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Theodor Adorno--principal author

German philosopher, sociologist, composer: “The Authoritarian Personality” 1950. His co-authors were Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and R Nevitt Sanford. Adorno et al questioned why the German citizens tolerated mass extermination of Jews during WWII. He discovered a composite personality from a set of traits developed from contacts with former Nazis and German citizens in various walks of life. Adorno wanted to understand why and how an Authoritarian personality could replace the individualistic and democratic style that rose to prominence in the 19th Century. The Authoritarian personality was new, ambiguous, and surprising. His book was influential; it opened new avenues of research.

Stanley Milgram - Social Psychologist

Yale University, Harvard, City University of New York.
Wrote: “Obedience to Authority”

Updated 09 Sept 2013

Adorno's characterization of Germans was all well and good. But Americans rationalized: "We are different; we won WW II!" Milgram proved otherwise by powerful, scientifically-well-designed, experiments.

  • Milgram found: Authoritarianism is prevalent among Americans—65-85% of us are Authoritarians.

Bob Altemeyer:

Social Psychologist - Professor of Psychology, University of Manitoba
Wrote: “The Authoritarian Specter”


  • Assessed thousands of individuals.
  • Used advanced mathematical analysis to reduce authoritarian traits observed to three:
    • Hierarchical Submission,
    • Either / or Conventionalism, and
    • Aggression.
  • Found our basic traits match our politics!!

The Stanford Prison Experiment, SPE

Phillip Zimbardo, Professor, Stanford University--Social Psychologist:
Extended Adorno’s and Milgram’s work

  • Zimbardo’s SPE experiment predicted later events:
    • Abu Ghraib and similar detention centers
    • The several modern genocides
  • The SPE became a “SYSTEM,” a miniature system that foretold Abu Ghraib—all too realistically!
Kris Rosenberg MA (Deceased)
Education: Psychology; University of Nevada Las Vegas
Experience: Psychotherapist; College Teacher; Administrator; Author; Concerned Citizen.
Focus: Key psychological and sociological bases for "Nature / Nurture" model of terror as it is still developing on this website. Kris inspired all who knew her. Provided the initial impetus for this web site on 9/12 by suggesting we start our initial research with Theodor Adorno who studied why the Germans followed Hitler to the bitter end so slavishly. Her book, Talk To Me, was published by Putnam in 1993.

See Memorial .
As used on this site: A belief system adhered to by many in a coherent, concise manner. Communism, Confucianism, capitalism, atheism, extremism, authoritarianism, and monotheism are examples. while this singular word captures one essence of RTP, it is not intuitively abvious enough. Peace will only come as a society-wide peace-ism. Establishing and naming that "ism" remains.

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.

Social Conditions Leading to Trouble in
Abu-Ghraib, Rwandan genocide

    • Excluding others from the moral order.
    • Feeling little personal responsibility in anonymous situations where external social restraints are weak.
    • Fear of retribution by the "in-group."
The Hedgehog and the Fox Isaiah Berlin

Extended Book Review

”The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

This metaphor for creative and conventional applies in our time, just as it did in the eras of Tolstoy and Berlin. In employing this metaphor, Berlin pays brilliant homage to Tolstoy’s greatness in this little book of just 81 pages of text. Berlin’s little book became a classic in its own time; it is a masterful presentation of Tolstoy’s views on history. Tolstoy was ahead of his times, yet we wonder what he would think today--faced with the huge advances in physics, bioscience, and psychology. What would he think of a world that is probabilistic at its core, where biochemists are on the verge of creating life from inert matter, and where the psyche has been deciphered,
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.
Every red- or blue-blooded American should face up to our place in the world. If we don't, the march of history will soon do it for us. Not only do our national debt and congressional paralysis look bad, but our basic morality is going the way of the Romans. Read on and decide for yourself.

