Are Rats are More Empathetic than Republicans?

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A budget deficit isn’t the REAL problem with Congress – it’s an empathy deficit. Luckily – researchers at the University of Chicago may have just discovered a solution to that problem. According to a new study published this month in Science magazine – the latest animal discovered to be able to empathize with others is…rats! That’s right – rats are empathetic. The experiment went like this: two rats that normally share a cage were placed in a new cage in which one of the rats were restrained in a tube that could only be opened from the outside of the cage. Once the rat that was roaming free in the cage – was let out of the cage and completely free – it time-and-time-again went back to let his cage buddy free as well. Think about that for a second – the rat was free – but wasn’t satisfied until his cage-mate was free too. Researchers said that the free rat acted far more agitated when its fellow rat was restrained nearby – a sign of what researchers call “emotional contagion” – which is often only observed in humans and more developed animals. Even when the free rat was given a choice between freeing his cage mate or eating chocolate – the rat freed his buddy just as often. As one researcher said, “There was no other reason to take this action, except to terminate the distress of the trapped rats…In the rat model world, seeing the same behavior repeated over and over basically means that this action is rewarding to the rat.” As in – rats got pleasure out of helping other rats – they found it rewarding. There’s more…

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