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dstebbins

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  1. When it comes to the criminal justice system, there are two general attitudes with which we can approach the situation: The first is to favor punishment. This involves inflicting concentrated and state-sanctioned suffering onto the offender (either through imprisonment, fines, or corporeal punishment such as state-sanctioned floggings, canings, or executions). The idea, here, is that the pain will, after the punishment concludes, cause the offender to not commit the offensive conduct in the future out of fear of enduring that suffering in the future. Punishments that never conclude, such as life in prison or the death penalty, are designed to scare people into not committing the associated offenses in the first place. The second way to approach criminal justice is through reform, rather than retribution. Responses to the crime consist mainly of teaching the offender the error of his ways, showing him healthier ways to work through his problems, and teaching him to feel empathy towards others. What I find rather interesting is that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the two attitudes have almost no overlap. Governments focused on "teaching a lesson" to their criminals usually see it a waste of time to actually sit down with criminals and try to help them understand. They "understand" nothing but cause and effect. So all we really need to "teach" them is "cause: You rob a bank. Effect: You go to jail." Anything beyond that is a waste of time, energy, and taxpayer money, because even if it might work, the offender clearly doesn't deserve that benefit of the doubt! Those who constantly ask what they did wrong get repeatedly tased and pepper sprayed until they stop bothering the guards with stupid questions they already know the answer to. Meanwhile, the vast majority of countries that focus more on rehabilitation rather than punishment (such as Norway or Sweden) see actual infliction of suffering as counter-productive to criminal rehabilitation, and as such, tend to keep the "punishment" aspect of their criminal justice systems to a minimum. Now here's the thing about criminal justice: The former approach to rehabilitation of criminals is scientifically proven to not work. In fact, it is scientifically proven, not just to be wholly ineffective, but downright counter-productive to its goals of rehabilitating the offender. The latter (reform rather than punishment, like in Sweden and Norway) is overwhelmingly shown to produce consistently lower recidivism rates than the former. So that begs the question: Why are we, as humans, psychologically predisposed to favor the former type of treatment than the latter? Wouldn't evolution have given us a tendency to prefer the type of response to criminal behavior that is more effective? In the days of hunter-gatherers, it would obviously make sense, from a survival standpoint, to keep as many members of your tribe alive, and combat-capable, as possible, so you can have the best chance of fending off predators and enemy tribes, as well as perform the most communal manual labor. This would naturally compel a policy within the tribe of removing someone from the tribe (either through execution or banishment) only if it was absolutely, positively necessary. Even for punishments that don't result in the member being permanently removed from the tribe (such as a husband beating his wife without killing her), how would cavemen evolve to prefer to use the infliction of pain as a standard response to deviant activity ... if it doesn't work?! From an evolutionary standpoint, what survival advantage could possibly be bestowed onto our ancestors in favoring a response to a problem that is consistently counter-productive to their goals?
  2. Swansont, I appreciate you sticking up for me. Really, I do appreciate it. But maybe YOU can help me with this question, provided you actually understand what I'm asking. I understand that you may not be an expert in psychology or human behavior, but are you adept at finding scientific studies? Because as I pointed out in my first reply after the OP, I was looking for actual scientific theories, not just people speculating. I tried googling it, and maybe it's just because the question is poorly worded to the point where Google can't understand what I'm saying (my OP seems to be poorly phrased to the point where these sentient, human posters get confused), but I wasn't able to find a single actual theory on why this happens. The closest I was able to find was this article, which is more just some guy ranting about how frustrating the phenomenon is rather than making a serious attempt to explain it scientifically: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-we-blame/201708/why-we-hate-people-who-disagree
  3. If its cause is more societal than natural, then I want to know what exactly about society is causing so many people to behave this way.
  4. The fact that it happens all the time. I gave you one example, but you know damn well that attitudes like this happen pretty damn often.
  5. Well, you wanted me to reduce it to a single sentence. If you want further elaboration, see my OP. It is obvious that there are a large number of people who are able to disagree respectfully with other people's opinions. However, there are plenty of people who have no desire to have sex or start a family, yet it is undisputed that humans are psychologically predisposed to want that (at least overall). It is common observance that there are plenty of people out there who see malice or incompetence in people who disagree with their opinions. There is clearly nature at work here.
  6. Psychologically speaking, why are humans, on an instinctual level, predisposed to view dissenting opinions as evidence of actual malice, incompetence, or bad faith from our opponents?
  7. I disagree that I lashed out, at least at first. I believe I merely pointed out how your responses were inadequate to what I actually asked. You were the ones who got all defensive against me because I didn't go along with your belief that I should just shrug and accept that it's "just human nature." You mean like this ...
  8. Yeah ... that doesn't tell me anything. Why are monkeys predisposed to behave that way on an instinctual level? If I understood that question, maybe you would be fair in expecting me to understand that humans' brains function in a similar capacity. But you make a huge assumption on my part by assuming that I should just automatically understand why monkey brains are predisposed to behave that way.
  9. You literally did not answer my OP question, just now. My OP question was "Why are people predisposed to do X on an instinctual level?" You responded by saying "People do X."
  10. So you aren't aware of any actual scientific studies which utilize the scientific method and are conducted by scientists in science facilities? In that case, thanks but no thanks. With all due respect, this is scienceforums, not yourgutinstinctforums.
  11. This is not a universal aspect of human psychology, but it is nonetheless an observable phenomenon. When somebody feels strongly enough about their own belief, no matter how subjective that belief is, it is not at all uncommon to see people treat their beliefs as objective fact. Not only that, but anyone who disagrees with their opinions will be subject to ridicule as if they were a flat earth theorist. At least flat earth theorists are disagreeing with us on an issue of objective fact. Those who hold hyper-passionate opinions will often treat dissenters like they (A) are being willfully obtuse just to troll others, (B) have such low levels of intelligence and/or such high levels of naivety that they can't see the cold hard facts right in front of them, (C) are themselves being actively manipulated or even outright brainwashed by external forces for said third party's own sinister ends, or (D) all of the above. For example, there's this video game that was released last year called Fallout 76. To say it is a heavily polarizing game would be an understatement. There are people who believe that it deserves to be considered the worst game of the decade, and that this one game is proof that Bethesda (the game company that made Fallout 76) is just in it for the money and doesn't care about the quality of their games. Others see it as just as great a game as Skyrim (which, for those who aren't gamers, was also made by Bethesda and is one of the best selling video games of the past decade). With that setup established, here's a youtube comment I recently read (I hope you don't mind, but I'll censor my own youtube handle to protect my privacy): Wow! Just ... just wow! I get that you don't like the game, but accusing Bethesda of brainwashing their customers is a very serious accusation. Now, if it could be objectively proven that Bethesda had indeed genuinely brainwashed the current (as opposed to past) Fallout 76 fanbase, then yes, that would indeed be a huge crossing of moral lines, and the executives at Bethesda deserve to be thrown in prison. But there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Bethesda ever even attempted anything of the sort of anybody, let alone got anywhere close to success on any victim. Before I continue, let me go off on a bit of a tangent to explain something: Whether Bethesda actually did this is an unproven, but still objective question of fact. However, if it could be proven, my aforementioned statement of "that would be a huge crossing of moral lines" and "the executives ... deserve to be thrown in prison." Those two statements were still technically opinions. However, by 21st century standards, the evilness of such behavior commands so much consensus among people of 21st century developed nations that it might as well just be objective fact. I'll label that as a "quasi-objective opinion," unless you guys know the official term for something like that, where it is technically subjective but so agreed upon that it might as well be objective. Anyway, despite the lack of evidence, The Protagonist says that Fallout 76 fans were "OBVIOUSLY" brainwashed. In other words, the game is such utter poo poo, and the evidence that the game is utter poo poo is so one-sided in his side's favor, that there is no possibility that anyone could ever genuinely and sincerely disagree with that opinion, at least not in good faith. As I mentioned earlier, the belief that Bethesda "brainwashing" their customers is an act of evil is also an opinion, but the opinion commands so much consensus among the people of the 21st century that there is honestly no room for argument. Apparently, The Protagonist believes that Fallout 76 being a "bad game" is likewise such a "quasi-objective opinion" that to disagree with that opinion for any reason is necessarily evidence of far more sinister behavior at work. And that comment got 70 upvotes! Now, this is only one example, but it is far from an isolated incident. Many of you no-doubt can think of at least a few dozen incidents in the past couple of years in your own personal lives where you have seen people demonstrate similar levels of self-entitlement to their own opinions. So the question is ... why? What aspect of human psychology actually causes us to feel so strongly in the objective righteousness of our own opinions to the extent of accusing dissenters of objectively immoral behavior like trolling or being brainwashed? This has been a part of human culture for long enough that surely at least a few scientists have set out to explain it. I'd like to know what the current most popular theory is.
  12. So how does this comment on the objective effectiveness of tortuous execution as a criminal deterrent? It almost seems as if you're advocating a quick & painless execution for those who commit a single murder but ramp it up to a long and tortuous one if they commit multiple murders. But how effective would that be as a criminal deterrent? Also, executioners who themselves drag out the executions longer than necessary for their own sadistic pleasure is not the same thing as the method of execution itself being long and tortuous. The executioner in the former case is committing a crime himself (although whether he actually gets punished for that crime is a different story), whereas a Roman general nailing a traitor to a cross on the Emperor's orders before leaving him to hang until death is not. The electric chair isn't supposed to be long and tortuous by design, and it's not something that an aspiring criminal can think about when he's weighing the risk of committing the crime. That last one is essential to the discussion I'm trying to get going, because that last one is the whole point of it being a criminal deterrent.
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