The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

1810 words 8 pages
he Lucifer Effect raises a fundamental question about the nature of human nature: How is it possible for ordinary, average, even good people to become perpetrators of evil? In trying to understand unusual, or aberrant behavior, we often err in focusing exclusively on the inner determinants of genes, personality, and character, as we also tend to ignore what may be the critical catalyst for behavior change in the external Situation or in the System that creates and maintains such situations. I challenge readers to reflect on how well they really know themselves, and how much confidence they have in what they would or would not ever do when put into new behavioral settings.

This book is unique in many ways. It provides for the first time
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Chip got sentenced to 8 years of hard time in military prison, was dishonorably discharged, disgraced, and deprived of 22 years of retirement savings, was divorced by his wife and is now a nearly broken man. We see his transformation from good guard to bad guard to prisoner as one instance of the Lucifer Effect. However, in Chapter 15, it is my turn to shift roles again and become the prosecutor who puts the System on trial, the Military Command and the Bush Administration for their complicity in creating the System that established and maintained this and other torture-interrogation centers across many military prisons. Using the many official independent investigative reports as my sources, all of which I have read carefully, I document what they tell us about the seminal cause of the abuses in a leadership that was dysfunctional, irresponsible, conflicting or just absent.

After laying out the extent to which the abuses at Abu Ghraib pale in comparison to the more extremely violent torture and abuses in many other military sites, with testimonies of soldiers who actually took part in them, I decide that it is time for the reader to be juror and to decide whether what took place was merely the work of those 7 "bad apples," or that of a corrupt system, a "rotten barrel," that has sacrificed the basic human values of rule by law, honesty, and adherence to the Geneva


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