Is Torture an Ethical and Favorable Tactic to Gain Information? 

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Often publicized in entertainment throughout history from books, movies, to modern day television, torture has come to light as a popular controversial topic, splitting the public down the middle between whether or not it actually works. Many know that there are various forms of torture, ranging from physical to even psychological methods, but the real question isn’t what method works better, it’s if torture even works at all? For ethical reasons, scientists have refused to conduct studies on torture, but also have already become fully aware how the brain reacts to extreme conditions. As a result, contrary to popular belief, this well known interrogation tactic has been proven to be absolutely useless when it comes to gaining valid information, and has even become an unacceptable form of evidence in court cases.

Neuroscientist agree that torture can not provide satisfactory nor reliable information due to a state of mind known as “learned helplessness”, which occurs when the victim becomes fully aware through trial and error that they can not help themselves during these abusive mistreatments. The discovery of this particular state of mind was unexpectedly uncovered in an experiment originally conducted to study depression by psychologist, Martin Seligman, in 1967. During the experiment Seligman placed multiple dogs in cages, which were made to deliver electrical shocks through the cage floors and also have a lever to allow the animals to escape.

When Seligman triggered the electrical shock to the cage floors, a few quickly learned how to escape after being electrocuted multiple times and finding the lever placed inside was their saving grace. Meanwhile a few of the other dogs simply gave up entirely after continuous failure and laid on the electrical currents helplessly, despite being shown that escape was possible by Seligman himself when he attempted to demonstrate how to escape by placing their paws on the lever. Although the experiment was originally done to study the effects of depression it actually resulted in revealing valuable information that helped psychologists later on truly realize the effects maltreatment has on the brain.

This state of mind leaves victims consumed by a sense of powerlessness and will continue to relentlessly have an extraordinarily negative effect on the brain’s memory centers. Comparable to PTSD, critical or extended trauma disrupts the victim’s brain and its ability to process memories. In translation, this indicates that information gained from someone under extreme stress is more than likely to be undependable. Shane O’Mara, director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and an expert on the psychological effects of torture states, “Severe stressors of the type used during torture… disrupt the consolidation of memory, and erode one’s ability to remove memories- even of simple, straightforward, fact-based information.”

Not only neuroscientist agree, but also conscience-stricken former special intelligence agents themselves who became permanently scared to this day, by the guilt of causing such psychological trauma to the minds of their victim. Specifically and especially, those who have participated and had first hand experience with this flawed strategy, deeming the immoral interrogation tactic unnecessary and stating that it only leads to inconclusive results. In fact, a large number of these former intelligence agents have expressed similar views on the controversial subject matter, as well as one of Saddam Hussein’s former tortures, who stated in 2003 during his capture in an Iranian prison, “You can always make someone talk… The problem is what they say.”

Unsurprisingly enough, this wouldn’t be the first time a statement such as this, has been ascertained. In Time magazine a former FBI special agent by the name of Ali Soufan, who has had significant experience with Al-Qaeda interrogation operatives expressed definitively and clearly, “When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them. That means the information you’re getting is useless.”

Upon Further research, many have also come to realize that advocates of this interrogation tactic defend torture with a “mixture of anecdote cherry-picked stories and entirely counter fictional scenarios”, says O’mara. Shane O’Mara also emphasizes, that torture does not in any way produce reliable information, due to the psychological severity with which impairs the ability to think, and also produces an inverse desire to keep wanting to present further torture. In his book Why Torture Doesn’t Work, O’mara additionally mentions an intelligence officers story about a 60- year- old torture survivor in Cambodia: “He told his interrogators everything they wanted to know, including the truth.

In torture, he confessed to being everything from a hermaphrodite, and a CIA spy to a Catholic bishop and King of Cambodia’s son. He was actually just a school teacher whose crime was that he spoke French.” This further proves that interrogators often times escalate torture to unnecessary extremes, only to keep suspecting that the inmate continues to lie or withhold crucial information. Torture does in no way coax people to be reasonable in their decision making to cooperate, but instead creates long term neurological damage through panic, disconnection of continuity between memories and thoughts, and even unconsciousness.

The human body can only handle so much, until it reaches a breaking point, most notably death being that breaking point. When a person’s body can not endure the trauma any longer, leading to death, and in the end sending interrogators back to square one with no valid information and having completely wasted their time and a life.

There are much more humane methods of questioning that actually work and do not violate human rights, as shown by studies from modern neuroscientist. Although, there is still so much more to discover about the human brain. In conclusion, contrary to popular belief, as depicted in countless forms of entertainment, torture is in fact an inconclusive interrogation tactic and has been proven to be nothing more than an immoral practice.

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Is Torture an Ethical and Favorable Tactic to Gain Information? . (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/is-torture-an-ethical-and-favorable-tactic-to-gain-information/

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