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Starman Ghost


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Jan
12th
2015

I changed my mind, Hobbes. People are scum. · 4:37am Jan 12th, 2015

The recent news about the US torture programs has really caused me to rethink some of my beliefs - more specifically, my stance on misanthropy.

Now, it's not so much the existence of the program itself. I already knew that sadly, even allegedly enlightened regimes are perfectly fine with torture if they can use it to get people to say things that justify their policies. And yes, this is the purpose of torture. The motives, methods, and results have a lot more in common with 1984's Ministry of Love than anything Jack Bauer does.

No, what has me thinking that humanity as a whole is more fucked than most people are willing to admit is the popular reaction to it. America is split pretty evenly, almost a clean 50/50, on whether it was justified. Let's put this into perspective.

Half of all Americans are okay with a torture program that psychological studies have repeatedly established gives no useful intelligence.

Half of all Americans are okay with a torture program that includes medically unnecessary rectal feeding, threats to murder the victims' families, and forcing them to stand on broken limbs for hours at a time.

Half of all Americans are okay with a torture program when 1/4 of the people tortured weren't even associated with the enemy.

Half of all Americans are okay with an absolutely monstrous and unjustifiable violation of the human rights the perpetrators claim to be fighting for.

If we take Americans as representative of the world at large, then half of all people can't even get together the bare minimum of conscience needed to be against torture. We live in the moral equivalent of a world where half the population can't add two and two. How can I stare that fact in the face and say that humans, as a whole, aren't bastards? Well, I can't. Believe me, I tried, but I can't.

No, this doesn't mean I've decided that every single person is Hitler. What's true of the whole is not necessarily true of the parts. It doesn't mean I expect everyone to agree with me, either. This has just been raging in my head awhile and I wanted to let it out before it drove me insane.

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Comments ( 28 )

Humans didn't USED to be like this, but the world we live in is driving more and more people to their darker personas.

Bad economy has forced many parents into having to take multiple jobs, in turn turning them away from raising their kids and teaching them what's right and wrong(for those parents whom even still care about that at this point), and that in turn leads to many(not all) of their kids into becoming more delinquent, which in turn hurts the economy worse, and etc., continuing in a never-ending spiral of destruction unless something is done to change it.

Unfortunately, at this point, I don't know what could possibly be done to make a difference at this point and time.:\

I hear you. I can never get behind statements like "people are scum" because that seems kind of self-defeating. But you know what's worse than that? Torture apologetics.

TiaC #3 · Jan 12th, 2015 · · ·

Tribes are powerful things. People will twist themselves into knots and rationalize away atrocities to defend their group, their tribe, from any criticism. We're wired to make issues into "us vs. them" and it can make us do really stupid things.

Personally I'm inclined to think people are generally good and that what lets people rationalize such horrible things as this (at least in 'Murica) is ideology and religion. Like, it starts with siding with some political party for whatever reason and when that party f**** up they feel the need to double down on the party's ideology in order to defend themselves from everyone who jumps on their weakness. It's an unfortunate fact of human psychology that we think this way and I don't see the merit in laying the blame on people who are ignorant this way.

Hopefully, the news segment wasn't just pushing numbers to create reactions. Hopefully, the news is as honest as it comes. And even then, I wonder if those people actually seen or experienced torture, and whether their opinion is just caused by degrees of separation.

I am to remember the time the US were isolationists. Didn't go to war until it knocked on their door. It's hard to judge morals when it's just words or opinions.

I think you get where I'm going with this.

I think the problem isn't that people have no moral compass, but rather than the US has become so amazingly good at soft persuasion that many Americans are brainwashed into thinking the US is so great, and that everything the American government does is justified.

A lot of people are simply easy to brainwash, they just don't develop their own opinions. These people (or better said, sheep) will easily believe anything is justified as long as someone else tells them it is.
The rest of the people are the other 50% who are not okay with that.
Shame that those who do think for themselves and would like some greater good never get anywhere, as in order to get somewhere in today's world, you need to be willing to go through dead bodies. And good people have morals to prevent them from doing so.
That's why today's world is ruled by the wrong kind of people. Sigh.

