.

Posts above for possible "in the end, physics" contributions to that feeling.

DRGood proximate reasons but they beg the question of why such reactions have developed. To which the survival advantage of reciprocal giving of assistance mentioned by Gord in Toronto seems to be a good answer.

Ranb
11th February 2008, 09:18 AM
.....and the perception was that a large fuss was made over two cute white upper-middle-class tykes because they were not poor minority kids.

A while back when my wife and I were watching the Holloway case unfold on TV, my wife asked me if the media would make a big fuss if she disappeared. I had to smile and tell her that since she was a middle-aged, short, dark, plain looking Thai girl, the media would ignore her unless she was one of Paris Hilton's missing friends. She could not help but notice that it is the young cute blond girls getting most of the attention in the media. :)

Ranb

HghrSymmetry
11th February 2008, 06:42 PM
If a behavior results in inreased genetic fitness of the individual (or group) it will probably be selected for.

Dark Jaguar
11th February 2008, 10:51 PM
There's the well understood biological reason for empathy as an adaptation, and there's good "game theory" reasons as listed above. There's even the "because some other people value them" reason. However, I think of other's lives as just as worth saving, for the same reasons, as my own. I tend to think people are worth saving because they don't want to die. Because, if they die, everything they've done, their dreams, their connections, are all gone forever.

Gord_in_Toronto
12th February 2008, 10:31 AM
Technically no. After all that was done both accidentally and possibly on purpose to protect the parents and cover/ruin any evidence.

Hmm. Do I detect a slight trace of a conspiracy theory there, maybe?

I prefer the "Dallas Police Theory" myself -- pure incompetence. :D

Lady Lee
12th February 2008, 10:45 AM
What about good old-fashioned (maybe Catholic) guilt?

What if I didn't approach the guy on the floor at the bus-stop and I was the only person in the vicinity who knew CPR and he died because I was selfish. I would be wracked with guilty feelings.

In fact, this happened to me: I approached the guy on the floor at the bus-stop and he told me to "f**k off". In my professional opinion he was cured.

Modified
12th February 2008, 11:14 AM
In fact, this happened to me: I approached the guy on the floor at the bus-stop and he told me to "f**k off". In my professional opinion he was cured.

Reminds me of the time I saw the guy in front of me at a stoplight having some sort of seizure. His arms and head were flailing all over the place. I got out to see if I could put his car in park before he rolled into the intersection or something. Then I heard the music.

sphenisc
12th February 2008, 11:51 AM
Note: "Because it's the right thing to do" is an unsupported assertion...and thus not a satisfactory answer.

Because it's the right thing to do.


I feel no need to satisfy you.




[That may change after a few drinks.]

billydkid
14th February 2008, 10:39 AM
Self interest. We ourselves might be in danger someday, therefore it is in our best interests to foster a culture of helpfulness.Come on. When you see a child drowning and you instinctly dive in to pull them out - and the vast majority of us would do that - you certainly are not doing the social calculus that you describe. This idea that people don't do things without "reasons" for doing them is incredibly silly. That is part of the reason I find all these discussions about morality so tedious. It is obvious except to a complete moron that people in general are put together in such as way as to naturally care for and about each other. That isn't the only way they are put together, but it is certainly a fundamental aspect of being human. We also have other aspects which are not so beneficial. Hating and loving are both completely human and do not need to be taught.

I think the kind of thinking on which such discussions are based feed into the idiocy of religion and the idea that our actions are all reactions to the opinion that we think "God" or the universe might of us. For some people the substitute for God is society and they hold to the idea that our sensibilities are molded by society. Society certainly can and does effect who we are and how we behave, but we have natural reactions to things that do not come from being taught or guided or socialized.

