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Our Kitty Genovese Moment

Our Kitty Genovese Moment

By Dennis Loo (5/10/14)

Editor's Note: This is a reprint of a December 13, 2007 article. We are posting it because so many comments on this website complain about other people in society being politically passive and choosing to "put on blinders." In addition, see the following articles: "Distinguishing Structures from Individuals and Primary from Secondary Factors Part One," and also these articles, herehere, here, and here. These articles each go at the relevant questions from different angles.

Many people frequently make the mistake of concluding that what the majority of people - the mainstream - are doing is a direct reflection of what they're thinking and what they believe. In comments on this website quite a few people are repeatedly making this error. Social conformity, in contrast to that mistaken view, is overall more important than social consensus. Put another way, people tend to adopt the behavior of those around them not primarily because they agree with the behavior but because as social creatures, we tend to follow what others do. This isn't primarily a sign of personal weakness or a conscious decision to stay ignorant and put on "blinders," but because as social beings most people do what they see others doing. This is always going to be true of the mainstream of any society. You cannot blame the mainstream for the status quo. The mainstream doesn't make the status quo the status quo. They did not create and they are not primarily responsible for perpetuating the system that the mainstream and the rest of us live in. Most people at any given point are going to follow along with the norms that have been set by others. The mainstream never sets the norms. They follow the norms. By definition the mainstream are not the opinion-makers and norm setters. As the following article lays out, to change what people are doing you need to set new norms through what social psychologists call "social proof." People should, in other words, stop blaming others for being conformists and instead become active in helping to set new norms for others to see and adopt. To blame people for being conformists is like criticizing people for being social creatures. Human beings are, for better and for worse, social creatures, but that does not mean that social change is impossible. It means that social change occurs when braver and more insightful individuals break from the norm and set new norms for others to follow.

Part of the reason for this frequent error (aka the Fallacy of False Attribution) is not distinguishing between primary and secondary factors. Another way of putting this is that people generally speaking have been trained to think in black and white (aka dichotomous reasoning) rather than dialectically. See the above links here and here for a more thotough discussion of this vital methodological distinction. Learning how to think in a sophisticated way requires being able to tease out the difference between primary and secondary factors.

You cannot judge social phenomena (or natural physical phenomena for that matter) by primarily or exclusively looking at the surface appearance of things. This would be like trying to determine when and if an earthquake is going to happen based on what is currently happening. If what's currently happening, which is the case the vast majority of the time, is that there are no earthquakes, would you be safe in concluding that therefore since there are no earthquakes happening right now that there will never be and can never be any earthquakes? Of course not. Earthquakes build up under the surface and the fault lines are not generally visible above ground. Yet the tensions below the surface are building and at some point in time those hidden tensions will erupt in spectacular fashion with the whole ground shaking in an earthquake. In systems characterized by domination by a minority over the majority, conflict is ever-present, but the nature of that conflict is usually hidden and subtle. Only on rare occasions does that conflict break out into the open in obvious ways before the whole society. Thus, the surface appearance of people mostly going about their business not visibly challenging the powers that be is deceptive because the endemic oppression is concealed. It is, therefore, a mistake to think that the surface indicators of compliance is a sign of mass acquiescence. To really understand what's going on you have to probe beneath the surface and to do that you need much better tools than conventional thinkng and the ideas of those who now rule society. You need, instead, revolutionary theory. Seismologists similarly need earthquake science in order to study and predict (in probabilistic ways) future earthquakes.

Kitty Genovese was a 29-year old New Yorker stabbed to death in 1964 in front of her neighbors in Queens. The case is famous because dozens of bystanders in their apartments are believed to have watched, listened and done nothing to save her while she was being murderously assaulted over the course of an hour. As it turns out, contrary to common perception, someone did call the police and the widely reported thirty-eight people who watched was in fact a handful who did not see the attack occur in its entirety. The incident has, nonetheless, become important for what it symbolizes about the bystander effect problem: the more people there are who are witness to an emergency, the less likely any one of the people will act in response because of the diffusion of responsibility.

Why should this be? I'm not a psychologist (though I am surrounded by many of them in my joint department at work), but in investigating this on trusty Wikipedia, I came across this: "pluralistic ignorance is a process which involves several members of a group who think that they have different perceptions, beliefs, or attitudes from the rest of the group. While they do not endorse the group norm, the dissenting persons behave like the other group members, because they think that the behaviour of the other group members shows that the opinion of the group is unanimous. In other words, because everyone who disagrees behaves as if he or she agrees, all dissenting members think that the norm is endorsed by every group member but themselves. This in turn reinforces their willingness to conform to the group norm rather than express their disagreement. Because of pluralistic ignorance, people may conform to the perceived consensual opinion of a group, instead of thinking and acting on their own perceptions."
 
And then there is this: Social proof also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed." Importantly, a new social proof is established when someone steps in and acts, in so doing, creates new terms for others. Group dynamics are thereby realigned.  
 

Most of America has been puzzled at the failure of most of America (or enough of America) to speak out effectively against the crimes against humanity and tyranny being carried out by our government. "Why isn't someone doing something?" you hear again and again in social gatherings and in classrooms. "Why don't the Democrats show some spine?" millions of people say. "What's wrong with Americans?" people decry.  

The whole world is wondering the same.  

The absence of any real and determined opposition from the Democratic Party and the mass media to the Bush regime's tyranny has put most Americans in a state of social proof. The people that the public thinks should have the expertise and greater knowledge and should therefore be acting on that knowledge aren't, so many people have so far concluded that the problem must not be all that bad, even if their own sense of it is that it is.  

The situation we confront today  - while significantly attributable to complacency among all too many Americans, and significantly attributable to extremely narrow notions of what political action and engagement are (that the people's role is restricted to supporting and voting for candidates and that voting decides public policy and that's it) - is principally due to the abdication of leadership by the existing, customary leadership class and a resultant condition called pluralistic ignorance.  

"[S]ocial proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to assist."  

Many years ago my significant other and I were standing on a city sidewalk while a fire was blazing in a storefront, brightening up the night sky. A crowd of several dozen other people was standing next to us. I said to my partner that I was going to move a little closer for a better look since we were all standing behind the unblocked driveway entrance. She said: "No, don't do it. Nobody else is." I said, "Why not?" As soon as I stepped over the invisible barrier everyone else did.  

"[S]ocial proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to assist." 

"Honestly it was one of the most frightening things I've done in a long time. I was praying for a familiar face, but I just dove in and started asking students as they walked by if they wanted to pick up a[n orange] ribbon to support our anti-war movement, at first many of them just kept walking and said no thanks (a little discouraging...). However, as more students began to come out of class I was able to grab the attention of a few who came up to the table and wanted to know what the orange and the ribbons were all about "  

"I was so pleased to see many people taking the ribbons and putting them on their backpacks and on their shirts. As time passed and more students came out, I begin to get people to pledge to get three other people to wear the orange ribbons. I got about 10 pledges from people who said that they had friends that would wear the ribbon in support. I remember this one guy who came back and asked me if he could have one for his girlfriend :) It was great! "  

"Another young woman from the CGU [Claremont Graduate University] mentioned that 'people in this generation haven't had their "1960s" yet and need to' and that she would try to spread this out in Claremont... Another gentlemen " had friends that would wear the ribbons too and that he was interested in how this turned out. My most memorable one was the professor that took a ribbon and thanked me for doing what I was doing :) Another professor said that he wanted to see us in front of the school picketing just like they did in the 60's.  

"Overall, even though my palms were clammy and I was nervous each time I spoke to someone it was very rewarding and I think I passed out about 150 ribbons, if not more, out [over the course of an hour and three-quarters], especially to classmates and even to a gentlemen at an Empire conference." 

"[S]ocial proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to assist." 

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffective. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material which no man or woman could have dreamed would have come his or her way. Whatever you can do or dream that you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." - Goethe 

"[S]ocial proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to assist." 

When one person in the crowd steps in to help and breaks the spell of inaction, others realize that they are not alone in their sentiments and they will move as well. Social proof has been established. New terms have been set by your actions. The ramifications of the actions of individuals - and organizations - who step forward to create new conditions by their actions cannot be overestimated in times such as these.  

Some of us need to be brave and this will help others to be brave as well. Stop wondering why others aren't doing what you yourself need to do and do it. The task ahead of us is historic and extraordinary. It won't be accomplished without courage, boldness, initiative, persistence in the face of difficulty, and sacrifice. No great things have ever been accomplished without these.  

As I have written elsewhere, how can reversing the terrible wrongs committed by this government be so easy and so simple as voting for someone to take care of all of this? How could we really expect rectification to result from the presidential elections when the two major party presidential candidates have ruled out impeachment? Moreover, Obama and McCain have both personally colluded in the tyrannies and war crimes of this White House by failing to stand up and condemn and filibuster the bills permitting this government's outrageous behavior.  

How can individuals so cowardly as to fail to combat barbarities such as torture - when it has been their moral and legal responsibility to do this as Senators - be expected to be legitimate leaders of our country?  

Doesn't a government that is daily committing atrocities - and planning more - need to be taken on by the collective actions of the people, taking the political stage as an independent force? How could it be otherwise?

Comments   

 
-1 # LA305302 2014-05-10 17:35
What this article reminds me of is the idea of moving towards socialism, and teaching others the harm of what capitalism is doing. Most people in this country either go towards democratic policies because they believe it is giving them a voice to be heard, or vote republican because of how conservative they might seem. No one is really question the status quo of the current bureaucracies implemented because as Weber states, it becomes the norm. It is very repetitive, and that is what people like. Most of people who are challenging the status quo might be those coming out of academia. What I believe tends to happen though, is that people become very political through out college, and tend to go on a decline after, when it becomes more important to make a living for one self. How do we get people to not go on a downfall of creating change after college? Our society needs those is academia who have more exposure to how people are being oppressed by the government in order to get the word
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-10 17:53
Many people are questioning the status quo and not only in academia, but their questioning of it isn't obvious. The mainstream in any society is going to conform to the norm. That's why they're the mainstream. There's a difference between going along with the status quo and agreeing with the status quo. That's what the article's trying to get at: making that very important distinction.
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0 # Marcos1 2014-05-12 06:02
When you have to put bread on the table for your family you'll stop thinking about everything else and focus on your immediate concern, making sure that your family has food on their plate and a roof over their head. And if that means playing the game and getting a raise, because gas is $5 a gallon and inflation is on the rise, we'll run the hamster wheel out of necessity. There's a definite distinction between agreement and following, or in some sense adapting.
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-05-10 21:25
“Social proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to assist.“ As stated in this article, this is very true. Until others begin to act in ways they want the world or other to act in, they will not see change. We the people have to begin acting in the way we would like to see change. This quote of social proof kicking in when one or more steps in made me think of an incident I personally encountered. I was leaving class a few weeks ago. I crossed the street and saw a girl in a wheelchair somewhat struggling to cross the street. I noticed her from afar and saw that no other students would help her. She looked like she was struggling but also looked very determined. As I walked towards her she began to get her way across the street, I then saw her tire get stuck in a crack in the street. I hesitated for a second, which honestly I am not sure why, possibly the “pluralistic ignorance” got to me.
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-05-10 21:26
That second passed and I ran over to help as she was in the middle of the street. She thanked me as I got her out of the street and up the sidewalk. She then told me she was performing a social experiment for class, where she needed to stay in the chair no matter what happened. It really put things into perspective for me. How can we begin to change for the better until we begin to change ourselves? Like stated above, once one individual begins change others that feel the same will follow.
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0 # soc123 2014-05-12 05:03
Reading your response made me think of the quote "Be the change you want to see in the world." I mean if "Social proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to to assist." then it would be easier to change something in the world that you want. But yes I do believe everyone at some point has "pluralistic ignorance.
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0 # tiamari 2014-05-14 00:51
I agree. I think at some point everyone has been guilty of "pluralistic ignorance". I think technology contributes to this because people become detached and unaware of their surroundings.
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0 # giovanna serrano 2014-05-22 02:25
I can agree with you in the sense that people become more and more detached of their social environment because they are too focused on their own technological world. A lot of people live in "pluralistic ignorance" and a lot of people stay living in "plurastic ignorance".
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-05-12 06:43
True! People are afraid to make a move that goes "against the grain." However, if one person feels a certain way about something, then it's pretty safe to assume that there are others who will agree. It only takes one person that is brave enough to demonstrate conviction. Almost always, the rest will follow and the change slowly begins..
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0 # Christine Lopez 2014-05-11 04:02
I agree with Jessica and the article.The section that mentions "Once one individual begins to change other will follow, so when one person in the crowd steps forward into helps break the spell of inaction and other realize there not alone".An example of this might be when your in class and you have question to ask but you wait until someone else ask the question first, and then you might ask a question. We are social being and we tend to follow or copy what other people are doing so if we can all unite to change the system.
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0 # CamouflagedWife 2014-05-12 02:06
I also agree with Jessica and Christine. The section calls to all forms of action whether revolution based or as simple as the classroom. In the "Broken Windows" theory, in a safe/cared for neighborhood, people will commit the crime if they see it is acceptable by one person. The same is like in our classroom where people don't necessarily bring up their opinion until a "leader" does and then they vocally agree. We do like to follow because it's a safer route than "leading." With this said, more leaders might just be the key to spark something big against our corrupt system. We need more people coming out of the shadows in order to have more and more people following and more revolution taking place.
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0 # Aria 2014-05-12 03:38
That's a very good and easily relatable example of how the bystander effect works. I know that it is easier to blend in to a crowd than it is to stand out most of the time. I have heard of other experiments where people purposefully place themselves where they know that they will be seen in order to see who will help them. Once I heard about that and the bystander effect, I made it a point to always try and go out of my way when it seems like others will not.
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0 # marcam 2014-05-21 17:44
I agree with you 100%. People don’t want to be the ones doing things out of the ordinary. People tend follow what others are doing; if no one helps no one would step aside and do the right thing. An example of this is when an accident occurs no one calls 911 because they think others are going to do it. They don’t want to be leaders and take actions on to their hands. They will rather wait until someone else does it or someone tells them to do it.
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0 # marcam 2014-05-21 17:54
I agree with you 100%. People don’t want to be the ones doing things out of the ordinary. Most people tend follow what others are doing; they are the like sheep in a herd. If no one helps no one would step aside and do the right thing. An example of this is when an accident occurs no one calls 911 because they think others are going to do it. They don’t want to be leaders and take actions on to their hands. They will rather wait until someone else does it or someone tells them to do it. But those leaders that tell what to do and what is can help change the culture. Just like the great leaders from our past, Martin Luther King jr. and Gandhi, helped change society.
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0 # Dbug 2014-05-11 06:40
Although individuals will not agree with the status quo, many will follow the norms that have been already set by others. As stated in the article, we are in fact social creatures and we tend to follow others. Eventhough our leaders commit crimes against humanity and send our youth to serve in unjust wars the majority of individuals will not act against our leaders because the majority of the people are not doing so. We are capable of promoting change but because it is easier to go along with others we tend not to step over an invisible barrier. However, "until one is committed there is hesitancy, the change to draw back, always ineffective". Fighting can seem uncomfortable but what could be more rewarding than to stand up for humanity?
