Despite how it may seem, we humans are extraordinarily good at cooperation. We take care of each other’s kids. We help each other move. And, in large complex societies like our own, we (mostly) abide by the rules that make it possible for us to live together in relative peace.

Sure, it may seem like developed, Western societies are being torn apart by factionalism and in-fighting, and in many ways they are—but recent political unrest only conceals what an incredible feat it was to build such highly cooperative, smoothly functioning societies in the first place. How do we do it? How do we create such robust ties of reciprocity and mutual aid that we can build fantastically complex societies of skyscrapers and freeways, yet still remember to hold the door for one another?

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