Thursday, June 25, 2009

Guardie e Ladri

Cops and criminals !

It's amazing how social heirarchies get people to do terrible things to each other.

Some time ago I saw a TED Talk from Philip Zimbardo ..where my take was that people can be basically manipulated to do anything.

This is happening in Iran these days. I wouldn't say that best friends are pitted against each other, but more like two extremes have the opportunity to confront each other (though one side is clearly more extreme).

Funny also how people that are the police will just do something wrong even if it's so obviously wrong.
I guess rules are important.. and if one starts disobeying orders, then who's going to hold things together ? But more often than not, police turns evil at the first chance.

It shouldn't come as a surprise.. to be a military person or a policeman, one does have to have some tendency to be barked on from above and to follow orders.. even if they are bad..
Maybe sometimes people would like to rebel, but they are afraid that others won't follow and just make normality out of something messy. Many journalists are willing to spin some impossible propaganda.. and one doesn't even have to go to Iran for that, Italy is a good example too 8)

I would like to see myself in those kind of situations. Would I turn evil ? I think anything is possible ! But for the way I am, I would really have to go through some artful brainwash.. to sell whatever integrity for some money, for a pat on the back from someone that is powerful.

I remember a documentary about Rwanda where a Tutsi woman meets a Hutu man that in 1994 was her neighbor and that at the time he supposedly killed her family (the documentary was a bit vague, I'm assuming he really didn't specifically kill her family, though some other Hutu clearly did). They were not angry at each other.. he was very much like "sorrryy.. you know..".

When it comes down to people.. really anything goes.. humanity isn't even in beta..



  1. People with limited intelligence are the ones who usually become the blind followers.

  2. Intelligence is also culture..
    On thing that is stuck in my mind since I was a kid, are those stories about mafia families. Where the sons' of mafia bosses would go on and study law and become laywers, doctors.. for the purpose of helping the family 8) ..and even the daughters, with money to afford a culture, but criminal by profession., one can go and use a lot of brain, and still have a warped view of things.

    Ignorant people don't worry me as much as people with a culture and that act in bad faith.. those are the people that really mean it !

    Of course, you still need a large body of workers to the dirty jobs, like policing..
    Those tend to be stricken for money possibly less sophisticate, but very effective with a baton 8)

    ..facking dictatorships !

  3. uumm, my grandfather got evicted from russia to argentina in the early 1900s because he was an idealistic communist. then there was the russian revolution and the comminists won, so he came back, saw that communism was bullshit, a tool to be abused in the hands of people hungry for power, so he quit the communist party even though at the time there you could easily get sent to a prison in siberia for the rest of your life for criticizing the party. there you go, real life story!!!!

  4. ..and also a lesson for him and who knows his story. Politicians are in for themselves ! (even if they don't know it yet)

  5. I've always said that there's something about human nature that's inherantly "broken" and people aren't really "good" naturally. As long as you have governments run by human beings, there will always be some kind of problem/issue ... I really don't see that changing much at all ... Of course there will be moments of great peace and prosperity, but there will also be moments of great turmoil and periods of time where appalling and unthinkable things will happen.

    If I recall properly, it was some of the educated amongst the Hutus that incited others to go out and kill the Tutsi's. What a mess ...

  6. >> I've always said that there's something about human nature that's inherantly "broken"

    We are an early prototype of intelligent species on this planet. So what are the chances of evolution getting it right the 1st time?

  7. Paul, I guess you are amongst the few on the planet who would admit that something's wrong. It seems that in many cases the whole question of "What's wrong with us?" is just quietly ignored or covered up with other things or distractions.

  8. hum ? Have you read Paul's msg ? Seems to me like he said something along your lines 8)

    Anyhow I think it's also dangerous to point the finger to humanity.
    I believe that right or wrong as we see it, is only really a marginal thing if seen from of the eyes of an hypothetical much more advanced life form.

    The same way we think of fish as tasty and expendable, some other being some day will play with our own feelings and lives just because they are only a blip on the radar of somebody that is capable of much more.

