Category Archives: Social psychology

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as ‘clinical waste’ by hospitals in Britain with some used in ‘waste to energy’ plants

By Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent (sic)
The Telegraph 24 Mar 2014 [The article elicitied 1837 comments within 3 days]

The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.

Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.

The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by cremation.

“This practice is totally unacceptable,” said Dr Poulter.

“While the vast majority of hospitals are acting in the appropriate way, that must be the case for all hospitals and the Human Tissue Authority has now been asked to ensure that it acts on this issue without delay.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director, has written to all NHS trusts to tell them the practice must stop.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has also written to the Human Tissue Authority to ask them make sure that guidance is clear.

And the Care Quality Commission said it would investigate the programme’s findings.
Prof Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “I am disappointed trusts may not be informing or consulting women and their families.

“This breaches our standard on respecting and involving people who use services and I’m keen for Dispatches to share their evidence with us.

“We scrutinise information of concern and can inspect unannounced, if required.”

A total of one in seven pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, while NHS figures show there are around 4,000 stillbirths each year in the UK, or 11 each day.

Ipswich Hospital Trust said it was concerned to discover that foetal remains from another hospital had been incinerated on its site.

A spokeswoman said: “The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust does not incinerate foetal remains.”
She added that the trust “takes great care over foetal remains”

A spokesman for the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that trained health professionals discuss the options with parents ‘both verbally and in writing.’

“The parents are given exactly the same choice on the disposal of foetal remains as for a stillborn child and their personal wishes are respected,” they added.

Channel 4 Dispatches, Amanda Holden: Exposing Hospital Heartache, airs tonight (Monday March 24) at 8pm

Western spy agencies build ‘cyber magicians’ to manipulate online discourse

http://rt.com/news/five-eyes-online-manipulation-deception-564/

Western spy agencies build ‘cyber magicians’ to manipulate online discourse

Published time: February 25, 2014 03:40

Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ’s outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England (Reuters/Kieran Doherty)

Secret units within the ‘Five Eyes” global spying network engage in covert online operations that aim to invade, deceive, and control online communities and individuals through the spread of false information and use of ingenious social-science tactics.

Such teams of highly trained professionals have several main objectives, such as “to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet” and “to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported based on intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The new information comes via a document from the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), entitled ‘The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations,’ which is top secret and only for dissemination within the Five Eyes intelligence partnership that includes Britain, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Image from firstlook.org

The document outlines what tactics are used to achieve JTRIG’s main objectives. Among those tactics that seek to “discredit a target” include “false flag operations” (posting material online that is falsely attributed to a target), fake victim blog posts (writing as a victim of a target to disseminate false information), and posting “negative information” wherever pertinent online.

Other discrediting tactics used against individuals include setting a “honey-trap” (using sex to lure targets into compromising situations), changing a target’s photo on a social media site, and emailing or texting “colleagues, neighbours, friends etc.”

To “discredit a company,” GCHQ may “leak confidential information to companies/the press via blog…post negative information on appropriate forums [or] stop deals/ruin business relationships.”

JTRIG’s ultimate purpose, as defined by GCHQ in the document, is to use “online techniques to make something happen in the real world or cyber world.” These online covert actions follow the “4 D’s:” deny, disrupt, degrade, deceive.

Image from firstlook.org

As Greenwald pointed out, the tactics employed by JTRIG are not used for spying on other nations, militaries, or intelligence services, but for “traditional law enforcement” against those merely suspected of crimes. These targets can include members of Anonymous, “hacktivists,” or really any person or entity GCHQ deems worthy of antagonizing.

“[I]t is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition, the targets do not need to have ties to terror activity or pose any national security threat. More likely, targets seem to fall closer to political activists that may have, for instance, used “denial of service” tactics, popular with Anonymous and hacktivists, which usually do only a limited amount of damage to a target.

Image from firstlook.org

“These surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition to the personal attacks on targets, JTRIG also involves the use of psychological and social-science tactics to steer online activism and discourse. The document details GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” which focuses on “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption” that are used to dissect how targets can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience,” and “compliance.”

Using tested manipulation tactics, JTRIG attempts to influence discourse and ultimately sow discord through deception.

When reached for comment by The Intercept, GCHQ avoided answering pointed questions on JTRIG while insisting its methods were legal.

“It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position,” GCHQ stated.

 

Is it unthinkable that US leaders would mastermind the murder of 3,000 of their citizens?

Is it unthinkable that US leaders would mastermind the murder of 3,000 of their citizens?

By Elias Davidsson 6 July 2007

One of the arguments advanced by those who reject the possibility that US leaders had masterminded the events of 9/11, is that such conduct is simply unthinkable. When pressed why this would be unthinkable, the usual answer is that leaders of a democratic country don’t do “such things”, let alone Americans to other Americans. Such thought is deemed outrageous. Let us examine such outright rejection in some detail.

The democratic argument

Adolf Hitler came to power after heavily contested democratic elections. A larger percentage of the German population voted for him than that of the American population for George W. Bush. In addition, the elections in post-Nazi Germany were substantially more contested than those practiced in the United States. In Germany at the time, powerful communist and socialist parties fiercely confronted liberal and right-wing parties. In the United States, two wings of Corporate America, or as some people have it, two trademarks of Corporate America, present their candidates. Corporate mass media stage the election campaign, which is financed by corporations. The election fraud by George W. Bush, abetted by the Supreme Court, has hardly changed the nature of American sham-democracy.

