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humans killing humans

a briefing document

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humans killing humans is one of several documents on violent behaviour, particularly in young people
humans killing humans    

laying the foundations for sound education

the nature of cult recruitment - jihadi bombers
children and television violence ‘cocksure young men’

the prevention of violence
humans killing humans
on inadvertently giving permission to kill
on "point-and-shoot" arcade and video games
the milgram machine strikes! - only following orders

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the prevention of violence

“For far too long, violence - especially that occurring among families, friends and acquaintances - has been tolerated as an inevitable part of human existence. But for a little more than two decades, the U.S. public-health movement has been engaged in various efforts to address violence as a preventable problem.”

“The biggest gains from arguing that violence in the United States is a preventable public-health problem have been in greater awareness and understanding of the complexity of the problem and potential solutions. This, in turn, has led to a decline in violence in some cities, especially among youths. Most remarkable is the acceptance and endorsement of prevention as a possibility and a goal. Now, with the World Health Organization report, we can expect similar gains globally.”

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“In Tanzania, an estimated 500 elderly women accused of witchcraft – often connected with an event like crop failure – were murdered every year, it said.” [Quoted from WHO report on violence]

The report has a host of other odd facts.

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humans killing humans

From a useful but slack background item, not recommended to unsophisticated readers.

“[...] the recipient of modern military conditioning is statistically no more likely to engage in violent crime than a nonveteran of the same age. The key safeguard in this process appears to be the deeply ingrained discipline that the combat soldier internalizes with his military training. However, with the advent of interactive "point-and-shoot" arcade and video games, there is significant concern that society is aping military conditioning, but without the vital safeguard of discipline [...]”

“One major modern revelation in the field of military psychology is the observation that such resistance to killing one's own species is also a key factor in human combat. Brig. Gen. S. L. A. Marshall first observed this during his work as an official U.S. Army historian in the Pacific and European theaters of operations in World War II. Based on his post-combat interviews, Marshall concluded in his book Men Against Fire (1946, 1978) that only 15 to 20 percent of the individual riflemen in World War II fired their own weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. Key weapons, such as flame-throwers, were usually fired. Crew-served weapons, such as machine guns, almost always were fired. And action would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire. But when left on their own, the great majority of individual combatants appear to have been unable or unwilling to kill.”

It is worth reading, especially for teachers, as supplementary to Children and television violence.return to the index

on inadvertently giving permission to kill

“Another example of kids getting permission to proceed occurred at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Two high school students were given an assignment to shoot a video, so they taped themselves wearing black trench coats as they walked through their school with toy guns pretending to shoot fellow students. Afterwards, they turned the video in for a grade and, you guessed it, the teacher gave them a good one. Afterwards, she wondered if there could be a problem, as thoughts of places like Pearl, Paducah, Jonesboro, and Springfield floated about in her mind. So she informed the principal, but still no action was taken, other than to give the boys a good grade. Shortly thereafter, the boys committed the largest school massacre in American history -- and the school had given them permission to proceed.”

The child can read this (for instance, a positive review or mark) as permission to proceed.

on "point-and-shoot" arcade and video games

“Now, you need three things to kill: You need the weapon, the skill, and the will to kill. The video games provide two out of three. They give the skill and the will to kill. The weapons have been there for a long, long time. During World War I, and prior to World War I, and throughout the years after World War I, and throughout World War II, high-capacity 9 mm pistols were everywhere in Germany. We had literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young soldiers, walking through Germany with military quality weapons, and high-capacity 9 mm pistols. The first real, double-stacked, high-capacity 9 mm pistol was probably the German Mauser, to this very day a highly-respected gun. It is well over 100 years old. The Luger is close to 100 years old, and there were hundreds of thousands of them in World War I. The weapons have been there for a long, long time....”

