Found in 6 comments on Hacker News
gaius · 2013-12-16 · Original thread
Soldiers do have trouble killing on the battlefield; have a read about "operant conditioning", a psychological technique used in modern training to overcome it.

General Marshall discovered after WW2 that only 15% of front-line soldiers even fired their weapon at the enemy. Even soldiers don't like to kill enemy troops in the middle of a battle!

gnosis · 2013-01-17 · Original thread
I recommend reading Dave Grossman's book On Killing.[1]

From the blurb:

"The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. And contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques, and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young.

Upon its initial publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a landmark study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects soldiers, and of the societal implications of escalating violence. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent trends in crime, suicide bombings, school shootings, and more. The result is a work certain to be relevant and important for decades to come."

[1] -

rdl · 2012-12-18 · Original thread
While killing poachers may be on balance the right thing to do, actually taking pleasure in the act of killing, even for "a good cause", tends to have bad effects on the killers.

Maybe read LTC Dave Grossman's standard book _On Killing_.

scott_s · 2012-03-02 · Original thread
You may be interested in Dave Grossman's "On Killing":

Grossman is a Psychology professor at West Point (or was when he wrote this), and a former Army Ranger, although he never saw combat. His conclusion is actually similar to the author of this piece. First, he argues, with evidence, that humans have a pretty high disposition to not kill each other unless there is an immediate threat to themselves or loved ones. The evidence he uses to support that claim are the no-fire rates among front line soldiers in World War I and II. I think the stat he found was only about 20% of infantry in trenches shot their weapons. The fire rate among infantry by the Vietnam era was about 95%, and it had steadily increased up to that point. He claims that modern infantry training are responsible for this firing rate, that one of main points of modern infantry training is to get a solider to fire their weapon when instructed.

He also talks about PTSD, and that the amount of people who do not get some form of PTSD from front-line combat is about the same amount of people who have sociopathic tendencies. He then posits that these are the same people who tend to seek out special forces. And the author of the linked piece was, I think, talking mostly about special forces.

In the end, Grossman makes some extrapolations to media, and causation between violent media and actual violence. I don't think he supports that claim well. But if you've ever heard his name before, it was because of those claims. He was a whipping boy in the videogame press because of it, but I think his other work is interesting.

zootar · 2011-09-04 · Original thread
The comparison isn't necessarily between remote operation of a drone and flying a plane. As I recall from On Killing [1], air crews have lower rates of PTSD than infantry. I would expect killing someone through a drone's video feed and from a plane's cockpit would have similar psychological costs.


scott_s · 2010-06-24 · Original thread
The research I've read disagrees with your statement:

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