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Education News Science

Neuroscientists Detail How Humans Are Able To Hurt Others When Given Orders (universityherald.com) 162

Ever wonder how seemingly normal people were able to become Nazis and commit such atrocities? A team of neuroscientists studied just that, following the Milgram experiment conducted in the 1960s. Published in the journal Current Biology, this new study explains that "some basic feeling of responsibility really is reduced when we are coerced into doing something." The results indicate that humans are able to hurt each other when given orders.
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Neuroscientists Detail How Humans Are Able To Hurt Others When Given Orders

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  • No details, and it's 2016, shouldn't that brain be liquid cooled?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2016 @02:55PM (#51543211)

    Ever wonder how seemingly normal people were able to become Nazis and commit such atrocities?

    They were just trying to make Germany great again.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:58PM (#51543723)

      Ever wonder how seemingly normal people were able to become Nazis and commit such atrocities?

      They were just trying to make Germany great again.

      Actually, for many, this sort of hits it right on the head. The "Backstab" legend and the targeting of communists and other groups perceived to be fifth columnists like Jews, was a major popular idea about how Germany lost a war that they seemed to not be losing in 1918. Having gone from the military power that flattened France and Austria-Hungary a few decades past, to a power that somehow lost the war without it reaching German soil was incomprehensible to the German population and the people involved in the German Armed Forces in particular.

      (In defense of the people who didn't like communists, the Communists actually were trying to take over after the war, although it is hard to say who were the bigger assholes: the Communists or the Freikorps.)

      So there is a parallel, although I'd point out that the US may not be perfect right now, but we're still the world's lone superpower, so it's not like we're not currently "great". Embattled, yes, but in the same place as Weimar Germany? Absolutely not.

      Of course, facts don't always matter as much as they should. If you could somehow convince Americans, despite the evidence, that we are not great, and that we should be great again, you could generate a movement like this again.

      • If you could somehow convince Americans, despite the evidence, that we are not great, and that we should be great again, you could generate a movement like this again.

        Welcome to the religious right, lamenting the fall of society to the gays and nursing a wicked yet totally unsubstantiated persecution complex.

        • There's also this new American exceptionalism, when people look at stuff every other developed country is doing reasonably successfully and concluding that somehow we in the US are incapable of it. I really, really hate people who think that way.

          • There's also this new American exceptionalism, when people look at stuff every other developed country is doing reasonably successfully and concluding that somehow we in the US are incapable of it. I really, really hate people who think that way.

            Agreed. I wish that we could see ourselves as champions of democracy and progress once again, using the best ideas from around the world to inspire us to greater heights, but instead we've gotten isolationist and reticent.

          • by Evtim ( 1022085 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @03:54AM (#51547369)

            What is the root of such behavior? I have only one data point to share - a conversation with retired middle class Republican gentleman in a plain flying to the US. I was telling him about all those "controversial" liberties the Dutch enjoy and he asked me "then why did you go living there?" "Because I wanted to have those liberties in case I needed them [personally I meant the euthanasia and the coffee shops; hopefully I won't have to use the services of the ladies of negotiable affection for a while longer]" .
            He looked rather surprised by that answer and said "this can never happen in US". "Why?" "Because we are large country with diverse population so someone will always be against those liberties". "So, what IS the problem - in NL not everyone agrees with those either?"
            At the end it was clear that he could not accept the idea of choice [! weird form a member of allegedly the freest society in the world]. Having a possibility of abortion does not mean YOU have to do it - I tried again and again but no...the man would not accept the possibility that other people would do something that he considers wrong. So better ban the whole thing. Period.

            BTW, at the very end he said [it's true, I swear] "Never come to the US, you are too liberal for it. Go to Canada." I replied "Thanks, I had come to the same conclusion already".

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @04:30PM (#51543969)

          There is that, but I would remind you that there are always people like this.

          Trump does frighten me a little bit, because he is hitting some of the same notes. I don't think he's going to win even the primary, however.

          The Right will come around eventually when they realize that the government does not have to reflect their own personal beliefs.

          However, the "progressives" need to remain careful that they do not attempt to force the government to truly cause those people to do things against their conscience. I know it is considered somewhat rustic to not be in love with things like abortion on demand, for instance, but this is a very serious thing for people who have trouble accepting that a fetus or embryo is not a person.

