In light of the cultural habit of seeing evil as a disposition, we wanted to highlight for our readers a potentially interesting program being shown on National Geographic TV tomorrow night (8:00 p.m. eastern), “The Science of Evil,” which promises to shed some light on some of the situational sources of “evil.” The National Geographic website blurb reads as follows:
“What is evil? Is it a spiritual force that only God can understand? Or a meaningless superstition that science can snuff out by explaining the physical machinery of our brains? It depends on whom you ask. NGC travels into the trenches with the individuals who confront so-called evil almost daily.”
The program will include four segments about different aspects of “evil” from researchers and also from United Nations workers in the Congo and a minister who baptized a mass murderer. Those segments will include a section on the Stanford Prison Experiments conducted by Situationist contributor Phil Zimbardo as well as a section more recent researh on the neurobiology of resolving moral dilemmas being conducted at Princeton University.
For a sample of previous Situationist posts exploring the situational sources of evil, check out Parts I, II, and III of Phil Zimbardo’s series on “The Situational Sources of Evil” and “Looking for the Evil Actor” by Jon Hanson & Michael McCann.