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QotD: Getting Humans to Kill

The nearness of authority is especially relevant to the real-life obedience requirements of combat and war. As it turns out, individual conscience draws a surprisingly firm line at killing--surprising for those who think of human beings as natural war makers. This aspect of conscience is so resilient in normal people that military psychologists have needed to devise ways around it. For example, military experts now know that to make men kill with any kind of reliability, commands must be given by authorities who are present with the troops. Otherwise, the men in the field will tend to "cheat" on their orders to kill, will intentionally misaim or simply fail to fire, to keep from violating this mightiest proscription of conscience.
--Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door, p65

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
rick_day
Jul. 4th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
yup. The hardest thing for me to do would have been to pull that trigger on the guy in my vestibule. Literally, he would have had to grab the gun, pulling the trigger himself.

It was the hardest decision, when it should have been the easiest. Even knowing I was WELL within my right to defend myself, I had too much time (seconds) to reflect on the outcome.
liveonearth
Jul. 5th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
Well there's should and then there's should. Thou shalt not kill appears to be deeply ingrained---deeper than any social consciousness or education.

Care to tell the story? What happened there in that vestibule?
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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