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The Banality Of Evil Revisited - An Interview With America's Chief Torturer

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Posts

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    I simply disagree with the idea that anyone can become this way, which is true only if you ignore all those mitigating factors I mentioned.

    A lot of people who join the military never think they could kill another person.

    Oh, no, I get that. I thought about editing my response to include that idea. It's actually preying on that psychology of getting people to kill. Once you get a soldier to get over that "hump" (apologies for the crudeness of speech regarding humanity) of killing their first enemy combatant, the rest do become easier. It also, like we see on Mad Men, makes a pretty strong argument for why we had such a culture of alcohol in the middle century following WWII and Korea.
    Quid wrote: »
    That all changes when it becomes for the right cause.
    There was a pretty huge confluence of events orchestrated from the top to make sure people of a certain mindset were in the positions they were.

    Which people? Loyal ones who would do what was necessary to ensure the survival of the German race against outside powers determined to extort their country for all it was worth?

    PSN: allenquid
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Which people? Loyal ones who would do what was necessary to ensure the survival of the German race against outside powers determined to extort their country for all it was worth?

    ?

  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »

    Different behavior doesn't establish an essential difference in personality. That's fundamental attribution error. This is social psych 101 stuff here.

    No, you.

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Wow.

    Edit: But anyway you believe it was ensured that people of a certain mindset were placed at the top. Which mindset? And how do you know it was that one?

    Quid on
    PSN: allenquid
  • Captain MarcusCaptain Marcus Right here in River CityRegistered User regular
    edited May 2012
    ]the Reich using their loyal, true-believers to kill off their early followers, etc. There was a pretty huge confluence of events orchestrated from the top to make sure people of a certain mindset were in the positions they were.

    WRONG. Hells wrong. The Night of the Long Knives (I assume that's what you're referring to) was orchestrated in response to the rise in power of the SA. The leader of the SA, Ernst Rohm, had publicly declared his wish to see the SA replace the Wehrmacht, the regular army. The military were not happy about this and in conjunction with ministers such as Goebbels and Goering (who had no wish to lose Hitler's favor/political power to Rohm) they planned and carried out the purge. The large industrial corporations also supported the purge as Rohm was a bit of a socialist.

    So, no. The Nazi Party did not carry out a massive purge of its largest paramilitary wing because they were bloodthirsty or enjoyed killing, etc. The SA were true believers; they simply had the bad luck to become one of the most powerful factions within the prewar Reich government.

    Captain Marcus on
    Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock, and the Golden Rule!
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Wow.

    Edit: But anyway you believe it was ensured that people of a certain mindset were placed at the top. Which mindset? And how do you know it was that one?

    Wow?

    Huh? It's like you have no knowledge of the Reich and have been ignoring this discussion.

  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    They are "stories." Most of the accounts were written by people who weren't there, defended by people who want them to be true, as a desperate effort to avoid admitting that these inhuman monsters were, in fact, human. It's like the "hitler had one nut," theory, the "the highest-ranking SS were all homosexual deviant monsters," theory, and the "hitler was an atheist" idea. They take a few facts (sometimes not even that) and stretch the context and declare all the evils perpetrated by the nazis to be "circumstantial evidence." It uses the same principles as the 9/11 troofers to defend the underlying myth that the Nazis were somehow not human and that we are nothing like them.

    Their actions? Their coup attempt? Oh yes those things (the ones that actually happened) were quite wild, but they were also the kind of things "normal" people do. Hell, you yourself mentioned "jew-baiting" and hate was a political tool in Germany (throughout Europe, really). Goebbels heard, correctly, that the Russian army raping and murdering its way to Berlin like this was medieval warfare and most accounts suggest morphine and cyanide, not machine guns. The Beer Hall Putsch? Not that different than other showy, flashy, romanticized "revolutions" and, in fact, Adolph Hitler did it specifically because he wanted to pretend he was starring in his own movie. If you haven't seen the "Hitler or Ann Coulter?" comparison quizzes...well that's probably for the best because the internet sucks BUT the fact remains that the biggest difference was Adolph Hitler's writings were more eloquent.

    Most of the tantrum-throwing accounts are first-hand testimony given by Hitler's own staff members (his chief chef, his secretary, the officers who went to meetings with him, etc). But hey, whatever - I guess you know better than the people ho were actually there and saw what he was like.