    ..we are probably already someone's fish ..swimming naked in an aquarium 8)

  9. dunno about swimming naked, but who is to say that actively seeking a solution is a faster way to advancement than ignoring the problem? especially when you are not exactly sure what the problem is.=)

    maybe ignoring it will make it bad enough so that it will eventually be identified and treated faster.

    sort of like trying to fix an old car. if you keep fixing it every few months, it keeps running, but in 10 years you still have an old car with recurring problems.

    but if you dont fix it, (ignore the problem) it will break beyond the point of repair, forcing you to buy a new one, probably much sooner than in 10 years time!

  10. Kaz-philosopher,

    I wasn't disagreeing with Paul; just adding more detail to what I had written initially. I have to disagree though with what you said about it being dangerous to point the finger at humanity. The reality I've observed is that we human beings while capable of doing some great and wonderful things are just as capable of commiting sinister or deplorable acts; history is a good indicator of this and it's ironic how we're able to repeat the same kinds of mistakes though it's already been documented historically.

    Paul, I'd almost like to go along with the "let it fall apart then fix it" approach, but I have to admit I'm not too brave (and admittedly afraid) to wait to see such an event (or events) through its terminus. I fear that there wouldn't be much left to repair or build from the ashes of the aftermath.

    The closest analogy I can think of (and it may very well be a bad one) is ignoring a cancerous growth within the body. Unless by some miracle, it's likely that the cancer will grow and overtake the other cells in the body and thus killing the body. It's only then the cancer itself will die since there's nothing else to feed and grow off of. By then though, it's too late to fix things.

    With the way things seemingly work now, it's a miracle that chaos hasn't fully taken hold of everything.

  11. Science fiction often depicts individuals or even whole societies that give up on their emotive side to keep people safe and laborious.

    Being completely good isn't something we could possibly suffer for a long time. Nothing good comes out just of goodness.. because it becomes boring, mechanical.
    Creativity is important and it's strictly related to emotions.

    Realistically, we would like to reach the point where basic freedoms are respected. But once that is achieved then it's not enough anymore, because then things need to be fair.. greed has to go away too as it can indirectly kill people.

    As things get easier, smaller problems become more relevant.. but how far can we take it ? 8)
    Eventually it would be nice to break out on the whole dimension (so to speak) we are based on.. and live on a completely different level where the things we struggle about now would seem like an insects' errand. Though for that we would likely need intellectual capacities that are orders of magnitude higher 8)

  12. Hey Kaz,

    I think you're right about the aspect of how we really couldn't be good for a long time; come to think of it, it seems that its not something that anyone has really experienced (like 30 years of consecutive goodness) ... on the other hand, we as human beings have experienced this odd mixture of "good and bad" and that is more or less what is "normal" to us. It would seem to me that in order to experience some kind of fundamental change, this would have to happen at the core of human nature itself. If this is the case, I'm skeptical that its something that human beings can necessarily achieve on their own (simply because we lack the innate ability to do so).

    I suppose in order to stop going about insects' errands, we have to no longer think like insects? 8P

  13. a lot of our problems are linked to physical limitations. at the base of it all we need to eat to survive and our food is not freely available. if for example we were some pure energy beings that could feed directly off uv radiation which is still available in our universe in infinite quantities and we didnt have to worry about basic survival then we could direct all our efforts towards bettering ourselves!

  14. On the other hand if we didnt have to worry about supporting our existance maybe we would have no incentive to develop and would've still been in an ameaba state.

  15. kazamoeba !

    ..for one thing, the study of physics is a lot closer to the concept of a "higher" existence.

    Sadly, most people eat to stay alive and stay alive to eat.. and regard higher complexity to some arbitrary deities.
    In a way, we (well.. they !) are amoebas.. only evolved ones 8)

    Some examples of the importance of having needs in life can be seen between the programmer coming from an environment with no opportunities and the programmer that is brought up with all the hardware and all the opportunities and has no will power..

    ..or the famous/rich people that end up dead for drug overdose.. because they reached the top of the social ladder and found nothing there. Math and physics could probably save those individuals !

    ..personally, I cannot see a more important reason to live than to find about what's beyond plain comprehension.. More, deeper information !

    I think that that's a healthy rule for life.. that's what should come after freedom, respect and well being.

  16. Hmm ... 'pure energy' beings sounds awfully close to something spiritual in nature. Alas, our present science can't detect such phenomenon (beings of pure energy).

