Philip Zombardo: “Evil comes from hierarchies”

Evil does not always grow out of the hearts of malicious men. Sometimes it grows out of the collective cooperation of folks trying to do good. Here Philip Zimbardo, creator of the Stanford Experiment, 1971, explains that evil comes from hierarchies that assign each man a role. Beware to him who agrees with the rules without thinking and complies with their enforcement.  “Most of the evil in the world comes about, not out of an evil motive but from someone saying ‘get with the program,’ ‘be a team player.’  When a person feels ‘I am not personally responsible,’ ‘I am not accountable,’ ‘it’s the role I am playing,’ or ‘these are the orders I’ve gotten,’ then you allow yourself to do things you would never do under ordinary circumstances.”  That’s quite a statement.  Given that definition, doesn’t that kind of indict a whole host of government and corporate, family, and religious instutions?

Here is the background on the Milgram Experiment, named after Stanley Milgram, the psychologist who conducted the experiment at Yale University in 1961just three short months after the Adolph Eichmann trial began in Jerusalem.

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