    I mean, 'normal' is a context-sensitive word, and I suppose if we really want to stretch it as far as it'll go we can say that Hitler was 'normal' for a racist with a terminal illness and unlimited political power. But I'm not interested in forcing evidence to fit a morality play.


    Also, while Anne Coulter is ridiculous and racist, she largely plays by the rules despite her venemous rhetoric. When she gathers-up a couple hundred followers and charges into the oval office with pistols blazing, you can go ahead and compare her with Adolf Hitler.

    The Ender on
    TOG Solid wrote:
    If that guy wasn't white he would have gotten popped by so many tasers simultaneously that Marvel could use that as the new origin for Electro.
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Have you watched the videos recorded of the experiments? The subjects are given strong reason to believe that the person they are shocking has a heart attack.

    Are you not aware that people tend to be pretty good at seeing through dramatizations, especially in a setting where an academic official who'll be held accountable is giving the orders?

    When people couldn't see who was giving them the command they didn't press the button. That sort-of undermines the entire thesis of, "If an authority figure tells someone to do something, they'll always do it," and it's damning to the connection that Milgram wanted to make with the persons running the camps, given that they were issued their orders remotely from Berlin.

    EDIT:
    In all the history of WWII there were only fourteen accounts of Germans who were punished for refusing to carry out orders to kill Jews: nine were executed, four were sent to concentration camps, one was transferred to a military penal unit. Claims of coercion by force are almost completely unsubstantiated and particularly doubtful. I mean, I guess there could have been a whole lot of KP duty that didn't get reported, but that doesn't seem like it's in the same vein.

    This is on the level of, "There is no official document where Hitler expressly gives the order for the Holocaust, therefore the Holocaust never occurred."

    Basically, you're saying that the Gestapo & blood guilt laws did not exist. I find your figures dubious ('We can never be certain of anything! Except, of course, that only exactly 14 people were punished for non-compliance!'), but in any case you're missing the point: when an armed member of the police comes banging on my door, the threat of force doesn't have to be outright spoken or acted on - the implication is that if I do not comply with what you want, there will be violent consequences.

    The Ender on
    TOG Solid wrote:
    If that guy wasn't white he would have gotten popped by so many tasers simultaneously that Marvel could use that as the new origin for Electro.
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    "Hitler was a supernaturally evil guy" broadcasts the message that look, as long as you eat your greens and think you're a good person, you're completely safe from doing anything evil, which just oozes with hubris. As if the holocause was a devil's fluke that can never happen again because people have a good grasp now on whether they're good or evil.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Wow.

    Edit: But anyway you believe it was ensured that people of a certain mindset were placed at the top. Which mindset? And how do you know it was that one?

    Wow?

    Huh? It's like you have no knowledge of the Reich and have been ignoring this discussion.

    Wow was to you flat out refusing to address Feral's argument.

    And I'm well aware of what was done. The why is what's important. And the part you're claiming to be so sure of despite evidence to the contrary.

    PSN: allenquid
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    "Hitler was a supernaturally evil guy" broadcasts the message that look, as long as you eat your greens and think you're a good person, you're completely safe from doing anything evil, which just oozes with hubris. As if the holocause was a devil's fluke that can never happen again because people have a good grasp now on whether they're good or evil.

    In addition to being hubristic, it maintains the Platonic notion that those who know the good do the good. It also assumes that there is a "the good" that exists objectively.

    Both of those ideas can be problematic.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    but ya milgram was a hack

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    but ya milgram was a hack

    But he gave us a really good example to pull out in intro classes!

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    Germany aside, there are whole states which moved from murdering a lot of people on a regular basis to not murdering a lot of people on a regular basis, or vice versa, without the wholesale changes in government personnel that would be consistent with "you need a particular brand of crazy in the leadership for this to happen". The move away from mass slaughter in Taiwan or Indonesia did not occur via a replacement of personnel or even a change in state ideology.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    but ya milgram was a hack

    But he gave us a really good example to pull out in intro classes!

    Yeah. Zimbardo too.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    ronya wrote: »
    Germany aside, there are whole states which moved from murdering a lot of people on a regular basis to not murdering a lot of people on a regular basis, or vice versa, without the wholesale changes in government personnel that would be consistent with "you need a particular brand of crazy in the leadership for this to happen". The move away from mass slaughter in Taiwan or Indonesia did not occur via a replacement of personnel or even a change in state ideology.

    Also, your average southerner was not Bull Connor. Etc.

