Selfish Altruism

crazyNotesIn 1967, George Price developed the Price Equation, a mathematical theorem which proves all acts of kindness or genuine altruism are genetic, a behavior governed by our DNA.

The theorem, which is a mathematical fact, determined that all acts of altruism aren’t altruistic at all, but rather an evolutionary instinct regulated by self-interest.

In other words, when we’re compassionate, we’re compassionate because evolutionary processes determined it an essential trait for the survival of our species.




I know it’s hard to believe, but numbers don’t lie.

And neither does the Price Equation.

If you accept the Price Equation, which logic dictates, then you must accept that Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, and Mahatma Gandhi were fulfilling their evolutionary duty in relation to the preservation of our species.

Their altruistic acts, their unselfish concern for the welfare of others, were simply acts designed to ensure their genetic material survived.

Nothing more and nothing less.

Implications in Nursing

The Price Equation affects us all, as it turns our view of altruism upside down.

Most of us didn’t become nurses because we’re selfish, but instead because we want to help people.

Yet, according to the Price Equation, we’re just protecting our species from disease and facilitating the survival of our progeny.

Nursing, a Religious Calling

Historically, nursing and religion have coexisted, almost having a social symbiotic relationship; many founders of modern nursing, such as Florence Nightingale, Dorothy Dix, and Clara Barton, were extremely religious.

They, like many nurses today, felt nursing to be a religious calling, a vocational extension of their faith and an outward expression of love towards their fellowman.

However, the Price Equation finds this spiritual calling erroneous, a mere façade for an evolutionary act dedicated to the self-preservation of our species.

The Cold Hard Facts of Life

The Price Equation is a cold, remorseless, and unforgiving mathematical theorem, logically laying waste to religion and philosophy, reducing good and evil to genetics and evolutionary processes.

Fundamentally, though we have freewill and may or may not believe in God, our actions, according to the theorem, are nothing more than complex chemical reactions and animalistic instinct.

We are – according to the Price Equation – ordinary animals.

And as nurses, we’re selfish beasts with hidden motives unbeknownst to us; paradoxically, we’re key players in perpetuation of our species, not because we want to, but because we have to: it is pre-programmed in our biology.

George Price’s Demise

In 1967, Price was an atheist.

In fact, he dedicated his mathematical genius to prove his personal beliefs regarding Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, proving human beings are governed by instinct not by God.

In the end, the Price Equation destroyed George Price.

He, like many scientists before him, opened a Pandora’s Box, casting scientific facts and ideas upon us before we, as a people, were ready for them.

After Price devised his theorem, he was haunted by it.  Personally, he couldn’t cope with knowing altruism was nothing more than a genetic anomaly; after his theorem was accepted by the scientific community, he tried to disprove it, but couldn’t.

In 1970, Price converted to Christianity, believing God to be the only variable which could prove his theorem false.  Yet, in the end, his theorem became too much to bear.  George Price killed himself in 1975.


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