          As for gay marriage, if you want to say that the State has every right to define something like Civil Marriage, then I think you're on very solid ground constitutionally. If it starts moving towards forcing people to have to be happy about it... it starts to become more like the state telling you what to believe. And if the state goes down that road too fast, you could empower someone like Trump, or someone worse.

          Conservatives are not marked necessarily by wanting to not progress, they're marked by requiring a more deliberate pace. As long as we understand that pacing, we should be able to move forward without insurrection.

          • As for gay marriage, if you want to say that the State has every right to define something like Civil Marriage, then I think you're on very solid ground constitutionally. If it starts moving towards forcing people to have to be happy about it... it starts to become more like the state telling you what to believe.

            I don't disagree with your overall points, but it sounds like you think the government is squashing dissent where gay marriage is concerned.

            The government has never told anybody that they have to agree with gay marriage, as far as I can tell. The freedom to say what you want about gays doesn't mean that everybody listening has to quietly assent. Being criticized for expressing regressive opinions regarding love between consenting adults isn't a violation of first amendment rights.

          • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:36PM (#51546051)

            Trump does frighten me a little bit, because he is hitting some of the same notes. I don't think he's going to win even the primary, however.

            Trump, the guy who is going to tell the world to get in line, anad do it by force of will. Yet he can't even stand up to Megan Kelly. She asks him some pointed and very good questions, and he runs away. Just one more ChickenHawk with an accent on the Chicken

            Conservatives are not marked necessarily by wanting to not progress, they're marked by requiring a more deliberate pace. As long as we understand that pacing, we should be able to move forward without insurrection.

            Barry Goldwater - one of my heros, along with Yogi Berra. We need a reincarnation of Barry.

            One of my favorite quotes by Barry, and one that is chillingly accurate, and reflects the present day state of the party:

            “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”

            And Good buddy Yogi once said - and there is a connection!:

            If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.

          • As for gay marriage, if you want to say that the State has every right to define something like Civil Marriage, then I think you're on very solid ground constitutionally.

            Marriage is indeed a a civil issue. Because there are rights and privileges attached to it. Inheritance, social security, taxes, spousal employment benefits. There are others.

            If it starts moving towards forcing people to have to be happy about it... it starts to become more like the state telling you what to believe.

            Personally where on earth did you get the idea that you are ordered to love gay marriage? I don't care if you have dreams of killing every gay person you see. Just don't act on them.

            But

            • In either case they have no right whatsoever to refuse. Their right is to either do their damn job or quit. The government is not forcing them to keep the job. If they took the job knowing that it conflicted with their beliefs then they have absolutely no ground to stand on and should be immediately fired from that job.
              • In either case they have no right whatsoever to refuse. Their right is to either do their damn job or quit. The government is not forcing them to keep the job. If they took the job knowing that it conflicted with their beliefs then they have absolutely no ground to stand on and should be immediately fired from that job.

                That's right, but I suspect that people who stood up for the woman, believing their religion trumps government, would go batshit crazy if someone were to do the same with their gun permits.

                • Absolutely true. In fact I would go batshit insane if someone were to do so with my gun permit. I would also be really pissed off if one of my friends was refused a marriage license.
        • It has nothing to do with Religion you troll, it has everything to do with power. Hitler for example believed in what ever he could to get power. People claiming he was Religious ignore the fact that he had teams of Mystic's and Astrologers, and was trying to hoard "Magic" artifacts. Artifacts from Tibet, China, Egypt, and India were just as important as those from Judea Christian sources..

          How about making it a simple "Brain washing works" statement instead? That statement has historical backing and we

          • by vux984 ( 928602 )

            Hitler for example believed in what ever he could to get power.

            The fact remains that he BELIEVED in it.

            People claiming he was Religious ignore the fact that he had teams of Mystic's and Astrologers, and was trying to hoard "Magic" artifacts.

            That doesn't argue against his religious faith, that just shows that he believed that non-Christians could also have relationships with God via their own religions and belief systems.

            Lots of Christians believe this to be the case perhaps the majority; hell even the Papacy itself has allowed for it.

            • by s.petry ( 762400 )

              So by your logic anyone who believes and practices based on Pascal's wager is a devout *insert religion* then. Which is bullshit, and I have a feeling you know damn well that it's bullshit.

              Your own bias is so blatant it must be a clinically diagnose-able problem.