"As we cope with downturns in American power in the world and the American economy at home, there is much talk about reviving, renewing, rescuing, or redefining the American Dream. We would be better off facing the anguish inherent in the American Dream. Once we recognize that the dream has always been dependent on domination, we can see what fundamental changes are necessary to avoid a planetary nightmare. The American Dream - Professor Robert Jenson.
Mein Kampf
Adolf Hitler
Book Review With Commentary

Mein Kampf Catalog
Vol 1, Ch 1

Hitler was more than just an Authoritarian Personality--He was an original, a prototype of the most violent extreme.
Until American society seriously addresses the roots of violence, we can be sure our authoritarian natures will reflect poorly on our society. We are not different in such expressions, others can be worse, as the African and Asian genocides prove. But as the only superpower, we have some responsibility to lead the world in peace, not in violence. Yet we allow Lucifer to guide our destiny.

Altemeyer Continued: Global Significance

Updated 09 Sept 2013
  • Altemeyer also proved North American, European, and Russian Polities are permeated by Authoritarians. Given our common genome, the same is true of all cultures.
    • Authoritarian traits are therefore universal,
  • North-American electorates of today mirror the Europeans.
  • Many Authoritarians seek power, all seek hierarchy.
How Extreme Authoritarian Personalities Contribute to Terrorism.

Updated 22 Jan 2009

The basic causes of violence and war seem to arise from our genes. Most species will fight other species when threatened. They also fight among themselves over territory, food supplies, mates. Humans are not different in these tendencies. Civilization arose because humans finally figured out better ways to grow and store food, how to domesticate plants and animals. The rise of civilization carried with it all the genetic armor developed in the jungles and savannas. And this gave us a problem.

Our intellectual mastery over nature, was not accompanied by an equivalent mastery over ourselves.
The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the Frontiers of Life.
Lee M Silver
Book Review with commentary

This book is an excellent counterpart to "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis. Each addresses a "natural" divide within and between many cultures of the world. The angles are different. Wallis addresses religion and politics; Silver expounds on the religious controversy over evolution. Wallis seeks to reach out and remove the cultural barriers. Silver is interested in why the world populace is so fearful and wary of the offerings of biotechnology. Like Wallis, Silver has stature in his calling; he is a world renowned molecular biologist. And his book is provocative.
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.
Posted 23 June 2006; Updated 17 Mar 2007

The play acting was supposed to be benign, as play acting usually is. As if by the stroke of a magic wand, Philip Zimbardo proved otherwise in 1971 in his now-famous Stanford Prison Experiment. His two-week study of the psychology of incarceration had to be called off on the sixth day because the conditions of Abu Ghraib had developed of their own accord. For some of his later commentary see: Stanford News Service.
Updated 30 Jan 2010

RoadtoPeace links

The Authoritarian Personality
Theodor Adorno et al 1950
Book Review With Commentary

Theodor Adorno, along with Else Frenkel-Brunswick, Daniel Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford, produced a monumental work that illustrated why ordinary Germans were so caught up in Nazi anti-semitism and racism during WWII.

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.

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Martha Stout’s Frank Assessment
Updated 6 Sept 12; 09 Sept 2013
21 Oct 2014

"Short of a sociopathic leader who diverts the course of an entire nation, leading it into genocide or unnecessary war, the psychopathic killer is surely the most terrifying example of a psyche without a conscience..."
Updated 5 mar 2010

Since much of our information on this site came via books by many authors we thought it appropriate to list the books here by title.

1776 - David McCollough

Abraham - Bruce Feiler

A Nation of Sheep - William J Lederer
14 Sept 2007

Too often key events that affect the future of humankind go unnoticed or even forgotten. The works of Mendel, who discovered the genetic code is one example coming to mind. Charles Darwin himself was not fully appreciated in his own time in spite of a high and controversial profile. Some of his deepest insights are just now coming into general acceptance. Giants who followed him would include not only Gregor Mendel, but James Watson and Francis Crick with vital help from Rosalind Franklin. Because of them, humanity now has a much better view of itself. They enabled a new beginning on the question of nature/nurture. Neither was very clear before Darwin. Darwin, Mendel, Watson, Crick, and Franklin comprise humanity's heroes in biology, the nature side of the coin.
A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers

Bruce Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer

Book Review

Has organized religion (monotheism) really begun a terminal decline? This question reverberated in the backs of our heads as we got into this readable book on a subject that is still taboo in many quarters. Yet it is groundbreaking; indeed, it is eyeopening as well. What sets this book apart from those by other atheists is that it provides actual data and may be the first attempt we have seen that ties the need for, and expression of, religion to such traits as authoritariansm—Right Wing variety--but basically a genetic expression of society first codified by Adorno et. al. and extended by Milgram and Altemeyer himself.
Updated 7 April 2010

Identifying the Psychological Traits
Published 1996 Bob Altemeyer
Book Review with commentary: Updated 15 Jan 2008

Bob Altemeyer, is both daring and credible. He is an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Manitoba. His professional focus is the social psychology of authoritarian personalities; it is his specialty. Unlike the Freudians and political pundits, his calling is to understand and define the personality itself in scientific terms. Toward that end he finds that three basic traits explain the behaviors authoritarians exhibit: Submission, Aggression, and Conventionalism. Readers should carefully note his definitions of each before drawing conclusions of their own.
Book Reviews

In this area we bring you contemporary book reviews of books dealing with terror or counter terror.

Selected current books that record history in the making are reviewed.
Causes of Terrorism

How personality and temperament combine in Authoritarian Personalities.
Updated 21 Mar 2010

ACTION ALERTS: From 28 Aug 2008

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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.
Pseudo-Science, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Michael Shermer

Extended Book Review

The publisher of Skeptic magazine both enlightens us with a lot of material new to us, and disturbs us with his insights to the effect that the human condition may be so rigid that peaceful living may remain a dream of idealism. In any event, his broad background in biology, psychology, and the history of science enables him to bring consilience to the core of his methods in "debunking bunk," to use his term. And that makes his position compelling to those open enough to follow his insights and take them to heart. Nevertheless, his insights also need to be looked at skeptically. You are remiss if you do not, for there is much for most of us to learn--one of them being the practice of being a skeptic.
Republican Party Hijacked Without Rank-And-File Consent.

Resources: Conservatives Without Conscience, by John Dean, and The Authoritarian Specter, by Bob Altemeyer and information each references.
A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
Bruce Feiler
Book Review with commentary

To know Abraham, one must also know something of one's self as well as of his scribes. With stunning insights, Feiler leads us through the hundreds of descriptions of Abraham across three faiths.
Lee Alan Dugatkin

Extended Book Review

Even Darwin was plagued by doubts. For a decade he pondered and tweaked his theory until he heard Wallace was preparing a manuscript. Moved at last to polish his notes, he published his pioneering “Origins of the Species.” One of Darwin’s reservations was the simple question, "If natural selection and survival of the fittest is the true state of affairs in nature, why are there so many examples of goodness in so many species." In the fifteen decades that have elapsed since Darwin pondered the question, not that much has changed in the public mind. Dugatkin explains that while that may be so, it is not the true state-of-the-art for evolutionary theory. In fact, Dugatkin relates vividly how Darwin’s legacy has evolved to the point where not only does goodness arise through Darwinian selection, it can be reduced to a simple cost / benefit equation from economic theory that contains a factor derived directly from the degree of relatedness between individuals. In each case, mystery upon mystery suddenly found a common explanation. This occurred mostly under the public radar over the last half century or so. Dugatkin relates how seven British, Russian, and American scientists played prominent roles.
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.
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.
By William J. Lederer
co-author of The Ugly American.
Book Review with commentary

It is astonishing to read how things never change, even when one knows what seems to be a law of “civilized America.” Lederer was not prescient. He just reported the events of his day as an historian would—objectively. This book first published 46 years ago, went through two re-printings within a year.
Conceived on 12 Sept 2001, RoadtoPeace is a web site individuals can use and study in trying to make a difference in our violent times. We also provide extensive internal and external links to sites and pages pertinent to the subject at hand. As a friendly site linking to us put it:

[RoadtoPeace:] "Seeks reasons for terrorism in various aspects of religion, economics, history and psychology, stressing the complexity of the issue. The way out appears to be seen in equalizing opportunities, remedying historical injustices, and advancing independent thinking."
Dispatch from Ground Zero
Harry Rosenberg

Fourteen years, nearly a generation, have passed since those awful days in 1994. From America, we can only know what we read or hear from others about how things are going. When an opportunity arose to spend some time in Rwanda, we grabbed the chance. Were our perceptions right? If not, where did we go wrong, and, more-importantly, why? It turned out that we were missing a great deal of detail--not surprising--except some of it matters.
Patriot Act: Time To Amend It

We think it may be time. For example, the act in practice gives the President powers Congress believed were necessary to resolve present conflicts. That feature gained support from the 9/11 attacks that left 2977 dead (including 372 foreign nationals) plus 19 high-jackers who hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and crashed a third one into the Pentagon. A fourth airliner crashed into a Pennsylvania cornfield thanks to courageous passengers who stormed the cockpit. Several warning signs and memos were not put together and interpreted in real time for action. Existing stove-pipe agencies in US government together with an authoritarian Commander in Chief, whose team ignored warnings from the previous administration, prevented information known in some governmental quarters from being recognized as a pattern and being acted upon. After 9/11, the fear generated was so great that the Patriot Act did not include much in the way of limits on guarding individual freedoms.
Book Review with Excerpts

Critically important. Rationalizes findings of Road to Peace. [Editor]
A Basic Cause of Terrorism
[Jungle/Savanna Heritage Roots]

"When the nations on this planet fight for existence-when the question of destiny, 'to be or not to be,' cries out for a solution-then all considerations of humanitarianism or aesthetics crumble into nothingness; for all these concepts do not float about in the ether, they arise from man's imagination and are bound up with man." Adolph Hitler

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.
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.
Gene Sharp 1973

Book Review and Commentary

Another chink in the human edifice of peace is available in this book.  Short it is, but loaded with key information it also is. A contemporary of Stanley Milgram,  Sharp illustrates how the findings of  Adorno and Milgram on the  Authoritarian Personality  play out in society. All three predate Altemeyer’s  excellent study of Authoritarians in politics that  Dean was able to bring into the 21st Century in the philosophy of the  Neocons,
William Pfaff
Extended Book Review with commentary
By: Harry Rosenberg

Pfaff brings the currents of history to life, not by listing a series of events on timelines, but by illustrating their underlying currents: struggles for dominance and control. He does this--in ways unique for his time--in the retrospective style of a historian. He views current events in their proper and often surprising historical context. Nationhood and nationalism go hand in hand. In his view, nationalism will pass in due course as something better comes along. He does not dwell on what that might be. But we surely agree. Nationalism is too much akin to jungle warfare to bring peace to humanity.
19 April 2007

Vice President Dick Cheney recently addressed the "American Israel Public Affairs Committee," also known as AIPAC. His remarks may be found on White House news release. Mr Cheney proclaimed four myths:

    "The most common myth is that Iraq has nothing to do with the global war on terror.
Updated 10 Apr 2009

Martha Stout (Martha Stout is a practicing psychologist and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.)

Extended Book Review With Commentary By Harry Rosenberg

Engaging, enlightening, and frightening--all at once. If there is no sociopath next door, then surely there is one on our street. Four percent of us, one in 25, according to Stout, have many or all the earmarks of a sociopath.
Book Review
Denial and Deception
Melissa Boyle Mahle

Up dated 6 Aug 2010.

Mahle brings spook history to life and her book rates five Stars for fingering stovepipes as a fundamental cause for poor intelligence and failed security. We summarize her insider's view of the inner workings of what passes for governance -- bureaucracy.