A beaker full of death wrote:
Let's not forget that the command crew of a starship are likely to be bolder, more selfless, yes, more heroic than the average schlub. And these characters gave us people to emulate. I've stuck my neck out more than a few times for others; Star Trek and Superman may have had something to do with that.
But doing that, especially as rashly as Kirk does, can come at a terrible cost-- if you're not a fictional character and
One thing that's usually left out of the equation is the family members a hero would leave behind. In "The Empath," to take an example, McCoy is practically saying that it is better for his own relatives to lose a loved one than for Spock's family to suffer a similar loss.
This is credible dramatic behavior, in that we don't scoff and leave the room, but it's hard to explain from the standpoint of natural selection.
It turns out some scientists are actually wrestling with this problem:
If "The Empath" is viewed through this lens, then the concept of group selection (as opposed to individual selection or kin selection) seems to explain all the self-sacrifice going on.