If we’re all so good, why would 70% of us willingly torture someone?

We all want to believe we are good people.  When we see or hear of others doing horrendous things, we always want to think that we are above such actions.  We say to ourselves, “That person must be crazy.  No sane person would ever do that.”

Well, it turns out that many of us must be “crazy.”  In fact, 70% of us would willingly torture another person if we were instructed to do so.  You don’t believe me?  Read the following article, which discusses an experiment that shows this to be true.


I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, “I am not in the group of 70%.  I would never do such a thing.”  Are you sure?  Or, are you just hoping that is true?

If we understand human nature correctly, we have to admit that we are all capable of doing the horrendous.  In fact, the Bible describes human nature this way:

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.  Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.  The venom of asps is under their lips.  Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood; and in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18, ESV)

According to this passage, we are all, by nature, incapable of doing good, liars, venomous in our speech, full of cursing and bitterness, murderous, destructive, and those who do not know peace.  Why is this the case?  Because we do not fear God.  We take away the final Authority and replace Him with ourselves.  When we only answer to ourselves, what is there to fear?

What is the solution?  We must realize that we are in rebellion against God and turn to Him as our authority.  In return, God promises to create a new nature in us that is able to love Him and others.  This new nature makes us capable of doing and being “good.”

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4 Responses to If we’re all so good, why would 70% of us willingly torture someone?

  1. Jon_York says:

    “It is not that there is something wrong with the people,” Burger said. “The idea has been somehow there was this characteristic that people had back in the early 1960s that they were somehow more prone to obedience.”

    Ha Ha Ha …No!

    I agree with your reference Rom 3:10…

    People in the ’60s were not yet as calloused emotionally hardened; unfeeling: as today, it seems we are accepting the wrong notion humans and animals are equal with a callous indifference to the suffering of others.

    I had a friend when I was a kid in Idaho who worked on the “killing floor” for a Armour Meat Packing Plant. He said he could only “take it” so long and they had to rotate someone else in to do the job. He had bad dreams; but it was his job.

    I had hunting buddies too. We loved to go hunting. Some of them still do they are enthusiastic about it. I used to like it but I never really “got into it” like they did. I sold all my guns and archery stuff. Seeing suffering even in animals is not something I can do anymore.

    Some people like to watch Fear Factor, and go to Horror movies. Why? There is something sick in this too. I don’t like these things either. I’m no more “righteous” for NOT doing it; watching sick stuff. I just don’t. I have to wonder if there is a connection though.

    Walking down the road of life with Jesus changes you, Jesus takes things out of our lives and makes us newer as we go.

  2. Jeff says:

    I’ve always wondered if I had grown up in Germany before WWII would I have followed Nazi leaders? Probably, because I tend to be a follower.

    Although you mention that the solution to the problem is to have faith in God, but I wonder if that is a guarantee of being good enough and wise enough to reject unprincipled government? If that is so, then we would have to assume that none of the Germans that followed Nazi leadership were Christians. I wonder how many German guards at Concentration camps went home and said their prayers before going to bed. Human nature is a scary thing.

  3. Jon_York says:

    There recently was the death of a 98-year-old lady named Irena Sendler.

    During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist.

    She had an ulterior motive…

    She KNEW what the Nazi’s plans were for the Jews, (being German).

    Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of her tool box she carried, and she also carried in the back of her truck a Burlap sack, (for larger kids).

    She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

    The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog, and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

    During her time and course of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

    She was caught, and the Nazi’s broke both her legs and arms and beat her severely.

    Irena kept a record of the names of all th e kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.

    After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it, and reunited the family.

    Most, of course, had been gassed.

    Those kids she helped were placed into foster family homes or adopted.

    Last year Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize….

    She LOST.

    Al Gore won for doing a slide show on Global Warming.

  4. Eunice Bryan says:

    Every Christian is going to need to follow the Lord, and the Word of God for our rule of life and conduct.
    The more wicked society gets, the more we will have to resist going along with the majority. We are called to be a holy people, we cannot compromise
    our morals, our convictions or our Christian testimony. We may have to risk our life. Are we willing?

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