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EPISODE # 200

A conversation with Philip Zimbardo on the Nature and Nurture of Good and Evil

August 17 marks the 50th anniversary of day one of the Stanford Prison Experiment — one of the most controversial studies in the history of social psychology. In this conversation, Michael Shermer speaks with renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo, exploring the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil. His book, The Lucifer Effect, explains why we are all susceptible to the lure of “the dark side.” and how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women. Shermer and Zimbardo discuss: Zimbardo’s life mission to understand the nature of evil, the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) and its critics, the nature of human nature, The Dark Triad that leads to violence, obedience to authority, free will/determinism, and how we can teach ourselves to act heroically.

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