              • Yes, anyone who believes in and practices any specific religion is a devout of that religion! Holy fuck, was your train of logic ever on the rails, or does it just automatically derail any time someone mentions a religion? That was one of the most illogical posts I have ever seen.
            • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

              Hitler did not have religious faith. Full stop. There is zero indication that he was any sort of fervent Christian believer. He was a cradle Catholic from a country where Catholicism was the state religion. That's it. Walk around and quiz a group of cradle Catholics in the US on the theology of the Catholic Church. Be prepared to hear people who don't know what Christianity or Catholicism actually believes unless it is featured on the TV news.

              Hitler believed he was the main character in a Wagner epic

          • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

            Religion is all about what you prioritize. If money pulls your strings, then money is your religion. If the need for justice is what pushes you to act, you might be worshipping justice. Maybe it's protecting your family, or proving something to your peers. Religion is not limited to real beings or the personification of objects or ideas.

            Even the idea of extinguishing all religion can be a religion, if that's what you devote time and energy into accomplishing. And like any religion, if one takes it far

          • Did I ever claim that Hitler was religious? It's completely irrelevant in this context. The point is, a nostalgia for imagined "good ol' days" and a belief that we need to cleanse our society of corrupting influences describes the politics of U.S. evangelicals and WWII era Germany equally well, the main difference being whether you believe jews or gays are the cause of the country's downfall.

            Please note: my beef is with the Religious Right. Not with Christianity (Catholics and liberal Christians don't gener

      • Actually, for many, this sort of hits it right on the head. The "Backstab" legend and the targeting of communists and other groups perceived to be fifth columnists like Jews, was a major popular idea about how Germany lost a war that they seemed to not be losing in 1918.

        All just another excuse. The real reason that humans can easily be enticed into killing each other - is that they enjoy it.

        Humans like to do things. So they do the things they like.

        Sex - Check

        Eat - Check

        Accumulate wealth - Check

        Very seldom have I seen any case where humans do things they hate to do. And when forced to, they tend to do it for as short a time as possible.

        So here we are engages in endless warfare, And I'm supposed to believe that humanity hates making constant warfare? Not for a mi

    • The scientific article itself doesn't mention nazis at all. The closest it gets is mentioning Milgram's classic experiment [wikipedia.org] in the 60s, which itself was based on the question about nazis. Any nazi reference you see comes from the media, not the scientists.

  • The Devil made me do it...
  • Nazis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2016 @02:58PM (#51543241)

    Why are the examples always nazis? How about "Ever wonder how seemingly normal people were able to become communists and commit such atrocities?" The communists killed far more than nazis.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because the "communist" (actually socialist) massive PR machine managed to disassociate the German National Socialist Party from other socialism related political factions in the minds of the general American populace.

      Now that that specific branch of socialist theory has been severed from the greater socialist efforts, and crushed to truly insignificant membership, it can be acceptably labelled the greatest evil ever.

      In defense of the other socialists (that's something I'm surprised to type), the Nazis did

      • Re:Nazis (Score:5, Insightful)

        by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @04:37PM (#51544025)

        Because, after the mid-30s, the National Socialist Party was about as socialist as modern Republicans. The party started with people who were more nationalist and people who were more socialist, and the socialist wing was removed from the Party with extreme prejudice not too long after Hitler took power. Hitler hated to change propaganda principles once used (he mentions it in Mein Kampf), and besides having a pretense of Socialism was useful. It continues to fool ideological idiots to this day.

        The Nazis weren't out after wealth distribution when they megamurdered some classes. The Rom didn't have enough money to be worth killing for, really, as did the Slavs in general. The Nazis primarily wanted to purify the race, although they were not reluctant at all to get what loot they could from the undesirables they killed.

        • "We have backed the wrong horse in Spain. We would have done better to back the Republicans. They represent the people. We could always have converted these socialists into good National Socialists later. The people around Franco are all reactionary clerics, aristocrats, and moneybags â"- they've nothing in common with us Nazis at all!"

          -- Adolf Hitler, April 1938

          My dear citizens! We are living through a National Socialist revolution. We emphasize the term "socialist"Â because many speak only of a

          • "I believe both Hitler and Goering were telling the truth in their public orations" - DNS-and-BIND

            Seriously, guy, if the only way you can support your argument is quotes from Hitler and other top Nazis, you need to rethink what you're saying. Did you realize that Goering was the top Nazi who chummed up to wealthy German industrialists? How Socialist is that?

