books:evil

# Evil

Inside Human Violence and Cruelty
Roy F. Baumeister, Aaron Beck

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A serious effort to get inside the mind of the evildoer.

## The Myth of Pure Evil

They argue that there is an incorrect folk belief (well illustrated in fiction) about people who do bad things, which is that they are evil, different from good people, have different ideas of right and wrong, are sadistic, …, and have poor impulse control. In fact, it seems that only the last is true, and otherwise most murderers, etc., are similar to you and me.

## Social Evil

Common violence, such as the vast majority of murders, is due to threatened high self-esteem. They are strongly critical of the common social worker view that crime is due to low self-esteem. Generally murder is due to an escalating spiral of violence, rather than any premeditated intent.

## Institutional Evil

To get really major evil, such as the holocaust, what you need is idealism in the service of an apparently greater good.