[INFP] The nature of evil

The nature of evil

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This is a discussion on The nature of evil within the INFP Forum - The Idealists forums, part of the NF's Temperament Forum- The Dreamers category; I seem to recall a thread about INFPs obsessing over good and evil...cannot find it probably my bad use of ...

  1. #1
    INFP - The Idealists

    The nature of evil

    I seem to recall a thread about INFPs obsessing over good and evil...cannot find it probably my bad use of the search function - just thought I'd share this vid with you

    YouTube - Philip Zimbardo: Why ordinary people do evil ... or do good

    Interesting stuff
    Lad, babblingbrook, magnus una and 4 others thanked this post.



  2. #2
    INFJ

    Thanks for sharing,

    I saw this talk in-person when he came to my University awhile back. When Q&A came in, he got absolutely torn apart by the psychology professors. It was pretty interesting to see a respected man in the field of psychology (particularly for his prison experiment) get ridiculed beyond belief. The guy couldn't defend himself either.

    Nonetheless, I'll re-watch it for a refresher. I remember hearing a number of logical beliefs, but quite a few missing pieces.

  3. #3
    INFP - The Idealists

    Yes, I think it's fascinating. I've seen a similar presentation. Oh found it The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil | MIT World
    Didn't watch the full thing though, it's 1:50 hours long.

    The parallels between the stanford prison experiment and abu ghraib seemed quite obvious to me (after watching the documentaries ghosts of abu ghraib and stanford prison experiment). What do you think of that connection he brings to the table?

    EDIT:
    Wanna come back to this. I think his theory is very post-modern in itself. He's sort of saying "the institutions or external forces construct certain behaviour", and while I think this is true in many cases, I believe people should always take responsibility for themselves. When they acknowledge that they can always make a change, they wouldn't see themselves as victims of a situation. When I watched this part of the movie waking life I fully agreed with what was being said.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGoGFU9tB8g

    Also, I've been in two situations in which I experienced the bystander effect (refers to cases where individuals do not offer help in an emergency situation when other people are present. The greater the number of bystanders the less likely it is that any one of them will help.) First one I came from outside into a emergency situation and everyone was standing around doing nothing about it. I intervened and I think I did because I came from outside. For an outsider it's always easier to judge a situation more clearly (similar to Zimbardo and his wife who told him he should stop his experiment). The other was when I fell into it and I didn't do anything but stand and watch. Someone from outside came in and intervened.
    Last edited by babblingbrook; 11-27-2010 at 12:37 PM.

  4. #4
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by Lad View Post
    Thanks for sharing,

    I saw this talk in-person when he came to my University awhile back. When Q&A came in, he got absolutely torn apart by the psychology professors. It was pretty interesting to see a respected man in the field of psychology (particularly for his prison experiment) get ridiculed beyond belief. The guy couldn't defend himself either.

    Nonetheless, I'll re-watch it for a refresher. I remember hearing a number of logical beliefs, but quite a few missing pieces.
    interesting that he got ripped into by the professors. What sort of angle did they use? I think Zimbardos argument speaks for itself. I suspect all these professors offered brilliant counter ideas or theories...

    I like the concept that the system is structurally corrupt unless outside forces intervene

    YouTube - Asch Conformity Experiment

    this is an interesting video too. I just wonder how many people would actually keep to the truth rather than just conform to the wrong majority
    babblingbrook and Somniorum thanked this post.

  5. #5
    INFJ

    Quote Originally Posted by gravitycantforget View Post
    interesting that he got ripped into by the professors. What sort of angle did they use? I think Zimbardos argument speaks for itself. I suspect all these professors offered brilliant counter ideas or theories...
    Well, his argument is a pretty easy rip.

    Firstly, I'll recommend that people be wary of Confirmation bias while watching this. It's "a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true." Some people could suggest that Zimbardo suffered from this as well.

    Nonetheless,
    - Everyone knows science and religion don't mix very well together. The God & Lucifer references will certainly appeal to the masses, but will taint your image in the eyes of the non-religious or professional researchers.
    - Painting the world as black and white (evil and good) is often considered narrow minded. Most people can agree it's not as simple as that.

