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A chilling and vital look into our own human propensity for evil,
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This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Hardcover)
I don't know of many things more important than understanding how regular people like you and me can be manipulated by systems and situations into doing terrible things. The Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, the Mai Lai massacre, Abu Ghraib, and the horrors currently being perpetrated in Darfur, in Guantanamo, and in torture centers run by governments around the world cannot be understood, and certainly cannot be prevented, without such understanding.
That is what Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo, creator of the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment 30 years ago, does in this detailed, sobering, and profoundly insightful book.
I will not try to summarize what Zimbardo says, because I think that every person concerned about the state of the world should read the book from the preface to the last page of the notes.
What I can say is that Zimbardo's analysis is not based on ancient religious or philosophical ideas about good and evil; it most emphatically does not accept that the great and small terrors that we humans continue to inflict on each other are caused by "a few bad apples;" and it refuses to let those of us who are sure that, unlike so many others, we could never be moved to do terrible things, remain secure in that delusion.
Instead, _The Lucifer Effect_ is based on fact, on decades of hard-won experimental evidence, and on careful and insightful reasoning.
To his credit, Zimbardo also discusses the heroism of those equally ordinary people who successfully resist the powers of a cruel system or situation to corrupt and destroy. I hope that if enough people read this book, it will inspire more of us to that level of empathy, humanity, independence, and courage.
Robert Adler, author of _Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation_; and _Medical Firsts: From Hippocrates to the Human Genome_.
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Initial post: Mar 1, 2009 9:32:28 PM PST
You put Abu Ghraib in with the holocaust, cambodia, etc.?? Are you PC or what. I think you must be a professor or spent too much time in the public school system. You need to reboot your brain and reload the disc.
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