Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Authority, Fear and Zimbardo's Lucifer Effect

These two short TED videos are best considered together.  The first one shows how ordinary people fall prey to unscrupulous politicians who manipulate them in order to gain power, legitimacy and authority:

View full on TED-Ed: How did Hitler rise to power?

Divide et impera. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

The second video shows how ordinary people change after they have given authority to a wrong person or group:

See full on TED: Philip Zimbardo - The psychology of evil

To quote Zimbardo, there are only 7 social processes that grease "the slippery slope of evil":
  1. Mindlessly taking the first small step
  2. Dehumanization of others
  3. De-individuation of self (anonymity)
  4. Diffusion of personal responsibility
  5. Blind obedience to authority
  6. Uncritical conformity to group norms
  7. Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference
The above makes it easy to understand the recent rise of populist nationalism, both in Europe (e.g. Brexit) and globally (e.g. Trump), just a few years after the ruling elites caused the Great Recession in 2008, and shows how it is possible that millions of ordinarily rational people could swallow even the most preposterous lies, and transform into mindless masses of fearful, prejudiced and deluded followers of their new fascist leaders (who, unsurprisingly, preach anti-intellectualism (who needs experts, right?), as rational thinking is their worst enemy and could allow their followers to wake up and see through all the lies).

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