    - He describes evil as "power," that's reasonable, some may agree or disagree. However, many studies (even some of the ones he cited in his video) are on record as saying that the diffusion of responsibility is one of the most influential factors in determining much of the aggressive behavior exhibited. So, if anything, it's usually the powerless that actually commit such acts, but under the logic that the onus is placed on either the victim or a superior officer, under who the aggressor serves. There is a reason why it's incredibly difficult to persecute people in the military, it's a huge tangled web of responsibility "who do we blame?"

    Extending on this, in Milgram's shock experiments, if you you emphasize the relationship between a shocker and a shockee, the 'shocker' will often stop harming the other individual if there's a reason for concern (ie: shockee claims they are having trouble breathing -- heart complications). However, if someone of authority in the study is present and says "they are faking it" or "they signed the paperwork to participant in this study, it's not your fault it's theirs" or just generally claim responsibility for themselves (even implied) then the shocker will continue.

    Next we can examine Zimbardo's actual prison experiment itself. His team handpicked 24 participants -- this is already a flaw in research as it wasn't a random sample. On top of that, they were males and primarily white.. okay here we go again, lack of diversity. Now here's a question you have to ask yourself, this study was intended to be 2 weeks long, how many people can essentially take a vacation from 2 weeks of their lives fairly quickly? Generally, it's the unemployed. On top of this, the study itself has Zimbardo as a superintendent and his assistant as a warden, essentially the 'leaders.' This makes it very easy to taint results -- I shouldn't have to explain why.

    I'll confess he was bang on with a few points (he did touch on diffusion of responsibility, but minimally). The anonymity factor was often important -- when he talked about tribesmen wearing masks and exhibiting far more aggressive behavior -- this is true even in modern crimes. For the most part, I think it was a light way of covering his tracks as this certainly wasn't an emphasis.

    Anyways, I better eat breaky, but that's a general sense of things.

    The Asch experiment is interesting, another is the Bobo doll experiment. One that I found the most interesting was hrm.. name escapes me (Skinner?), but a study based on "imprinting." So one zoologist suggested newborns of certain animals will imprint (psychological attachment) on the first 'body' that is present after their birth (which is usually the mother). Anyways, he IMPRINTED ducks on him, and just like you often see those little trail of baby ducklings following their mother, well they followed him around now. He'd go for swims and all the little ducklings would jump in after he did.

    edit: Here's one video, not quite the exact one I wanted.. so I failed by saying duck, it was geese.
    babblingbrook, Somniorum, Oryx and 1 others thanked this post.

  6. #6
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by Lad View Post
    Nonetheless,
    - Everyone knows science and religion don't mix very well together. The God & Lucifer references will certainly appeal to the masses, but will taint your image in the eyes of the non-religious or professional researchers.
    - Painting the world as black and white (evil and good) is often considered narrow minded. Most people can agree it's not as simple as that.
    I think he uses these just as a way of illustrating his point. You don't have to take this all very literally and you don't have to be religous to understand what he's trying to say. But yes, the presentation could've done without.

    - He describes evil as "power," that's reasonable, some may agree or disagree. However, many studies (even some of the ones he cited in his video) are on record as saying that the diffusion of responsibility is one of the most influential factors in determining much of the aggressive behavior exhibited. So, if anything, it's usually the powerless that actually commit such acts, but under the logic that the onus is placed on either the victim or a superior officer, under who the aggressor serves. There is a reason why it's incredibly difficult to persecute people in the military, it's a huge tangled web of responsibility "who do we blame?"

    Extending on this, in Milgram's shock experiments, if you you emphasize the relationship between a shocker and a shockee, the 'shocker' will often stop harming the other individual if there's a reason for concern (ie: shockee claims they are having trouble breathing -- heart complications). However, if someone of authority in the study is present and says "they are faking it" or "they signed the paperwork to participant in this study, it's not your fault it's theirs" or just generally claim responsibility for themselves (even implied) then the shocker will continue.
    How are these counterarguments?

