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The Core Allegiance Of Our Being: Are We Essentially Good Or Evil? Examples In Modern Culture

1746 words - 7 pages

When we are first born, as mere babies in our mothers arms, are we evil? Through reading The Lord of The Flies and learning about various tragic events in history, I have come to the conclusion that yes, humans are somewhat evil. Although, I believe that it is not our everyday educated and civil surroundings that make us this way, but our thoughts and experiences that bring out “the darkness of man’s heart” (Golding 202). “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways” (Buddha). I have come to these conclusions because of real-life historical events and symbolism in the story, such as: the Stanford Prison Experiment, Abu Ghraib, Jack Merridew, the Jonestown massacre, and The Beast.
In the summer of 1971, at Stanford University, Philip G. Zimbardo developed The Stanford Prison Experiment to test his theory on the Lucifer Effect. The theory that good people can turn evil when placed into a bad situation or a position of power over others. For this experiment they set up a simulation prison in a corridor of Stanford University, they collected 24 average, male, volunteer, undergraduates who were all tested previously for psychological abnormalities, and split them up into two groups, guards and prisoners (Stanford Prison Experiment) The guards all wore identical khaki uniforms and aviator shades to de-individualize them and hide their emotions. Also, they had been given no training or instruction on how to be a prison guard, were given free range to do whatever was necessary to maintain law and order in the prison. Whereas the prisoners were all forced to wear thin paper gowns with nothing underneath, and a metal chain on their ankle to constantly remind the prisoners of their situation and to further de-individualize and humiliate them (Stanford Prison Experiment). Day one in the prison passed without incident, but as everyone was feeling out their new roles, rebellion broke out on the morning of the second day. Prisoners still clung to their independence, and the guards had still not fallen victim to the Lucifer Effect. In response, the guards forced the ringleaders of the rebellion into solitary confinement and began to violently harass the prisoners. Many guards had turned sadistic and cruel, falling too easily into their roles, almost enjoying using fear as a weapon for power and control. One especially cruel and sadistic guard had suddenly developed a southern accent and took to being called John Wayne (Stanford Prison Experiment). Less than three days into the experiment, one prisoner was starting to show severe emotional disturbance and had to be released. After just six days the experiment had to be called off. Zimbardo was far too into his role as the “superintendent” of the prison and was starting to forget his true motives and purpose. It took the visit of his fellow colleague, Christina Maslach. The recent Stanford Ph.D. graduate refused to work with Zimbardo after seeing the atrocities of the experiment...

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