The Psychopath, the Altruist and the Rest of Us

The Psychopath, the Altruist and the Rest of Us

One day in 2006, Paul Wagner donated one of his kidneys to a stranger with kidney failure. Not long before, he had been reading the paper on his lunch break at a Philadelphia company and saw an article about kidney donation. He clicked on the website and almost immediately decided to donate. One day in 2008, Scott Johnson was sitting by a river in Michigan, feeling aggrieved at the world. He took out a gun and killed three teenagers who were out for a swim. He showed no remorse or guilt—instead, he talked about how other people were always treating him badly. In an interview, Mr. Johnson compared his killing spree to spilling a glass of milk. These events were described in two separate, vivid articles in a 2009 issue of the New Yorker. Larissa MacFarquhar, who wrote about Mr. Wagner, went on to include him in her wonderful recent book about extreme altruists, “Strangers Drowning.” Read More: WSJ
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