Psychological experiments can reveal a lot about how we, as a species, think and act. You only have to look at politics in the United States to see how the general populace (the majority of which can be considered educated) can condone violations of the Constitution, circumvention of the Bill of Rights and unprovoked wars based on manufactured evidence. Even so-called “modern” views of human psychology seem to peg it as something nebulous and inexplicable and irrationally seems to reign supreme.
I have written before about several enlightening psychological experiments that elucidate how human beings really think about situations. Crack.com, of all sites, provides a great summary of some of the most interesting and relevant research in 5 Psychological Experiments that Prove Humanity is Doomed. The article highlights research that shows that humans tend not to help others. It shows how people will actually torture and murder others based only on the mere suggestion of someone in a lab coat (and who has no authority over the subject whatsoever).
My only issue with the article (other than it’s shock-based writing style), is that it assumes that we won’t learn anything from these studies. Humanity is clearly doomed if that’s the case, and the recent transgressions in American foreign policy are but one small example. I’d like to think that rationality will eventually prevail, and that we’ll find ways to understand and tame the human propensity for apathy and violence. I just wonder how bad things will have to get before we start to make that move.