Letter: We are more complicated than politicians and scientists think

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Colin Tudge's argument for querying the popular political acceptance that we are motivated by greed and self-interest can be taken further ("From each according to his genes" 7 July). It is now self-evident that there are common kinds of human behaviour that stand the survival-of-the fittest interpretation of Darwinism on its head.

We are, for example, the only animal species that seeks to preserve some of its own predators - Bengal tigers, threatened species of poisonous snake or (to us) harmful insects. Whether we preserve them through conscience, moral choice or acts of will matters less than the fact that this concern for our natural enemies shows that human beings behave abnormally in strict competition/adaptation terms.

Our capacity for moral choice and the free-will of self-sacrifice should teach politicians and scientists that we cannot be strait-jacketed into their convenient belief that selfishness is the only behavioural motive. We deserve more than the condescending simplicities meted out by most politicians and some scientists.

Ian Flintoff

London SW6

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