Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A hypothetical

A reader sent me this hypothetical that I thought was interesting enough to share with all of you before I give my answer (based on the movie Vile):

"A group of friends stop to pick up a hitchhiking woman only to end up getting drugged by her with a gas. They awaken to find that vials have been implanted in the base of their skulls - which are of course instantly fatal if they are removed, a grinning professional looking woman informs them on TV screens that they have 22hrs to fill these vials with a specific amount of brain fluid, a fluid that is produced during times of extreme pain. Along with another group of unlucky test subjects and with time ticking away they decide to work together and share the burden of reaching their painful target."

I was wondering how you would feel in that type of situation, and what you would do. 

The house is filled with all kinds of tools, from pliers to grills, as well as vats of acid. Pretty much all of your standard household tools and machinery. 

Not only did I think it was an interesting hypothetical, I thought it might serve as sort of a Rorschach test for different minds. I wondered what you all would say in response to that hypothetical. But I don't want you to influence each other or submit to peer pressure. So I set up a Google Docs form where you can respond completely anonymously. I'll collect the responses and publish a sampling tomorrow along with my own answer.

The link to the form is here.

Or here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1vFNymNsUaRr7VP930S-Ay5cgiAIFnPp1ALazZ5qFFQ8/viewform

26 comments:

  1. Interesting thought experiment. I look forward to seeing the data.

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  2. Just sent in the form. That was really fun, M.E. :)

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  3. I enjoyed today's hypothetical situation as much as I enjoy the posts on this site. Thanks for your time.

    -- Queue

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  4. The way I see it; the questions should have been limited to checkboxes and radio buttons, maybe only yes and no answers. That would be alot easier to draw statistics from. I guess there must be some good idea on how to present this data collected in this way in a good way.

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    Replies
    1. In this case it is more qualitative in terms of thought process for action.

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    2. Sure, thats true. Some theme music for the site here, while we are waiting for the results:
      http://youtu.be/uUmNmpGnKp4

      Delete
  5. I would just pray upon the name of the Lord, and hope that He
    removes me from the situation.
    Incidently. that blot stain looks like a Demonic face.
    Do you suppose that the 19-year-old Pennsylvania Cregg's List killer,
    sees such a face?

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    Replies
    1. Actually that girl had a natural block against killing the first time she did it. She didn't pull the trigger herself the first time. After that it became easy she said.

      Reminds me of a documentary I once saw about kill rates of U.S. soldiers. Most people have a natural block in them for killing other people, I guess that is part of empathy. So most soldiers back in for instance World War I would not fire to kill. They would fire theyr firearms just in the direction of the enemy forces or just out right no where. These soldiers who were the majority of them, were more concerned and eager to help eachother out in war situations by carrying wounded, and do all kinds of empathic activities. Only a few percent of the soldiers would actually fire theyr arms in an real attempt to to kill the enemy. I would guess bombing and mass loose shootings would take alot of the killrate, and then we have those few that actually went for a kill.

      When the U.S. army realized this they understood that something had to be done. If they were going to win wars, and have an effective army, the soldiers needed to be able to go for actually killing the enemy when in situations where this was needed. So they lay out new training regimes that were designed to teach soldiers to objectivice the enemy, thus blocking empathy and increasing kill rates.

      In the Vietnam war the rate of soldiers who actually fired to kill was well above 90%, I think it was close to 100%, but I don't exactly remember the figure.

      These guys, they were all soldiers. They weren't considered psychopaths because they learned to kill, but that girl doing the Cregg's List killings, she is?

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  6. lol this sounds like the Saw movies. I'm not a sociopath, but it would do NOTHING to me to torture other people. In fact I would fucking enjoy it.

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    1. Which means instead of being a sociopath, you are a sadist.

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    2. That depends on who I could torture. I would love to see the GOP tied to chairs, gagged, and made to listen to Bill Nye lecture for 8 hours.

      MelissaR

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  7. Nice gimmick. Thing for me that matters is the degree of stress or fear involved in filling the vial-is it anticipation of the pain that causes the fluid to be produced? If so my lack of fear and stress disconnect make it unlikely that I will be filling that vial much.

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    1. It's all things being equal, which means everything not spoken about is considered as normally expected. That means no trying to bypass the scenario.

      Also remember it is *extreme* pain.

