Re: Forbidden Planet

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 19:00:54 MDT

Hi Keith,

I think conditionally triggered responses are likely to be plentiful in
humans as you suspect.

Just on the issue of cruelty to captives - I think the response is most
likely uniquely triggered by the mindset in which the captive is
considered. We can care lovingly for our captive pigeons or rabbits in
their cages OR treat the captives like things. It depends whether we
are promed to see them as 'animate and ALSO in the family' or as
'mere things'.

The quote below gives a hint that the perceptual pre-positioning is

> Even Kimmitt admitted, "I'd like to sit here and say these are the
> only prisoner abuse cases we're aware of, but we know there have been
> other ones since we have been here in Iraq." I just don't believe soldiers
> do any of this on their own. But let me go beyond this and discuss what I
> have heard and read about part of the training our government provides our
> young people. The word is: DEHUMANIZATION. It happened in Vietnam. It's
> still happening. For a soldier to call an Iraqi a human--unacceptable. Can
> you even train a person to kill other humans rather haphazardly? I don't
> think so. But if you turn those people into gooks or ragheads, or whatever
> non-human assignment you can think of, the soldier is no longer murdering
> human beings. No, they are killing things, bugs, irrelevant living
> creatures. Isn't this the attitude reflected in these photos?
> I saw similar pictures as these in the Winter Soldier hearings.
> Soldiers had not just killed the enemy and murdered people. They had gone
> on the hunt, and successfully bagged their prey. Imagine hunters throwing
> their ducks on the back of their pickup truck. Imagine a fisherman having
> his picture taken while standing next to his big fish hanging on a hook.
> Imagine soldiers throwing their enemy in piles and having their pictures
> taken giving a big "thumbs up" to the people at home. Oops--you don't have
> to imagine that, we saw it on 60 Minutes. This is war. War is not pretty
> or noble. This is what we are training our young people to do in order to
> win.

I found the book "Religion explained" useful in helping to identify some
underlying mental architecture that conditions how we see/respond to
things outside ourselves. (Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins
of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer (April 2002)

Cheers, Philip

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