    Next we can examine Zimbardo's actual prison experiment itself. His team handpicked 24 participants -- this is already a flaw in research as it wasn't a random sample. On top of that, they were males and primarily white.. okay here we go again, lack of diversity. Now here's a question you have to ask yourself, this study was intended to be 2 weeks long, how many people can essentially take a vacation from 2 weeks of their lives fairly quickly? Generally, it's the unemployed. On top of this, the study itself has Zimbardo as a superintendent and his assistant as a warden, essentially the 'leaders.' This makes it very easy to taint results -- I shouldn't have to explain why.
    Does it matter that they are white or unemployed, does that make them more prone to commiting evil deeds? From watching the documentary (it's been some time ago) I didn't get the idea that Zimbardo and his assistent intervened during the experiment. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    The Asch experiment is interesting, another is the Bobo doll experiment. One that I found the most interesting was hrm.. name escapes me (Skinner?), but a study based on "imprinting." So one zoologist suggested newborns of certain animals will imprint (psychological attachment) on the first 'body' that is present after their birth (which is usually the mother). Anyways, he IMPRINTED ducks on him, and just like you often see those little trail of baby ducklings following their mother, well they followed him around now. He'd go for swims and all the little ducklings would jump in after he did.

    edit: Here's one video, not quite the exact one I wanted.. so I failed by saying duck, it was geese.
    YouTube - Konrad Lorenz Experiment with Geese
    Thanks for this. The first 'body' I saw present after my birth was probably a stuffed penguin which stood in my cradle and I guess that's the reason I feel very comfortable and attached to these animals.
    Lad thanked this post.

  7. #7
    INFJ

    I think he uses these just as a way of illustrating his point. You don't have to take this all very literally and you don't have to be religous to understand what he's trying to say. But yes, the presentation could've done without.
    He used it for the purpose of defining "evil". The definition of what's "good" and "evil" is the most important part of this entire presentation. If he used hypothetical, but logical situations for his definition then it's not that big of a deal, but when you use transcendental then you will lose credibility.

    I see your general idea, but scientific research isn't meant to hit an emotional appeal, it's primarily meant to focus on empirical facts. Honestly though, I found the religious part interesting.

    How are these counterarguments?
    He claims 'power' is evil, yet the researched he cited (if you actually study it) focused primarily on the diffusion of responsibility. If someone defers actual responsibility to another, then are they really in power?

    Does it matter that they are white or unemployed, does that make them more prone to commiting evil deeds? From watching the documentary (it's been some time ago) I didn't get the idea that Zimbardo and his assistent intervened during the experiment. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    What!?
    Yes, behavior is often related to a wide variety of things -- culture, race, upbringing, socio-economic status, virtually everything. That's why we use random sampling to try to get a mix of everything and a bias towards nothing. Even with random sampling there's still a possibility of a bias, but it's nothing compared to handpicking your subjects.

    That's like me doing a study on how many people in America are obese, then picking out people that are over 400lbs. I can claim that 100% of America is obese just based on that sampling, does that make it true?

    From my understanding of the actual experiment, Zimbardo and the assistant set the groundwork (obviously the participants need to know how to run a prison, right?). I'd be lying if I said I was positive on any mid-level intervention, but I can faintly recall a few things. Most notably was the guards making prisoners do push ups right in front of him (Zim).

    Thanks for this. The first 'body' I saw present after my birth was probably a stuffed penguin which stood in my cradle and I guess that's the reason I feel very comfortable and attached to these animals.
    I think Build- a-bear has a cute penguin. You reminded me, I need to buy Bumble
    babblingbrook and Oryx thanked this post.

  8. #8
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by Lad View Post
    He claims 'power' is evil, yet the researched he cited (if you actually study it) focused primarily on the diffusion of responsibility. If someone defers actual responsibility to another, then are they really in power?
    Yes, but diffusion of responsibility is an effect. Power might be one of the main causes, neglect might be another.

    What!?
    Yes, behavior is often related to a wide variety of things -- culture, race, upbringing, socio-economic status, virtually everything. That's why we use random sampling to try to get a mix of everything and a bias towards nothing. Even with random sampling there's still a possibility of a bias, but it's nothing compared to handpicking your subjects.

    That's like me doing a study on how many people in America are obese, then picking out people that are over 400lbs. I can claim that 100% of America is obese just based on that sampling, does that make it true?
    Yes of course. "Out of 75 respondents, Zimbardo and his team selected the 24 males whom they deemed to be the most psychologically stable and healthy. These participants were predominantly white and middle-class. ... One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine sadistic tendencies," while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized—five of them had to be removed from the experiment early. " wiki

    It might not be a scientific experiment and his theory might not be proven, otherwise it's not a theory but fact right? But as a hypothesis I find it very interesting. Especially when you look at the parallel he draws between his experiment and abu ghraib. It seems to be clear that the same powers are at work. Of course it's a good thing to stay sceptical.

