The Lucifer Effect

I can't recommend the CATO event on Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect. I wish I could, but the audio presentation is full of blanks where the presenter relies on video to make his point; and the video is flawed with missing color as well as being an extremely poor quality Real media stream (why they still rely on outdated technology like Real media streams at CATO is beyond me) whose soundtrack bounces like a poorly inflated basketball.

So I'll just say the genius of Dr. Zimbardo's work comes across in spite of the transmission problems, and I think I'll have to put another book on my wish list. About three quarters of the way through the presentation, this slide appears in the video (actually it's the slide combined with the speech he's giving. I think this flows better)
One day you will be in a new situation with 3 paths
  • Path one: You become a perpetrator of evil.
  • Path two: You become guilty of passive inaction
  • Path three: You go straight ahead and become a hero.
And as I said, all that matters is, these heroes don't have anything special about them. Ordinary heroes, waiting for the right situation to put our heroic imagination into action.
For those who don't recognize the name, Philip Zimbardo is the professor who conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment, as well as several other studies into group psychology. Like the previous Milgram Experiment, the results of the study were quite shocking.

Here's to the notion that we are shaping superior barrels with the spread of liberal cultural norms. Liberal capitalism is slowly ridding the world of evil.

So, why did I feel the need to share this bit of insight? When discussing these types of evil, and resistance to evil, I'm generally reminded of the Star Trek episode Space Seed. Gene's subtle understanding of the need for societal evolution is on rare display in that episode.

Khan fails in his bid to retake power because the human creature has evolved in the hundreds of years he has been in hypersleep. The crew of the Enterprise not only will not cooperate with him, starting down that slippery slope towards doing evil oneself; but they can not cooperate with him even in the face of personal destruction.

Resisting Influence. This is a facet of ourselves that we have to grow if we are going to see an end to dictatorship, totalitarianism, and genocide.



This was another instance where, when listening to or watching a program I find myself biting my lip and trying to resist the urge to scream "Altruism is not the same as Charity!"

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