The Medium is the Message: Historical Impact of New Technologies

New media are usually haled as a major step in the spreading of enlightenment and knowledge. However:

In 1487 two Dominican Friars Heinrich Kramer and Jakob Sprenger published “Malleus Malificarum”, (Hammer of the Witches) the definitive treatise on why someone becomes a witch, how to identify them and what to do with them. Epileptic seizures were one of the sure signs of satanic possession. Malleus Malifarcum arrived just in time to take advantage of mass production of books through the newly invented printing press. Historian Jeffrey Russell: “The swift propagation of the witch hysteria was the first evidence that Gutenberg had not liberated man from original sin.” The book was widely read and went through more than 30 editions over the subsequent century. Estimates are that from 100,000 to a million women were persecuted, tortured and/or killed in the aftermath

In 1994 in Rwanda the slaughter by Hutus of between 800,000 and one million Tutsi and a 100,000 Hutus who tried to defend them or were associated with them, was triggered by and supported on the government controlled radio (the only source of information in a marginally literate country) that urged the Hutus on to the mass killing “to kill the Cockroaches!” and they did using machetes or burning buildings with people inside, dehumanizing Tutsi’s to enable the slaughter.

So I worry about social media…..

Robert Sapolsky’s fine book “Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst” supplied these stories and has much else to throw light on such matters: the neuroscience of good and evil in effect.

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Book Reviews, Conflict History, Conflict Processes, Conflict Statistics, Neuro-science of conflict, Philosophy of Conflict and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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