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0 # MarieB 2014-05-19 06:43
I think society responds to things as they are culturally conditioned to.
In California and the US, people are more inclined to be distant than in other countries. In a study I read that the US has less interaction with strangers than any other industrialized country, and California is less amiable to strangers than in less crowded states. This being said, certain types of people may respond to a person in need on the streets despite what their peers are doing. Some personalities may be more confident and care less what others think even when it's not socially popular at the time.
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0 # Sadiez Moreno 2014-05-11 19:48
I appreciate that you wrote this in order to make the distinction that individuals don't necessarily do things because they feel like they are doing the right thing, but instead because they are going along with norms that are already set in place. I often wondered why people don't "just" do what they want, not what everyone else says that they should do. After reading this I've realized that's like telling a homeless person to "just" get a job. Humans need to be surrounded by others, not isolated from others because like the article stated, we are social creatures. We go along with the motions in order to not be reprimanded and cast aside or rejected by society. We, as humans, possess the 'need to conform.' As a psychology major, I have read a lot about this necessity that we are constantly looking to fulfill and satisfied. It helps to explain why this occurs, but it is still frustrating at times to know that people don't break from the norm in order to conform with others.
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-05-12 04:04
Sadiez, I agree with you that we go along with the norm because we don’t want to feel like an outcast. To be accepted by society people have to follow the norm if you step outside of the mainstream you are considered different .Dr. Loo gave an example of a fire on a storefront while the crowds gathered he went further into the fire which caused people to follow. It is frustrating to see that we follow the norms just to do the “right” thing which I am guilty of doing.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-05-12 04:23
I have often wondered some of the same things. Just as you mentioned: "I often wondered why people don't "just" do what they want, not what everyone else says that they should do." I think perhaps that some do not realize that they are in fact conforming. It is not until people have the opportunity or take the opportunity to read articles such as this one or somehow take part in events or circumstances outside what is social norms such as our classroom setting for example, and are therefore enlightened by what they learn that they are then able to draw a more informed distinction or conclusion according to what is actually before them.
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0 # soc123 2014-05-12 05:09
I completely agree, and I haven't seen it in that perspective. Automatically I thought about social media. There are so many people that do good deeds only to get "likes"or recognition. I mean I'm sure it comes from a good place but to post it it's kinda overshadowing the deed and there is not need to take a picture giving a sandwich to a homeless person.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-05-19 00:32
I couldn't agree more! You mentioned the act of 'doing good deeds' yet I too have seen how commercialized those acts become when individuals excessively post those acts via social media for the world to see. It does make you wonder what exactly their purpose is. And, I am speaking in reference to those who appear to make a second job of it…Is their intention to share and shed light or to be applauded and recognized by the world? On a personal note, I have family who do this excessively to the extent that they create text message prayers to God and then send them to everyone in their phone and it honestly irks the hell out of me. Good works come from the heart and soul to achieve a higher purpose and achieving that purpose should be sufficient. Commercializing your efforts to the extent that it appears you are seeking flattery is just unacceptable in my book.
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0 # BBalty 2014-05-11 21:08
As professor Loo explained the mainstream does not set our social norms, the mainstream is simply a collection of our social norms. When we can come to the realization of this truth, our society will be able to identify the actual problems that contributte to our false consensus and what we actually believe to be the "truth". Media outlets around the world share their biased views with the uninformed public and they interpret it as the truth because they believe that the mainstream is the norm. This causes the public not to question mainstream views but rather accept them as the truth even though they do not agree. Our society has always questioned controversial issues through out our american history yet it is only when we all take action that something actually gets accomplished. We cannot wait till someone takes action, we all need to take a step of action towards exposing these false views and not have "the bystander effect."
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0 # jatoxqui 2014-05-12 03:24
[quote name="BBalty"]O ur society has always questioned controversial issues through out our american history yet it is only when we all take action that something actually gets accomplished.quote]
I agree that it has been through action that something gets accomplished and how controversial issues only become issues when society collectively agree that it is an issue. That is the foundation of social issues-social construction. I am not sure however if society has always questioned controversial issues because if that was the case, then the gap between the rich and the poor would be questioned and how that gap continues to grow. Society would also be questioning the education system and how children are not learning to be critical individuals but instead are taught to memorize as much information as possible in their brains...it is true that we must take action but then again, will you be the one who takes that first step?
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0 # Dbug 2014-05-12 04:23
BBalty, your right society has always questioned controversial issues through American history. However they will accept them as the truth or just the way things are. This isn't the public's fault rather it's because they are uninformed that they are unable to realize the truth. I'm grateful to have taken classes that have allowed me to think, question and realize what atrocities our leaders have committed. Not only in other parts of the world but against the American people as well. Why shouldn't the American people be allowed to realize what their leaders are really doing? after all, many have lost loved ones to unjust wars.
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0 # tiffany 2014-05-11 22:42
I believe people do not know what they want to go out and do their own thing. Yeah, everyone follows the norm and what is socially acceptable because yes we are social creatures. But I feel like people cannot think for themselves much anymore, not because we are dumb but because we do not know what else there is, how far to think. Every decision or opinion has always been based on someone or something else. If we weren't always surrounded by others telling us how to grow up and live things might be different, but ever since we were young we have known to follow the leader, the group, the teacher, whoever and whatever. Therefore I think there are people in the world who are able to step out of the norm but asking everything to do so seems close to impossible and that is not their fault.
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0 # flr9d 2014-05-12 00:47
Very interesting article. I believe that for people is it easier to blame the media for setting the norm, but in reality its individuals who are. One person does something and the media puts it on for the world to see and people begin to follow. In reality people have all the power in their hands. I think society has got to the point where people can not think for themselves and have others think for them.
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0 # deltoro 2014-05-18 20:17
I agree with you that we blame the media for setting the norms. But at the same time we have to blame ourselves because we do not question what we see or hear on the media. “ In reality people have all the power in their hands.” Yes, we have the power in out hands but we are scare to stand for ourselves.
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0 # draen 2014-05-12 00:54
I don't think that many people realize that just by speaking out, they make it easy for others to join in, and thus start a movement. Just as the article illustrates, people are afraid of going against what they believe is public opinion, for fear of being criticized. I think too often we see people being rejected for differing opinions, and that makes others afraid to take a stand for what they believe. While there are people who are totally comfortable with going against what society believes, a majority are too afraid of being shut down, and I think that is most definitely what is standing in the way of taking a stand against what someone may believe is wrong. At the same time, having someone initiate the movement does make it easier to join in. However, some people just see is as too risky to be apart of a movement that isn't accepted by many.
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0 # MarieB 2014-06-06 06:41
This reminds me of class today, when we talked about being sheep or shepherds. Our discussion questioned if people are born to be followers, or learn to become followers. I personally think that while it is different for all personalities, most individuals become culturally reprimanded if they do not follow the social norm.
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0 # thatdude 2014-05-12 01:08
