Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did you know that Dawkins objected to the imposed-upon title of his documentary "the root of all evil", saying that it was stupid and that nothing is the root of all evil?

This is a question from the Ask Me Anything  page. It may have relevance to a similar question I answered earlier Do you agree with Richard Dawkins that religion is the "root of all evil?".  I stated then that I wasn't aware of that quote (and a commenter clarified later that Dawkins never said that) and  I had an opinion that Dawkins may agree with. In that response I stated that religion is a pillar of evil because it is an authoritarian system where an individuals own judgement is replaced by the group's (the Pope, Imam, etc). I used the Milgram Experiment to support my point.

Answering the current question my seem redundant, but I thought it would be a good time to support my argument that a lot of what we consider evil  is a product of our irrational obedience to authority by showing a video of Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment. It is disturbing and if more people saw it there would be much less assholery (yes - I do try to make everything funny).

I used two videos. The first showed more original footage though the quality is poor. The second shows some comments from the experimenter, Phillip Zimbardo.


  1. this is the first i've heard of this experiment. thanks.

  2. I'd read about this experiment and heard about it elsewhere, but this is the first video I've seen. I know at least one of those "prisoners" was deeply changed by this experiment became an advocate for the ethical treatment of prisoners and still works to reduce the dehumanizing effect of prison systems.

    I also agree that it's a good description what people are capable of if the majority buys into something. I would recommend people watch this again but change the situation: imagine they were pretending to be KKK or Nazis or US soldiers is Abu Ghraib. Social reinforcement and a bizarre ideology can do amazing, unspeakable things (Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani).


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