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Philip Zimbardo: How ordinary people become monsters ... or heroes

 
 
dlowan
 
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 08:36 pm
Remember the Zimbardo experiment?

"Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge."


This link leads to a talk by Zimbardo on good and evil, and relates this t Abu Ghraib, which he consulted on.....I found it fascinating, though not new, so it may very well bore some. But have a look, ok?

You may download audio alone, or video.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil.html



I would be very interested to see what thoughts people have if you look at the material...

It takes about 20 minutes.

He has written a book recently called "The Lucifer Effect".

http://www.amazon.com/Lucifer-Effect-Understanding-Good-People/dp/0812974441/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222482551&sr=1-1



I find this material interesting because I get so tired of people who talk/act as though people who do bad things are a separate breed of monsters whom we must expunge.

I think this is bad because, I think, it stops us both from understanding and dealing with our own frailties, but also from truly grappling with and attempting seriously to address situations that select for behaviour that hurts.

I do hope someone loks at this!

 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 08:44 pm
@dlowan,
Another interesting book:

http://www.amazon.com/Violence-Workers-Torturers-Reconstruct-Atrocities/dp/0520234472

Violence Workers: Police Torturers and Murderers Reconstruct Brazilian Atrocities


"Product Description
Of the twenty-three Brazilian policemen interviewed in depth for this landmark study, fourteen were direct perpetrators of torture and murder during the three decades that included the 1964-1985 military regime. These "violence workers" and the other group of "atrocity facilitators" who had not, or claimed they had not, participated directly in the violence, help answer questions that haunt today's world: Why and how are ordinary men transformed into state torturers and murderers? How do atrocity perpetrators explain and justify their violence? What is the impact of their murderous deeds--on them, on their victims, and on society? What memories of their atrocities do they admit and which become public history?"

0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 08:47 pm
@dlowan,
Quote:

I find this material interesting because I get so tired of people
who talk/act as though people who do bad things are a
separate breed of monsters whom we must expunge.

I have not seen it yet; I think tomorrow.
Tho I have not suggested that thay be expunged,
I have ofen promoted the idea that incorrigibly recidivistic violent felons
be ISOLATED from the decent people, for the latter 's safety.
I like the idea of their BANISHMENT from this continent.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  3  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 08:48 pm
Also try to find the experiments done at Stanford and Yale universities about torture by "ordinary" students with above average intelligence. It's scary, because it shows we're all capable.
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 09:07 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
It's scary, because it shows we're all capable

I thought we KNEW that already.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 09:11 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
David, Some of us still don't admit it.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 09:25 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I found this on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 09:38 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I think I once read a summary of one such experiment. Scary.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 10:13 pm
I like the explanation that the veneer of civility is much more thin than most of us realize, which was the lesson that WW2 taught many who fought in it. This generation, the one that tends to believe in such foolishness as "self regulation" of markets, and the wrecking of politics with partisan gamesmanship, knows nothing.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 03:10 am
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
David, Some of us still don't admit it.

True, like the Amish and the Quakers.

I respect their right to their own opinions, from which I dissent.
I do not believe that anyone has a DUTY to defend himself,
if he chooses not to do so. If a pack of wolves are devouring a fisherman,
he does not necessarily have a DUTY to counterattack them,
if he wishes to feed himself to them, for their greater lupine contentment.


Some friends of mine have informed me that
some ancient Jewish scripture declares a moral duty to defend oneself.

Everyone has a right to his own opinion.





David
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 03:44 am
@dlowan,
I guess what is interesting to me is not "whether we all have the capacity"...I think the jury is pretty much in on that one.

What is intereting to me is the notion of beginning to be being able to take what Zimbardo calls "a public health approach" to lessening the likelihood of, for instance, an Abu Ghraib. Eg....lessening anonymity of people in situations where they can abuse.

OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 05:04 am
@dlowan,
Quote:

What is intereting to me is the notion of beginning to be being able
to take what Zimbardo calls "a public health approach"
to lessening the likelihood of, for instance, an Abu Ghraib.
Eg....lessening anonymity of people in situations where they can abuse.

Maybe this information is addressed in the link that I have yet to read.

I 'm not too sure about how a "public health approach" is defined.
Insofar as anonymity is concerned, if I remember accurately,
the MPs who were endeavoring to extract information from the
obstinate Moslems were either ORDERED to do it, or minimally, thay
were encouraged to use psychological means to degrade or diminish
enemy reticence qua information of future raids or sabotage
against American troops. Those MPs had an honorable motive,
and thay did not act out of personal sadism. I am uncertain qua
how much anonymity thay needed. If I am inaccurate in my memory
of the facts, I hope that someone will correct me.





David

dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 06:46 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Good grief.

Here is an outline of what public health means:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_health

Here is some info on what a public health approach means..in this case in terms of violence, which is clearly highly relevant:

http://www.who.int/violenceprevention/approach/public_health/en/index.html
0 Replies
 
Diane
 
  3  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 07:03 pm
Philip Zimbardo's book is one I will order. I have heard of his experiment at Stanford and it explains something that I have always been interested in, that good people can also be evil.