There was an experiment, actually there were several, but one to place in the 1960s at Yale under the direction of Stanly Milgram. It was an experiment on obedience, and more specifically, how German citizens could be convinced to murder innocent civilians. It involved a person being asked to press switches that supposedly applied greater and greater shocks to a fake test subject as the fake subject (actually an actor playing the role) failed to answer questions correctly. As the voltages got higher, the actor would start crying and begin for mercy, for the "experiment" to stop. And all it to to drive the person at the switchboard to continue was telling them they must.
It was found that proximity to the "victim" being shocked greatly affected the willingness of the person applying the shock to continue. According to Alex Boese's Elephants on Acid: and other Bizarre Experiments, 100% compliance was elicited if the actor was not perceived by the subject at the controls. Thumping on the walls drove that down to 65%. and physical proximity drove it down to 30%. Other experiments examined the psychological impact of this phenomena. The subjects don't like caring out these instructions. That is clear. Yet they do.
My point is this. Humans are a complicated mess of social instructions and interactions. We value the lives of those we know and can see over those we don't know and can't see. A prisoner in some god awful prison being subjected to inhumanities of unimaginable sort are not something we processes well. Its an abstract and something most can not handle. So most don't.
For all that we are amazing creatures we are also still animals; advanced, self-aware, rational animals, but still bound by our nature. It is no more fair to blame such a population as half of humanity for inhumanities that are built into our very minds than it is fair to blame cats for wanting to hunt mice. One day humanity as a whole will have wrestled with our nature's every demon and come out victorious: we will be as good as we can be. But humans now are still just human. It is not fair to humanity to cast final judgment. Take hope in the knowledge that humanity as a whole wants to be better. Yes, we are flawed, horribly and unjustly so, but we can grow and we can improve. Human nature is flawed by the nature of us being human, but being human means we can overcome those flaws as no other creature can. Try not to disrepair and blame humanity for the failings of our flesh.

Addendum:
Those stats are misleading. Americans debating a moral issue in abstract is not an good indicator of what a societies true morals are. And Americans are not a good stand in for the world at large. Further, not everyone agrees that torture gives no intelligence, regardless of what physiologists say. You are assuming too much and reaching too deep for meaning in what is a very abstract stat. I can just as easily say that 50% of the population being against such treatment is a 5000% improvement over the 100% that agreed to effectively "torture" a test subject in the experiments I mentioned above.

2717352

I don't think anyone who knows the business think torture doesn't give intelligence. They do agree it is not an efficient one.

Physical torture at least. A lot of the ones that work (sleep deprivation, noise barrage, emotional attacks) are still torture, but mostly mental ones.

The only way you could make a judgement on an entire group of people (like the ones that where asked about condoning this torture thing) is if they all knew the same thing.
As in read and saw the EXACT same sources of the information available on BOTH sides of the spectrum. Only then can you judge a group.

Because otherwise (and most likely the case here) the people only have the most shallow information about the issue.
And those few that are somewhat more informed, in turn attain their news at sources that cater to their interests. A Leftist will almost never read a Rightists news source as much as his own "side", and vice versa.

People read biased information and only by reading BOTH sides can one attain enough perspective to make an informed decision (this helps also determine if both sides are just spouting drivel which also happens).

But humans being humans, we are lazy and do half the work.

Dude, it isn't humanity, it's your nation run by misanthropic politicians who care for themselves viewing humans as plaything and manipulating them.

Do you honestly think people outside America are condoning your nation's actions? Furthermore, you have to take the people that are against torture into account.

Don't generalize people who are being manipulated by misanthropes who care for themselves.

Furthermore, you are judging a species based on a nation which HARDLY has support among the majority of the world. That is fucking shallow.

Come to think of it, most misanthropes seem to be American. Interesting.

Jaded response, I know, but this is just so unexpected coming from you.

Comment posted by silvadel deleted Jan 12th, 2015
Comment posted by Slip Kid deleted Jan 12th, 2015

2717719 I've seen examples of such from other countries too, honestly. HOWEVER, I will not deny that my country has become the worst in regards to this. That much is most definitely true, unfortunately.:\

2717817
Well whatever happens in America causes its population to become misanthropes. There is a Marxist analysis behind this somewhere. :trixieshiftright: (Opens PDF works of Lenin, Marx and Trotsky).

2717883 lol Like I said, most of those in my country have become the worst. Things weren't so bad about 10 or so years ago, but dang to how it is nowadays.:\

2717954
Silly prole, that isn't a Marxist response as to why America became misanthropic. :heart:
It's still funny because there are nations that have worse conditions than the states in multiple fields, yet misanthropy seems to be a largely American (and sometimes french and British) phenomenon.

2717960 America used to be great. Used to being the key words. Now, it's a mockery of its former self in my opinion.

2717992
Internment camps, vicious lynchings(butchering into cubes, tearing tongue out, generally just some really creative and horrifying executions rather than the dumbed down noose you might be thinking of) that authorities look the other way on even if said lynching was of elected public officials(one town had its entire government killed off this way and replaced with people from the mob, president did nothing in response), slavery, structural apathy towards the disabled, paying workers in funny money that can only be redeemed at stores the company owns(and can be declared null at any time for any reason) being legal, Salem witch trials, mass confiscation of all currency with precious metals in exchange for american currency worth less than that metal content(Bonus! The founding fathers did that one), virtually all diplomatic relations with native americans(broken treaties, disobeying the supreme court, trail of tears, etc.), the deportation of everyone in the country who happened to hold a specific political viewpoint(royalists), lack of any safety nets, kids beating each other to the point of life-crippling injury in games of "uncle" being accepted, US diplomats intentionally destroying documentation and evidence of the holocaust in progress...

