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Zimbardo’s New Abu Ghraib Photos

PUBLISHED: February 28, 2008

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo is famous for his 1971 Stanford prison experiment, in which undergraduate volunteers were divided up into prisoners and guards. Within days the “guards” became so sadistic, the conditions so terrible, that the experiment had to be halted. Zimbardo is now an expert witness in the court martial of one of the Abu Ghraib guards accused of similar sadism and, in that capacity, he has access to some never before seen photographs of the abuse at that facility.

Zimbardo will be giving a talk today at TED about how good people turn evil and, during that talk, he’ll be displaying those Abu Ghraib photos. Wired interviewed Zimbardo on the topic and included with the interview the video of the photographs that he’ll show at his talk. The images are available separately in a photo gallery. As a warning, some of these images are pretty horrifying – there’s blood, corpses, nudity and, of course, torture.

Our current issue features a pair of collections of artwork based on the torture at Abu Ghraib: Fernando Botero’s paintings of the famous photographs and Daniel Heyman’s renderings of former prisoners telling their stories.

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