The moral argument (“We Americans don’t do such things”)

Pre-Nazi Germany has been a world citadel of culture, arts and science. Germany has given the world great composers, philosophers, painters, writers, poets and scientists. Who would have imagined in 1933 that German leaders would kill thousands of their own people and commit genocide? Anybody thinking along these lines would have been regarded as mad. Yet this happened at the behest of leaders of this historically cultured nation. The United States cannot claim a similar heritage as Germany. American history consists of a long trail of mass crimes, including the genocide of the native Indian population and mass enslavement. It also includes numerous wars of aggression, both in the Western hemisphere and around the world. In recent decades, the United States could claim the notorious record of being the largest incarcerator in the world, with almost one percent of the population behind bars. If it was possible for leaders of a democratic, cultured nation, to commit unspeakable crimes against humanity, there is no reason to believe that this cannot happen elsewhere, let alone in countries that have a long tradition of state-instigated violence, such as the United States. The question whether US leaders did instigate the events of 9/11 cannot be dismissed out of hand by simply stating that “Americans do not do such things”. It can only be answered by an empirical examination of the evidence. The 9/11 truth movement has taken upon itself this civic task.

Remote-control Warriors Suffer War Stress Remote-control Warriors Based In The US Suffer From Psycho

Remote-control Warriors Suffer War Stress Remote-control Warriors Based In The US Suffer From Psychological Stresses, Too

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif., Aug. 7, 2008

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/07/ap/national/main4328488.shtml

(AP) The Air National Guardsmen who operate Predator drones over Iraq via remote control, launching deadly missile attacks from the safety of Southern California 7,000 miles away, are suffering some of the same psychological stresses as their comrades on the battlefield.

Working in air-conditioned trailers, Predator pilots observe the field of battle through a bank of video screens and kill enemy fighters with a few computer keystrokes. Then, after their shifts are over, they get to drive home and sleep in their own beds.

But that whiplash transition is taking a toll on some of them mentally, and so is the way the unmanned aircraft’s cameras enable them to see people getting killed in high-resolution detail, some officers say.

"When you come in (with a fighter jet) at 500-600 mph, drop a 500-pound bomb and then fly away, you don’t see what happens," said Col. Albert K. Aimar, who is commander of the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing here and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology. "Now you watch it all the way to impact, and I mean it’s very vivid, it’s right there and personal. So it does stay in people’s minds for a long time."

He said the stresses are "causing some family issues, some relationship issues." He and other Predator officers would not elaborate.

But the 163rd has called in a full-time chaplain and enlisted the services of psychologists and psychiatrists to help ease the mental strain on these remote-control warriors, Aimar said. Similarly, chaplains have been brought in at Predator bases in Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

In interviews with five of the dozens of pilots and sensor operators at the various bases, none said they had been particularly troubled by their mission, but they acknowledged it comes with unique challenges, and sometimes makes for a strange existence.

"It’s bizarre, I guess," said Lt. Col. Michael Lenahan, a Predator pilot and operations director for the 196th Reconnaissance Squadron here. "It is quite different, going from potentially shooting a missile, then going to your kid’s soccer game."

Among the stresses cited by the operators and their commanders: the exhaustion that comes with the shift work of this 24-7 assignment; the classified nature of the job that demands silence at the breakfast table; and the images transmitted via video.

A Predator’s cameras are powerful enough to allow an operator to distinguish between a man and a woman, and between different weapons on the ground. While the resolution is generally not high enough to make out faces, it is sharp, commanders say.

Often, the military also directs Predators to linger over a target after an attack so that the damage can be assessed.

"You do stick around and see the aftermath of what you did, and that does personalize the fight," said Col. Chris Chambliss, commander of the active-duty 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. "You have a pretty good optical picture of the individuals on the ground. The images can be pretty graphic, pretty vivid, and those are the things we try to offset. We know that some folks have, in some cases, problems."

Chambliss said his experience flying F-16 fighter jets on bombing runs in Iraq during the 1990s prepared him for his current job as a Predator pilot. But Chambliss and several other wing leaders said they were concerned about the sensor operators, who sit next to pilots in the ground control station. Often, the sensor operators are on their first assignment and just 18 or 19 years old, officers said.

While the pilot actually fires the missile, the sensor operator uses laser instruments to guide it all the way to its target.

On four or five occasions, sensor operators have sought out a chaplain or supervisor after an attack, Chambliss said. He emphasized that the number of such cases is very small compared to the number of people involved in Predator operations.

Col. Rodney Horn, vice commander of the 14th Reconnaissance Wing at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base near Houston, said his unit went out of it way to impress upon sensor operators the sometimes lethal nature of the job. "No one’s walking into it blind," he said.

Master Sgt. Keith LeQuire, a 48-year-old sensor operator here, said the 163rd asks prospective sensor operators whether they are prepared for the deadly serious mission. "No one’s been naive enough to come in to interview but not know about that aspect of the job," he said.

Unlike soldiers living together in the war zone, the Predator operators do not have the close locker-room-style camaraderie that allows buddies to talk about the day’s events and blow off steam. But many Predator operators at Creech employ a decompression ritual during the long ride home, said Air Force Lt. Col. Robert P. Herz.

"They’re putting a missile down somebody’s chimney and taking out bad guys, and the next thing they’re taking their wife out to dinner, their kids to school," said Herz, a Ph.D. who interviewed pilots and sensor operators for a doctoral dissertation on human error in Predator accidents.

"A lot of them have told me, `I’m glad I’ve got the hour drive.’ It gives them that whole amount of time to leave it behind," Herz said. "They get in their bus or car and they go into a zone _ they say, `For the next hour I’m decompressing, I’m getting re-engaged into what it’s like to be a civilian.’"

Col. Gregg Davies, commander of the 214th Reconnaissance Group in Tucson, Ariz., said he knows of no member of his team who has experienced any trauma from launching a Predator attack.