I think that people like feeling comfortable within society so conformity is always a factor in life. This reminds me of an experience I had participating in a sona experiment here on campus 2 years ago. It was a group of 8 of us and we were shown 2 pictures and then had to decide which one we liked most and share with the others. The experimenters gave us a few minutes then proceeded to ask us for our opinions. The first two people said that they liked picture A the best and then it was my turn. I remember getting a little bit nervous and not even thinking about my answer at all. I just blurted out "I liked picture A too". It ended up that all 8 of us answered the same and that not oddly enough the experiment was specifically focused on conformity. I realized from this that conformity makes for a bland society that is one dimensional. In regards to the gov't, it is up to society as a whole to speak out and challenge the government's decisions in all ways possible
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0 # Catman 2014-05-12 01:26
Taking that step over the invisible line not only do people need to be confident but also have a sense of competence of what they are doing. The trait of confidence is needed in public to make public actions. Anyone can help another person or animal when they are by their self, but when there is public around, many more personality traits are needed to take that step. I remember at my brother's high school graduation, a huge family went and stood in a aisle which happened to be right in front of my grandpa who was in a wheelchair and couldn't see his grandson. No one was saying anything because they were scared to offended the family that ran to the aisle to get a picture of their son/daughter. I decided that this is a important part of my grandpas life, so I spoke up and was very stern with the interrupting family. Gladly they moved and now I am known as a person that will take care of other people. I had that confidence and love for my grandpa to stand up to this family.
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0 # Catman 2014-05-12 01:44
This article takes the negative part of the public by throwing out the case of Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect. Of course I have seen the bystander effect in person but, I have also witnessed the pure love and selflessness of humans toward other humans. The sad this is that all of the mainstream media focuses on stories that include the bystander effect and humans being heartless but they leave out all the good things. The horrible thing in our society is that 1 bad thing can outweigh the 100 good things we do. This youtube video is probably the most powerful one i've ever seen. Not only does it show the heroic acts of many people but it also shows examples of the bystander effect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMYrIi_Mt8A
Its incredible the things humans will do to save someone's life. In the video at 4:41 it brings chills to me to see the good of humans no matter what or who you are. You could be black, white, a CEO or homeless...in the end humans love humans.
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0 # jnc 2014-05-12 02:25
The norms that are established in society are ones that we may not all want to agree or live by, but we all follow it anyways. Norms are hard to break when everyone around you is following it. As social creatures we want to be accepted by groups of people in society which is why breaking any norm is a hard act to do. Any norm, good or bad, will be accepted as long as there is a mass amount of people to follow it. It is up to us as a society to establish the norms that we can all follow and feel comfortable with.
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0 # Guy 2014-05-12 03:06
One of my professor when lecturing us about the Kitty Genovese case once joked that if we were ever to get brutally assaulted to do so in a small crowd rather than a large one. It is true that it takes at least one person to step forward and to do something that seems wrong or out of place. When we are in a group of people our action baseline seems to rise on its own. It takes even more courage than normal to actually pass the threshold of action. It seems that we all some how push the responsibilitie s to others in what seems like risky situations. I remember when I was once in a pretty bad car accident on the freeway and just saw people driving by rubbernecking. No one seemed to stop and ask if anyone was hurt until someone finally pulled over and asked if we were okay. Then after the first person pulled over more and more drivers started stopping their cars. We need more innovators in our life to pull us all forward in the movement and to be on the same level of what we believe in.
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0 # jatoxqui 2014-05-12 03:11
the bystander effect does play a mayor role in many of the crimes committed in society. It is the idea that someone else will make the 911 call but in the end no one does. Perhaps what holds people back from calling is the fear of repercussions either from police or from the person committing the crime. Not too long ago, my neighbor's house was broken into and since it was during a weekday, no one was home (luckily) but as my mom was returning from my little sister's school, she saw 3 young looking individuals come out of the neighbor's house. She was sure they were not relatives of our neighbors so she did not exactly call the police but rather went back to the school and told the secretary the story and she called the cops. After that my mom became paranoid that the 3 individuals saw her and might come after her, given that they knew where she lived. I think this does play a role in people not calling-fear of becoming the next victim.
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0 # Aria 2014-05-12 03:23
I am a psychology major and I was fascinated to learn about the bystander effect. At first, I thought that it did not make sense. I mean, if someone needs help and there are dozens of people out there watching, why wouldn't someone step up and help? Or, better yet, why wouldn't all of the people try to help? When I first heard of this case I was confused, but then I realized how true bystander effect is. I remember once standing in a crowd and people all wanted to leave, but no one was brave enough to leave because they thought 'since everyone is staying, I should stay too.' Once I started saying goodbye, people around me went up to me later and said "Thank goodness, I wanted to leave but I didn't know how to be the one to start leaving." Then, I realized that situations like this happen often and we just don't realize it.
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-05-12 04:31
I am not a psychology major myself but learned about the bystander effect last quarter for a psychology class. I was surprised to learn about this inevitable truth. I have witness this truth wherever I go and is sad to know that the more people there are to witness an emergency, the less likely any one of the people will act in response because of the diffusion of responsibility. I have high hopes our social behavior as people may change throughout time, but my question is how will people change if media and technology is influencing people to be less social. Being less social through the rise of technology, means that people will be less likely to help each other. So may one of the reasons why the bystander effect exists be because of the rise of technology? Should we blame technology or put the blame on social behavior?
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0 # Elizabeth arroyo 2014-05-12 03:28
People are afraid to go against the norms in society because we are socially constructed to have certain views of people should behave in society. The mainstream of people do not question the norms and so we can't blame people for conforming. That is why it is important to create new norms like the article says to create new norms and for people to become activist to make a change for the better.
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0 # zzchi 2014-05-12 03:30
American people have adopted the values of the "bystander effect". I have witnessed many people watching a violent act of murder, yet I was the only one who called the police and spoke to the police. It is alarming to see this occur, but not many people come forward in these situations. Granted, they might have their reasons, but they assume others will call for help. The fact remains gunshots were fired, bodies fell to the floor, and people were murdered. Why do people wait for the next person to do the right thing? Nothing gets resolved with an outcome like this. I made the call to the police, but murders that occur, happen in the same fashion elsewhere in the world.
This is a norm that most bystanders adopt in everyday life, and veering away from this norm can affect a person. Social creatures are what we are. To be accepted socially is adopting the mainstreams norms, yet we complain about them. It is our responsibility to do what is right; not what the mainstream norm is.
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0 # menava 2014-05-12 03:37
Going along with the status quo and agreeing with it? They both still are capable of providing the same, troubling, end result: no change for America. Collectively people need to rise together against a "government that is daily committing atrocities." I think I can grasp that just because some are seemingly not doing something, it does not mean they don't care--rather, it means there is some type of lack/internal resistance. For myself personally, the lack comes from not being confident enough to speak out for the sake of people telling me "ARE YOU NUTS?!? AMERICA IS GREAT!" I can get over a few people telling me that, but a lot of people who I've voice my opinions to seem to think I'm going radical on them. Hell, let's be honest! Look at the fact that I don't even want to use my full name on this website, I can't be the only one who thought twice because of the fear that someone will think I'm a crazy lady who doesn't support her government.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 06:08
Quoting menava:
Going along with the status quo and agreeing with it? They both still are capable of providing the same, troubling, end result: no change for America.

