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Headline: "Shocking revelation: Santa Clara University professor mirrors famous torture study"

Editor's Forward:

Many think Stanley Milgram was denied tenure at Yale because of his controversial studies into human nature. He found most ordinary people will inflict severe electric shocks to another person in response to an authority figure having no more "real authority" than a white coat in a formal setting. Jerry M. Burger of Santa Clara University has replicated the essential features of Milgram's classic work with essentially identical results.

Excerpts from Mercury News - 12/21/2008

By Lisa M. Krieger

    "Replicating" [reproducing] "one of the most controversial behavioral experiments in history, a Santa Clara University psychologist has found that people will follow orders from an authority figure to administer what they believe are painful electric shocks.

Is terrorism a natural expression of the human genome?
If so, what can be done about it?
If not, why not?

Terrorism does arise from the human genome--an architecture designed by natural variation and selection of species most fit to survive the environmental niche within which they live. Nature took her time. Her genomic experiments culminating in humanity were gradual over a period of several hundred million years. Some instinctive behaviors we share with insects as well as animals in the great phylum of vertebrates to which we belong! Over at least the last seven million years since we split from the gorillas, evolution preserved our aggressive, cooperative, nurturing, parenting and altruistic traits with some of these arising tens to hundreds of millions of years before that. Nature is nothing if not Consilient.
Edward O Wilson

Book Review with Commentary

Readable, accessible, dramatic, and profound, Wilson is at once a first-rank scientist and storyteller. He wrote a book we could not put down until we finished it. And then we felt like reading it again. We grew up believing that nothing could be more complex than Einstein's theory of gravity. We were wrong. The human brain is far more complex and difficult to predict than a mere apple falling from a tree! As Wilson patiently explains, human behaviors arise from the brain and are in fact multiples more complex than physical laws known to date. Furthermore, Wilson convincingly argues, human behavior (psychology and sociology) is a consilient branch of science, at least so far. He is not an absolutist. The only real axe he grinds is consilience itself, and his axe is finely honed. For example, he explains nicely how evolution itself gives rise to our humanistic as well as existential belief systems. Each is an epigenetic expression of our genes.
We posit that aggression along with conventionalism and obedience are genetic in origin. These are the traits that Authoritarian Personalities wear on their sleeves, and we now propose they have their origins in the jungle and savanna. We are not yet in a position to say the genes controlling these features do so via hormones, but that is a very reasonable possibility, especially for violence.

Updated 15 Nov 2018

This site is a work in progress. Because the mosaic of information from so many different disciplines fits together so neatly, one can only conclude that the mosaic is basically correct in form--consilience in other words. For example, Natural History (physics, chemistry, biology), evolution, anthropology, human history, sociology, psychology, political science, and our common sense, all converge upon a theme that indicts our aggressive instincts and obedience to Authority, legitimate or not--as when wielded by the psychopath--as a root cause of violence. Our altruism, parenting, and herding instincts provide possible solutions, but they get covered up by societies inured to violence, if not overtly taught that violence as the only solution to violence. Ironic? To say the least. Non sequitur? That too.

Questions now on the table:
"Where will that narcissist in the White House take us?
How can we as a people realign ourselves for an uncertain future?"

The hall of fame for peace research might include:

Richard Dawkins
Theodor Adorno
Stanley Milgram
Jerry M Burger
Gene Sharp
Phillip Zimbardo
Bob Altemeyer
John Dean
Jessica Stern
Martha Stout
Robert Hare
Justin Frank
Andrew Bacevich
Malcom Gladwell
Edward O Wilson
Lee Alan Dugatkin

Undoubtedly there are others who have contributed in like manner and amount. See: Links to scores of issues that could benefit from further study and / or verification.

Browser's Hub

Index Start Back Home
Updated 04 Apr 2010

For a quick overview of our research see: Peace Via Nature's Way.

Roots of Terror Briefly and Some Avenues Now Apparent

This project illuminates some very human ills that we and our children face. From what we now know, questions posed have or can find answers. It is that simple yet that complex in implementation, for no culture on earth has the ready answers, only partial ones.
Unique Experiments that Illuminated Our True Human Natures.
Stanley Milgram
Book Review With Commentary

Reviewed by Harry Rosenberg.

If there is a kernel to the story of violence in American culture, this book is that kernel. Milgram adds magnificently to the pioneering work of Adorno et al on the Authoritarian Personality. Milgram details his many rigorous experiments, and interprets them relentlessly.