Himself a Predator pilot, Davies said he has found the work rewarding. The Arizona Air National Guard unit flies Predators in both the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones. It has often provided protection for American convoys, and its personnel have seen insurgents planting roadside bombs.

"If we can have an effect there where we can take people out, that’s a real plus in terms of saving American lives," Davies said. "Our folks look at it as they’re in the fight, they’re saving lives. They don’t feel too bad about that."

Totalitarianism and Obedience

Totalitarianism and Obedience

by Sarah Meyer

(This article will now have 'Updates' which relate to totalitariansm in USA/UK. Most recent update: 30.04.07)

My thoughts to publish this writing by Vasily Grossman followed the story, UPDATE: “Wash? Post joins “NYTimes? in Trumpeting “Anonymous Claims on Iranian Weapons, published by Editor and Publisher on 12 February 2007. Juan Cole is on the case in New York Times Falls for Bogus Iran Weapons Charges.

Grossman's superb analysis of totalitarian government expresses my horror at the vast number of politicians, press and people in both the U.S. and UK who, like stoats, DO nothing in the glare of present Iraq and forthcoming Iran disasters.

SILENCE IS NOT ALWAYS GOLDEN

by VASILY GROSSMAN

FROM LIFE AND FATE

“The first half of the twentieth century may be seen as a time of great scientific discoveries, revolutions, immense social transformations and two World Wars ?

One of the most astonishing human traits that came to light at this time was obedience. There were cases of huge queues being formed by people awaiting execution ” and it was the victims themselves who regulated the movement of these queues. There were hot summer days when people had ot wait from early morning until late at night; some mothers prudently provided themselves with bread and bottles of water for their children. Millions of innocent people, knowing that they would soon be arrested, said goodbye to their nearest and dearest in advance and prepared little bundles containing spare underwear and a towel. Millions of people lived in vast camps that had not only been built by prisoners but were even guarded by them.

And it wasn’t merely tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, but hundreds of millions of people who were the obedient witnesses of this slaughter of the innocent, Nor were they merely obedient witnesses: when ordered to, they gave their support to this slaughter, voting in favour of it amid a hubbub of voices. There was something unexpected in the degree of their obedience.

There was, of course, resistance; there were acts of courage and determination on the part of those who had been condemned; there were uprisings; there were men who risked their own lives and the lives of their families in order to save the life of a stranger. But the obedience of the vast mass of people is undeniable.

What does this tell us? That a new trait has suddenly appeared in human nature? No, this obedience bears witness to a new force acting on human beings. The extreme violence of totalitarian social systems proved able to paralyse the human spirit throughout whole continents.

A man who has placed his soul in the service of Fascism declares an evil and dangerous slavery to be the only true good. Rather than overtly renouncing human feelings, he declares the crimes committed by Fascism to be the highest form of humanitarianism; he agrees to divide people up into the pure and worthy and the impure and unworthy.

The instinct for self-preservation is supported by the hypnotic power of world ideologies. These call people to carry out any sacrifice, to accept any means, in order to achieve the highest of ends: the future greatness of the motherland, world progress, the future happiness of mankind, of a nation, of a class.

One more force co-operated with the life-instinct and the power of great ideologies terror at the limitless violence of a powerful State, terror at the way murder had become the basis of everyday life.

The violence of a totalitarian State is so great as to be no longer a means to an end; it becomes an object of mystical worship and adoration. How else can one explain the way certain intelligent, thinking Jews declared the slaughter of the Jews to be necessary for the happiness of mankind? That in view of this they were ready to take their own children to be executed ? ready to carry out the sacrifice once demanded of Abraham? How else can one explain the case of a gifted, intelligent poet, himself a peasant by birth, who with sincere conviction wrote a long poem celebrating the terrible years of suffering undergone by the peasantry, years that had swallowed up his own father, an honest and simple-hearted labourer?

Another fact that allowed Fascism to gain power over men was their blindness. A man cannot believe that he is about to be destroyed. The optimism of people standing on the edge of the grave is astounding. The soil of hope ? a hope that was senseless and sometimes dishonest and despicable ? gave birth to a pathetic obedience that was often equally despicable.

The Warsaw Rising, the uprisings at Treblinka and Sobibor, the various mutinies of brenners, were all born of hopelessness. But the utter hopelessness engenders not only resistance and uprisings but also a yearning to be executed as quickly as possible.

People argued over their place in the queue beside the blood-filled ditch while a mad, almost exultant voice shouted out, “Don’t be afraid, Jews. It’s nothing terrible. Five minutes and it will all be over.”

Everything gave rise to obedience ? both hope and hopelessness.

It is important to realise what a man must have suffered and endured in order to feel glad at the thought of his impending execution. It is especially important to consider this if one is inclined to moralize, to reproach the victims for their lack of resistance to conditions of which one has little conception.

Having established man’s readiness to obey when confronted with limitless violence, we must go on to draw one further conclusion that is of importance for an understanding of man and his future.

Does human nature undergo a true change in the cauldron of totalitarian violence? Does man lose his innate yearning for freedom? The fate of both man and the totalitarian State depends on the answer to this question. If human nature does change, then the eternal and world-wide triumph of the dictatorial State is assured; if his yearning for freedom remains constant, then the totalitarian state is doomed.

The great Rising in the Warsaw ghetto, the uprisings in Treblinka and Sobibor; the vast partisan movement that flared up in dozens of countries enslaved by Hitler; the uprisings in Berlin in 1953, in Hungary in 1956, and in the labour-caps of Siberia and the Far East after Stalin’s death; the riots at this time in Poland, the number of factories that went on strike and the student protests that broke out in many cites against the suppression of freedom of thought; all these bear witness to the indestructibility of man’s yearning for freedom. This yearning was suppressed but it continued to exist. Man’s fate may make him a slave, but his nature remains unchanged.

Man’s innate yearning for freedom can be suppressed but never destroyed. Totalitarianism cannot renounce violence. If it does, it perishes. Eternal, ceaseless violence, overt or covert, is the basis of totalitarianism. Man does not renounce freedom voluntarily. This conclusion holds out hope for our time, hope for the future.”

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"I do not really understand what those Americans are doing because now they are just like an elephant in a china shop, and everything they do is terribly wrong as if they are committing suicide," Talib Ahmad, a lawyer and human rights activist in Najaf told IPS. Quoted in IRAQ: Iran 'Fooling' U.S. Military by Dahr Jamail and Ali al “Fadhily.

The Psychology of Denial and 9/11

The Psychology of Denial


The reasons for the intense denial about the 9/11/01 attack inside the Left establishment appear to go much deeper than the fact that many of its institutions are funded by endowments like those of the Ford Foundation. The official myth appeals to political philosophies that condemn U.S. imperialism by providing the supreme example of "blowback" — the proverbial chickens coming home to roost. Researcher August West speaks to this and other psychological underpinnings of the denial.

e x c e r p t
title: Left Denial on 9/11
author: August West

Denial lies at the heart of this unusual Left reaction. Many activists have looked at the questions, thought about the answers for a bit, and retreated in horror in the face of implications. If the government had foreknowledge and let the attacks happen, or worse, actually took part in facilitating them, then the American state is far more vicious than they could have imagined. And if so, what would happen to them should they vocalize this? Needless to say, this would greatly raise the stakes of political action well beyond the relatively superficial level that even many leftists operate at. It would be impossible to go on living as before, being essentially a spectator whose life is work/shopping/entertainment, with the occasional political rally, lecture or movie to spice things up and make one feel involved. People like that, or even ones more involved with some regular effort at political reform, could no longer feel that the political situation could be changed for the better through small, incremental steps, a 100 year or even 500 year plan. This prospect is thoroughly unsettling, and is easier to deal with if simply dismissed outright. …

Beneath unconscious motivations also lie some conscious agendas. Those on the Left who have embraced "critical support" for a "limited response" war will no doubt not wish to have their political bankruptcy exposed. But even most of those who oppose the War have nevertheless accepted the notion that the U.S. was attacked by a vicious enemy. For some, this represents an opportunity to promote their moralistic approach: let us respond in an appropriate, moral and non-military manner. Others, such as Chomsky, Michael Albert, Howard Zinn and Alex Cockburn, simply trot out the "blowback" explanation: this horrible attack happened because America has done bad things, has not listened to "us" (wag, wag the finger), and better start changing its policies (as if an empire can be run in a nice way!). Yet others who disagree with war boosters like Katrina van den Heuvel of The Nation nevertheless buy their thesis that the war promotes increasing state powers (e.g., making airport baggage inspectors federal employees), and this amounts to a move towards "socialism". If the events of 9/11 were not what they seemed to be, this takes away the chance to promote these political programs, perhaps to even advance certain careers.
page: sf.indymedia.org/news/2002/03/117429.php

Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Quiet Rage is the most authentic source available for outsiders to glimpse the pathological reactions caused by exposure of prisoners, guards and administrators to a prison environment.

Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Review by Hans Sherrer

Prison Legal News, July 9, 2003

The quiet Sunday morning of August 14, 1971 was broken by the wail of sirens as the Palo Alto, California police swept thorough town arresting nine people. The suspects were handcuffed, read their rights and subjected to the degradation of the booking process after being transported to the Stanford County Prison (SCP). So began the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE), one of the most important psychology experiments in this country's history.

The brainchild of Stanford University Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo, the SPE was designed to study how psychologically "normal" people would react to role playing as prisoners and guards while being immersed in a simulated prison environment for two weeks. To do this a mock prison, the SCP, was set-up in the basement of Stanford's psychology building. For realism bars were put on windows, the cells were made of steel bars, there was a "yard" and "chow hall" area, and a windowless "hole." Surveillance cameras allowed Professor Zimbardo and his assistants to monitor the SCP 24 hours a day.

Twenty-four young men were selected to participate from the many candidates subjected to diagnostic interviews and psychological tests designed to weed out abnormal people. Twelve men each were randomly assigned to be a guard or a prisoner. Nine of the prisoners were selected to be housed in three cells, and three guards were to be assigned to each 8-hour shift. The remaining three prisoners and guards were on-call in case they were needed as a replacement. The Palo Alto police department agreed to aid the realism of the SPE by making the surprise arrest of the nine men selected to serve a two week prison term. Once at the SCP the prisoners and guards dutifully played their roles. However, to the amazement of Professor Zimbardo and his assistants, within 24 hours an incredible transformation occurred: the "mock" prisoners became prisoners and the "mock" guards became guards. The SCP had morphed from being an experimental rat-maze into being a prison. Some prisoners became passive while others became rebellious, and the guards that wanted to put in their time on a shift and go home did nothing to stop the guards that reveled in exercising their power over the prisoners. One guard was nicknamed "John Wayne" by the prisoners because he was so sadistic. Yet he was the "nicest" guard on the street, and he only made his transformation from the gentle Dr. Jekyll to the monstrous Mr. Hyde when he put on his guard's uniform.

The guards were given wide latitude in how to treat the prisoners with the caveat they could never strike them. As the days went by the guards as a whole flexed their power by increasing their aggressive, humiliating and dehumanizing tactics against the prisoners. The worst tactics were by the grave yard shift guards – which included "John Wayne." One thing they did that wore on the prisoners was waking them at night to stand for count, instead of doing so while they slept (guards in actual prisons typically try to annoy prisoners during night counts by rattling keys, running keys along cell doors, or shining a flashlight in their face). The prisoners initially tried to resist their dehumanization by engaging in non-violent tactics like a hunger strike, but the guards responded to every threat to their authority with brutal tactics designed to crush the spirit of the prisoners. The prisoners described the SCP as "a real prison run by psychologists instead of run by the state."1

Just like in a real prison, the stress of the situation made some of the prisoner's crack. Within 36 hours one of the prisoners had to be released after he exhibited signs of a nervous breakdown: He began uncontrollably crying, screaming, cursing, and acting irrationally.2 The stress of being in a prison environment caused a general deterioration of the prisoners into pathological behavior, and a prisoner a day had to be released after snapping. Although the men were "mock" prisoners in a "mock" prison, it was psychologically real to them, and that is how they responded. Yet while prisoners were psychologically collapsing from the SCP's effect on them, not a single guard quit or let up on their demeaning tactics.

It is important to keep in mind that the reactions of the SPE's 24 participants weren't because psychos were chosen to be the guards and wimps were chosen to be the prisoners. Whether a person was selected to be a guard or prisoner was purely random. If the choices had been reversed at the experiment's beginning, there is every reason to think the participants would have adjusted their conduct to fit their different role. The SPE indicates a significant influence on a person's behavior in a particular situation is how they perceive their role in it and their emotional responses to that perception.

Kurt Vonnegut's caution in Mother Night (1961) to be careful what you pretend to be because that is what you become was dramatically confirmed by the behavior of the SCP's guards, prisoners and administrators.

An outside observer who saw the SCP for the first time after it had been operating for nearly six days was horrified to see that it had become indistinguishable from a real prison environment. She was able to convince Professor Zimbardo after a prolonged and impassioned argument that as administrators of the "prison" he and his assistants had become blind to the unconscionable activities happening in front of their eyes. The SPE was a "controlled" experiment that had spun out of the control of the educators monitoring it. So after six days the SCP was abruptly shut down and the two-week experiment was terminated.

The SPE has never been repeated by an academic institution in this country. However, it is repeated every day in every jail and prison in the United States, and prisoners across the country daily experience conditions infinitely worse than those that caused the SCP to be shut down for humanitarian reasons after only six days.

The SPE was filmed from beginning to end. Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment is the documentary made from that film footage, and it includes commentary by Professor Zimbardo and others involved in the experiment that helps put what happened in perspective. The documentary also includes a remarkable exchange filmed after the experiment between "John Wayne" and one of the prisoners he tormented. The scaring of the "mock" prisoner's psyche by his treatment at the hands of a "mock" guard should serve as an electric shock of a warning to every person with a humanitarian impulse about what is happening to people in this country's prisons every minute of every day.

Quiet Rage graphically demonstrates that exposure to a jail or prison environment for even a few hours is toxic for the human psyche. It is not the conditions of confinement that lead to pathological behavior by prisoners, guards and other staff members, but the confinement itself. Although probably dismissed as an exaggeration by people that have never been jailed, actress Shannon Doherty was nakedly honest when she told an interviewer that she felt like she was going to die while jailed for many hours after being arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. After all, one of the men in the SPE suffered a psychological collapse after being "pretend" arrested and confined to a "fake" jail for 36 hours. There was no pretence in the slapping of cuffs on Ms. Dougherty's wrists nor was there anything fake about the cell she was locked in for hours. A similar psychic scarring experience happens every day to thousands of people all across this country. It should make people think long and hard about the negative effect on society of jailing people for minor offenses, and imprisoning them for an increasing array of petty crimes.

It is made clear in Quiet Rage that if you put "normal" people in a psychologically unhealthy environment like a prison or a jail, they will become infected by their exposure to the diseased situation. Professor Zimbardo is a prime example. In spite of his professional training he was so infected by his involvement as administrator of the SPE that if an outsider hadn't intervened to shake him back to reality, it would have gone on for days longer with perhaps catastrophic consequences – possibly even resulting in the physical injury or death of a prisoner or guard.

Quiet Rage should be seen by everyone unaware of the psychologically crippling effects of imprisonment on both jailers and the jailed. However, the cat was let out of the bag in 1996 that the devastating psychological effects of imprisonment are both known and being ignored by politicians and law enforcement officials. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) enacted in 1996 contains a provision specifically preventing prisoners from suing prison officials for "mental or emotional harm unless they can also prove physical injury."3

As the SPE graphically demonstrated, prisoners are psychologically tortured every day without any identifiable physical mistreatment, and their torturers escape any legal consequences. An example of this torture are the many people imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, driven to despair by the circumstances of their arrest and confinement – although they are unscarred by physical injuries. The attempted and successful suicides by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been widely reported internationally. However, there is sparse news coverage about the same thing happening in jails and state, federal and private prisons across the country.

Quiet Rage is the most authentic source available for outsiders to glimpse the pathological reactions caused by exposure of prisoners, guards and administrators to a prison environment. Thus, it is an invaluable tool for civil rights or prison activist groups and faith based or educational organizations to expose large numbers of people to imprisonment's destructive effect on a prisoner's dignity, sense of personal self worth, and how it tends to unleash inhumane impulses in prison staff members. For sure Quiet Rage should be seen by every judge, prosecutor and juror so they can make informed judgments as to whether a person's alleged or actual offense justifies them being sent into the human-made hell of imprisonment, from which they can only be expected to emerge a worse human being.