Here's the big difference btw the two. If peo are doing what they're doing because they agree with it rather than mostly because they are socially conforming, you would have to change everybody's mind before you could get change. That's a tall order which is why so many peo who see things that way throw up their arms in despair. If, on the other hand, most are conforming without strong agreement, then social change is much easier to envision and to carry out. This latter approach isn't easy. It's quite hard. But there's a huge difference btw hard & utterly impossible! Moreover, it's not just a practical issue but a ? of what's objectively true. You can't change the world based merely on good intentions. It has to be founded on solid grounds based in the objective world.
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0 # menava 2014-05-19 02:02
Yes, I think this is starting to make sense. This is why at the speech last night a main point was that revolution isn't possible with a 'each one teach one' solution.
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0 # menava 2014-05-12 03:44
As for the mainstream not setting the social norms: that makes it harder to go against the status quo. I feel powerless when I am trying to get a point across and nobody seems to be listening, let alone wanting to support my ideas. That's why collectivism is so important--if more people band together someone will have to listen/take notice.

But, that's another hurdle: even if people think like you, they may not want to speak out/support you. Yes, one person can shift a situation but who is brave enough to do that? Who wants to be the first one to take one step closer to the fire? Even with enough support of knowing people are behind you, it is still a pretty dangerous position to be in. How do you know when you've gone too far if you aren't able to set the limits?
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0 # Jane Doe 2014-05-12 04:01
This article reminded me of a video I had seen a day prior to reading, "Where has humanity gone?" I found it disturbing how people could just stand there and watch a person dying in front of their eyes and do nothing to stop it. In the video I watched a young child was hit by a truck, passed over him twice, and just drove off. After that multiple people walking by and on motorcycles would slow down and look at the child, but no one would help. The child was laying there, moving for a long time until a woman approached the child and just dragged him out of street like an animal. Minutes later a woman ran up to the child and picked him up devastated. Soon after everyone started crowing the woman. We live in a messed up world in which society conforms to the norms or what they believe to be the norm.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-05-12 04:07
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read this article and furthermore appreciate it being posted. It is very insightful. I too have read many comments and perhaps have posted a few myself indicating that many are 'ignorant' or 'blind' to the realistic happenings of our time. The explanation of Social Conformity has adjusted my perception of being humanistically social creatures and is food for thought in regards to discerning between being considered passive and ignorant and having an understanding of Social Creatures and all that it entails.
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0 # shannon barkley 2014-05-12 04:11
"To blame people for being conformists is like criticizing people for being social creatures. Human beings are, for better and for worse, social creatures, but that does not mean that social change is impossible. It means that social change occurs when braver and more insightful individuals break from the norm and set new norms for others to follow." (Our Kitty Genovese Moment) These few sentences really stuck out to me. People think others are conforming to fit in, when in reality they are just living their lives and doing what they know how to do. Unless, like is stated in the article, someone can overpower and break these norms and replace them with better or more sufficient ones, then people are going to live their lives in a way similar to everyone else. They will do this because that is what they know, it may not be what they want.
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-05-12 04:19
I found this article related to Timo Cruz's statement in the 2005 Coach Carter film. Cruz says, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated, from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Individuals have fear taking action, because they are afraid to be judged by others in them making a decision to act upon something.Human beings are afraid to change and set new norms because as the article explains we tend to follow what others do. Ways to possibly accomplish social proof is by people changing their way of thinking. Mattering more what is right for the community as a whole and act upon any situation may make things better and achieve social proof.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-05-12 04:38
(1/2) In response to the article, "Distinguishing Structures from Individuals and Primary from Secondary Factors," the relationship between structures and individuals poses a really important point about where blame and responsibility are placed. We are taught in school how our governmental structures are supposed to work in a theoretical sense. In practice there are some inconsistencies and different perspectives of how things work in the real world. We tend to blame the individuals and not the structures for these inconsistencies and problems. The individuals are only symptoms of the structures, and the bigger picture. Like Loo has mentioned in previous articles, in order to fix these problems, someone must step in and attempt to replace the SYSTEM with another...repla cing the individuals (President, governors, etc) will not help. But in order to replace the system, as Loo mentions in this article, someone has to take that first step.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-05-12 04:44
(2/2) I think that many of Americans are paralyzed by the need to conform in many aspect of our lives. Its a necessary component to survival, like Loo said because we are social beings. There are times though when we need to branch off and think critically about things with the possibility of standing alone. This is when the bystander effect kicks in, when nobody wants to take that step in another direction. At that point, when no one is willing to be different, then they push the responsibility to someone else to do what they know needs to be done. So instead of doing it ourselves, we are nagging on our politicians and such for the system being broken. Again, this ties back into the difference between systems and individuals because at the root of it, the individuals (politicians) are not to blame fully.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-05-12 04:48
"Some of us need to be brave and this will help others to be brave as well. Stop wondering why others aren't doing what you yourself need to do and do it." This reminds me of a quote I admire: "Be the change you wish to see in the world" -Mahatma Gandhi. I personally agree with so much of what Dr. Loo stands for as well as so many of his ideals. It becomes frustrating at times as I consider my cup of responsibilitie s that runneth over- overwhelmingnes s ensues and I find myself unsure of where to even begin with the change I wish to see. However, nothing is accomplished over night-baby steps as they say. Just to open our minds, our understanding, and perceptions outside of what we have been conditioned to believe thus far is a step in the right direction. As we see, and believe, perhaps will aid us to achieve.
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0 # Daniel Gomezzz 2014-05-12 05:35
This shows the need to think and observe things dialectically. I am able to now see the possibilities and results of contradictions within the capitalist system we live under. I also have seen the potential for revolution, knowing its possibility and need. Seeing things on the surface will leave you hopeless and also in the wake of blaming primarily everyone of the people for being the reason things are happening. I suggest that most if not all students attend the talk on the 17th on "where we are in the revolution". This will touch upon some elements of what Loo is trying to get at. Please bring your comment, thoughts, and even disagreements to this talk. If anybody would like to carpool please let me know we can arrange.
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0 # Sherlock 2014-05-12 05:41
I agree with everything that you are saying, about how if one person does something usually more will follow. The fire incident reminded me of something that I learned in CPR class. When around an emergency situation, we were told to respond immediately and assign people around you certain tasks like call the police. We were told that you had to tell somebody otherwise they would just stand there and observe. Furthermore, one of my psychology professors told me that when you see tire remains or something blocking the freeway you are supposed to call the police. However, most people do not because they think that somebody has already seen it and are taking care of it.
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0 # Marcos1 2014-05-12 05:48
"...tensions below the surface are building and at some point in time those hidden tensions will erupt in spectacular fashion with the whole ground shaking in an earthquake."

If we are going to use this analogy we must examine it further. Nothing remains the same forever, we continually have earthquakes because the earth is ever changing and will always have that tension building. One violent revolution will lead to another violent revolution. However we make wiser choices that will help us better prepare for earthquakes just as we can make better choices about how we can make a real difference in this world. We cannot pretend to be better than "x" if we go about doing things with the same behavior (violence).
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 06:31
Quoting Marcos1:
We cannot pretend to be better than "x" if we go about doing things with the same behavior (violence).

If someone uses violence to prevent someone from raping them, is their violence the same as the rapist's violence?
Coercion in the more gen'l sense is a product of social life and exists on a spectrum since group life necessarily includes aspects of compelling some to do what they don't want to do. Parents, for ex., compel their children to go to bed and eat certain foods.

See this article for more on this important question: http://dennisloo.com/Articles/the-weapon-of-criticism.html
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0 # soad 2014-05-12 05:53
I absolutely agree with this article. I like how it said that people want to do something but won't do it because other people haven't done so. I am guilty of doing this, constantly. Personally, I get so nervous and freak out when I have to cross some sort of invisible barrier first. But I know that I need to change that, because I might not be the only one that wants to change something and being the person to take the first step allows others to join in a movement.
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0 # jnandez 2014-05-12 05:56
People are afraid to be bold because they might be deemed as outcasts. Everyone has this fear but some more than others. I would say that I do not worry myself with what others think, but even I can admit that in some instances I am uncomfortable when I am the different one in a group. But what's important to remember, is that when people are bold, they become leaders and can set the norm when others follow. This world needs bold leaders who are not afraid to speak out against injustices, defend the vulnerable, and lead a revolution. This way, people can follow and set new norms.
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-05-12 05:57
I think that many times people are afraid and unwilling to go against the social norm because other people will not know how to react. Many of the comments that are on this website sound similar. I think that once someone gets an idea going, others bandwagon onto this idea. This may be because they are afraid of going against what the majority has to say and they do not want to come off as unintelligent or just plain wrong. This should not be the case. We should all express different opinions, which could lead to insightful debates.
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0 # Marcos1 2014-05-12 06:08
It is a frightening thing to be a pioneer. A lot of things can go wrong for you, and in an extreme scenario, you may even pay with your own life. Even though we may believe in some ideal, how many of us are willing to lay down our lives to pursue it into reality? That kind of conviction is the one that brings forth real change but too often is the missing factor.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 06:21
Quoting Marcos1:
It is a frightening thing to be a pioneer.
True. Very true. It's scary. And that's why not most peo aren't pioneers due in part to fear. The other part is that most don't even know that there's another way. Yet fear can be overcome. If you come to learn things that can change how you look at the world, and if you learn more how things work, including social dynamics, how systems work, and what individuals do within those systems, then you can be someone and do things that you might never have thought you could possibly be or do in your wildest dreams.
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0 # marcos1 2014-05-12 16:39
"If you come to learn things that can change how you look at the world, and if you learn more how things work, including social dynamics, how systems work, and what individuals do within those systems, then you can be someone and do things that you might never have thought you could possibly be or do in your wildest dreams."

If only social dynamics would have the same dependable results as a chemistry experiment. Maybe they do, but what proof do we have? History is but an interpretation and social experiments have ethical limitations.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 17:03
Quoting marcos1:
History is but an interpretation and social experiments have ethical limitations.

History is not only interpretation. History is what actually happened. People may have and usually do have different interpretations of what happened and what their significance is, but the fact that there are different interpretations does not make "history ... but an interpretation. " If you pick up an egg and throw it at a sign, peo who witness this act might have different interpretations of what yu did but the fact remains that u did indeed pick up an egg & throw at that specific sign and u, not someone else, did it on a certain date at a certain time.

To say that history is only interpretation is to treat objective reality as if there is no reality & ONLY interpretation. If u do that then u will fail to learn from history & the hard lessons of history & be condemned to repeat it. That is the proof u ask about: the lessons of history & rev theory.
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0 # marcos1 2014-05-12 17:19
Perception is reality, at least to he who perceives it. Other people's "reality" may be different than our own based on the information they've managed to ingest. I agree that there is definite reality, but history is skewed because no one is freed from a biased mentality/philo sophy. Who writes history books?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 18:19
Quoting marcos1:
Perception is reality, at least to he who perceives it. ...I agree that there is definite reality, but history is skewed... Who writes history books?
History, as with anything else, involves interpretation. But interpretation does not make something real except to that individual, to a limited extent. While what one thinks is true matters because our actions are guided by what we think is real, objective reality exists independently of anyone's perception. Real things have real consequences in the same way that if you don't know what a disease is, that disease can & will still kill you. So your argument goes too far in emphasizing interpretation over the importance of reality's objective existence. Yes, there is always bias and philosophy involved in anything. But in medicine and science, verification and documentation are central to confirming or disconfirming whether a theory is true or not. Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 18:27
You began by saying that history is only interpretation and it's not possible to know what is real. This is an argument that those who oppose acting in the world to change it use because it undermines the idea that one can really know what is real and make any real change. Science depends upon collective review and examination of what individual researchers assert. Science and reason are something that humanity cannot do without and if we approached the world as you're arguing, then we could not build airplanes and we could not have an Internet that we're communicating through right now. Social science and sociology and anthropology in particular rely upon objective reality and systematic investigation. If we proceeded on what you're arguing, then we would have to abandon sociology and anthropology and declare that nothing is really knowable or verifiable. Yet you ride a car or bike or bus everyday based on science, without which these things wouldn't work.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 18:35
THE central foundation for sociology and anthropology is that systems exist and that systems are governed by system logic. Systems aren't what they are because of the individuals who occupy them. The weight of influence comes from the system, not the individuals within those systems. This is a scientific theory based on extensive historical research. It has been repeatedly verified and is a fact, just as it's a fact that the War of 1812 was in 1812. It's also a fact that capitalism's core logic is the pursuit of profit, not the meeting of social needs. To say that it's all interpretation while studying sociology is like attending medical school and saying that you don't believe in bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens and you don't accept the theory of diseases. There are those who have different emphases in their approach and there are ongoing discussions and debates, but certain things are established as fundamentally true.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 18:43
To be fair, there are some within sociology who might challenge the idea that objective reality exists. There are postmodern sociologists, for example, but one of the signs that their approach is incorrect overall as a philosophy is that they do not live their everyday lives consistent with their public philosophy. They live their lives like you and I do, based on the objective existence of a material and real world.
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0 # Viceless 2014-05-12 06:09
While I understand the point of the article and recognize the truth behind the premise, what it discusses about changing the government is much more large scale than the examples given. You are talking about changing something that is everything any American has ever known; something that we are raised to believe in. People don't like uncertainty and any massive change in a government creates that. Regardless of whether these changes need to be made, (which they do) it will take something extreme to finally push Americans into voluntarily giving up their "safe" lives to throw their futures into uncertainty.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 06:15
Quoting Viceless:
You are talking about changing something that is everything any American has ever known; something that we are raised to believe in.

Yes and no. Somethings peo have been taught to believe in, e.g., fairness, justice, democracy, liberty, are fundamentally good things. They've also been told that the US = all of those things. That part is fundamentally a lie. It's hard to learn the truth b/c it violates what all of us were brot up to believe. It wasn't easy for me. But if you can overcome the emotional part of it, which is admittedly substantial and for some peo too much, then you can really open your eyes to the truth and begin to deal w/ the world based on the truth rather than lies and half-truths. The planet is being destroyed. That is a fact. The sooner that more peo can come to grips with the truth the better. The stakes are as huge as they could possibly be.
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0 # Viceless 2014-05-12 06:27
"But if you can overcome the emotional part of it, which is admittedly substantial and for some peo too much."

This is what I am saying, for many people it seems to be too much to take. Many people even when shown proof still deny these things or make claims that the source is unreliable. Lets face it the truth behind many controversial issues is difficult to find because the mainstream media has their own perversions of whatever story based on whoever is sponsoring them. That or the information is not even talked about by the mainstream media because it is that damaging to the government.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 14:41
The essence of the question is not how many people are scared or in denial but what a) what keeps things as they are now, and b) what will it take to radically change them. Your view is that what's keeping it this way is a) too many peo in denial and b) media's coverups. As I pt out in the article and in prior articles, the system isn't the system b/c of the mainstream populace's choices or lack of courage, etc. Your focus on the mainstream as the problem is not correct. The system (which includes what media do) has to be replaced by a new system. What needs to happen is a minority of peo (in many situations it only requires one person to start this) need to set a new norm and need to provide leadership to others and model to others what they should do. This will trigger a positive reaction from the better elements among the peo as well as negative reactions from the more backward elements. But you will start a process that will radically alter the political situation.
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0 # mitchell denerson 2014-06-09 00:38
i couldn't agree more with this. When you have been told your whole life one thing, it is a hard thing to wrap your mind around the opposite. Its the emotional part like you said, that is hard to over come. An easy example is when i found out, or rather came to realize that santa wasn't real, or the easter bunny and so on. I think it is just too hard for a lot of Americans to realize or believe that our government tells us so many lies. You don't want to believe it, but when you read and see evidence, you have to come to your senses.
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0 # Brandon Vildosola 2014-05-12 06:10
As I expect the Professor to explain to us in class later on, one of the reasons I believe that we all do not stand up to the atrocities that the government is committing is largely based upon the general population not having the knowledge of this pluralistic ignorance and social proof. To be honest, I myself has not even thought about the conformity of large groups of people in such a way as I have learned now, and I have taken many Sociology classes and am enrolled in a pretty good University. So imagine the chances of the majority of the population to know about this. The key to being able to have any real major change would be to largely educate the population. But as we have learned, if we do this it can also lead to a large state of dissatisfaction among many people and quite possibly a dangerous revolution. Yet again, some might argue that this revolution, although perhaps catastrophic, may be necessary for any true change.
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0 # mdAngel 2014-05-12 06:22
People act how they perceive the social media. Whatever is in the trend or what is accepted by society, people conform too. Sadly, majority stay and follow the herd rather than going out and find their own answers.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 06:28
Quoting mdAngel:
Sadly, (the) majority stay and follow the herd rather than going out and find their own answers.

You're just restating the point that the article was directly refuting: it's not useful to bemoan the fact that peo are acting like social creatures. We ARE social creatures. Once you understand that we ARE social beings, then you can, based on that correct understanding of what you face, change the situation by setting new norms. We aren't condemned to just be sheep.
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0 # mdAngel 2014-05-12 06:26
Change is one of the only thing that is consistent in this world. Accepting it and changing it for the better is in the power of individuals. Its up to us to change the world, but change first starts with us.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-05-12 06:38
I believe it is of human nature to fear being the only ONE who stands for change. Especially when our society consists of "just going with the flow." Who wants to go against the grain? Only those who have a strong sense of justice, of what is right or wrong to THEM. People such as Martin Luther King, Caesar Chavez, and Rosa Parks. Be the change you want to see...
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0 # Sarah Heitz 2014-05-19 00:26
I completely agree with this! And you are right, not a lot of people want to go against the grain or break social norms. But the ones that do are going to be the ones that make a difference in the world, or even in someone's life. It reminds me of a time in building 5 when some girl randomly fell to the ground and started to have, what looked like a seizure. Without thinking I automatically ran up to her and asked her if she could hear me and if she knew what was going on. When I did this, this sparked someone else to get the people in the deans office and we eventually got her help. Thankfully it wasn't a seizure and she was fine, but no one else helped her until I ran up to her. This baffles me because I base my actions upon how I would want to be treated. If this were happening to me, I would want someone to come up and help me or even just ask me if I was okay.
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0 # Michael O. 2014-05-12 06:52
It really disturbs me to see and to know that we humans are so dependant on other people and the prevalent values to determine how we are to behave. Again, I think it alll comes down to fear. The reason we don't say what we personally think/ want to do is because our status depends on the people around us and if we go against the majority we may be met with criticism, unacceptance, stigmatization, etc. which would then effect how people treat you and think of you. I think we all want to be accepted and be given respect by our peers so as to live a comfortable and positive lifestyle. However, if what you think is true or the right thing to do we should have the courage and the boldness to stand up and face the reality that you might be shunned. But just like in a classroom setting where many are afraid to ask a question, there may be others amongst the majority that feel the same way. "ocial proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to assist." Be bold! Be strong
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0 # Michelle Ngo 2014-05-12 06:54
After reading this article, I am taking back my comment in another article. I see now, that when it is going to be a slow process and within that process there will be those who have "courage, boldness, initiative, persistence in the face of difficulty, and sacrifice." The combination of all these will bring about a leader who will lead other people into a movement. A movement of change. It all starts with one person to be the change that we need. People follow the norm because of either the people around them or it is comfort. Once they start realizing that the norm is the wrong choice, they will start to act against it.
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0 # katgrl15 2014-05-13 08:23
I have a similar connection to this comment because I too have mentioned in my previous comments about people having blinders on and not standing up for what is truly right and wrong. This article helps in distinguishes what I meant by blinders. I think my use of blinders needs to be transformed into what was defined as being a conformists and having relations to the bystander effect. People will follow what the norm is because we are naturally social and does not automatically mean people have blinders on to all social settings and situations. Instead of thinking in a way in which the majority is blind, I need to focus on that one individual that can shy away from the norm. Even though it is a difficult process to acknowledge, accept, and execute change, it is still a reachable goal.
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0 # Monique V. 2014-05-12 06:57
I agree change needs to happen, but just like the bystander effect I think people are scared/unsure about speaking up. After all, we see in other countries the things that happen when people try and stick up for what they believe in. Often times they are killed or their family is threatened. I don't think things would get to that point in this country, however the government can destroy your life and image in no time. (Eg. MLK Jr) The system is a bully that most people don't want to mess with.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 13:58
Quoting Monique V.:
The system is a bully that most people don't want to mess with.

