ordinary men
Are killers born or made? Depending on who you ask, you'll get a variety of responses: all humans are good - it's only the 'environment' or 'society' that makes them do bad things; anyone who engages in murder must be a cold-blooded psychopath, born to kill. But simple explanations come from simple minds. It's not a matter of either/or. Some people are born that way, like psychopaths. Some have the strength of character to resist the impulse to conform. But most people are somewhere in between, easily swayed to do the will of whoever is giving the orders.

On today's MindMatters we delve into the hellish depths of World War II and Christopher Browning's excellent but disturbing book, Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. His research confirms what studies like those of Milgram demonstrated in the lab: normal people show a spectrum of responses to the influence of authority. A small minority are very willing to inflict harm to others. Another small minority refuses. But the vast majority go along, even if it makes them sick to the stomach and traumatized for life.

Running Time: 01:24:17

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