Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good and Evil: What Makes People Go Wrong?

"The line between Good and Evil
cuts through the heart of every human Being"

- Alexandre Solzenitsyn

Earlier today, I was watching this awesome TED Talk by Phil Zimbardo.

Phil discusses GOOD and EVIL, and analyzes situations that often make people behave in shocking ways. Later in the talk, he summarizes typical situations and how our reaction to various circumstances makes us villains, negligent bystanders or heroes. He shows how people become monsters... or heroes.

Following are highlights of this great TED Talk.

- That line between good and evil, which privileged people like to think is fixed and impermeable, with them on the good side and the others on the bad side... that line is both movable and permeable.

- People can be seduced to cross that line and in some rare cases, bad kids can recover - with help, with reform and rehabilitation.

Evil is the exercise of power to intentionally:
- harm
- hurt
- destroy
- commit crimes against humanity

The mind has an infinite capacity to make us be:
- kind or cruel
- caring or indifferent
- creative or destructive
- heroes or villains

7 Social Processes that Grease the Slippery Slope of Evil
- Mindlessly taking the first small step
- Dehumanization of Others
- De-individuation of Self (anonymity)
- Diffusion of Personal Responsibility
- Blind Obedience to Authority
- Uncritical Conformity to Group norms
- Passive Tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference

Situations have the power to do three things:
- inflame the hostile imagination, in those who become perpetrators of evil
- inspire the heroic imagination in others
- render most people passive bystanders and guilty of the evil of inaction

One day, YOU will be in a new situation with three paths:
1. you become a perpetrator of evil
2. you become guilty of passive inaction
3. you go straight ahead and become a hero

You can see what others say and download this talk here.

Let us all learn and share.


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