The raw emotional reactions of the SPE's participants underscore it as one of the most important academic experiments ever conducted into the psychological effects of imprisonment on the caged and their cagers. The SPE's findings should thus be a prime influence on law enforcement policies at the local, state and federal level. Yet they have been ignored by policy makers for the past 32 years. However, that official blindness doesn't detract from Quiet Rage being as relevant today as when "John Wayne" prowled the Stanford County Prison in 1971.

Quiet Rage can be purchased by sending a check or money order for $110 ($100 + $10 shipping/handling) to:

 

Philip G. Zimbardo, Inc.
P.O. Box 20096
Stanford, CA 9430-2996


References

1The SPE: What it was, where it came from, and what came out of it," Philip G. Zimbardo, Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm, edited by Thomas Blass, 2000, pp. 201-.

2Ibid.

3

 

The Spiral of Silence: Summary

The Spiral of Silence

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/theory/spiral.html

Summary:

The Spiral of Silence is a model of why people are unwilling to publicly express their opinions when they believe they are in the minority. The model is based on three premises:

  1. people have a "quasi-statistical organ," a sixth-sense if you will, which allows them to know the prevailing public opinion, even without access to polls,
  2. people have a fear of isolation and know what behaviors will increase their likelihood of being socially isolated, and
  3. people are reticent to express their minority views, primarily out of fear of being isolated.

The closer a person believes the opinion held is similar to the prevailing public opinion, the more they are willing to openly disclose that opinion in public. Then, if public sentiment changes, the person will recognize that the opinion is less in favor and will be less willing to express that opinion publicly. As the perceived distance between public opinion and a person’s personal opinion grows, the more unlikely the person is to express their opinion.

Consider the case of Dennis Rodman, one of the stars of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. Mr. Rodman has consistently been an incredible competitor and rebounder for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls. Over the years he attracted a large fan base, but watched it fall in recent years as he got "weirder" or more "individualistic" (depending on how you interpret his behavior). Fans in San Antonio welcomed Mr. Rodman when he first arrived, but vocal supporters were hard to find just before he was traded to Chicago. At the start of the 1996-1997 season Mr. Rodman’s stock was high in Chicago, falling off somewhat after the "kick the cameraman" incident. I wish him well, but if the public becomes displeased with him the Spiral of Silence will strike his supporters once again.

For detailed information read:

Noelle-Neumann, E. (1984). The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion — Our social skin. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Noelle-Neumann, E. (1991). The theory of public opinion: The concept of the Spiral of Silence. In J. A. Anderson (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 14, 256-287. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Psychopaths, Secret Societies and the New World Order


 

Psychopaths, Secret Societies and the New World Order

 

 

By Jerry Russell and Richard Stanley.

 

Revision level: 1.0,   3/25/2003

Psychopaths and the science of personality:  For many years, psychologists have studied the frightening reality of  psychopathic or sociopathic personalities  — the serial killers, the child abusers,  the pathologically consistent liars and incorrigible thieves.  The scientific study of these individuals was systemically organized by Hervey Cleckley and his 1941 classic "The Mask of Sanity", and today the specialist  Robert Hare is one of the foremost authorities in the field.  According to Hare, the key emotional and interpersonal  traits defining the psychopathic personality syndrome are: a smooth, glib capability to lie, manipulate and dissemble; a completely callous lack of empathy or concern for others; shallow emotional affect and lack of remorse; and egocentric grandiosity.  

While most psychological studies of psychopathy have been based on prison populations, there’s an emerging (and controversial) recognition that many individuals with this cluster of personality characteristics, are not in prison.  The traits of these individuals are so distinctive that they may even represent a distinct  taxon, a true sub-species of mankind — consisting of otherwise normal human beings who are completely lacking in normal human responses to social interactions with others. 

 In his book, "Without Conscience", Hare writes:

 

"To give you some idea of the enormity of the problem that faces us, consider that there are at least 2 million psychopaths in North America; the citizens of New York City have as many as 100,000 psychopaths among them.  And these are conservative estimates.  Far from being an esoteric, isolated problem that affects only a few people, psychopathy touches virtually every one of us.

 

Consider that the prevalence of psychopathy in our society is about the same as that of schizophrenia, a devastating mental disorder that brings heart-wrenching distress to patient and family alike.  However, the scope of the personal pain and distress associated with schizophrenia is small compared to the extensive personal, social and economic carnage wrought by psychopaths.  They cast a wide net, and nearly everyone is caught in it one way or another.

 

The most obvious expressions of psychopathy — but by no means the only ones — involve fragrant criminal violations of society’s rules.  Not surprisingly, many psychopaths are criminals, but many others remain out of prison, using their charm and chameleonlike abilities to cut a wide swath through society and leaving a wake of ruined lives behind them.

 

Together, these pieces of the puzzle form an image of a self-centered, callous and remorseless person profoundly lacking in empathy and the ability to form warm emotional relationships with others, a person who functions without the restraints of conscience.  If you think about it, you will realize that what is missing in this picture are the very qualities that allow human beings to live in social harmony.

It is not a pretty picture, and some express doubt that such people exist.  To dispel this doubt you need only consider the more dramatic examples of psychopathy that have been increasing in our society in recent years.  Dozens of books, movies, and television programs, and hundreds of newspaper articles and headlines, tell the story: Psychopaths make up a significant portion of the people the media describe — serial killers, rapists, thieves, con men, wife beaters, white-collar criminals, hype-prone stock promoters and "boiler-room" operators, child abusers, gang members, disbarred lawyers, drug barons, professional gamblers, members of organized crime, doctors who’ve lost their licenses, terrorists, cult leaders, mercenaries, and unscrupulous businesspeople.