    Lose: to suffer defeat, to misplace (Ex: "I hope I don't lose the match." "Did you lose your phone again?")
    Loose: about to slip, to release (Ex: "That knot is loose." "Loose arrows.")
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    I mean, 'normal' is a context-sensitive word, and I suppose if we really want to stretch it as far as it'll go we can say that Hitler was 'normal' for a racist

    I think this may illuminate the issue people are having with the banality of evil. First, as has already been said, it's neither necessary nor reasonable to argue that all evil everywhere is banal. BTK is not banal, and Hitler may not have been either what with the rug-biting and such. But in Nazi Germany, and much of human history, racism certainly was banal. That an individual could seem normal to us, right now, isn't what makes them banal in the sense of the banality of evil. It's the fact that they seem normal to other members of their society. Jose Rodriguez is an example of a guy who thinks of himself as normal, and is reinforced in that belief by the people around him who share his values. And a whole lot of normal Americans do share his values.

    I don't share his values. I think that enhanced interrogation is torture, torture is an unacceptable practice, those ordered to torture behaved monstrously by failing to disobey their illegal orders, and the people who gave those illegal orders are war criminals. Here in Idaho any single one of those four statements puts me in a minority, and all four together into an even smaller minority. While I can (and do!) believe that my local culture does not have the privilege of its own definition of evil that conveniently does not include torture, it would be difficult to pretend that this culture doesn't have its own definition of banality. Particularly when a dude walks down the street with an ivory-handled six-gun sticking off a belt and nobody blinks an eye. This would not exactly be banal in California.

    Jose Rodriguez could move into the apartment next to mine and live pretty much normally. He would not have to recant or hide his viewpoint to live happily in this community. He would have a social network of people who would be more likely to treat him as a celebrity than a pariah. And, though I know very little about the man, I think it's reasonable to conjecture that he'd be stable enough to pull it off himself. He could probably live a perfectly normal life here without getting caught stuffing pieces of hooker into a dumpster or whatever, because outside of the context of his nationalist fanaticism - which would be shared by his peers, anyway - he is not a monster.

    But he's still evil.

    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Wow.

    Edit: But anyway you believe it was ensured that people of a certain mindset were placed at the top. Which mindset? And how do you know it was that one?

    Wow?

    Huh? It's like you have no knowledge of the Reich and have been ignoring this discussion.

    Wow was to you flat out refusing to address Feral's argument.

    And I'm well aware of what was done. The why is what's important. And the part you're claiming to be so sure of despite evidence to the contrary.

    I don't feel a one sentence rebuttal is an "argument."

    And what evidence to the contrary? The Reich wasn't ran by people who were anti-semitic hate mongers who believed in it partly as a mystic, occult destiny? You don't agree?

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    because outside of the context of his nationalist fanaticism - which would be shared by his peers, anyway - he is not a monster.

    But he's still evil.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to make this distinction:

    "He is evil."
    "His acts were evil."

    A normal person, who conceives of their self as just doing their job, whose actions were evil.

    Edit: If we still want to use the "evil" language. I'm not sure what the benefit of using that language is, though.

    _J_ on
    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    ...It's the fact that they seem normal to other members of their society...

    So, for the people that either fled the country or used their power as Nazis to help others escape, they're aberrant?

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    ...It's the fact that they seem normal to other members of their society...

    So, for the people that either fled the country or used their power as Nazis to help others escape, they're aberrant?

    First I'd like to point out this rebuttal is only one sentence long.

    Second I'd like to point out people are doing that now with America.

    PSN: allenquid
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    ...It's the fact that they seem normal to other members of their society...

    So, for the people that either fled the country or used their power as Nazis to help others escape, they're aberrant?

    They deviated from the actions of most Germans, yes.

    I'm not sure how you're defining "normal", but when the majority of a group does X, i'd say that those members of the group who do ~X are not normal.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    I don't feel a one sentence rebuttal is an "argument."

    I could have written something a little lengthi-- oh wait I did.


    Feral wrote: »
    If we are all literally the same and some people just kill others and some don't then we've essentially ignored years of psychological study.

    Clearly we're not all literally exactly the same.

    But that's also not what "banality of evil" means. Unfortunately, 'banality of evil' is getting conflated with a couple of other ideas in the thread.

    "Banality of evil" simply means that horrendous acts can be motivated by responses to authority and social pressure; that the actor may not be any more predisposed than the average person to feelings of maliciousness or cruelty; and that the actor might not even feel responsible for his actions because he was responding to authority. It is the idea that "following orders" excuses the individual from personal moral culpability.

