posted on Jun, 2 2012 @ 03:11 PM
Well, today on Radio Lab (click to listen)
(the program that plays on weekends on NPR), they were
discussing "badness" or "evil" or the ability to do harm/malicious intent towards others.
They mentioned the famous experiment by Stanley Milgram.
The Milgram experiment
studied how the participants - average Joes - would react to having
to shock someone who was not visible (in another room) based on their incorrect answering of a battery of word questions. The experiment was staged
for the men doing the shocking. There was no real shocking going on. However, as far as the participants were concerned, they were shocking the actors
more and more with each switch all the way up to 450 volts.
It turned out that 65% of participants, when under a situation of authority (in this case, scientists as authority figures), would in fact go the
distance and harm another person. There were reservations. Many did object as they went along, but despite this, 65% of the participants did go all
the way to 450 volts with the actor screaming in the next room.
According to the guest on Radio Lab (you can listen to the first 20 minute segment separately), this shows that people are all but willing, even if
they have doubt in their own minds, to do harm if it is contextualized for them within the confines of a certain, even ennobled endeavor.
This should not be surprising...all mass atrocities have a "noble" end to justify their means.
So, my point?
Yes, they can and will turn on the people if prompted by the right social or psychological circumstance.