The Empathic Civilisation

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This video animates a presentation by bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical thinker, Jeremy Rifkin. It presentes his investigations into the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.

Learn more about the RSA Animate.

Since my family was abusive, violent and neglectful and eventually gave me up when I was a teenager, and my country of birth never gave two shits about me as an individual, I first experienced “family” when I started university, and my “family” was mostly academically-based until I lost my funding and all my colleagues and so-called friends abandoned me. But now, my “family” is online. My online community has changed over time, but my beloved blog readers have stayed with me — some of them have been friends ever since I started writing my blog on 4 August 2004 — nearly six years ago!

But I am not unique in my perception of the online community being my family, although I might be somewhat ahead of my time in this, since most people who share this view are younger than I; having grown up with computers, the internet, iPhones, etc., as part of their lives. What are your thoughts about empathy, family and community?

About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. She writes the popular eponymous science blog hosted by The Guardian (UK) and is working on a popular science book about plumage colour. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots — and a slightly deaf spouse — somewhere in Germany. Grrlscientist's main blog is hosted by The Guardian, Grrlscientist. GrrlScientist's main blog can always be accessed through any one of these five domain names:,,,, and GrrlScientist writes a second blog, Maniraptora, at Nature Network. (Maniraptora is in a state of unfixable technical disrepair, which explains the existence of this blog!) Online interviews with GrrlScientist: Kolibri Expeditions, ScienceOnline09, Nature Blog Network and ScienceBlogs. More biographical information about GrrlScientist.
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