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View Full Version : Nature or nurture - what makes people evil?



SaintLouieWoman
08-23-2009, 02:22 PM
This book review was written by a former neighbor, a man who is on the board of the St Louis Zoo. He's a very interesting man, an investment broker by trade, who has a home that looks like a contemporary art museum. He and his wife are very literate, interesting people.

I'd recommend reading his evaluation of two books examining the nature of evil, with both authors having a medical background.

A long ago friend, a psychiatrist who worked with disturbed children, claimed that some children should just have little electric-chair/rocking horses, because they were evil and disturbed from birth. I hated to think that could be true, but after reading the comments on tthe two books, it just might be the case, something wired into them, scary thought.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/entertainment/reviews.nsf/book/story/02F75B4A6F7DEB508625761A0003DE3C?OpenDocument



'Cruelty,' 'The Anatomy of Evil



by joseph losos


SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH


08/23/2009



"Not only had we become criminals, we had become a ferocious species in a barbarous world."


Kathleen Taylor so quotes a repentant perpetrator in the Rwandan genocide, and this sums up the issue that two new books discuss: How is it that Homo sapiens, our self-designated wise species, can be so cruel, so inclined to evil?


This question has worried humans for millennia. Is evil, a trait we now observe in other primates, intrinsic? Or is it the result of ill fortune? Most pressing, can it be avoided or even stamped out?


Authors Taylor and Michael H. Stone are medically trained scholars, so they consider this from a partly scientific viewpoint.



In "The Anatomy of Evil," Stone emphasizes dangerous neurotransmitters, while in "Cruelty," Taylor traces bad neural signals. Both closely examine recent brain science, but neither is willing to restrict the analysis only to biology. They agree that whatever the physical causes, the crucial problem is the creation of states of mind that lead to antisocial behavior.


These are chronicles of bestial actions, derived from thoughts of utter depravity, which can be traced throughout human history. Optimists think that mankind moved away from ancient wickedness, but Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Hutu murderers are contemporary actors. Technological progress simply makes it easier to be horrible in more far-reaching ways.


As the titles indicate, Taylor targets cruelty as the core element of badness, while Stone tackles the bigger monster. His work is based on newspaper and magazine accounts of crime, described with unremitting harshness. Taylor is more philosophical.


These are not books to be read lightly, as they probe the very worst aspects of our nature. For example, Taylor has one chapter on callousness, such as the capacity of German soldiers to take part in mass murders without any feelings of remorse or outward concern, and another on sadism, featuring other soldiers who not only lacked remorse, but were delighted with their work.


snip

RobJohnson
08-23-2009, 08:46 PM
Good stuff!


They insist that there is a deep quality that exists in all of us and cannot be ignored, whether one calls it original sin, satanic urge or a bad seed (neither of them likes the last one). Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde come to mind, and it is Hyde who hideously dominates the scene

I think we are all sinful by nature.

djones520
08-23-2009, 08:53 PM
We all have the capacity for it, thats without a question. I know I could go out into the street right now and shoot 10 people. I won't do it, because it is totally wrong and evil, but I have the capacity to.

I atribute someone being "evil" as being nurtured, as opposed to it being in their nature. I'd say that most of the people who are "evil" aren't taught to be so, but they end up lacking the necessary morals instilled in them to care about if it's wrong or not, through neglect or even abuse. When no love is shown to them, how can they feel love for their fellow man?

I could probably get a lot more indepth, but I've got a metric ass ton of work to do.

megimoo
08-23-2009, 09:56 PM
This book review was written by a former neighbor, a man who is on the board of the St Louis Zoo. He's a very interesting man, an investment broker by trade, who has a home that looks like a contemporary art museum. He and his wife are very literate, interesting people.

I'd recommend reading his evaluation of two books examining the nature of evil, with both authors having a medical background.

