Bernard White


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Why do people think they can't commit "Evil" or "Violence", when empirical evidence suggests we can! (Quite easily!)

I believe it is the optimism Bias, which prevents us from realizing just how vulnerable us Humans are to certain psychological mechanisms.

I feel that how we are feeling in the present affects how we remember the past and how we imagine the future.Which has an impact of how we will "imagine" what we will do in the future. Therefore, we expect our future to feel a bit more like our present than it actually will. (Shown by Daniel Gilbert!)

Philip Zimabrdo makes these main points in his TED Talk :

Definition of Evil in this case as :
"the exercise of power to intentionally harm physically or psychologically, destroy or commit crimes against humanity."

The seven slippery slopes to Evil :

1 Mindlessly taking the first step

2 Dehumanisation of others (degrading acts, loss of dignity and autonomy)

3 De-individuation of self (anonymity, uniformed, masked)

4 Diffusion of personal responsibility (group 'gang' mentality)

5 Blind obedience to authority ('We just followed our orders' re: Nuremberg Trials)

6 Uncritical conformity to group norms (going with the flow)

7 Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference ('Nothing to do with me.')

And that Dan Ariely Makes the points of :

- Conflicts of Interest
- Will Power Depletion
- Altruistic Cheating
- Dishonesty and Creativity (their correlated.)
- The Contagious Nature of Cheating (A bit like conformity!)

Also he introduces the concept of the "Fudge factor", where we can cheat, but only by a little bit. So we can still look at our selves in the mirror and think "I'm a good guy".

All impact how we behave so dishonestly!

With his conclusion being :
"Our capacity for rationalization and self-deception (due to external stimuli) allows us to cheat + commit evil a little (sometimes a lot) while nonetheless hanging on to the view that we are good people."

I hope this leads to a constructive debate / question. :)
Enjoy! :D

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    Apr 14 2013: "I believe it is the optimism Bias, which prevents us from realizing just how vulnerable us Humans are to certain psychological mechanisms." I'd like to add: also our flawed belief that our actions are being judged by a supreme super natural moral authority instead of appealing to a collective societal good or a platform of common minimum harm.
    I don't like the word 'evil' on account of its obvious religious color. When I checked your definition, I felt that 'criminal' will do fine for me.
    All 7 slippery slopes are basically psychological or social/behavioral malfunctions, which lay people will like to call mistakes. I think the reason that you are looking for is hidden in the conflict between the social/moral/cultural and biological/animal selves of humans. What you mean by 'evil' is not extendable beyond homo sapience.
    David Bohm's implicate order sees everything in a conceptual continuum. If you allow me such a continuum, I'd see violence as mere reconfigurations, sometimes even necessary precursor of a renewed system. Even our social systems permit such violence in the hope of a fresh beginning.
    Such ideas are pretty exclusive and I think our wise ancestors knew it. So they devised organizational values (and some memes too) to keep status quo : safety, peace and social order. Not many can digest the underlying indeterminacy and uncertainty of nature - human nature included.
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    Apr 14 2013: Daniel Kahneman says humans have an exaggerated view of how well they understand themselves through self-reflection- that people's estimate of their self-awareness is far greater than their actual understanding of their motivations, biases, and so forth.
  • Apr 14 2013: i love ted