      • Correct. But perhaps you could consider a better analysis is, "When the Collective becomes more important than the Individual, then Individuals will suffer". The political Left (Statist Collectivists) includes Far Left "National Socialists" and Extreme Left "Communist Socialists" that prioritize the will of the Collective (as determined by the Collective's leaders) over the desires of Individuals.

        Collectivists believe that they are doing great good for the Collective, often at great expense (wealth con

      • The strongest socialist part of the Nazis were the SA (the brown shirts). The Nazis purged them very quickly after gaining power for a variety of reasons. They were useful to help Hitler gain power but afterwords they were a trouble causing rabble clamoring that the revolution should continue. The industrialists which funded the Nazis did not like the socialist leanings of the SA and wanted them gone; Himmler wanted his SS offshoot to have more power; the German army didn't want to be absorbed by the S

      • Because the "communist" (actually socialist) massive PR machine managed to disassociate the German National Socialist Party from other socialism related political factions in the minds of the general American populace.

        Now that that specific branch of socialist theory has been severed from the greater socialist efforts, and crushed to truly insignificant membership, it can be acceptably labelled the greatest evil ever.

        In defense of the other socialists (that's something I'm surprised to type), the Nazis did take a really sick angle to the concept of redistributing wealth. "Jewish bankers have too much money, kill all Jews." "Romanian nomadic families are stealing money from hard-working Germans, kill all Gypsies." "Homosexual behavior wastes energy that could be spent breeding more Germans or at least building weapons for other Germans, kill all homosexuals." I'm sure there were more victim demographics, but those are the big three that people talk about. Most other violent socialist factions "just" slaughter people who disagree with the new government.

        Geez, this again. The whole platform of the Nazis, domestic and international was "we will save you from socialists"; Jews were targeted as the agents of international socialism destroying the German Volk.

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Why are the examples always nazis? How about "Ever wonder how seemingly normal people were able to become communists and commit such atrocities?" The communists killed far more than nazis.

      Or what about drone pilots / young american men wherever they happen to be deployed at the moment?

      The genocide aspect is different but as far as war goes are there much difference? The threat factor? If _YOU_ travel over the sea to a different country was it really a threat to you BEFORE that at-least? And in the case of a drone strike no.. not against you.

      Genocide are bad but mostly Germany just lost.

      "We nuked Nagasaki and Hiroshima and stopped the war!"

      I googled now:
      http://www.sott.net/article/27... [sott.net]
      20-30

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      As far as I've been able to figure, Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan murdered at a much greater rate than Communist China and the Soviet Union, but were stopped sooner. I'm not going to try to pick one out as better than the others, because they're all farther in the moral abyss than I'm willing to reach.

      • by Alumoi ( 1321661 )

        As far as I've been able to figure, Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan murdered at a much greater rate than Communist China and the Soviet Union, but were stopped sooner. I'm not going to try to pick one out as better than the others, because they're all farther in the moral abyss than I'm willing to reach.

        As far I've been able to figure, all European countries murdered at a much greater rate, during their colonial period, that Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. I'm not going to try to pick one out as better than the others, because they're all farther in the moral abyss than I'm willing to reach.

        • As far as I've been able to figure, Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan murdered at a much greater rate than Communist China and the Soviet Union, but were stopped sooner. I'm not going to try to pick one out as better than the others, because they're all farther in the moral abyss than I'm willing to reach.

          As far I've been able to figure, all European countries murdered at a much greater rate, during their colonial period, that Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. I'm not going to try to pick one out as better than the others, because they're all farther in the moral abyss than I'm willing to reach.

          And by European countries during their colonial period, let's include the US' Manifest Destiny, near genocide of the entire Native American population, and actual genocide of many of their nations.

        • Much greater rate than something on the order of a couple million a year, multiplied by maybe three or four colonial powers? The population of the undeveloped parts of the world was simply not that high, and in most cases (not all) the natives remained as the majority of the population. In other words, you're innumerate.

          The apparent difference in our definitions of "figure" is that I mean "roughly estimate based on decent available data", while Alumoi apparently means "pull out of my ass so I can make

          • by Alumoi ( 1321661 )

            The population of the undeveloped parts of the world was simply not that high

            The 'kill ratio' or rate you talk about was greater during the colonial period, but the numbers weren't because there were not enough people to kill.

