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We Kill For A Higher Purpose - Science, Religion, Politics


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Most remember hearing about the study in which 65% of 'teachers' (test subjects) were willing to shock a unseen 'learner' to a max of 450 volts regardless of what complaining or screaming they heard. But that was the baseline study. Stanley Milgrim used 20-40 variants about which I had never heard. Common knowledge about this experiment is that it proves that people take orders. As related in this story at Radiolab

http://www.radiolab.org/2012/jan/09/whos-bad/

the study proves something else because every time a 'teacher' was told they had no choice the test subject stopped participating and said"I do have a choice. I quit." A more studied conclusion of all the experiments is that we will harm others if we think it is for a higher purpose - even if that "higher purpose" is "Science".

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I wonder if a 'higher purpose' somehow taps into our evolutionary 'survival mode'? If we think it's for a higher purpose, we must think it is for the better, which must mean it somehow aids our survival.

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Interesting. It could be as Jonathan Haidt suggests, group evolution, where it isn't survival of the fittest so much as it is survival of the group with the social glue to co-operate and work together. Traditionally this social glue has been religion, but I see no reason why science couldn't fulfil the same role with regard to a psychological drive to identify around a common theme with a view to increasing the survivabilty of the group. I suppose really the instinct might be simply an extension of the family or tribe mentality.

 

 

Maybe.

 

Paul.

Edited by Inthedark
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It could be as Jonathan Haidt suggests, group evolution, where it isn't survival of the fittest so much as it is survival of the group with the social glue to co-operate and work together.

 

As both individuals and members of social groups (in our genetic wiring), we will defend ourselves or our group.

 

George

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We go to the dentist and endure some pain so it won't hurt worse later.

 

A parent uses negative stimuli to teach their child ( timeout or spanking)

 

Society has prisons, wages wars

 

all for a perceived greater good

 

is this the same thing or am I missing something??

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I don't think you are missing anything, Steve.

 

Maybe people are a little shocked when killing and harm is so personalised as in this experiment, but really killing is what we, in our various tribes, seem to have done since we could. The instinct to defend/strengthen our tribe seems to have been with us since the begninning of tribes.

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