    This does not necessarily describe all acts of violence - there are plenty of people who commit violence because they feel malicious and genuinely want to hurt people. (see: Nick Groth's Men Who Rape)

    At the same time, there isn't a single separating factor that categorically distinguishes people who commit acts of violence from people who don't. There are only spectrums - propensity towards violence, empathy, responses to authority, impulse control. A person at one end of one of these spectrums is clearly different from a person at the opposite end, but when you try to separate people into buckets of "normal people" and "abnormal people" things start to get really messy. (see: Bad Men Do what Good Men Dream by Robert Simon)

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    I don't know why you're responding to that, Feral.

    Look how many sentences it is.

    PSN: allenquid
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    I think we can see a little of the banality of evil in ourselves. This discussion is partly about institutionalised torture in our governments, but we aren't taking that part very seriously really. I'm not trying to attack you guys - I was just checking facebook instead of doing a goddamn thing about the torture I can assume is being used by my government. I'm just saying that this is a tiny example of the normal behaviour that... isn't great.

    When I was young I used to wonder about the German people in 1938 or so. Didn't they understand what was happening? Did they want to become the stereotype of evil for the next century or more? Why did they let it all happen?

    But nowadays I realise, post-Guantanamo and so on, that we're no different. That perhaps in a hundred years people will talk about us in horror, wondering how we allowed torture and the bombing of Middle-Eastern children, or the destruction of our eco-system. I don't think the banality of evil is just a term we can apply to the bureaucracy of the final solution.

    poshniallo on
    I figure I could take a bear.
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I think we can see a little of the banality of evil in ourselves. This discussion is partly about institutionalised torture in our governments, but we aren't taking that part very seriously really. I'm not trying to attack you guys - I was just checking facebook instead of doing a goddamn thing about the torture I can assume is being used by my government. I'm just saying that this is a tiny example of the normal behaviour that... isn't great.

    When I was young I used to wonder about the German people in 1938 or so. Didn't they understand what was happening? Did they want to become the stereotype of evil for the next century or more? Why did they let it all happen?

    But nowadays I realise, post-Guantanamo and so on, that we're no different. That perhaps in a hundred years people will talk about us in horror, wondering how we allowed torture and the bombing of Middle-Eastern children, or the destruction of our eco-system. I don't think the banality of evil is just a term we can apply to the bureaucracy of the final solution.

    Yeah. A while ago some of my friends were arguing about Heidegger, and how he was a Nazi.

    There was a strange moment when we all realized, "You know what? If we were academics in Germany at the time, we probably would have joined the Nazi party, too."

    It's incredibly easy to demonize these people, and reprimand them in hindsight. But if you think back to it, and realize all of the things you don't stand up for or fight against in your own lifetime, you realize that, yeah, you probably would have been a Nazi, too.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Feral wrote: »
    _J_ wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    but ya milgram was a hack

    But he gave us a really good example to pull out in intro classes!

    Yeah. Zimbardo too.

    Man, Milgram was not a hack

    People think he was a hack because they read the cliff's notes of one example of the experiment he ran. He did 17 experiments with reasonable controls and got a shitload of useful information.

    It is not the end of the discussion, but it was a hell of a useful series of experiments that allows us to look beyond some fundamental misconceptions about innate evil.

    People like to call him a hack for the same reason every social scientist gets shit. "Oh you probably can't generalize that. Oh you can? Oh well we already knew that you idiot why even do an experiment?"

    Edit: Now Zimbardo yeah he didn't even finish the experimental procedure so I mean. I dunno, didn't read his other stuff but at least the prison experiment isn't really worth more than curiosity until it's reliably replicated (which it must never be).

    durandal4532 on
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    because outside of the context of his nationalist fanaticism - which would be shared by his peers, anyway - he is not a monster.

    But he's still evil.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to make this distinction:

    "He is evil."
    "His acts were evil."

    A normal person, who conceives of their self as just doing their job, whose actions were evil.

    Edit: If we still want to use the "evil" language. I'm not sure what the benefit of using that language is, though.

    I think his actions have taken him across a line into a place where I feel it's appropriate to call him evil, inasmuch as it's appropriate to call anyone evil. Which, admittedly, it generally isn't. But the point is that while he certainly wasn't born evil, when he became so he didn't transform into something inhuman. He just did bad things, for what he believed to be good reasons, because other people told him that they were good reasons, and in fact he could be my goddamned neighbor and nine out of ten people he meets in my community would congratulate him for courageously wearing the Big Boy Pants.
    ...It's the fact that they seem normal to other members of their society...

