Thursday, October 22, 2020

Compassion research

I want to point to a recent "Making Sense" podcast titled "The power of compassion" in which Sam Harris interviews James R. Doty, a Stanford neurosurgeon who is director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine. Doty is an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has given support to a number of charitable organizations, is on the Board of Directors of a number of non-profit foundations, is chairman of the Dalai Lama Foundation, vice-chair of the Charter for Compassion International, and is on the International Advisory Board of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He also writes for The Huffington Post. 

I found a brief tour of the website of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education to be most instructive. It points to numerous sources of compassion research and training. Doty's website points to his book "Into the Magic Shop," which is discussed in the podcast.


  1. After a little research, I took a look at the CCAR website, read one blog post "One Thing No One....") and the summary of one 'research study' (3. Does Meditation increase Compassion?). They are pathetic and preposterous. Is this site a parody? No, but it feels like the website of a cult.

    1. I admit that as you start clicking into the links the material does get a bit thin. This and other 'well being' sites are frequently not strong on their science but they are well intentioned, and I don't think merit being called pathetic, preposterous, or cult like. I'm happy to support organizations that would like us to be nicer to each other, and less likely to hurl invective at efforts that don't meet our critical standards.

  2. Thank you Deric! Your response is just, justified, and measured. I am corrected.