What about politicians?  Well, here we have to be careful, because in any individual case it can be very difficult to get the data that’s needed for a complete scientific diagnosis.  However, in some cases there is enough information available to make a persuasive case.  For example, Chris Barr in his essay Towards a unified theory of Clinton notes the psychopathic aspects of Clinton’s obsessive-compulsive work habits and decision-making processes, his multiple sexual escapades and denials, and his slimy yet inescapable "Sun King" charisma.  Unfortunately, Barr’s article is less attentive to Clinton’s murderous attack on Yugoslavia,  his coverup of the Vince Foster scandal,  and his cynical manipulation of the financial markets to produce a massive and artificial boom-bust cycle, all of which would prove much more devastatingly that Clinton was a cold-blooded killer and pokerfaced liar.  

Regarding our current President,  George W. Bush, how much clearer could it be that we are dealing with a psychopathic, insane individual?  Elsewhere on this website, we argue that the events of 9/11 were a cynical hoax, intended to provoke America into fighting aggressive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions of innocents, in a quest for Imperial power.  If this is agreed, then it really should not be necessary to offer any further evidence of the psychopathy of George W. Bush.  But there is much more:  in this essay by Bev Conover of Online Journal, Bush isn’t a moron, he’s a cunning sociopath, we learn that in his youth, George W.  "enjoyed putting firecrackers into frogs, throwing them in the air, and then watching them blow up."  Reporter Richard Gooding of the tabloid STAR stated,  in a well-referenced article, that Bush was the president of Yale’s Delta Epsilon Kappa fraternity —  which  "barbarically branded its new members on their backsides with a red-hot metal rod as part of a sadistic hazing practice."  Reportedly, "the branding resulted in a second-degree burn that left a half-inch scab in the shape of the Greek letter Delta."   

While he was not busy slumming at Delta Epsilon Kappa, Bush also joined the highly elite Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale.  Some boys just can’t get enough of that "Greek" party lifestyle.

There’s a lot of controversy over whether psychopathy should be viewed as a disease caused by some sort of organic birth defect or brain damage. Injuries to the frontal lobes can cause a syndrome that’s similar in some respects, but Hare has done a series of studies showing that they’re not identical, and that "true" psychopaths basically have highly intact cognitive skills, unlike victims of brain injuries.

Whether it’s a "defect" or not, our speculation is that the psychopathic personality is an inherited trait (although this would certainly be controversial among psychologists, many of whom would argue that it can be a result of traumatic childhood experiences or brain injuries.)  From our perspective on the literature,  it seems reasonable to speculate that it may be only a matter of time before scientists  isolate the particular genes that are involved in creating a pre-disposition towards the  psychopathic syndrome.

A paper by Harris, Rice & Quinsey (1994) argues that psychopathy is a "taxon" — that is, a discrete subclass, more or less as distinctive as male vs. female, or cat vs. dog.  This is based on a statistical analysis of a population of subjects with their scores for psychopathy. The distribution of scores is strongly bimodal, indicating a lack of "shades of gray" for the psychopathic personality syndrome.  This is a strikingly unusual result in personality research, which usually finds a continuous range of variability in personality traits.   While a five-factor personality model (introversion/extroversion, agreeableness,  conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness) is often considered sufficient to describe the normal range of personality, the psychopathic personality is very difficult to represent within this space (see Miller et al., 2001),  exhibiting highly differentiated sub-traits within the major personality dimensions (where we would normally expect to find correlated sub-traits.)  The unusual pattern of sub-traits is, in our view, another basis for believing that psychopathy represents a distinct genetic syndrome.

A review article "the sociobiology of sociopathy an integrated evolutionary model"(Mealey, 1995) treats "primary sociopathy" more or less as a synonym for Cleckley/Hare psychopathy, and argues that it’s an evolutionary adaptation — that enables a percentage of the population to fill the ecological niche for cheaters and scam artists. 

Along these lines,   Kent Bailey(1995) argues that psychopaths should be called "warrior hawks", and that a healthy contingent of them would be necessary for the survival of any primitive band, faced with the need to survive in violent competition with neighboring tribes.  "Warrior Hawks" is perhaps a kinder, less judgmental euphemism for the phenomenon.  But on the other hand, it might be unfair to those who might favor warfare in some specific set of external circumstances.   "All warrior hawks are psychopaths"?  Dramatic, but probably not strictly accurate.  (Some warrior hawks might only appear to be psychopaths.)

A related issue is the extent to which "normal" individuals can adopt the behavior patterns of psychopaths.  The ideals of empathy, social cooperation and altruism have been supported by a wide variety of philosophical, ethical and spiritual arguments over the years.  More importantly, they may also be backed by millions of years of evolution, as many species have adopted cooperative modes of behavior for survival.  A revulsion for excessive wanton cruelty may be literally instinctive for most human beings.  Nevertheless, any evolutionary tendency towards kindness, empathy and cooperation can apparently be overcome in certain circumstances — for example, when the government issues a call to war, and tells the people that the enemy must be killed as a matter of the society’s own survival.

The psychopaths have developed an extraordinarily powerful camouflage mechanism.  When it fits their purposes, they are glib,  friendly and easy-going, devoid of the petty anxieties that trouble most of us and cast a pall over day-to-day interactions.  They are the very embodiment of charisma and chutzpah.  In this way, they stay hidden and undetected by their victims until a trap is sprung.  Precisely because most human beings have an instinctive internalized sense of fair play and altruism, they are incapable of seeing when another human being does not share these attributes.   We simply do not believe that such evil could exist — and when we do undeniably encounter it, we may be tempted to ascribe it to supernatural causes, invoking the Devil himself.  It is particularly stunning and incredible to contemplate that a powerful and reputable person, a company president or a Senator, or the Ruler of our Country, could possibly be a true psychopath, a man devoid of conscience.