    So, for the people that either fled the country or used their power as Nazis to help others escape, they're aberrant?

    So what? Those who fled deliberately excluded themselves from the social group that caused evil to seem normal, and those who helped Jews - the smart ones, at least - had to keep up appearances by overtly participating in the Nazi party. Even if they weren't a vanishingly tiny minority, these people were in no way relevant to the normalization of the horrors perpetrated by the decision-makers and order-followers. That happened thanks to people who stayed in the country and people who earnestly believed in the Third Reich.

    It sort of reads like Great Man nonsense; a few batshit leaders seized the reins, those who could, left, but those who remained were really at the whim of those rug-chewing crazies at the top. It wasn't like a bunch of people shared a mistaken belief in the greatness of their blood and soil, or anything.

    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • notdroidnotdroid Registered User regular
    Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA's Clandestine Service, defends the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on high-level al Qaeda detainees and says he has no regrets.

    I am angered and terrified at how so many people require little more than euphemisms to put their conscience at rest.

  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Clearly we're not all literally exactly the same.

    ...

    "Banality of evil" simply means that horrendous acts can be motivated by responses to authority and social pressure; that the actor may not be any more predisposed than the average person to feelings of maliciousness or cruelty; and that the actor might not even feel responsible for his actions because he was responding to authority. It is the idea that "following orders" excuses the individual from personal moral culpability.

    And when I say that based on my own views (and other people have mentioned flaws with her arguments as well), I can only give you a big fat "So what?" If you think "banality of evil" is the perfect, end-all be-all viewpoint, bully for you. I disagree.
    Feral wrote: »
    At the same time, there isn't a single separating factor that categorically distinguishes people who commit acts of violence from people who don't. There are only spectrums - propensity towards violence, empathy, responses to authority, impulse control. A person at one end of one of these spectrums is clearly different from a person at the opposite end.

    Please clarify your meaning. Either those people at one or the other are "clearly different" (a categorical distinction) or they're not.

  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    Well, back your ideas up with some dang data.

    There have been multiple social-science experiments or observational studies that tend to reinforce the idea that evil is not done due to demonic influence or inherent badness but due to situational factors influencing common human traits.

    Whereas you

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    If you think "banality of evil" is the perfect, end-all be-all viewpoint, bully for you. I disagree.

    You're strawmanning and frankly I think you know it.

    Please clarify your meaning. Either those people at one or the other are "clearly different" (a categorical distinction) or they're not.

    There's no single defining personality trait that predicts a difference between people who commit violence versus people who do not.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Well, back your ideas up with some dang data.

    There have been multiple social-science experiments or observational studies that tend to reinforce the idea that evil is not done due to demonic influence or inherent badness but due to situational factors influencing common human traits.

    Whereas you

    ...mentioned that Nazi Germany had a leadership made up of people who pushed an extreme propaganda based partly on mythology and used their influence to get rid of their early followers in favor of more loyal ones? How does that not bear an influence on what they did?

    I feel like Mugatu here. Am I taking crazy pills?

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Man, Milgram was not a hack

    People think he was a hack because they read the cliff's notes of one example of the experiment he ran. He did 17 experiments with reasonable controls and got a shitload of useful information.

    It is not the end of the discussion, but it was a hell of a useful series of experiments that allows us to look beyond some fundamental misconceptions about innate evil.

    People like to call him a hack for the same reason every social scientist gets shit. "Oh you probably can't generalize that. Oh you can? Oh well we already knew that you idiot why even do an experiment?"

    Eh, I've read his book and I still don't think he was that good of a scientist.

    I agree that the experiments are interesting and are definitely worth talking about and we can draw insights from them, but even bad science can produce interesting results.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    If you think "banality of evil" is the perfect, end-all be-all viewpoint, bully for you. I disagree.

    You're strawmanning and frankly I think you know it.

    Strawmanning?

    You're the one defending the idea from any form of dissension. If you don't think it's the tippy-top of the argument, why are you defending it so hard?
    Feral wrote: »
    Please clarify your meaning. Either those people at one or the other are "clearly different" (a categorical distinction) or they're not.

    There's no single defining personality trait that predicts a difference between people who commit violence versus people who do not.