            • The kill rate I was talking about was megamurders per year. If you want to use one based on the target population, we'll have to find a way to define it and approximate it. For example, who was Hitler's target population? It certainly included Jews and many Slavs, but not all. He had no problem with breaking up Czechoslovakia and not exterminating the natives, and seemed to have no quarrel with Bulgaria. It included Russians, but how many of those do we count? The number of Russians and Ukrainians un

      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        Not counting ordinary casualties of war, the Soviet Union under Stalin murdered many times over the number who were murdered by Nazi Germany.

        • Not counting ordinary casualties of war, the Soviet Union under Stalin murdered many times over the number who were murdered by Nazi Germany.

          There were somewhere between 1 and 10 million indigenes living in what is now the US at the time of Columbus, depending on who makes the estimates. There were 273,000 in 1900 according to a pretty good census.
          Of course, that doesn't mean that 1-10 million were killed. It means more than that had to be killed, because each generation had to keep being killed as they reproduced over the years in order to make the numbers drop.

    • Because Nazis cannot fight back anymore. Here is a much better example: the IRS.

      The IRS is an organization that is given orders to steal from people and if they resist in some way to attack them, kidnap them and if they resist, murder them. The IRS implements its orders with great zeal. However IRS can fight back, they are part of the current political system, so it's going to be Nazis.

      As to communists, they can also still fight back, look around, the world is filled with communists who want to steal fro

    • (reposting because I accidentally posted it as response to the wrong comment)

      The scientific article itself doesn't mention nazis at all. The closest it gets is mentioning Milgram's classic experiment [wikipedia.org] in the 60s, which itself was based on the question about nazis. Any nazi reference you see comes from the media, not the scientists.

  • That's why "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword"
  • by Colin Castro ( 2881349 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:02PM (#51543291)
    And if you read SS interviews and books it was also that when you showed up and people were naked and being beaten and hit everyday you became indifferent to it and then became one of the guys doing it. Remember, jews weren't killed at camps in the beginning right away in lots of places, they were used as labor, and detained, and as it went forward it got worse. The living conditions worsened over time as well. It's not like an SS guy went from walking on the street, to signing up for the SS and to murdering jews in a week.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's not like an SS guy went from walking on the street, to signing up for the SS and to murdering jews in a week.

      Well, actually, some did. When walking the streets in their pre-SS days some were severely beating jews and destroying the property of jews. They already possessed violent anti-semitic behaviors. The camp environment removed what restraints society was putting on them. It liberated the hatred and violence they already possessed.

      That said, there were also SS volunteers who refused to participate and were quietly transferred without any fuss. These volunteers joined the SS to be soldiers. They were quietly t

      • by CQDX ( 2720013 )

        Europe and Russia had a long history of pogroms before the Nazis, pogroms where thousands of Jews would be killed by mobs. The anti-semitism and willingness to kill was already there. The Nazis just exploited it. Add that to a society that glorified the military and strict obedience to command authority and you end up with an institution willing to kill innocent civilians.

  • I think this is more explained by the Stanley Milgram studies than anything else

    • It was demonstrated by those studies, but how well was it explained?

      • by tgv ( 254536 )

        Well, this explanation isn't an explanation either. If you read the article, the only thing they found is a difference in EEG signal, which "looks like" a difference you get when physically restraining people's movements. From that you cannot possibly infer that you've got an explanation.

  • Well, yeah ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:09PM (#51543373) Homepage

    On things far less important than this ... how many of us have said to the boss "No, that's a stupid idea", only to be cajoled ... and how many times has "OK, send me an email demanding this" ... you forced me to do it, you authorized it, I no longer give a damn about the outcome.

    Now, it's all well and good to say it's obvious ... but if you've objected, been over-ruled, and possibly told you'd have some consequences if you didn't comply ... I can see how the brain is wired to say "fuck it, that's not on me".

    I mean, armies train people to be more willing to kill people ... why would anybody be surprised when they actually do it? You've pretty much been told to surrender the authority for certain kinds of moral judgement up the chain of command.

    As so often happens, it's common sense after someone actually explains it. :-P

    • The "send me an email" is often a matter of covering one's ass, rather than requiring authority to be exerted. If the subordinate thinks he or she is going to become the scapegoat for doing something management ordered, it's only common sense to have hard evidence of the order.

