Larissa MacFarquhar

Understanding extreme altruism

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About Larissa MacFarquhar

As a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998, Larissa MacFarquhar has written profiles on subjects ranging from Noam Chomsky to Barack Obama to Quentin Tarantino. Her recent book, Strangers Drowning, explores the lives of extreme altruists, and confronts the resistance and unease they can provoke in the rest of us. These are people who donated one of their kidneys to save the life of a stranger, a couple who adopted twenty children, and individuals who give away more than half their salaries. With these intimate portraits, the London-born writer challenges us to consider whether such people should seem as extraordinary to us as they do. 

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About This Talk

Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998, explores the mindset of the magnanimous—particularly of those who find themselves endlessly compelled to help those in need—even when providing help requires self-sacrifice.

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