    I think Build- a-bear has a cute penguin. You reminded me, I need to buy Bumble
    lol, that thing is so happy it's scary.
    Lad thanked this post.

  9. #9
    INFP - The Idealists

    i've read the book he made on this... my memory's slightly hazy on some stuff, but some points:

    as to the socioeconomic makeup of the selected individuals, this *was* specifically choosen, particularly because he was curious as to how this experiment might affect these specific sorts of people - ie, young, often idealistic college students who came from upper or middle class communities which tended to be extremely peaceful and had a very low crime record. likely, there was some bias in the original motivations for the experiment (that said, you could argue the same for quite a lot of social experiments out there, bias is difficult to eliminate completely and doesnt *necessarily* negate the results of a study, though it would be wise to be moderate in your acceptance of the final official analysis).

    i... am not totally sure that the group was *quite* as hand-picked as stated. they did choose people from a number of different applicants, but i believe that the major factor was simply that they didnt exhibit any signs of abnormality. as stated, choosing these predominantly WASP college students was more-so *part* of the purpose of the experiment in the first place, since he was interested in seeing how people from this specific socio-economic background would react to this experiment. now, for him to extrapolate the results of the study to *humanity* on the whole, you could argue as being a leap in logic, surely.

    i'm not sure if people have this misconception or not, but... just to point out - the guards were choosen from the same group of students as were the prisoners, and who ended up as a guard and who a prisoner was random. originally, the study was actually intended to examine the reactions of the *prisoners* to this situation, but the authoritarian explosion of the guards ended taking centre stage and sidetracking the original purpose... that is, the original purpose, iirc, was more-so to examine the possible damaging effects that a prison-environment had on individuals, particularly individuals who did *not* come from socio-economic backgrounds from which the majority of prison inmates consist. that the experiment became, not simply about this, but about the examination of the rise of authoritarianism and abuse of the guards was unintended - the guards were choosen from students in order to actually try to lessen the potential bias of Zimbardo and his associates, as this took some agency away from the experimenters.

    as for the question of whether Zimbardo tampered in his own study - he absolutely, categorically *did*. aside from setting the ground rules, for the first little bit he was rather hands-off, and allowed the guards to do what they wished. but quickly into the experiment, he had reason to intervene on a number of occasions - particularly when a number of inmates started to break down and they went to talk with him, he twisted them around and actually kind of psychologically forced them back into the expiment (despite that the original agreement allowed the prisoners the ability to quit at any time - they still had this ability, but Zimbardo, with the accidental compliance of the guards, made it seem as if they lacked this power). Zimbardo points his own involvement with the experiment somewhat frankly in his book, but explains it as him being tainted by the authoritarian position which he had taken up... now, whether you accept this or not is up to you, but it DOES strongly call into question the validity of the study, probably in my mind the greatest potential flaw in the thing, as an experimenter who simultaneously becomes part of the experiment shows just how badly the thing went out of control.

    a few other little things - they may have been unemployed at the time, but it didnt mean they were *habitually* so (this was more-so a focus on college students from economically secure families, afterall). one reason they didnt *need* a job during the experiment was because they were getting paid fairly well by Zimbardo, who'd received a grant for the study. a number of the students initially looked at it as a fun and easy way to make a little bit of extra cash, a bit akin to a curious sort of vacation.

    also of note - the experiment didnt last as long as it was supposed to. it ended within only a handful of days... i think it didnt make it over one week, or maybe only slightly farther. it just went out of control so quickly that it had to be cancelled prematurely (incidentally, it ended up cancelled when a fellow psychologist who was looking at the experiment became horrifed at what she saw and snapped Zimbardo out of it... Zimbardo eventually married her).

    ps: Zimbardo is a wonderful name. he sounds like either a magician or an evil scientist.
    Lad thanked this post.

  10. #10
    INFP - The Idealists


    Ooh, I think I have read The Lucifer Effect (will have to check), and I am moderately familiar with Zimbardo's experiment. One finding I read this week is that the upper-classes tend to be more cut off from their emotions...

    I've been obsessing recently about a semi-famous series of events in which I was involved, where someone was demonized and wronged instead of helped. One part of it that gets to me is the callousness of various people involved, where some of the (non-sociopathic) people from whom caring was expected even sucked me into believing likely distortions about that individual (confirmation bias, thanks) and then later distorted things about me. It makes me lose faith in humanity.
    Somniorum thanked this post.


     

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