Maybe people aren’t so much bad as weak.

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hmmm, so people aren’t naturally cruel, or selfish.

(So much for Dawkins’ “selfish gene“)
I would say that people are, however, easy to manipulate.
This supports my theory that MOST people aren’t evil, merely weak.
For the most part, they will lean whichever way those around them lean.

MOST people will follow whatever path seems the least threatening to their inner self.

It turns out that at least some of our favorite psychological experiments – the ones that have formed the basis of what we think people are like. Like this one:

Stanford Prison Experiment: why famous psychology studies are now being torn apart  – Vox

A new exposé published by Medium based on previously unpublished recordings of Philip Zimbardo, the Stanford psychologist who ran the study, and interviews with his participants, offers convincing evidence that the guards in the experiment were coached to be cruel.

Source: Stanford Prison Experiment: why famous psychology studies are now being torn apart  – Vox

So, we don’t really know how these people would have behaved if they had NOT been coached, but I can guess:

SOMEONE within the group would have risen up to the level of leader/authority and HE would have become the one to coach the others.


I think the Stanford study, flawed as it is, along with a great many others point to a very important fact about humans: WE ARE EASILY INFLUENCED.

So, to me, the hugely important part of this is the realization that those who influence others are hugely important.

This matters in “small” places like the classroom, but it ALSO matters all the way up the line to our national leaders.

I have long said that:

Schools go the way of their principals.

You can apply this idea to any and every organization there is:

Organizations and institutions go the way of their leaders.

When there is more reward (tangible and otherwise) in being selfish, or mean, or bigoted than there is in being altruistic, kind, and tolerant, people will become selfish, mean, and bigoted .

I also think the longer people “sit” in a particular mindset, the harder it will become to shift that. Also, the more extreme the reward, the stronger the tendency.

People that appeared to be kind, tolerant, and generous CAN BECOME selfish, mean, and intolerant, given the right set of circumstances. Almost ALL of them.

Fear (or threat) really doesn’t produce lasting, reliable effects.

You can never rely on a horse that is educated by fear. There will always be something that he fears more than you. But, when he trusts you, he will ask you, what to do when he is afraid.

–Antoine de Pluvinel

This is also true for people.

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