In the Michael Moore film "Sicko" an expatriate American is asked about the difference btw Europeans and Americans. She says: "In Europe the governments fear the people. In America the people fear the government." Please read this article re: your view that the gov't is invincible - http://dennisloo.com/Articles/the-us-government-is-a-paper-tiger.html.

The view that the gov't is all powerful is the mirror opposite of the view that the peo are all to blame. Both are erroneous. The truth is much more interesting and dynamic than those two very static and incorrect assessments. Both of these views are a product of the ideas promoted by the ruling class and they serve their interests. Being fearful is a crummy way to live!
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0 # jnandez 2014-05-15 04:51
The article you linked was very insightful. It is astounding to put into perspective the strategies of the government. For example, Obama being elected because of his skin color and ability to persuade is both obvious and depressing to me. Obvious, because it was too good to be true to have all this "hope" and "change" crap being matched with a politician who actually wants to keep things just as they are, if not worse. And depressing because he was able to fool so many oppressed people that he had their best interest at heart.
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0 # MayDay 2014-05-12 19:28
(1/2) The "bystander effect" is a phenomenon that many people partake in whether we are aware of it or not. Personally, I understand that not all people think the way they express themselves but I don't believe people will take initiative to speak out against the elites because, one, if people do not actively seek out a venue for speaking, it is not publicly accessible, two, if there is no support system or listeners for the individual or even a group of individuals; they will lack incentive to educate others. Also, even if there were supporters to listen and understand, the "bystander effect" is so strong that the desperation for a better system as compared to how much the government has manipulated people into believing we are alright, is too strong. Thus creating the illusion that everything is alright if it does not affect that particular person directly. I do agree that this does need to change and there are many instances that can be used to make people...
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 20:28
Quoting MayDay:
I don't believe people will take initiative to speak out against the elites

Your belief is contradicted by history and by what's going on right now around the world. Peo are speaking out. Not enough peo in this country, but that is a somewhat separate question. The flat assertions that some make in these comments threads like this are belied even by the article itself that you are commenting upon. Of course when peo depart from the norms of everyday life they are going to face push back in some quarters, including particularly authorities. But if what you were saying was true, that peo won't speak out against elites, then there would never have been any social change and never any revolutions in history. Clearly there have been and there continues to be resistance. This kind of reasoning, as I point out, for ex., in The Heart of Dialectics and in Two Points About What We Face, is static, inaccurate, and undialectical. Please go back to those two articles and read them again.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-12 20:53
Also, please re-read this article's introduction for what it says about the perspective that you are arguing from here.
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0 # MayDay 2014-05-12 19:44
(2/2)...take initiative but sadly those instances are smoke-screened by news and media and because appeals by people toward a change are not publicized, this type of change within our lifetime by certain individuals seem unattainable. Plus the possibility or rejection and emotional tolls that will come with trying to revolutionize and not winning will suede others to not even take initiative or learn more.I do agree that people need to be aware of world issues but with America, like some parts of the world, we are censored in different areas such as sexuality and this is an idea of a basic norm that people just blatantly follow.I’m just saying that for change to occur, more college professors who are not as structured to a certain mold or curriculum, needs to educate students to care about the world. We need to make college students aware that the economical status with which we hold such high decorum, will be affected by their choices and make a personal connection with their future.
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0 # WOW 2014-05-12 20:22
People want to fit in. They don’t want to be different. We are social beings and want to be accepted. By going against the grain or a person may be looked at differently. I think we are socialized to go with the flow. Dr. Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment is an example of conformity. Asch did conformity experiments where participants answered questions the same way and the people before him did.
One thought or idea for a machine takes time to build. They say word of mouth is the best advertisement. . By reaching out to change one person’s view it has the potential to create a snowball effect.
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0 # marcam 2014-05-13 20:07
• Question 2
1 out of 1 points

