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* Psychopathology expert says idea of evil has done no good
* Sees empathy as world's most valuable but ignored resource
By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent
LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Simon Baron-Cohen has been battling with evil all his life
As a scientist seeking to understand random acts of violence, from street brawls to psychopathic killings to genocide, he has puzzled for decades over
what prompts such acts of human cruelty. And he's decided that evil is not good enough.
"I'm not satisfied with the term 'evil'," says the Cambridge University psychology and psychiatry professor, one of the world's top experts in
autism and developmental psychopathology.
"We've inherited this word.. and we use it to express our abhorrence when people do awful things, usually acts of cruelty, but I don't think it's
anything more than another word for doing something bad. And as a scientist that doesn't seem to me to be much of an explanation. So I've been
looking for an alternative -- we need a new theory of human cruelty."
This is a truly relevant study. This is a fascinating subject on multiple levels. Just imagine what our worlds could contain, if not for all the
time lost in wars, conflicts, prosecuting deviants and the repercussions of a planet of resources fully focused on progress.
But if 'evil' can be found in a gene, or removed through a brain surgery, perhaps conditioned out of behavior, then perhaps there are several types
of 'evil', and several conditions that lead to its state.
Surely, being raised in an environment that discounts empathy, punishes empathy or any expression can quickly suppress that development in a child.
Genetic propensity towards adrenal-seeking, heightened pain tolerance or nerve damage preventing pain receptors could interfere with a 'normal'
understanding of pain felt in another as a result of actions taken.
Even the oft quoted, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," can lead to 'evil', if the neighbors standards are of a different quality or expectation than
the one 'loving'. Today's modern society with its endless edge of competition and striving to outdo one another at any expense, in any other
venue, would be considered 'evil'. Schools, replete with bullying and fashion dictates regularly crush and maim children when they are at the
optimum age to learn empathy.
Imagine a world where there is no evil. How can good exist? By what would each person measure their goodness? Are we ready, as a species to let go
of the ego and the idea of superiority? Can we step up to such a challenge? In this dimension, on this planet, have we progressed far enough to
self-motivate without a carrot or stick to propel us?
What would corporations, schools, sports, game shows, religions, military establishments, Hollywood, the music and gaming industry, medical research,
psychology and factory farms DO if we removed evil or its source overnight?
Can our broken system survive the removal of evil or do we just seek to label it differently?