    Kaz, I highly doubt that Math and Physics could save people and bring them to some kind of "higher" existence. Several months back, I was reading some things about how racist Robert Lee Moore (apparently a brilliant and well-known Mathematician) was. It seems apparent that his intellect didn't assist him in this particular area, and there have been cases where people of considerable intellect and intelligence were the architects of some very horrible crimes committed upon humanity. Again, the whole issue that happened in Rwanda was sparked not by those who "eat to stay alive and stay alive to eat", but the one's who had developed their intellects and (somehow) arrived at the conclusion that killing their fellow man was the right solution.

    I think to a certain extent, the more one is removed from actual reality (into some real of 'pure' thought or philosophy), the higher the likelihood that some 'new' philosophical ideas will appeart. I think things like Communism, Marxism, and the like are examples of this.

    Oddly enough, I was talking about George Orwell's, Animal Farm with a friend the other day. If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it. Lines like, "Four legs good, two legs bad" chanted by the sheep (which later turns into "Four legs good, two legs better"), and "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" smacks of the "higher" existence gone very bad and alltogether turned into something much "lower" in nature wrapped in a veneer of "we the enlightened will help and save you the non-enlightened." It's very to see Animal Farm-like things still going on in our science, politics, and religion (doesn't matter which one!) today.

    Slightly joking, slightly serious, if you have time (about an hour and thirty minutes), take a look at:
    Philosophy, Physics, Mathematics - "Dangerous Knowledge

    The men in the documenary all (eventually) went insane (to varying degrees) and some event committed suicide. The Math and Physics they studied (which we know benefit from) ultimately ended up being a factor that contributed to their demise physically and mentally. 8P

  17. Mr. Ragin,

    The "pure energy" example reminds me a couple of Star Trek episodes.. the old ones, those that were a bit stupid-looking, but also often philosophical. While the new ones are usually about overloading some kind of reactor to save the day 8)

    About educated people gone wrong.. you have a point there. Intelligent people that live in logic more than others can go bad.. but I wouldn't go as far as saying that this is the norm.
    Religions, which are normally competing with science to assert reality, are a major player when it comes to all sort of bad things: persecutions and torture, wars.. still to this day.

    So, I think on average, the scientist is more sane than the prelate..
    And an injection of logic can bring people to their senses, but isn't going to make everyone good.

    Also, taken to an extreme, if one rationalizes things too much and puts one's life in perspective.. can see that a human life is nothing compared to the complexity of the universe.

    I'm afraid that with higher powers and intelligence comes the disregard of life as we know it 8) ..just like we do for our hamburgers ;)

  18. Mr. "High Energy" Kaz!

    That comment about "higher powers and intelligence comes with the disregard of life" comment is quite interesting. A friend of mine were just talking about this topic not too long ago.

    He was wondering what criteria we would use to determine "intelligence" if we went to another planet and found these new forms of life ... the question went something along the lines of would we eat a chicken or cow-like life form from another planet if we determined that it wasn't intelligent enough ... For better for worse, we ended the discussion on, "Well, if it's tasty enough, then there's your answer ..."

    My thoughts were that given how we handle things here, those other life forms had better be MUCH more advanced than we are ... otherwise, it's likely that we'll eat them or not treat them as well ... but then that begs the question of how more advanced beings would treat us ... I figured (in all fairness) us being either enslaved or eaten is not out of the question ... though my friend is hoping that such an advanced civilization would have to have moved beyond such things and have a form of compassion ... but I felt that there's no real guarantee for that ... at best we'd be pets, at worst we'd be dinner. 8P

  19. We generally have compassions of ants.. because they are life forms.. but at the same time, there are no laws that protect ants from being exterminated 8)
    (On the side, an interesting thing is that apparently we could not survive without
    insects populating the planet)

    Also worrying to see how we make fun of cows and pigs: "umm me eat cow !". Pigs are cute and we eat them ! ..imagine other life form saying that of us 8)

    It's hard to conjecture on anything at this point. However, I think that the biggest ability we have is to reason heirarchically. The way the human mind can abstract and simplify things and build on top of those simplifactions.. that is the most powerful tool and it's what gives us the ability to deal with problems of any order of magnitude... at least as far as we think !
    But, if there is something so much more complex that goes beyond the concept of hierarchical thinking.. then I don't know 8)