Monday, July 04, 2005

When You Look Into the Abyss

This'll be my last word on the subject for a while; It's not exactly a topic that one should dwell on for too long.

I ran into the Alignment Quiz somewhere around January this year. Seeing that I don't usually take casual psychological tests like these, I contented myself with observing how other people handled the quiz, and what results they got for themselves. You're welcome to give it a try yourself -- just click on the link above. It'll probably take only five to ten minutes of your precious time.

What result did you get? Lawful Good? Neutral Good? Chaotic Good? Perhaps Lawful Neutral?

I don't suppose that you got an Evil alignment, did you?

No, I suppose not.

That, I figure, is a fundamental flaw in the psychology of the test: The questions aren't quite neutral by themselves. Let's take question number 12 on the quiz, for example: "I don't mind using people to hurt others." Would you agree or disagree with this one?

I'm betting that you'd probably immediately disagree with it to some level. Does the question imply that you would be willing to hurt others, or does the question imply that you would be willing to use others for your own malicious purposes? On the surface, there is no positive way by which the question can be interpreted. Thus you disagree. You're not that kind of person.

Now, here's an additional wrinkle: Why?

Throw "Why?" into the equation, and you get something different. You get a fuller range of understanding, a method by which you can explain your tendencies with regards to the question itself. I mean, why would you use people to hurt others?

Maybe it's because you don't think much of using those people to begin with.

Maybe it's because those others hurt you in some way, and you want to hurt them right back.

Maybe it's because you've realized that it's the most efficient, or the most appropriate way by which you can hurt those "others".

Throw "Why?" into your line of thought, and more than a few people will realize that perhaps they agree with the statement after all.

Sadly, not many test-takers seem to have long enough attention spans to pursue this line of thought... and I believe that that flaws the test to begin with. We know for sure that there must be good and evil people in the world, and yet the immediate results we get from this test seem to be lopsided in favor of the Good alignments.

A man can -- and will -- perform evil acts as long as he believes that these are justified. What is perhaps even more terrifying about this idea is that the same man can still consider himself to be perfectly good on the surface.

We humans can be funny sometimes. No matter who we are or how others think of us, we like to see ourselves as justified. Maybe not moral, maybe not ethical, but justified.

A man will take a gun and kill a four-year-old boy because he thinks he's justified in doing so. The noisy kite-flying boy, after all, woke him up from what would have been a good nap.

A woman will accuse an innocent co-worker of embezzling office funds because she thinks she's justified in doing so. The co-worker, after all, was recently promoted to the position that was supposed to be hers.

A man will harass a young woman with lewd remarks and then force her into violent, nonconsensual sex because he thinks he's justified in doing so. The young woman usually dresses in provocative clothes, after all, so she must have been asking for it.

Justification does not imply morality, but we continue to exchange the two as though it were nothing at all. "The end justifies the means," some say. Exitus acta probat.

Quotable hogwash.

Look into yourselves. Look at who you are, what you do, how you act. Look at why.

The quiz says that you're Good. People say that you're Good. You think that you're Good.

But are you really?

2 comments:

Arashi-KIshu said...

There is this really cute guy I like. Someone else told me that this guy slept with, then dumped a girl, used her for sex. I don't know the motivation of the bearer of this news (which is something that I still puzzle at), and this has left me to wonder how I should interact with the cute guy. Common acquaintances attest that they know Mr. Cute to be a personable fellow, and don't think that he can do something like that. My comeback is, being likeable doesn't mean he is incapable of such cruelty.

I asked Mr. Cute about it, and he acknowledged that it had happened. He said that the girl knew from the start that it was just fun, but apparently she hid the fact that she felt something. I'm not sure whether to trust his version of the story.

there was my why. I'm still lost.

eClair said...

Hmmmmmmmm...

There are things that we will never understand. Probably because of the things that are not brought out in the open. Motives, for example, are generally hidden.

Actually, when I take personality quizzes, I get to think about some things because of certain questions. Sure it would say I am "neutral good" but when I think of some of my answers to some questions, I go "Hey wait a sec. How could I be neutral good?"

There are things that I value and if you take into consideration how much weight I put into some of the factors counted in such quizzes, I shouldn't be getting some of the rsults I get.

Anyhow, this is just me.