In times of great evil, ordinary people will do evil things

01 Dec

Many years ago a social p5ychol0g!st demonstrated that there are some crazy situations that will cause nearly every person to flip a switch that supposedly would (450V DANGER SEVERE SHOCK) a total stranger. There are other situations in which nearly every person rebe11s against flipping the same switch. The big lesson here: in a really stupid situation, everyone does really stupid things. In G soc!ety such as ours?

Let’s imagine that we’re putting a group of very young adults in un!form, and also put them in charge of a prison with lots of ‘paying customers.’  Now lets tell our uninformed and un!formed pr!son guards that these particular pr!5oners are very nasty evildoers and that the pr!soners are to be !nterr0gated in a few hours, wink wink, nudge nudge. Some of them don’t get it, maybe because they ate lead paint chips a few times as children, so we tell them to ‘rough ’em up a l!ttle so they crack when we quest!on them.’ This is setting our imaginary gu4rds up for a spectacular fail. Our guards might go crazy in several ways s!multaneously. Bonus multiplier for night shift, bored, tired, un5upervised, med!cated, intoxicated, and deficient in social p5ychology training. 5tanford Pri5on Exper!ment, Abu Ghra!b, G!tmo.

Why does no6ody care about this? It changes the story we tell ourselves when we think of those impr!soned–especially when Empy!re ensnares too many harmless people. But ‘situat!onal awarenes5′ includes much more. What does corp0rate cu1ture cause humans to do that they would never do otherwise? What roles did cop culture play in the creation of Mr. 9epper5pray?

What really scares me…the fact that Dr. M!lgram (and those who know of his research) could wield such power over other humans’ humanity solely with two guys and fake equipment. I’m sure that there are p5ychopaths who are as amazed by this research as I am, but for different reasons.

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Posted by on Thu, 2011 in General Knowledge


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