My perspective is more to do with the family, which ties in with his talk of anonymity. So often inside a family there is horrible abuse, while to the world outside the home, the family seems normal, even exceptional.

Being from a family like that, I have the habit of looking at families from the inside, if possible, and compare that to their outer behavior. I wasn't very old when I realized that each of us has the capability of good and evil. When I was older, what I found amazing was the number of people who denied, forcefully, that they would ever be capable of any atrocity or even minor cruelty.

Zimbardo's goal of teaching heroism is, to me, a practical effort to help change our automatic response to various situations, to one of helpfulness, even heroism, rather that ignoring a situation that is dangerous for others as well as oneself.

This can sound unimportant to some, but after reading about a fifth grade teacher who spent a few months teaching her students how to behave in public--basically good manners and how this affected their reactions and behavior in public. After the course, a local restaurant agreed to provide a meal to which the children went to practice what they had learned. By the way, the course included how to make conversation. At the restaurant, one little boy turned the the girl next to him and admired her pretty dress. Seems silly, but they had learned a lesson that would help them become aware, kind individuals.

What good are good manners? The children learned to be aware of the people around them and to be kind, attributes far more important than knowing which fork to use, although even knowing about silverware was important in adding to their selfconfidence in different social situations.

I see the link in comparing this small lesson in manners, to one of how an adult responds to his world. It teaches children, still in a fairly receptive mode, the idea of kindness and awareness of others in a positive light, not somehting that should be considered corny or uncool.

I would love to know if there are any results from the Hero program. Early childhood is such an important time to learn ideals. It is a time when those lessons become ingrained in our personalities.

I'd also love to hear your take on these ideas Deb. I know you can't give specific instances, but if you could describe some of the children you've worked with and how the influences in their lives have affected their personalities.

Interesting thread. I hope more people respond. More personal experiences and observations will be a tremendous addition.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 07:52 pm
@Diane,
Diane, Good post. I remember during the Vietnam war when soldiers questioned their commanders about actions they were ordered to follow when it went against their conscience. Soldiers are "trained" to follow all orders without question, but I found it interesting that during that war, soldiers did question their commanders. I thought that was a good thing, especially seeing and hearing about all the atrocities practiced by our military.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 07:59 pm
@Diane,
I just bought the Lucifer Effect yesterday!

I think the Hero Program is just gathering data? I had a look at its site yesterday, but only briefly.

As to the families....I suspect it's all going to tie in with resilience research, and my sense of that in summary is that (while there is doubtless a temperament aspect) it is about kids finding connections with stable and caring adults and experiencing themselves as having some mastery and competence (we had some American expert over here a few years who was nutso about marching band sin this connection....they appear to be common in the states?)

The Abu Ghraib analysis is gonna be interesting...especially his critique of the "a few bad apples" thing...(which for me ties in with the phobic denial of evil in ourselves, and thus the demonizing and "othering" of those who do it...).



Diane
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 08:36 pm
@dlowan,
Your mention of finding relationships with stable adults is something I've also noticed and experienced. I think almost any kind of mentor is incredibly helpful, even if there isn't a family connection.
Diane
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 08:40 pm
@cicerone imposter,
C.i., I've thought and wondered about that. Vietnam certainly wasn't the first illegal and immoral war, yet there did seem to be more awareness on the part of the soldiers. Dys has mentioned that some of the troop leaders were fresh out of Ivy League schools, who took their leadership positions far too seriously as well as having contempt for the grunts. Another example of unwise use of power contributing to violence.
0 Replies
 
Diane
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 08:50 pm
@dlowan,
Deb, have you read Disposable People? I can't find it --probably loaned it to someone never to see it again, so the author's name is lost in my leaky brain.

It is all about evil and the inhumane use of people as slaves. There are so many people living in poverty that they aren't even considered human, just any other piece of machinery and it can be found in every country, not just the poorest ones. There are so many that they are literally disposable. No, or very little money is spent on them since thousands of others are begging for work.

Think of the trade in young girls and boys in southeast Asia and all the "theme" trips that specialize in taking (mostly) men to brothels filled with children. And the factories that keep the workers locked in so that they have no chance of escaping.

Of course, we and other so-called first world countries continue to trade with those countries, paying no attention to the mandates calling for fair labor practices.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 09:33 pm
@Diane,
Diane.....there's workers (often from Asia and Africa) right here in our own cute little countries imprisoned in brothels (Australia successfully prosected a sex slavery case not long ago, and intends to prosecute many more).

Right in our own countries children get sold for sex to earn their parents drug money....virgins being such a desirable commodity, especially when they are children, for a certain market.

We don't need to be trading with other countries be kind of complicit in such stuff. It's all around us.

But, indeed, I think the anonymity thing comes in...eg that we buy clothes and shoes made by people working in appalling conditions.

0 Replies
 
 

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