Science & Stats: We Are All Potential Torturers


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: CIA and Mind Control by John Marks. Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd. ISBN: 0393307948

I wholeheartedly recommend that psycho-electronic experimentees and victims of the MKULTRA and related government "behaviour modification" programs obtain a copy of this book for use as a "pocket" or "handbag" reference for use when discussing mind control. I can tell you from personal experience while picketing that this book is a very powerful weapon on the side of truth and justice.

12/28/2004 02:13:00 am  
Blogger Dave said...

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12/28/2004 03:15:00 am  
Blogger Dave said...

The recent media hoohah regarding US American soldiers torturing Iraqui prisoners, the faked pictures of British troops doing the same, suggested to me that the general public had forgotten a basic truth about human beings... a truth I first encountered in my mid-20s.

I had bought Genesis LPs in my teens, and began supporting Peter Gabriel after he quit to pursue a solo career. Interestingly, each of his LPs were self-named, and then, around 1986, out came 'So', and Gabriel's promotion tour brought him to the Glasgow Apollo. It was a very theatrical and dramatic performance -- and before he performed the track 'We do what we're told -Milgram's 37', Gabriel took the trouble of explaining in some detail, sitting at his piano, the amazing work of Stanley Milgram.

Milgram, while at Yale University in 1961-1962, found, that 65 per cent of his subjects (ordinary residents of New Haven) were willing to give harmful electric shocks (up to 450 Volts) to a screaming victim -- simply because a 'man in a white doctor's coat' had commanded them to do so, and even though the victim had not done anything to deserve such severe punishment. The victim was, in reality, a good actor who did not actually receive shocks, and this fact was revealed to the subjects at the end of the experiment.The study showed that ordinary people become quite obedient to authority figures in an institutional setting

At the 'Apollo', Peter Gabriel explained further -- that 'Milgram's 37' refered to a variation of the experiment
where the naive subject was only indirectly involved -- one step removed from actually shocking the victim. In this case, 37 out of 40 participants continued to the end, the highest obedience rate Milgram found in his whole series of experiments.

This dramatic speech by Peter Gabriel (and the powerful tune) gave us all something to talk about after the concert -- and we soon discovered Philip Zimbardo's infamous 'Stanford Prison Experiment' of 1971. This experiment was designed to last for 2 weeks but had to be aborted after just 6 days because of the emotionally disturbing and sadistic behavior developed by the participants!

This represents the first truth: all people are perfectly capable of torturing others under certain conditions.

The second truth is that these conditions may be as complex as 'institutionalisation' or as simple as gaining a position of some power or authority. But it MAY depend on the individual. 'The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness', (1997), Erich Fromm and 'Mask of Sanity', (1982), Hervey Cleckley show well how power corrupts.

However, the highest rate of serial killers and mass murderers in the world is in the USA. According to
'Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer', (2003), Elliott Leyton:
'...their numbers do continue to grow at a disturbing rate, until the 1960s they were anomalies that appeared once in a decade, but by the 1980s, one was spawned virtually each month. Today, according to unofficial U.S. Justice Department estimates, there may be as many as one hundred multiple murderers killing in America, stealing the lives of thousands.'
... which raises some interesting questions regarding US American psychology!

When I found the above 'New Scientist' article by Susan Fiske, I decided it would be perfect for my newsdevine blog simply because man's inhumanity to man must never be underestimated, overlooked nor forgotten -- as a primary duty for each of us. I hold this to be true, and while I am an optimist and tend to look for and find the good in everyone, this does not mean that I deny the existence of the bad -- I know well that everyone is capable of terrible evil. The trick is to remember this, and to make sure conditions are in your favour!

12/28/2004 03:27:00 am  

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