    Now we're adding words like "predict"? Please let me know where the goalposts will be moved next.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Feral wrote: »
    If you think "banality of evil" is the perfect, end-all be-all viewpoint, bully for you. I disagree.

    You're strawmanning and frankly I think you know it.

    Strawmanning?

    You're the one defending the idea from any form of dissension. If you don't think it's the tippy-top of the argument, why are you defending it so hard?

    It's a description of one type of evil, goose.

    It doesn't mean that all evil acts are "banal."

    The alternative to the viewpoint is that obedience to authority does not lead to evil acts, which is a pretty ridiculous thing to believe.

    Feral wrote: »
    Please clarify your meaning. Either those people at one or the other are "clearly different" (a categorical distinction) or they're not.

    There's no single defining personality trait that predicts a difference between people who commit violence versus people who do not.

    Now we're adding words like "predict"? Please let me know where the goalposts will be moved next.

    Would you prefer "explain?" It doesn't really matter, because using a scientific theory (such as personality theory) to explain a phenomenon implies predictive power. You're engaging in rhetorical sniping to avoid proposing your own behavioral model.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • LolkenLolken Registered User, __BANNED USERS, Dumbasses
    I love how The Ender says "that people tend to be pretty good at seeing through dramatizations" while showing himself to be pretty inept at it, taking at face value the rug-biting Hitler and what not :P

    "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton.

    "Money tends to corrupt, and lots of money corrupts lotsely" - Me.
  • Boring7Boring7 Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    Are you not aware that people tend to be pretty good at seeing through dramatizations, especially in a setting where an academic official who'll be held accountable is giving the orders?

    Got evidence for that?
    The Ender wrote: »
    This is on the level of, "There is no official document where Hitler expressly gives the order for the Holocaust, therefore the Holocaust never occurred."

    Basically, you're saying that the Gestapo & blood guilt laws did not exist. I find your figures dubious ('We can never be certain of anything! Except, of course, that only exactly 14 people were punished for non-compliance!'), but in any case you're missing the point: when an armed member of the police comes banging on my door, the threat of force doesn't have to be outright spoken or acted on - the implication is that if I do not comply with what you want, there will be violent consequences.

    You got evidence for more than that?
    The Ender wrote: »
    I mean, 'normal' is a context-sensitive word, and I suppose if we really want to stretch it as far as it'll go we can say that Hitler was 'normal' for a racist with a terminal illness and unlimited political power. But I'm not interested in forcing evidence to fit a morality play.

    You got any evidence for that? I mean, this thread is literally the first time I heard of the Hitler-syphilis connection, and when I went looking for it what I found was yahoo answers next to "Hitler was an extra-terrestrial, Hitler is still alive in South America, etc." and a scholarly-sounding source which admitted all they really had was, "he's crazy and one of his crazy pseudo-scientific fixations included syphilis, therefore..."

    You are saying that psychology and psychologists are WRONG, that egregious acts of evil are only present in subhuman monsters, and your evidence that proves their tested theories to be wrong seems to amount to, "Well, because! People aren't like that!"

    People make up a lot of stories trying to excuse the human race for sharing a genome with Adolph Hitler, but at the end of the day he was still just a human. The best anyone ever came up with was his drug habit, and that was late in the war.

    Thanatos wrote: »
    Goldman Sachs may as well be named COBRA.
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Feral wrote: »
    It's a description of one type of evil, goose.

    It doesn't mean that all evil acts are "banal."

    The alternative to the viewpoint is that obedience to authority does not lead to evil acts, which is a pretty ridiculous thing to believe.

    I see where the loggerheads are at. You're not discussing what I've said at all, though you keep quoting it.

    Would you prefer "explain?" It doesn't really matter, because using a scientific theory (such as personality theory) to explain a phenomenon implies predictive power. You're engaging in rhetorical sniping to avoid proposing your own behavioral model.

    Thanks for making claims about what I'm doing. Maybe if you can keep me on the defensive you can chalk it up as a win when I eventually tune you out. "Ha ha! I attacked him a bunch and he gave up trying to have civil discourse. I win!"

    I'm looking at what happened with Germany from a modern perspective and finding the Arendt argument that Adolf Eichmann was just a normal dude (and not, therefore, at all a psychotic) because when he's no longer in a position to organize the mass execution of millions of people he's just a regular ol' Joe to be useless. And personally, to me, probably inaccurate.

    Mad King George on
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Alrighty then. So what is your evidence that Eichmann was psychotic?

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
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