TragicMonkey
14th February 2008, 01:00 PM
Come on. When you see a child drowning and you instinctly dive in to pull them out - and the vast majority of us would do that - you certainly are not doing the social calculus that you describe. This idea that people don't do things without "reasons" for doing them is incredibly silly. That is part of the reason I find all these discussions about morality so tedious. It is obvious except to a complete moron that people in general are put together in such as way as to naturally care for and about each other. That isn't the only way they are put together, but it is certainly a fundamental aspect of being human. We also have other aspects which are not so beneficial. Hating and loving are both completely human and do not need to be taught.

I think the kind of thinking on which such discussions are based feed into the idiocy of religion and the idea that our actions are all reactions to the opinion that we think "God" or the universe might of us. For some people the substitute for God is society and they hold to the idea that our sensibilities are molded by society. Society certainly can and does effect who we are and how we behave, but we have natural reactions to things that do not come from being taught or guided or socialized.

Just because there are good reasons for something, doesn't mean you have to be aware of what those reasons are. It's called instinct. What matters is that you do the behavior, not that you understand why you do it.

Puppycow
14th February 2008, 09:47 PM
(DPM)

Puppycow
14th February 2008, 09:49 PM
For the reward. Increased or reinforced social standing and admiration, at least. There is a payoff.

rjh01
14th February 2008, 11:22 PM
A variation on the theme. Why am I a fire warden, whose job it is to save everyone on the floor in any type of emergency where life is at risk?
1. For the training. Amazing what I learn.
2. Supervisory experience.
3. Actually give ORDERS to my managers and expect they be obeyed (It happened. My manager tried to take a cup of coffee down the stairs. Told him to lose the coffee. He did).
4. I learn a lot.

six7s
15th February 2008, 12:15 AM
...you cannot state with certainty that the thought of advantage didn't lurk in your subconscious...

...inreased genetic fitness...

1. For the training. Amazing what I learn.

These three ideas resonate with my hunch re the (seemingly) instinctive response to react immediately; practice for when it happens to me and/or those I hold dear (i.e. those most likely to influence the passing of my genes)

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

TragicMonkey
15th February 2008, 02:35 AM
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

Except when it merely cripples you.

coalesce
15th February 2008, 06:30 AM
Because if I didn't run around saving people, then I would look ridiculous wearing my red cape and matching boots in public, now wouldn't I?

Michael

six7s
15th February 2008, 12:21 PM
What doesn't kill you makes you strongerExcept when it merely cripples you.

I was thinking of 'you' in the plural (i.e. your genetic pool) and stronger in more than simply the trad. physical sense (e.g. determination, resilience, etc.)

TragicMonkey
15th February 2008, 12:33 PM
I was thinking of 'you' in the plural (i.e. your genetic pool) and stronger in more than simply the trad. physical sense (e.g. determination, resilience, etc.)

It could be a brain injury, which might affect determination, resilience, etc. Or it could be some annoyingly pedantic person on the internet, chipping, chipping away at your words and neglecting the meat of your argument.

Tony
15th February 2008, 12:40 PM
Because we live in a place called "civilization". You should join us.

Ron_Tomkins
16th February 2008, 02:58 PM
Because it's the right thing to do.


I feel no need to satisfy you.




[That may change after a few drinks.]



Nominated.

Dark Jaguar
16th February 2008, 05:17 PM
I just think that if your moral compass is such that saving people is only done for potential advantage, in those cases where there is no reasonable expectation of any advantage (let's say a hermit living in the wilderness caught under a log you just come across), well what you'd just leave them alone? I doubt it. They have their own reasons to live and that's enough reason to save them.

gumboot
16th February 2008, 05:46 PM
Game Theory shows that a group that in which the members co-operate has a slight survival advantage over groups that do not co-operate. This is selected for by Natural Selection and we end up with such things as empathy to enforce it.


I think this is all that needs saying about it, really. The social group benefits by collectively looking after each other. Natural selection thus ensures the propagation of biological and social features that encourage group cooperation. As a result modern humans possess instinctive behaviour that encourages mutual cooperation amongst other humans.

A member of a social group who contributes positively to that social group deserves in turn to be aided by that social group when assistance is required. Hence why we have schools, police, plumbers, and why we save people who are in danger.