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QUESTION The Root of All Cruelty? | The New Yorker

Are we capable of cruelty because we don't see others as humans, or because we do?

HippieChick58 9 Mar 19

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Wikipedia: "The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. They measured the willingness of study participants, men from a diverse range of occupations with varying levels of education, to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a "learner". These fake electric shocks gradually increased to levels that would have been fatal had they been real.

The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of people would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View."

It doesn't take much to convince people to kill on command.



Good read. It could be both. To oversimplify, people can do horrific things to others when they dehumanize others, and also when they feel the other is inheritantly evil and a threat to them. Once you feel someone is a grave threat to you it is easier to lose your sense of compassion or empathy towards them. There is also the factors of "group thinking" and projection. I believe there is a lot of projection.


Dehumanization is what the Nazis did - pure and simple. First the German and Austrian people said nothing. Then the rest of the world did nothing.

"Dehumanization is what the Nazis did"

Same when U.S. combat soldiers are preparing for war, but it's called desensitization, classical and operant conditioning, and denial defense mechanisms.


"By the time a soldier does kill in combat, he has rehearsed the process so many times that he is able to, at one level, deny to himself that he is actually killing another human being."

Victoria what they did in the camps erased the identities of Jews as people period.Their bodies weren't theirs anymore. The Nazis disposed of the gassed like commodities categorizing hair, teeth, jewelry, toys, glasses in warehouses. No other group of people was treated like that. I saw this at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and will never forget it or understand how humanity stood by and did nothing. I can't see any other soldiers do the same crime.


Reading this made me think of all the pseudo cannibals in the christian religion pretending to drink blood and eat the body at Sunday masses.

The grape juice and little cracker were the best part of the whole ordeal.


dehumanization seems key to me

The key to warfare; dehumanize them, it's easier to kill them.


A very insightful article, thank you.


As far as 'we'

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