“The new factor, is that the violent video games are giving the boys the skill and the will to kill; even as we reduce the number of weapons, the ability to use the weapons has gone up. If a criminal wants drugs, he'll get drugs, anywhere in the world. Drugs are illegal, but if the criminal wants drugs, he'll get them. If a criminal wants guns, he'll get them. No matter how illegal you make them, if a criminal wants them, he'll get them. But, whether or not the teenager has the desire to use drugs—if drugs have been glamorized, and he's been taught that it is the right thing to do—it's the media and the violent video games, that are far more important in this equation. If there is a new factor occurring, [it's that] we're greatly reducing the supply of guns. And yet, the incidence of these kinds of brutal murders—that has never happened before in human history, never before in human history.”

“ [...] Simply by educating children about the health impact of violent video games and violent television, there was a 40% reduction in violence in this test score, because the majority of the children voluntarily turned it off. When their elementary school teachers tell them about this, the children believe it, they know it, and they take action.”

the milgram machine strikes! - only following orders

“Motorists who seem to turn off their brain when switching on their car's satellite navigation system have had a number of spectacular crashes in the past year - but occasionally they're right to blame the machine.

“Drivers obeying directions given by a sultry satnav voice have crashed into rivers, construction sites and roadside toilets in Germany, and had similar accidents in Britain.directions given by a sultry satnav voice have crashed into rivers, construction sites and roadside toilets in Germany, and had similar accidents in Britain.”

“In southern England a 29-year-old woman survived unscathed after misreading her satnav and driving the wrong way on a motorway near Portsmouth at nearly 120km per hour, according to a local newspaper.

“When stopped after 22km of dodging oncoming traffic, she told police she had only followed the satnav orders.”

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Stanley Milgram, a Yale University psychologist, developed an experiment to try and answer the question, “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?”. The experiment was to measure the willingness of someone to obey instructions, given by an authority figure, to act in conflict with their own conscience.

The experiment participant, appointed as a ‘teacher’, was instructed/ordered by a ‘scientist’ to punish a ‘learner’ in another room if the ‘learner’ made an error in ‘learning’ words. The punishment was an apparent electric shock.

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In the words of Stanley Milgram:

“In the basic experimental designs two people come to a psychology laboratory to take part in a study of memory and learning. One of them is designated a "teacher" and the other a "learner." The experimenter explains that the study is concerned with the effects of punishment on learning. The learner is conducted into a room, seated in a kind of miniature electric chair, his arms are strapped to prevent excessive movement, and an electrode is attached to his wrist. He is told that he will be read lists of simple word pairs, and that he will then be tested on his ability to remember the second word of a pair when he hears the first one again. whenever he makes an error, he will receive electric shocks of increasing intensity.”

“Before the experiments, I sought predictions about the outcome from various kinds of people -- psychiatrists, college sophomores, middle-class adults, graduate students and faculty in the behavioral sciences. With remarkable similarity, they predicted that virtually all the subjects would refuse to obey the experimenter. The psychiatrist, specifically, predicted that most subjects would not go beyond 150 volts, when the victim makes his first explicit demand to be freed. They expected that only 4 percent would reach 300 volts, and that only a pathological fringe of about one in a thousand would administer the highest shock on the board.

“These predictions were unequivocally wrong. Of the forty subjects in the first experiment, twenty-five obeyed the orders of the experimenter to the end, punishing the victim until they reached the most potent shock available on the.generator. After 450 volts were administered three times, the experimenter called a halt to the session. Many obedient subjects then heaved sighs of relief, mopped their brows, rubbed their fingers over their eyes, or nervously fumbled cigarettes. Others displayed only minimal signs of tension from beginning to end.”

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Recently, a virtual version of the Milgram Experiment has been devised:

“Slater's volunteers did a similar experiment, but in an immersive virtual environment where they interacted with a virtual woman. This counters some of the ethical protests that have prevented Milgram's experiment from being repeated because the volunteers knew they would be interacting with a virtual woman and so, unlike Milgram's guinea-pigs, knew that nobody was being hurt.”

“The group from whom the virtual woman was hidden delivered shocks up to the maximum voltage, like many of those in Milgram's experiment. Those who could see her were more likely to stop before reaching this limit.

“Almost half of those who could see the woman said afterwards that they had considered withdrawing from the study, and several actually did. "Of course, consciously everybody knows nothing is happening," says Slater. "But some parts of the person's perceptual system just takes it as real. Some part of the brain doesn't know about virtual reality." ”

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