The Neuroscience of Dehumanization David Eagleman

The Neuroscience of Dehumanization David Eagleman

An explanation of dehumanization.

"What you do is you steal and sell drunks! It's heaven-sent, you earn more in a night than others make in a week. Are you up for it?" (Pg. 310)

Taxi is a wonderful example of how good persuasive language can convince people to do all sorts of things they might not do otherwise. But another use of language that is more powerful here is dehumanization. 

Dehumanization is when a person or group of people is seen as sub-human by others. A perfect real world example of this is racism. The reason white people were not ens

laved was because they were seen as God's people, but black people were seen as uncultured and lesser. 

Taxi Driver, (Minus Robert DeNiro) perfectly showcases how dehumanizing others will ease the process of harming them. 

How it's doneEdit

The above quote is very important. Here is another logical, factual version of the sentence:

"What you do is you steal and sell people who suffer from alcoholism or who made a bad decission. It's really beneficial to you! You get to sell human beings to criminals while your hard working colleagues and friends put in their hours the honest way and struggle to get by. You up for it?"

The new and quoted versions of the passage are both accurate. However doing something bad to "drunks" is a lot easier than "alcoholics" and certainly a lot easier than "people who suffer from the disease of alcoholism." It's also easier to do something knowing that it's "heaven-sent!" rather than just plain old beneficial. The way one decides to phrase a situation will dramatically effect how likely others are to tag along. 

The main moral regarding use of language certainly relates to finding multiple viewpoints of various scenarios. Was Jimmy "letting Bobby know that some people find his video game references annoying" or "shutting that little nerd up because he's a freak who shouldn't open his mouth?" 

Racism and Civil RightsEdit

As a general heading, dehumanization is the main factor that allows apartheids and genocides to transpire. Any number of examples could be pointed out, and it should be noted that the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis fit perfectly. It's much easier to kill a "roach" than a "person." 

However, this whole class has been about events in the rest of the world, and it should be noted that a little under the first 200 years of our countries life saw millions of people experience numerous hardships, the worst of which being slavery. 

Martin Luther King, Jr

Martin Luther King, Jr. -- I'm Black and Beautiful

Black is beautiful

Martin Luther King was, obviously, one of the most revolutionary and morally outstanding people in all of history, and certainly in our country. King knew that language was important for rallying a people together to earn their legal rights. That's why he crafted his speech-writing abilities to such a high level of mastery. This clip shows the power of language in catching dehumanizing language at work, and is also a wonderfully and powerfully written speech which is not as well known as "I have a dream."


1) "Black is Beautiful" - Dr. Martin Luther King jr.

Luther King, Martin. "Black is Beautiful." . Web. 20 Apr. 2008. <>.

2) "Taxi Driver, (Minus Robert DeNiro)" - Fernando Ampuero

Ampuero, Fernando. Taxi Driver, (Minus Robert DeNiro). N.p.

3) "The Neuroscience of dehumanization" - David Eagleman (with the Lavin Agency)

Eagleman, David, narr. The Neuroscience of Dehumanization. YouTube, Google ltd., 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. <>..d. P