Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What happens in a prison-like environment

I really should have added this to the post on brain damage and the environment, after Dr. Pinker's talk on violence, but I had temporarily forgotten it. This video shows how quickly normally good people can turn into monsters if the conditions are right, even if they don't have a genetic predisposition to do so. I have one very morbid friend who thinks the experiment should have been continued; however, there is no need for that. All one has to do is read up on prisons, and especially prisoners of war, to see where it would have led. We've always had tons of data on that front. The data missing was what type of people were the guards before they fell into this mindset. Once the mindset was achieved, there was nothing new to gain by continuing the experiment. (And, of course, it would have been extremely unethical.)

I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happens in some groups that use hazing. The only difference is that once the initiate lives through the hazing period, they get to become part of the "guards".

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