A long ago friend, a psychiatrist who worked with disturbed children, claimed that some children should just have little electric-chair/rocking horses, because they were evil and disturbed from birth. I hated to think that could be true, but after reading the comments on tthe two books, it just might be the case, something wired into them, scary thought.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/entertainment/reviews.nsf/book/story/02F75B4A6F7DEB508625761A0003DE3C?OpenDocument

Try this !http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/probevil.html
and this :http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro01/web3/Solano.html
I'm on a roll !
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro05/web3/ahussein.html
and.http://library.thinkquest.org/C004367/ph3.shtml

BadCat
08-23-2009, 10:20 PM
I was just born that way.

PoliCon
08-23-2009, 10:33 PM
Nature or nurture - what makes people evil?

Shannon.

Troll
08-23-2009, 10:57 PM
I think it's approximately 80% nature, 20% nurture when it comes to why people are the way they are, not exclusively one or another. And with that, </endpost> :D

megimoo
08-23-2009, 11:41 PM
This book review was written by a former neighbor, a man who is on the board of the St Louis Zoo. He's a very interesting man, an investment broker by trade, who has a home that looks like a contemporary art museum. He and his wife are very literate, interesting people.

I'd recommend reading his evaluation of two books examining the nature of evil, with both authors having a medical background.

A long ago friend, a psychiatrist who worked with disturbed children, claimed that some children should just have little electric-chair/rocking horses, because they were evil and disturbed from birth. I hated to think that could be true, but after reading the comments on tthe two books, it just might be the case, something wired into them, scary thought.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/entertainment/reviews.nsf/book/story/02F75B4A6F7DEB508625761A0003DE3C?OpenDocument

Top 10 Most Evil Men
http://listverse.com/2007/09/05/top-10-most-evil-men/
..........................
Most Evil Men and Women in History
http://www.rateitall.com/t-20916-most-evil-men-and-women-in-history.aspx

rjleonard1
08-23-2009, 11:43 PM
a young boy was sitting with his grandfather, who was native american. he told his grandson that there was a horrible war waging - waging inside us all. one side is good, pleasant, generous, loving, kind. the other is bad, ugly, spitful, hateful, hurting and mean.

the young boy asked, grandfather, which side wins? the side you feed, grandson, the side you feed

Gingersnap
08-24-2009, 10:55 AM
I think we are all sinful by nature.

Pretty much. We all have the ability to listen to our sinful nature and act on it. Some of us have the ability to reject that nature through grace.

It's more important to be able to detect evil than to waste time attempting to determine it's natural cause. I don't believe that manipulating biochemistry or environment will ever root out evil. Detecting it and avoiding the people who spread it, however, is a sheer survival ability that everybody should try to hone.

megimoo
08-24-2009, 11:12 AM
Pretty much. We all have the ability to listen to our sinful nature and act on it. Some of us have the ability to reject that nature through grace.

It's more important to be able to detect evil than to waste time attempting to determine it's natural cause. I don't believe that manipulating biochemistry or environment will ever root out evil. Detecting it and avoiding the people who spread it, however, is a sheer survival ability that everybody should try to hone.

Deuteronomy 30
New American Standard Bible
19
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.

So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

noonwitch
08-24-2009, 12:24 PM
Poor nurture/abuse and neglect during childhood+a head injury=sociopath. It's not one-time abuse (unless that abuse caused the head injury), it's a pattern of a child's needs for emotional security and safety not being met on a regular basis for a number of years.


This isn't scientific, just an observation of 23 years working as a social worker.

FlaGator
08-24-2009, 12:58 PM
Evil is what fills in the void left as people distance themselves from God.

djones520
08-24-2009, 01:11 PM
Evil is what fills in the void left as people distance themselves from God.

I must be one evil SOB then.

Speedy
08-24-2009, 02:22 PM
While I was in the Army, I taught a beginning self defense class at one of the base rec centers. I tried to make clear to the women the evil intentions of those who would attack them. I would ask them if they could walk up to a random person on the street and strangle them unconscious or beat them unconscious whatever the case may be. The difference being that most of them could not but most thieves could.

I agree with those who say that evil is an inherent part of our make up as humans, but most people have to dig down deep to dredge it up and for others it is close to the surface.