Thursday, March 24, 2005
is the intriguing title of a lengthy article by Stanford social psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. He reflects on the connections between Abu Ghraib and his famous Stanford Prison Experiment in the early 70s. The main conclusion is that putting "good" people in a bad environment, especially one that includes anonymity, power, and pressure, causes nearly all of them to do very bad things. We want to believe good people don't do such horrible things, but the evidence shows that under the right conditions, most will. The key is dehumanization: if we stop viewing people as people, all sorts of unthinkable evil becomes ... thinkable.
This seems like a clear call to the church to loudly proclaim the inherent value of people, made in God's image.

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