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Why do so many people “want to watch the world burn”?, with Kevin Arceneaux

An interview with Kevin Arceneaux, a researcher on the “need for chaos” research project, which found that a surprising number of people (up to 40%) expressed antisocial views about society in either agreeing with or not rejecting statements like “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn’?” We talk about what that study entailed, and what the psychological and environmental factors could be that help explain this surprising find. 

See the bottom of this post for other topics and resources. Podcast links:

Other topics discussed include:

  • How the “need for chaos” was evident throughout the political spectrum and wasn’t correlated with any particular political ideology (although it was high in Trump supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters).
  • How modern society, in increasing isolation and loneliness, could be playing a role in amplifying antisocial views.
  • How the internet and social media give an easy outlet to people with this mindset, and give them an extraordinary amount of power.
  • How the “need for chaos” wasn’t directly tied to poverty or inequality.
  • Thoughts about how modern society, by giving us more free time and time to dwell on perceived slights and injustice and our thwarted desires for recognition, may contain the seeds of its own demise.

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