      I like working for places where I get the feeling that we're all working for the same goal, but management and level really isn't my circus, and those aren't my monkeys, so in dysfunctional companies I feel no moral obligation to

    • I was going to say, as much as the study of sociopaths occupying C-level positions and Boards of Directors has gotten increasing attention the recent few years, I wonder if studies of middle management following Milgram's studies similarly correlates.
    • I don't think you know what cajoled means. Figures.
      • I don't think you know what cajoled means. Figures.

        Sure I do. The Boss says to you, "I got you by the cajoles"

  • Someone seriously studied this? Does the phrase "I'm just following orders" not exist to these people?
  • Ok, and? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:24PM (#51543499)

    It's the same mechanism that leads to riots and other similar phenomena: people lose their sense of personal responsibility. In riots people who would normally not even think about looting or destroying property will happily participate when in a large crowd because they aren't responsible for it, the crowd is. It's the same in this case: it is the person giving the order that is responsible, not the person actually committing the ordered action.

    Now, granted, in many cases of atrocities (think Holocaust, ISIS, and child soldiers in Africa), those involved have also been affected by some form of conditioning or other coercion. Quite often this begins at an early age because children are impressionable, but it can easily be accomplished on older individuals by tapping into a sense of frustration/disillusionment/anger and exploiting it, often by using the intended targets of the atrocity as the scapegoat for those feelings.

  • That was a terrible article. The link to the study, at the top, would have been a much better destination.

  • Most humans are sheep.
  • Because saying "no" and walk out to do the right thing does not keep your family fed and clothed? It does however get you persecution by whatever authorities and ostracism from society.

  • The atrocities that were carried out during the Nazi time by the Nazis, were carried out mostly by people that stepped forward and that had the opportunity to not take part in such actions.

    For example, the personell at the concentration and killing camps were members of the "Waffen SS".

    These people needed to step forward to join the Waffen SS, and swear the oath on their "Fuehrer Adolf Hitler", these people were convinced about what they were doing, and in the case of the concentration & killing camps t

    • by Alumoi ( 1321661 )

      You may want to check your references.
      Waffen SS were the 'regular' army of the SS.
      Totenkopf was the branch mainly responsible with the death camps.

    • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      "the personell at the concentration and killing camps were members of the "Waffen SS"."

      No. The Waffen SS was the armed/military wing of the SS deployed in ground combat operations.

      The SS-Totenkopfverbande ( "Death's Head" Unit) was the part of the organization responsible for concentration camps.

      I'd say they needed more than commands. Part of the historical lesson of Nazi Germany is that "normal" people can be totally corrupted given the right circumstances. There's certainly no excusing what they did,

  • ... hurt the one you love.

  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @06:31PM (#51544829) Journal

    Tell the neuroscientists to go study drone operators ordered to bomb hospitals and schools.

  • "some basic feeling of responsibility really is reduced when we are coerced into doing something."

    If you lower the intensity a few orders of magnitude, isn't this obvious and doesn't it hit many programmers pretty close to home?

    I've never murdered anyone, but I have done plenty of things I thought were dumb or "bad" simply because "that's how the boss wants it." And HELL YES I feel less responsible. I really do. Don't you?

  • The results indicate that humans are able to hurt each other when given orders.

    Those aren't the results, but rather the original observations. From the article's abstract:

    Thus, people who obey orders may subjectively experience their actions as closer to passive movements than fully voluntary actions

    The results are that the brain actually feels like a passive observer once you have decided to follow orders against your better judgement. You no longer process the results as consequences of your actions, but rather as 'just the way the world moves'. This means that any form of reinforcement learning goes out the window immediatly.

    • Excellent review. And then there's this part...

      "following the Milgram experiment" ... The results indicate that humans are able to hurt each other when given orders."

      That's not what the Milgram experiment says either. From what I've seen on the original tapes, the exact opposite is true: when people were *ordered* to do something they told the experimenters to screw off and left. It was only when they were told *they would fail* the experiment that they continued.

  • Is that why I want to hurt people that try to boss me around?
  • Bad pun, or funny coincidence?
  • Doesnt this mean that the idea that "I was just following orders" is no defence, is actually quite a provable defence?

  • The linked "article" was entirely without content, except for numerous "Paid Content" links to scammy crap.

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