The Conservative/Liberal divide seems to be an inherent feature of human nature. At least there are too many parallels to support another hypothesis. Moreover, the great divide between the right and left is mirrored within each party. Finally, we see the phenomenon within each of us as a template for the whole.
Research, begun on 12 Sept 2001, has been a work in progress ever since. Outlook for peace all over the world looks dim any time soon. But there is reason for hope in the longer term:

How to handle this built-in genetic conflict is the challenge of our times. Societies that accent the nurture side of of the equation while inhibiting our aggressive-animal nature become more peaceful thereby. What follows summarizes the basic violent side while outlining some avenues that appear to be useful.
Updated 31 Dec 2008

Our times are dire; they call for a man for the ages; Is Barack Obama such a man? Important among his mentors is Abraham Lincoln; it remains to be seen if Obama can rise to Lincoln's stature. Our bet is that he will, in spite or reactionary forces and political stasis. The two have much in common. Each had/has an awareness of reality that is profound for mere politicians. Each was/is eloquent in his own way. Each was/is beset with savage foes. Each sees all human beings as equally deserving respect. Each studied history, looking for their way. Neither shrank for strong personalities. And each motived/motivates political foes while appealing to the many. There is one most-critical difference: Lincoln dealt with a nation splitting apart while Obama is challenged by a world splitting asunder.
Several Individual Pages Updated 2006 Sept, 13 Dec 2012, 09 Sept 2013 and 2 Mar 2016.

MACHINE TRANSLATE: This or any other page: Download Babylon

Each page toggles to its neighbors, resources, and back here.

    Arising in antiquity, before mammals, before the atmosphere became what it is, genes were mutating in makeup and/or organization leaving their creations to survive or not as selection would have it for their particular niche. The advent of civilization and its exponential development came so fast, [in geologic time], that genes preferred for peaceful living have yet to be selected. They may never be if humanity persists along its present path. Yet there is Hope, lots of it. Nature itself provides it. And there are avenues for action, provided we can read the Tea Leaves.
George Lakoff: Don't Think Of An Elephant
Book Review

This book is not only timely, it is timeless. Lakoff provides much more than a road map for effective communications--his matchless insights into the basic mechanics employed so effectively by the Republican party beginning in Nixon's time. Thanks to Lakoff, the political playing field can now be leveled--if we take his advice. The challenge for progressives will be to not misuse the power of Framing.

Lakoff has provided yet another avenue on the road to peace.
Bart D. Ehrman

Extended Book Review.

The subtitle directly addresses a quandary of our age:

"Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)"

Ehrman is one of those rare people for whom the pendulum of faith has swung in both directions, but not to such extremes that he lost touch with either pole, religious or secular. Jesus, Interrupted, like his "Misquoting Jesus", contains biographical detail. Unlike the extremists on either side of the divide, Erhman is quite respectful of believer and atheist alike. Like a growing number of people, Ehrman characterizes himself as an agnostic, one who can rejoice in understanding both the worlds of faith and logic. His telling point is that the bible is the most influential book ever written, however its writing came to be in and by human hands. For that very reason it deserves deep study--the kind he has devoted his career to and reports here.
Updated: 01 Jan 2009

John Dean of the Nixon Administration and Watergate fame
Book Review with commentary

We quote from Publisher's Weekly

"Few critics have as effectively put the disparate pieces together, linking them to what Dean says is a broader pattern of secrecy from an administration that does its best to control the flow of information on every subject ... and uses executive privilege to circumvent congressional scrutiny."

See also: John Dean's own remarks on this.
Extensive extracts from: An Interview with Martha Stout

For the complete original see: Book Browse

How do you spot a sociopath?

A sociopath has no conscience, no ability to feel shame, guilt or remorse. Since 1 in 25 ordinary Americans is a sociopath, you almost certainly know one or more than one already. How can you recognize him or her?

  • Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they live only to dominate others and win.
  • They often have a kind of glow or charisma that makes them more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They are more spontaneous, more intense, complex, or even sexier than everyone else.
  • They crave stimulation and excitement, often show brief intense enthusiasms that they later drop.
  • They are seductive, encourage others to take risks.
  • They will tell you that you are just like them. Don't believe it.
Excerpted From Time Magazine

We offer this page because it touches dramatically on the need for a World Reformation in times of terror.
Updated 15 Apr 2010; 18 Jan 2013

Humanity has an inherent need to know: how things work, about our origins, what is our purpose. It was easy to ascribe thunder to a god, rain to another and so on, and even create an hierarchy among them, complete with conflicts and histories of same. Mythology for sure. But a few brave souls dug deeper. Euclid developed geometry, Ptolemy understood his circles and developed a means to "explain" the motion of the planets "around" central earth. Copernicus observed inaccuracies and went on to propose a solar-centered method. The world has never been the same since--thanks to Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein. Unlike astronomy, biology had to wait for Darwin, Mendel, Watson and Crick to parallel in biology the progression from Euclid to Einstein.

The basic nuts and bolts provided by Jacob Bronowski in a BBC / Time-Life documentary in 1973 puts science in a human perspective:

"We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgement in science stands on the edge or error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible."