National Geographic Explorer’s “Science of Evil” Considers Situational & Neurological Factors in Stories of Research, Wartime Abuses & a Serial Killer’s Baptism

Posted by admin on June 3, 2013

Our last post was about an episode of the documentary series National Geographic Explorer called “Born to Rage,” which focused on a topic very germane to ponerology, namely “the Warrior Gene,” a genetic variant that predisposes many men to aggression and violence.

Little did I know that, in the course of researching for that post, I would come across an episode of Explorer seemingly even more precisely relevant to ponerology than that. But that is just what happened.

Ponerology is defined as “the science of evil.” And, to my surprise, I came across a 2008 episode of Explorer actually entitled “Science of Evil.”

Just as in “Born to Rage,” the main framework for this episode’s exploration is established by the narrator early on. This time the guiding quote is this:

“Evil. It is blamed for cruelty beyond our mind’s comprehension. Is it a dark force outside of us that we are all vulnerable to, that we must work to resist? Is it inside of us, a stain on the soul, a dysfunction of the brain? Or just a word used to distance ourselves from inherently human behavior?”

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

“Science of Evil” focuses on four stories:

As these stories play out, we are led to consider how situational and neurological factors can both play roles in the development of behavior often deemed evil and the implications of what we may discover as we continue teasing apart their relative contributions to the harm and suffering in our world.

National Geographic Explorer’s “Science of Evil” provides a rather cursory overview of some of the questions involved in ponerology. It doesn’t do nearly as much to provide answers to those questions as some of the other resources featured on this site do. But it may, nonetheless, inspire curiosity in a newcomer to these issues.

I write frequently about the fact that, despite the increased level of attention to it that we document here, this topic, the science regarding malicious and neglectful activity – a.k.a. the “science of evil” – is vastly under-discussed and under-promoted in our society. The fact that even I, having researched and written about this topic for years, was unaware until now that this episode of Explorer even existed offers just one more illustration of that. But hopefully, sharing it here will enable it to reach a few more people who will share it with those they know and so on.

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Categories: Television Shows

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