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    2. The scenario is specifically constructed in a way that should cause one to seek to bypass it. To do anything else is to require that participants answer in a way that contradicts their own nature, and those responses would be about as intellectually stimulating as those torture-porn saw movies.

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    3. While a potentially interesting tangential, to prevent influencing the results additional conversation about this specific topic should be withheld until the after the conclusion.

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    4. Hey E,
      It's been a while. How are you?

      Also, pretty sure Saw and torture porn in general is not supposed to be *intellectually* stimulating. Lighten up.

      I'm looking forward to seeing what the sick little puppies around here will come up with.

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    5. Hi K!

      I'm doing well, thanks! My life has become a bit more interesting. Yourself?

      You always did have quite the talent for baiting me into getting all defensive! It's that very feeling that identifies you to me ;)

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    6. Oh, go ahead and call me by my name. Kat.
      Otherwise we sound a touch too much like vitamins :)

      I am very well, thank you.

      I do love to bait people, but there's no need to get defensive around me.
      There is something about narcissism that draws me and makes me want to play. Can't really help it. But you know I keep my word at least.

      If you want to talk about these new interesting developments in your life, you can always email me.

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    7. You know what, I may do just that! I forgot how much I liked you :)

      Delete
  8. One thing I hate about these movies is that they're boringly predictable.

    Just like most of these responses will be.

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    Replies
    1. Here's an idea then, instead of whinging, why don't you impress us with something original and exciting?
      I am breathless with anticipation :)

      Delete
  9. Misanthropic EmpathMarch 1, 2014 at 5:14 AM

    I'd find a masochist and sadist in the group and have the sadist beat the crap out of the masochist but in the end everyone wins. Also, everyone has their pleasurable pains. Some people may like super spicy foods. Give those people some chili peppers to eat. Some may like hard messages. Again, there might be ways so that people experience lots of pain but few are truly experience anything really bad.

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  10. New to here, but this is sort of a dumb question. I mean the only thing to do is take turns holding each other down and take a power tool and drill into the meaty part of the foot. I mean sitting there asking who is a sadist or masochist is an incredible waste of time. Particularly if there isn't a doctor in the group so we would have to look up on the internet where the arteries are.

    I am not sure a chili pepper would work. I mean I put sriracha on everything.

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  11. Gullible people might believe this scenario as laid out, I suppose, and may then act according to what they see as either their ultimate self interests (to avoid death by collecting the required amount of brain fluid within 22 hours) or according to the ultimate self-interests of the group (everyone submits a bit of pain-induced brain fluid to collect enough aggregate to ensure the quota is reached, then everyone survives). Again, I can't fathom being in this position in the first place - rationality argues against it! However, I can say that, even if I were exposed to what I was convinced was a bona fide threat that required me to act in an egregious way towards another, I wouldn't be able to do it because, almost 100% of the time, it is morally wrong to knowingly inflict pain on other people (don't get me started on the human-animal morality question, though: As a meat-eater, I see the inherent inconsistencies!). I guess, ultimately, I would actively "opt out" of this brutal and inhumane scenario because it was a) the morally right thing to do as I define morality b) the only way that I would be able to live with myself psychologically afterwards should I successfully escape.
    In short, my conscience would require me to act contrary to the defined parameters of these brutal demands. Most people with consciences - and this is most people - will understand exactly what I mean. Those who profess to not have consciences - and I will have to take your word for it - will laugh at me, I suppose.

    I pray that I will continue to be able to recognize those in my life whose actions and intentions toward me and my loved ones are essentially cold-hearted and self-serving, and that I will be able to remove myself and my loved ones from their toxic reach consistently, before real damage can be done. It's usually pretty easy to tell when someone is morally "off" - there's a plethora of verbal and non-verbal mannerisms and signs...My hackles - my emotional radar -just get raised and, if I analyse the interactions over time, I'll usually be able to see a pattern of toxic behaviours that scream "Danger! Avoid!" And I have learned to listen well!

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  12. This is a movie on netflix. I believe it is called Vile

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  13. Reformed Ghoul on TVFebruary 21, 2016 at 3:35 AM

    I hope someone mentioned that you don't need anyone's help to fill the vial.

    The scenario also doesn't state whether the pain must be physical, so one solution might be to delude yourself into thinking you've fallen in love, then tear that relationship apart. It's not hard to force sympathetic feelings, so all that would be left would be to make yourself feel broken up inside.

    ReplyDelete

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