Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Are We All Potentially Evil?

The large numbers of people who are trying to join ISIS is a conundrum. In his recent publication eSkeptic Michael Shermer explores the famous Stanford Prison Experiment as it relates to this topic.  He concludes his discussion with
Watching The Stanford Prison Experiment film you will be tempted—as I was—to moralize about the accursed guards and sympathize with the guiltless prisoners. Such is the power of a good film. But after your moral emotions subside think like a scientist and consider why good people turn bad, and what we can all do to prevent future evils.
Click here to read his essay.

1 comment:

  1. When I first started reading this article I thought one might be excused for thinking that the simplistic concept of Original Sin, and organized religion's simplistic response, may have merit and be sufficient for the vast majority of us unsophisticates. However, by the time I reached the end I realized that the traditional response is not quite adequate or effective for all. By all accounts and measurements acc to this article SSgt Chip Frederick was before and was (presumably still is) second only to Pope Francis for morality, compassion and being an all around well-socialized honorable patriotic good guy. But the context of Abu Ghraib turned him into a heartless animal. This phenomenon helps me better understand the behavior of the local guards at Auschwitz and Dachau etc, and the manufacturers like Krupp who proudly imbedded the Krupp name on their cast iron crematoriums. I don't know what the ultimate answer is for combating evil behavior as described here, other than we have to be responsible for our own behavior regardless of context, but it is clear that sometimes we need a little external help from our friends and institutions to hold a mirror up before us; we do indeed need to be 'our brother and sister's [compassionate] keepers' for our own enlightened self-interest and protection if for no loftier reason. The one uplifting element in this article is that apparently SSgt Frederick was able to make a full recovery from his severe aberration, perhaps with a little help from his friends and counselors, no doubt by accepting his responsibility. I've expressed some caustic opinions about Dr Shermer in the past, but this time it's chapeau! He done good with this article.