Yet we maintain that this is quite frequently the case, from the beginning of history down to the present day.

REFERENCES

Bailey, K.G.  The sociopath: cheater or warrior hawk?  Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 18, 542-543.

Harris, G.T., Rice, M.E. & Quinsey, V.  Psychopathy as a Taxon: Evidence that Psychopaths are a Discrete Class.  Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(2), 387-397.

Mealey, L. (1995). The sociobiology of sociopathy an integrated evolutionary model.  Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 18, 523-599.

Miller, J.D., Lynam, D.R., Widiger, T., & Leukefeld, C. (2001). Personality disorders as extreme variants of common personality dimensions: Can the five factor model adequately represent psychopathy? Journal of Personality, 69, 253-276.

What Other People Say May Change What You See

What Other People Say May Change What You See


 By SANDRA BLAKESLEE
 The New York Times
 June 28, 2005

A new study uses advanced brain-scanning technology to cast light on a topic that psychologists have puzzled over for more than half a century: social conformity.

The study was based on a famous series of laboratory experiments from the 1950’s by a social psychologist, Dr. Solomon Asch.

In those early studies, the subjects were shown two cards. On the first was a vertical line. On the second were three lines, one of them the same length as that on the first card.

Then the subjects were asked to say which two lines were alike, something that most 5-year-olds could answer correctly.

But Dr. Asch added a twist. Seven other people, in cahoots with the researchers, also examined the lines and gave their answers before the subjects did. And sometimes these confederates intentionally gave the wrong answer.

Dr. Asch was astonished at what happened next. After thinking hard, three out of four subjects agreed with the incorrect answers given by the confederates at least once. And one in four conformed 50 percent of the time.

Dr. Asch, who died in 1996, always wondered about the findings. Did the people who gave in to group do so knowing that their answers was wrong? Or did the social pressure actually change their perceptions?

The new study tried to find an answer by using functional M.R.I. scanners that can peer into the working brain, a technology not available to Dr. Asch.

The researchers found that social conformity showed up in the brain as activity in regions that are entirely devoted to perception. But independence of judgment – standing up for one’s beliefs – showed up as activity in brain areas involved in emotion, the study found, suggesting that there is a cost for going against the group.

"We like to think that seeing is believing," said Dr. Gregory Berns, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta who led the study.

But the study’s findings, he said, show that seeing is believing what the group tells you to believe.

The research was published June 22 in the online edition of Biological Psychiatry.

"It’s a very important piece of work," said Dr. Dan Ariely, a professor of management and decision making at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the study. "It suggests that information from other people may color our perception at a very deep level."

Dr. Brian Knutson, a neuroscientist at Stanford and an expert on perception, called the study "extremely clever."

"It had all the right controls and is a new contribution, the first to look at social conformity inside a brain magnet," he said.

Functional M.R.I. scanners detect which brain regions are active when people carry out various mental tasks.

The new study involved 32 volunteers who agreed to participate in a study on perception. "We told them others will be doing the same task, but you’re the only one who will be in the scanner," Dr. Berns said.

The subjects were asked to mentally rotate images of three-dimensional objects to determine if the objects were the same or different.

In the waiting room, the subjects met four people who they thought were other volunteers, but who in fact were actors, ready to fake their responses.

To encourage cohesiveness in the group, the participant and the four actors played practice rounds on laptop computers, took pictures of one another and chatted.

Then the participant went into the M.R.I. machine. The participant was told that the others would look at the objects first as a group and then decide if they were same or different.

As planned, the actors gave unanimously wrong answers in some instances and unanimously correct answers in others.

Mixed answers were sometimes thrown in to make the test more believable but they were not included in the analysis.

Next, the participant was shown the answer given by the others and asked to judge the objects.

Were they the same or different?

The brain scanner captured a picture of the judgment process.

In some trials, instead of being told that the other volunteers had given an answer, they were told that a computer had made the decision. Dr. Berns said this was done to make sure it was social pressure that was having an effect.

As in Dr. Asch’s experiments, many of the subjects caved in to group pressure. On average, Dr. Berns said, they went along with the group on wrong answers 41 percent of the time.

The researchers had two hypotheses about what was happening. If social conformity was a result of conscious decision making, they reasoned, they should see changes in areas of the forebrain that deal with monitoring conflicts, planning and other higher-order mental activities.

But if the subjects’ social conformity stemmed from changes in perception, there should be changes in posterior brain areas dedicated to vision and spatial perception.

In fact, the researchers found that when people went along with the group on wrong answers, activity increased in the right intraparietal sulcus, an area devoted to spatial awareness, Dr. Berns said.

There was no activity in brain areas that make conscious decisions, the researchers found. But the people who made independent judgments that went against the group showed activation in the right amygdala and right caudate nucleus – regions associated with emotional salience.

The implications of the study’s findings are huge, Dr. Berns said.

In many areas of society – elections, for example, or jury trials – the accepted way to resolve conflicts between an individual and a group is to invoke the "rule of the majority." There is a sound reason for this: A majority represents the collective wisdom of many people, rather than the judgment of a single person.

But the superiority of the group can disappear when the group exerts pressure on individuals, Dr. Berns said.

The unpleasantness of standing alone can make a majority opinion seem more appealing than sticking to one’s own beliefs.

If other people’s views can actually affect how someone perceives the external world, then truth itself is called into question.

There is no way out of this problem, Dr. Ariely said.

But if people are made aware of their vulnerability, they may be able to avoid conforming to social pressure when it is not in their self-interest.