Originally published for the UNSW Centre for Ideas »
There’s something about evil that we find deeply fascinating. True crime stories of sadists and serial killers fill our TV screens and podcast feeds. We are fascinated by monstrous acts and the people who commit them. But do we need to rethink evil and the other labels that we apply to people who do wrong if we want to reduce risk and harm?
The science behind human behaviour paints a much more complex picture of why people commit inexcusable acts. In Making Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side, Julia Shaw uses case studies from academia, examples from popular culture, and anecdotes from everyday life to break down concepts like the neuroscience of evil, the psychology of bloodlust and workplace misbehavior. With Natasha Mitchell as host, she will be is joined by philosopher Luke Russell, author of Evil: A Philosophical Investigation and psychopathy expert Georgie Fleming to explore everything from the philosophy of evil to evil actions and what we can do about them.
Rather than looking at the world in black and white, science and philosophy can help inform a conversation on evil, and to understand that it is part of humanity whether we like it or not.
We can justify incredible harm when we stop seeing humans as humans, and we start seeing them as monsters.
Behaviour doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and if you try and understand the beliefs that underpin behaviour the behaviour starts to make sense.
Speaking to people who are smart and who disagree with you is a great way to test your morality.
Photo credit: Prudence Upton
Chaired by Natasha Mitchell award-winning science journalist and presenter of ABC Radio National’s science and technology program, Science Friction.
This event was part of Sydney Science Festival and was supported by Bendigo Writers Festival and Byron Writers Festival.