The Lucifer Effect: Why Good People do Evil

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil This morning I caught an interesting segment on CBC’s The Current, with Anna Maria Tremonti interviewing Philip Zimbardo (RealAudio). Similar to the Milgram Experiment, Zimbardo has explored the question of what makes otherwise good people act evil, stepping well beyond their own ethical boundaries. The segment intro:

The Current: The Lucifer Effect

The now infamous Stanford Prison Experiment occurred back in 1971, when a psychologist at Stanford University named Phil Zimbardo gathered 20 perfectly healthy and mentally stable young volunteers. He randomly assigned them to the role of either prisoner or guard. The prisoners got workclothes and had their names replaced with numbers. The guards got billy clubs and sunglasses to obscure their faces. The guards’ only task was to maintain order among the prisoners. The experiment was supposed to last two weeks, but after six days it had to be shut down because the guards were humiliating and tormenting the prisoners with an intensity no one had predicted.

Captchas & Political Gotchas (Kenya)

Don’t you just hate captchas? And yet sometimes they just say so much.
I’m not feeling particularly insightful this morning and I thought the foregoing might be the extent of what I had to say. I’m behind in blog reading again, but I see this morning that Sonja has an excellent primer on Kenya… very thorough. I’ve said nothing about Kenya because to be honest, I just don’t know anything. I know that Bill (who has direct connections in Kenya) has expressed some — not sure the right word — disappointment? at the lack of blogosphere response to Kenya. Hmmm. I guess most of us haven’t finished not responding to Darfur yet. When we’re finished not responding there, perhaps we’ll have more time and understanding to not respond to Kenya with. Trouble is, I’m still not entirely sure how to respond… an attempt to understand will probably be a good start, so I’ll be back to Sonja’s post to read further; Bill has some other practical suggestions.

Missional Order: Coffeeshop Poets

Crumpled Note:  One Moment There’s one thing from the Seabeck gathering which impacted me quite deeply, but about which I’ve really said nothing so far… the language of revolution. Much of this comes from a brief talk that Al Roxburgh gave on Wednesday morning, but for those who weren’t there, it also features in an article on the Allelon site (Page 3 in particular. It was also part of the subject matter for a walk around the mall with Papa Al and Brother Maynard. (Sara Jane dubbed it, Paparazzi Bill publicized it.) If this post is of interest, I recommend chasing down some of the longer explanations and discussions in the links I’ve provided. In the nature of the zen story which is told and retold orally in part because it is then shaped by the experience and understanding of the storyteller, here, mostly in my own retelling, is what I got, which I relate under the question with which Al opened his brief address at Seabeck: “How do cultures change?”

Random Acts of Linkage #32

Coloured Matchsticks We’re kidless this weekend, as the munchkins are camping out with their grandparents, my in-laws, just for something to do. What would you do with a kidless weekend? We booked ours up with two brunches, an evening out with friends for Chinese food, and are watching the timetables for the nearby second-run movie theatre. While we do that, I’m leaving you with a whole boatload of reading to do. This is far more than my usual collection of links (my largest yet), but let’s just say that on more than one occasion in the past week, I discovered that Google Reader can’t count past 1,000 unread items. You want to know how much reading (skimming, let’s be honest) you have left, and it just doesn’t know. I’m caught up now, but it probably won’t last. It never does.

So Long Ago The Garden [Blog Action Day]

planet-saving.jpg I’ve had an old post based on an older idea brewing for several years, and in honour of Blog Action Day, I’m pressing myself to rework and publish it. Blog Action Day is an experiment in response to the premise, “What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.” The issue? The environment. As I write, there are 11,320 blogs participating… I don’t know what that number will when it’s published.

I recently wrote On the Loss of Wonder and its follow-up visiting distinctly environmental themes just ahead of my mention of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, birds, and the environment. Thoughts on the environment in connection to the Christian faith go back some way, but unfortunately there’s been a period of chosen ignorance on the matter. I hope to continue with corrective thought.


Nobel Prize Medal The Nobel Prize announcements for 2007 are to start being announced this week; details concerning nominations are held in secret for 50 years. These facts I discovered from the Wikipedia entry and the official site, where I also learned that why Mahatma Gandhi never won the Peace Prize — in 1948, the year that Gandhi died, no peace prize was awarded, the committee responding that there was “no suitable living candidate.” From the YouTube Channel

I gleaned two notable quotes:

  • “You can’t leave people poor and live happily thereafter.” — Muhammad Yunus
  • “The world is not learning anything.” — Elie Wiesel.

I didn’t realize that the prize for economics is not one of the original prizes but was added later, sponsored by the Swedish National Bank. Medicine and Physics have been awarded for genetic alterations in mice and the technology that enables computer hard drives. Literature is to be awarded Thursday, and Peace on Friday.

July 4th not Just for Americans: Rwanda Celebrates, Remembers

Today is Liberation Day in Rwanda. On this day in 1994, the Genocide officially ended.

Paul Rusesabagina is the 2000 Recipient of the Immortal Chaplains Prize for Humanity, founder and President of the The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF), recipient of the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (NPR interview; National Geographic story). I quote from p.191-2 of his autobiography, An Ordinary Man:

An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography In a village south of Kigali is a church that is no longer a church. The compound is surrounded with a low stone wall and the ground is covered with weeds. The building itself is shaped like an auditorium; the walls are of red brick. The floor is poured concrete. The stained-glass windows are cracked and broken. Splatters of grenade fragments are in the walls and the tin ceiling is shot through with hundreds of bullet holes. On sunny days you can see shafts of thin light streaming through, and the spots they make on the floor look like a constellation of stars.