As fucked up as America is today, you have to remind yourself that it used to be worse. The green of the grass is not a uniform thing, there are patches of brown and they are in different places on each side... and it is all too easy to get tunnel vision on a particular spot.

2718013 True. It was terrible at times as well. It's like it's in a wave. Goes up, goes down, goes up, goes down.... and now is definitively during one of the 'down' times.:\

2718013
You're right. It's objectively gotten better, because humans are a naturally progressive species. And I don't just say that after reading Marx's words in the Commie manifesto.

In all honestly, I have a hard time believing that. Statistically speaking, it's pretty much impossible that 50% of a population (especially one as large and as diverese as the United States) to reach such a consensus. Statistically speaking, 35% could be considered an anormally large consensus (hell even 20% is pushing it). Even by taking into account that people may have different definitions on what constitute torture, it's pretty much impossible that 50% are completely OK (and by that, I mean 100% OK) with the torture programs (assuming that they're aware of all the facts).

I don't know where you got your statistics, but your source seems very biased (or they handled it in a very simplified manner (sorry, but moral debates are never simple. When you try to cut the fat and present your conclusions, you usually end up without most of the meat as well)). I'm really wondering where you got the idea that Americans are evenly split on this issue in the first place? This stinks of childish simplifications that you find in bad polls. I seriously doubt (considering how recent these reports are) that anyone managed to interview every single American before coming up with that 50/50 figure.

Sorry for the statistic rant, but it's so blatant that in kinda tipped me off. I have other reasons not to believe in that, but other commentators showcased them better than I could.

2717719 There is an unhealthy amount of nationalistic pride at fault for that, I think. The misanthropy, that is. At least in my circles, those who are most (unhealthily) proud of 'Murica and it's place on the world stage are also the most misanthropic. I think that since they see the US as the best, most moral and awesome place to live, when reality ensues their opinion of the rest of the world lowers faster than of their home.

2718674 By the normal method of determining a randomly selected group of n people's opinions about some topic where the choices for a particular question can be narrowed down to agreement or disagreement, it's hardly fair to apply a 100% agreement or disagreement qualifier after the fact. Also, for such two-choice questions it is not uncommon to see any particular percentage - which may be extrapolated to cover an entire population - such as 35% or 20%. In fact, for non polarizing issues, we can reasonably expect 80/20 and 70/30 splits.

...and by that, I mean 100% OK...assuming that they're aware of all the facts

Be careful not to use irrelevant qualifiers on data. Do you know the origin of Starman's 50%? Have you read the study that concluded it? Can you add qualifiers that may not have been within the original study's purview and remain intellectually honest?
If you can than by all means. Otherwise... you may want to reevaluate how you think.

2717057 2717098 These are good points.

2717352 Oh yeah, I know all about the Milgram experiment. I minored in psychology, actually. Good post.

2717719 Sadly, this shit is hardly unique to America. Sure, that's what's in the news right now, but if history is any indication, find the right rationale and I imagine you garner popular support for terrorism anywhere.

2733276
Eh, you're speaking like a Nihilist, the same attitudes the Tea Party and libertarians have when trying to deconstruct socialist utopias. The thing is, the world hates America (go to most non American news sites like RT or CBC), so I find it natural that misanthropy is a largely American attitude and Americans of all ideologies hate the world back.

Misanthropy is a cycle. Misanthropes do bad things to humans, causing people to become disillusioned and become misanthropes, preventing them from doing any good to the world.

Although, I really hope you're not going with the whole ponies are superior thing, otherwise I'm calling you out on cognitive dissonance.

I don't know psychology, and I don't think that I'm able to construct a proper rebuttal for this. I can't change your mind on this. I'll leave that for others.

But please accept a virtual hug. I hope it helps.

No, what has me thinking that humanity as a whole is more fucked than most people are willing to admit is the popular reaction to it. America is split pretty evenly, almost a clean 50/50, on whether it was justified. Let's put this into perspective.

Three questions:
1. where, exactly, did you get that "50/50" data
2. did you make any effort to verify?
3. how many people were surveyed to produce that statistic?

edit: make that 4 questions:
4. what, exactly, were the questions on the survey?

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