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Surprising Science

Empathy: The World’s Most Valuable Resource

Empathy is one of our most powerful emotions yet society has all but ignored it. Autism expert Professor Simon Baron-Cohen reveals the science behind “the world’s most valuable resource”.

Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Center at Cambridge University, explains his fascination with empathy and the lack thereof: “As a scientist I want to understand the factors causing people to treat others as if they are mere objects. So let’s substitute the term ‘evil’ with the term ’empathy erosion’. Empathy erosion can arise because of corrosive emotions, such as bitter resentment, or desire for revenge, or blind hatred, or desire to protect. In theory these are transient emotions, the empathy erosion is reversible. But empathy erosion can be the result of more permanent psychological characteristics.”


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