Haley Andonian

December 5, 2017

End of Semester Celebration of Research for the Origins Seminar


The end of semester celebration of research poster session was a very nice end to the semester of origin themed seminars.   The diversity of topics made me realize how broad of a theme “origins” is and how many fascinating topics fall under the theme or can be viewed through the lens of the theme. The poster that most interested me was the one on the origins of evil.  Usually, when we consider origins, we think of the origins of people or technologies or cultures, but rarely do we consider the origins of concepts as widespread and deep-seeded as evil.

This poster included descriptions of a couple of experiments or cases which revealed the essence of evil in all people.  For example, the Milgrim experiment revealed that most people do not hesitate to respond to instructions or authority even when these instructions include harming other human beings.  This ability to and tendency for people to inflict serious harm on other people without hesitation is surely a form of evil.

Another experiment that the poster highlighted was the Stanford Prison Experiment.  In a similar way to the way the Milgrim experiment was conducted and the results it produced, the Stanford Prison Experiment revealed that people often obey authority or instruction even if it means harming another human.  Further, this experiment revealed the evil associated with people in power.  The subjects assigned the role of guard valued their authority and control more so than the wellbeing of other people.

The conclusion of these experiments and of this poster was that all people have some evil in them.  Evil is an innate quality that is present in all people and can be expressed in many forms, including greed, physical harm, and deceit.  Whereas we like to think the best of the human race and assume that most people are good and that evil is only something that takes over certain people, this poster argues that evil is not a foreign quality but rather something in us all.

I thought that the way this poster made readers think about origins in a complex and unique way was particularly interesting.  The poster really made me think about the presence of evil in society and within us all and, more broadly, about the origins of our actions and the qualities that tie us all together as humans.   I thought that the experiments and historical data presented did a great job of highlighting actual evidence pointing towards the evil within all people, and it was very cool to see how something as intangible as evil could actually be tested in experimental studies.

Overall, the final celebration of everyone’s research into origins this semester was a great event in which we were able to appreciate the breadth of the concept of origins and how origins can be applied to a variety of different topics.  The event worked very well as a final appreciation for and understanding of the humanities theme and I was happy to have been a part of this experience.