Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo discusses From Genocide to Abu Ghraib: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.
To help us understand how good people can be seduced to act immorally, and how it can be prevented, renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo joins the Council to discuss his new book The Lucifer Effect.
Drawing on examples from history, current events, and his now-classic Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo's book details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make people commit organized genocide, torture, and abuse. Seeing key similarities in social circumstances at the Iraqi prison and his mock prison at Stanford, he examines what led U.S. soldiers, who were on a mission to liberate Iraq from a brutal dictator, to torture and abuse detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison- World Affairs Council of Northern California
Nancy Jarvis is Senior partner with Farrand Cooper, P.C., San Francisco, where her practice includes high-technology clients headquartered in Asia. Before practicing law, she was a foreign policy editor at MIT Press. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, she is a former chair of the World Affairs Council of Northern California.
Philip Zimbardo is internationally recognized as a leading "voice and face of contemporary psychology" through his widely seen PBS-TV series, "Discovering Psychology," his media appearances, best-selling trade books on shyness, and his classic research, The Stanford Prison Experiment.
Zimbardo has been a Stanford University professor since 1968 (now an Emeritus Professor), having taught previously at Yale, NYU, and Columbia University. He continues teaching graduate students at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and at the Naval Post Graduate School (Monterey). He has been given numerous awards and honors as an educator, researcher, writer, and service to the profession. Recently, he was awarded the Havel Foundation Prize for his lifetime of research on the human condition. Among his more than 300 professional publications and 50 books is the oldest current textbook in psychology, Psychology and Life, now in its 18th Edition, and Core Concepts in Psychology in its 5th Edition.
His current research interests continue in the domain of social psychology, with a broad emphasis on everything interesting to study from shyness to time perspective, madness, cults, vandalism, political psychology, torture, terrorism, and evil. Noted for his personal and professional efforts to actually "give psychology away to the public," Zimbardo has also been a social-political activist, challenging the Government's wars in Vietnam and Iraq, as well as the American Correctional System.
Zimbardo has served as elected President of the Western Psychological Association (twice), President of the American Psychological Association, the Chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) representing 63 scientific, math and technical associations (with 1.5 million members), and now is Chair of the Western Psychological Foundation.
He heads a philanthropic foundation in his name to promote education in his ancestral Sicilian towns. Zimbardo adds to his retirement list activities: serving as the new executive director of a center on terrorism, the Center for Interdisciplinary Policy, Education, and Research on Terrorism (CIPERT).
He is also the author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007).
Deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, religious, political, or ethnic group. The term was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-born jurist who served as an adviser to the U.S. Department of War during World War II, to describe the premeditated effort to destroy a population (seeHolocaust). In 1946 the UN General Assembly declared genocide a punishable crime. By this declaration, genocide by definition may be committed by an individual, group, or government, against one's own people or another, in peacetime or in wartime. This last point distinguishes genocide from crimes against humanity, whose legal definition specifies wartime. Suspects may be tried by a court in the country where the act was committed or by an international court (seeInternational Criminal Court). An example of genocide more recent than the Holocaust is the slaughter of Tutsi people by the Hutu in Rwanda in the 1990s.
Zimbardo's Lucifer Effect has implications for the GFC in that the power and authority exercised by Wall Street without surveillance inevitably leads to evil. That surveillance needs to come from government, which in a democaracy is surveilled by the people.
A frightening vision of what the human mind is capable of in times of duress and a perfect example of group think. One must wonder how far down the line of command people will be held accountable [if-when] prosecuted.
Interesting how this can be applied to the drug wars. It seems to rubbish the notion that there is an intrinsic and inherent evil attached to them and instead suggests that it is the structural factors concommitant to prohibition. The socially reinforced moral chauvenism of anti-drug zealots permits the sadistic behaviour imposed upon both addictive and recreational users.
Originally Posted by Manna
Humans are ... easily influence by their surroundings ...
That is the crux of the problem. We are not so easily influenced, unless influence becomes an arbitrary or chaotic attribute of childhood.
The more all things are of equal value, the less any one thing matters.
Humans are mailable beings, easily influence by their surroundings. Our beauty and flaws are amplified when the group/mob mind takes hold...there are many examples of this type of behavior throughout our recorded history.
If you can stomach it, watch Chapter 6 - it contains images of Abu Ghraib I've never seen. So sick. So sick. Truly disheartening...my humanist values are tested by watching humans behave in such an insane and inhumane manner.