I agree with what you are saying. People do what others do not because they really want to but because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves; they don’t want to be the outsider. Individuals want to be part of the group. Just as when a the Lakers win a championship; most people know that burning the city and destroying windows in not okay but they still do it because others are doing it and they want to be part of the group.
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0 # WOW 2014-05-12 20:23
By reaching out to change one person’s view it has the potential to create a snowball effect. One person telling another or several people with the hope that there will be change that is needed.
Big business and the elites are the ones controlling the government. People do not easily see it. People need to look beyond the smoke screen and mirrors. We all need to look at the government and how it is set up. Each individual needs to think and realize what is best. We need to advocate for change until our voices are heard.
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-05-12 22:00
In the book it states “The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie” (45). On page 47 it says, society can no longer live under the bourgeoisie, in other words, it’s existence is no longer compatible with society. We can turn this and replace bourgeoisie with government and big business; and proletariat with the general population. The general population has what it needs to overthrow the government. However, it takes advocating, hard work, and changing people’s mindset. Getting the general population to think on their own and not follow the social norms.
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0 # Sarah Heitz 2014-05-19 00:29
I remember reading this in the book! And you are so right! The general population has what they need to overthrow the government but they don't know how to start it because there hasn't been a leader for people to follow. It has a lot with getting the word out there along with activating social change in people! People need to see a problem to evoke change, so the first step would be showing more people that there is a problem!
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-05-25 06:04
yep. One person at a time. Tell a friend and pass it on. Word of mouth is one of the best advertisements.
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0 # SecretSeaBridges 2014-05-13 00:39
I found this article very interesting. Some people were born to be leaders, while other people were born to follow in someone's path. All it takes is for ONE person to get up and do something and to have others follow. That is just how many movement were made. I do not understand how people could just stand aside and let something terrible happen to another human being. How do people live with themselves knowing that they let a person get hurt?
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0 # Slovebee 2014-05-13 07:40
I found this article to be quite encouraging. I think us young people need to be reminded of this. We can only blame the world around us for what's going on, but if we don't take that individual step to make a change then it won't happen. I feel like that's how revolutions start (e.g. French revolution). All it takes is one person, or a couple people to stand up and decide not to abide by the norm. Now, this isn't to "show off" but to illustrate an example as well -- one day I was coming out of a restaurant as I saw a homeless man sitting outside. I normally would walk away, but this time something about him pulled on my heart strings. I walked over to him as I saw others pass by and ignore him. I kneeled down to talk to him and to see how he was doing. I noticed that it wasn't until I placed myself beside him that others started to notice him and some even smiled at him, others gave him spare change and food. The man felt very grateful that he was noticed. All it takes is one person.
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0 # tiamari 2014-05-14 01:14
Exactly. It takes one person or a group of people. I have seen the same situation similar to yours, one person can motivate others.
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0 # Frank Sahagun 2014-05-14 19:12
What I have noticed in my personal experience, is that one of the major reasons that people won't speak up or take action, not only in political areas, but in any situation, is that they care too much about what other people think. This puts fear into the minds of people, making them feel like if they go against the norm or the mainstream, that they will look "stupid" or "wierd" to everyone else. The fear of being made fun of is another roadblock for going aginst the norm. growing up, I was extremely concerned with what other people thought of me, and terrified of looking "stupid" or not "cool." I couldn't even send back my food at fast food restaurants when they got my order wrong, in fear of everyone looking at me. I have been trying my best to fix that problem, and not be so concerned with what other people think of me. While I am slowly but surely progressing,to my surprise, I have found that people will actually respect you more, and think more highly of you.
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0 # Frank Sahagun 2014-05-14 19:24
if enough people start making small changes in their lives, whether its doing something, or saying something, or even wearing something, because its what they want, and not what society wants, I believe that it will lead to more and more people doing the same. Perhaps it will even inspire someone to take action towards a change in our country's power structure. That person could be that "one person" that it takes to light the fire in the minds of Americans in this country, and pursue change.
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0 # Heng Chang 2014-05-14 22:01
The bystander effect happens everyday. We see someone in need, but then we think to ourselves that someone else can help them and find an excuse or a way out. If we want to make a difference then we have to start creating our new norms and breaking free from the old ones. That's why there aren't that many leaders in the world because most of the people are used to sticking to the same norms that they've always been in. If we always stick to the same norm then society won't progress.
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0 # Susan Torres 2014-05-14 23:24
I remember learning about the bystander effect and the diffusion of responsibility in psychology. Never would I have thought to apply it in the macro level. In psychology I only come to understand these terms at a micro level. For example, there's an accident and almost everybody tends to think the someone ELSE will call the cops so there's no reason for them to call them. Of course the people that call are those that break away from this norm. It is very interesting to see it play out in the macro level where we assume that everybody else is ignore it or even to think that someone ELSE is taking care of all the injustices being done thus they shouldn't do anything.
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0 # Luvlife 2014-05-15 03:15
It is true that millions of people live their lives wondering why no one does anything to make a change. We all live in a social world in which unfortunately we seek the approval of others in order to be accepted. There aren't enough people that truly stand up for what they believe, if there were social proof would kick inn and socialism would be more of a possibility.
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0 # vices 2014-05-16 03:20
It seems that the revolution is lacking leadership figures because everyone has an opinion on the government, but no one is willing to take action into their own hands until others do first. Most people make up any excuse possible to why they haven't done anything. Some would claim that they do not care, but obviously they do care because they are complaining about it. I completely agree with the notion that it only takes one person to step up in order for the rest to follow. Most people are afraid to break the line in fear of being wrong about their beliefs. Once they see that they are not alone, they become confident on their position. All we need are more individuals in society to speak up about their opinions because it is likely that others were simply waiting for a leader. It is similar to how professors tell students to ask questions no matter how dumb they think it is because chances are that there are other students with the same question.
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0 # deltoro 2014-05-18 20:11
It makes me think that most of human beings are scare to be the one who stands for changes or for he or she believes. Especially if a person goes against a huge group of people in which, they do not have the same believes. We as human being we need the approvable of others in order to do something. We just want to be accepting from others. We need to feel that belong to a group.
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0 # deltoro 2014-05-18 20:13
“Another young woman from the CGU [Claremont Graduate University] mentioned that 'people in this generation haven't had their "1960s" yet and need to' and that she would try to spread this out in Claremont...” I agree with this woman that we do need social movements. We need to have social groups that we can relate to them in which we have the same goals in order to fight for our rights. In this generation we do not have any one like Martin Luther king JR. or Cesar Chavez.
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0 # deltoro 2014-05-18 20:14
I feel that society teach us how to think and how to react to different situation. Also, we do not question our government because put our faith on our government. Their job is to protect us. That’s why we put them o offices. Our government should look for our best interest.
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0 # Jolie Savage 2014-05-18 21:12
I might have mentioned this when commenting on another article but this really reminds me of a episode of Law and Order when a man was saying how everyone is a sheep and that we just conform to what everyone else is doing because we are to lazy to think for ourselves. I think this article is different from that episode because I don't think that everyone is to lazy to think for themselves. I think people might just agree with the norm and that why they stick to it. Others might be to afraid of the consequences if they stray to far from the status quo.
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0 # Jolie Savage 2014-05-18 21:18
I think is interesting that it really only takes one brave person the change things. It's like everyone is thinking the same thing but no one wants to make the first move. Are we really that afraid of what others think? It's almost like there are invisible limit lines that people force them selves not to cross, not matter how brilliant their ideas might be
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0 # Sarah Heitz 2014-05-19 00:05
I have always thought about why people do the things they do and believe the things that they believe. I have seen people start to follow certain political leaders because it is the popular thing to do and reading the editors note in this article magically linked everything that I have learned in sociology to figuring out why people do certain things. It is not because they are followers, it is because we are social beings! We want to do what others do unconsciously knowing. It is like when someone in class you are paying attention to yawns, you get the urge to yawn. As social beings we tend to follow what other people do because we want to fit in with a certain group not because they necessarily think they are doing the right thing. How could it be possible to start a movement/revolu tion/uprising that would be the 'new thing' that people would follow?
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0 # Sarah Heitz 2014-05-19 00:22
"Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." - Goethe
This quote stood out to me while reading the rest of this article. It says so much in such a little amount of words. To be a sociology major you have to believe this and do this in some sense. You cannot wait for someone else to make the first move, you have to be the one to take action and make a change. It is really amazing what breaking the boundaries can do!
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0 # minnie 2014-05-19 00:52
The bystander effect is one that is sadly common in society just as social norms are. With the norms in place in society today, one cannot help but look to what others in the group are doing before making the decision to act upon their own and intervene in a given situation. The bystander effect and social proof both remind me of Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory in regards to Criminology theory. He states that criminal behavior is learned and that this learning occurs through interactions with other people. The people who you hang out with can be highly predictive indicators of your own behavior.
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0 # minnie 2014-05-19 00:53
This is similar to social proof in which the behavior of others in a group can influence how an individual will behave. As the bystander effect and social proof may indicate, one does not even need to know the people of the group to be influenced by them. I sit back and reflect upon how amazing it is that the American culture advocates for a unique and special identity of each one of its citizens, human beings, social beings, are still subject to societal norms that that many citizens all follow.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-05-19 05:37
I myself have fallen victim to the bystander effect and have continued to as well, in high school I found my cheering on fights, while someone is being bloodied and beaten and not said anything. While speaking of revolution, I find these issues of government tyranny and pollution are things that I care deeply about. Though I fail to contribute to rallies and other social gatherings to combat these issues, I am the bystander I feel as if someone else is going to step in and make the difference.
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0 # Danielle Waldman 2014-05-19 05:38
For me it can sometimes be very hard to stand up and say something that is different from what everybody else around me thinks or says. I am a pretty shy person as it is and I, like most people, have been one of those bystanders that blends in with everybody else. I do not usually speak my mind with strangers but when I am around family or friends I do not worry about speaking my mind, even if I know that nobody will agree with me. I think that many other people feel the same way as me, and maybe it is because we do not want to be the first person to stand up and say something different, we expect someone else around us to be the first, and if not then we still say nothing. I feel that this is a bad thing but it is very hard to change the way you have always done things. We all need to be bold and courageous, I know I do.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-05-19 05:45
Being that first person to act in a situation can be very intimidating. I myself have strived to make a difference in my life and stand up for what is right and what is wrong, no matter family or friend. People must learn to gain courage and the strength and stand up for what is right no matter the repercussions or no matter the ridicule they receive.
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0 # Karen Cornejo 2014-05-21 04:02
I agree with this article in so many ways. As a freshman I was guilty of doing this all the time. Especially being around older people, of coarse everyone worries about what people will think about you. I think now that I am a bit older I do not seem to care as much but I sometimes do realize I'm stepping outside of these invisible barriers and it can be scary, But I always think to myself that someone out there having a hard time fitting in or being accepted sometimes needs a small ray of hope and you can be that person.
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0 # Karla Garcia 2014-05-30 06:47
Not everyone agrees with the status quo but like the article states many people don't do anything to change it because they feel like they will be outcast. so i think this is true with the Senators they are scared to speak out against of what they believe is the status quo in decisions like torture that has been going on for a long time and it seems like a normal thing to do in a time of "war" they think others will not agree with them and there for they don't speak out to oppose it. as for the people to stand up and say that they want torture to stop there has to be a good amount of people who are against it and that will get more people to speak out and ask to end torture just like the by stander effect.
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0 # karen cornejo 2014-06-09 06:42
How can you agree with the status quo but not go along with it? I think if you ate going aling with the atatus quo then you believe in it. This is what people usually do. They do not want to step out of the box so they stick to what they know which makes them follow the status quo.
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0 # Karen Cornejo 2014-06-10 03:17
This article is just like what you said in your office hours, we have been taught to think inside a box; to think in black and white. And when we are asked to think outside the box and expand our mind, we panic! Stepping up to be the first person to cross the invisible barrier in any situation will never stop. The only way to try and change this is by changing our own way of thinking first. Of thinking outside the box and expanding our mind. Just like you said we can't depend on doing good in class if you focus on just the power points or the lectures, you have to tie it all together for it to make sense, we have to think deeper. And as social creatures we have to make this acceptable around us.
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12