Sunday, 13 May 2007

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

Lucifer is the fallen angel commonly associated with Satan. He used to be God's favourite angel.

When God created Adam as his perfect creature, he said all the angels have to honor Adam. And Lucifer refused to do that, and God took that as an act of disobedience, and also a sin of envy and jealousy, and sent Michael the archangel to punish him, and a bunch of other angels sided with Lucifer. Paradoxically God created Hell as a place to put them.

In his book "The Lucifer Effect", Philip Zimbardo analyzed and explained how good people turn evil, using his famous Stanford Prison Experiment, (SPE). The experiment a lot of similarities with the infamous abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.
The mock prison he’d set up in the basement of Jordan Hall quickly turned ordinary college students into abusive guards and degraded prisoners, some of whom broke down under the pretend prison’s all-too-real strain. When, decades later, Zimbardo first glimpsed televised images of the inmate abuse at Abu Ghraib, he was shocked by similarities to what he’d seen in his own study.

The Lucifer Effect raises a fundamental question about the nature of human nature: How is it possible for ordinary, average, even good people to become perpetrators of evil? In trying to understand unusual, weird or aberrant behavior, we often err in focusing exclusively on the inner determinants of genes, personality and character, as we also tend to ignore what may be the critical catalyst for behavior change in the external Situation or in the System that creates and maintains such situations.
Chip Frederick, one of the accused Military Policemen involved in the abuses, got sentenced to an 8-year hard time in military prison, dishonorably discharged, disgraced and deprived on his 22 years of retirement savings, divorced by his wife and is now nearly broken.
In his defence, the author gave a detailed depiction of what it was like to walk in his boots for 12-hour night shifts without a day off for 40 straight nights in horrendous conditions at the prison.
Zimbardo described the prison as hellish, decrepit and under frequent attack by mortar fire, enveloped in desert heat and urine stench.

In the author's own words about Lucifer's transformation of God's favorite angel into Satan as he challenges God's authority:
I thought that was a bad deal—why was there no consultation? And over time I came to believe that Lucifer was actually right—because why should angels bow down to Adam, a mortal, if he can be so easily corrupted?

My own question will be:
Shall we forgive and give chance to those who make mistake or become evil because of the Lucifer Effect?

If God has given chance to Lucifer to change (with proper feedback and consultation), will Lucifer not becoming the satan that he is now?


Links on more info:

http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2007/mayjun/features/zimbardo.html#sidebar

http://www.zimbardo.com/current.html

http://www.lucifereffect.com/

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