“I firmly believe there is no person, no group, no behavior, no thing that is objectively evil. Perhaps evil only really exists in our fears.” — Julia Shaw
Today it’s great to have Dr. Julia Shaw on the podcast. Dr. Shaw is a psychological scientist at UCL. She is best known for her work in the areas of memory and criminal psychology. In 2017 Dr. Shaw co-founded the memory science and artificial intelligence start-up Spot. Spot helps employees report workplace harassment and discrimination, and empowers organizations to build a more inclusive and respectful work environment. In 2016 she published her bestselling debut book “The Memory Illusion“, which has appeared in 20 languages and in 2019 she published her second international bestseller “Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side”.
Note: This episode goes down a lot of taboo alleys. The dark side of human nature is a fascinating topic, but there may be some issues that you’d rather not hear about. Please review the list of topics before listening to this episode. This one is not for the faint of heart, but there is a lot of heart in this episode.
In this wide-ranging and provocative episode we discuss:
- How Julia got into criminal psychology
- How we all do “reality crafting”
- The depths of human hypocrisy
- Why we don’t always act in accord with our own morality
- Julia Shaw’s criticism of the label “evil”
- The neuroscience of “evil” and Hitler’s brain
- Your brain on porn
- How kink is stigmatized in our society
- Can you be a feminist and engage in BDSM?
- The “deviant sexual interests” scale
- The prevalence of rape fantasies
- Pedophiles vs. ephebophiles
- Why “curiosity shaming” limits discussion and understanding
- The science of beastiality and what makes one animal sexier than another animal
- Why we shame vegans
- Rape culture and how systems fail and lead to harm
- What we can do to reduce sexual violence in society
- The bright side of your dark side
- How we can use the dark side to be a hero (the heroic imagination)
Is the word evil something we should make assumptions about anything? Evil is just a word with a dramaticly distorted meaning. Is an evil act determined by ones beliefs? What makes someone truly evil?
Cool and smart lady.
Just ordered both her books on Amazon.
Nice to see someone not afraid to talk sense!
Hey SBK, Loved this discussion, despite how uncomfortable with some of the topics. What I’m still struggling with regarding evil is the Ted Bundy, Hitler case. As Dr. Shaw indicates, in her view, Hitler did not exhibit mental illness nor brain defects, and yet he instigated so much cruelty and harm. How do you or she reframe, “Hitler is evil,” to a place of understanding beings who do such harm? How do you or she see this as different than human slave traders, who perpetuate harm for profit. Did Hitler and some current leaders not do the same thing? I’m not trying to defend labeling someone as evil, but I am truly interested in another viewpoint. Thank you for your work and for your thoughts on this inquiry. Mahalo, Marie-Rose
Just wanted to add that Hitler’s brain may not have been defective, but meth amphetamine certainly impacts the brain and makes humans do things they otherwise wouldn’t, so there’s that….
Hmmm… The interview was disappointing – how can a discussion of evil neglect to mention abuse and barely mention murder to talk mostly about porn??? Interesting stuff, but really missed the mark.