Monday, October 29, 2007

Bias on NPR and the Universality of Human Behavior

To be fair, it wasn't NPR's bias, just the stuff they put on the radio. Caught a few minutes of John Dean's speech to the Commonwealth Club on San Francisco. Unfortunately drove out of radio range to hear the rest of it, but in those few minutes, heard how Dean cites social psychologists who found that Republican voters are prone to Fascism and Nazi behavior. Which annoyed me because it goes against one of the main tenets of the last 50 years of social psychology, that people aren't that different, especially in responding to an authoritarian regime. That Hannah Arendt was right when arguing for the "banality of evil." That the vast majority of subjects in Milgram's experiments proceeded to electrocute someone to death, when asked to by the experimenter. That one of the main impetus of social psychology in the second half of the 20th century is to show that the potential for fascism is universal, to think otherwise is to commit the fundamental attribution error, and that people are largely the same, which is comforting in a way. But of course that doesn't fit Dean's thesis, so it is a fact that Dean convenient does not talk about.
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