Rebuttal- therealjohnsanchez

Needs a Title

Although I admit that the murder of Kitty Genovese is a poor real life example of the bystander effect, I still believe that the bystander effect is a real phenomenon. People with a more radical view reject the bystander effect completely and believe that it has been created by psychologists. They believe that people are selfish and only help others if they think it will benefit themselves. They find flaws in experiments that attempt to show the bystander effect in isolation.

The origin of the bystander effect is rooted in myths and lies. The bystander effect was first used to explain the inaction and apathy of the witnesses of the Kitty Genovese murder. The story says that 38 witnesses watched a woman get murdered. They could have easily called the police and saved Kitty’s life but chose to let her die. Psychologist explained their choice to be a result of the bystander effect. This explanation is flawed since it is based on a severely warped version of the Kitty Genovese murder. The bystander effect was created to explain a fictional story. I agree with this objection. The bystander effect is not a reasonable explanation of the true story of the murder of Kitty Genovese. However, just because the bystander effect doesn’t apply to the true story of the murder doesn’t mean it can’t explain other events. The murder was the start of research that eventually showed that the bystander effect.

The murder inspired experiments that attempted to quantify the bystander effect. One study is the smoke filled room experiment. Subjects were put in a room alone, with other subjects, or with confederates that were told to ignore the smoke. While filling out a survey, smoke filled the room, suggesting a fire. 75 percent of lone subjects reported the smoke while only 38 percent of the subjects in a group reported it and only 10 percent reported it when they were with confederates. These results seem to support the idea that people in groups are less likely to act. Others aren’t convinced. It can be difficult to draw conclusions from studies when humans are the research subject. When asked why they didn’t react to the smoke, the subjects said they assumed it was part of the experiment. They didn’t believe that they were in any danger. If they the subjects didn’t know that they were in an experiment, it is reasonable to conclude that they would have acted differently. Although this sounds reasonable, it doesn’t explain why the subjects that were alone were so much more likely to report the smoke than the subjects in a group. The disparity between the groups shows that there is a group dynamic at work and that the subjects were under social pressure.

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4 Responses to Rebuttal- therealjohnsanchez

  1. davidbdale says:

    Sanchez, I’ve read only the first paragraph, but I want to caution you against unnecessary antagonism to unnamed opponents. If you cite a source from an author, you can address your resistance directly; but, if you want to respond to “an opinion” instead of to an author, leave people out of your sentences. Needless “they”-speak makes you sound dismissive of a large group of sincere people (along with some idiots).

    Also, it literally goes without saying (or should) that the opinions expressed in your essay are your opinions. So eliminate any hint that the bold claims you make are anything less than fact.

    One last thing: THE MURDER could never be a good example of the bystander effect. WITNESS BEHAVIOR could be a good (or a poor) example.

    If you accept those rules, we’re left with:

    The failure of witnesses to come to Kitty Genovese’s aid is a poor example of the nevertheless very real bystander effect. It wasn’t created by psychologists. It doesn’t demonstrate that humanity is too selfish to help others without benefit. It can’t be explained away by flaws in experiments.

    Did I do too much rewriting here? Notice that the author rejects the points of view without attacking those who hold the views? It’s subtle but very effective. Non-confrontational, extremely direct, authoritative. It identifies the refutations and slaps them to the ground. There is no mistaking the author’s position.

    I’d like to have your reaction to this feedback.

    • therealjohnsanchez says:

      Not antagonizing my opponents and stating my opinion as fact makes sense. When I was talking about the murder as an example of the BE, I meant the witness behavior. I realize now that’s not what I wrote.
      For my thesis, I planned on it being that although the bystander effect is a real phenomenon, the inaction of the witnesses to the Kitty Genovese murder was not caused by the bystander effect. But now it seems to be lacking something or incomplete.

      • davidbdale says:

        As I just now suggested somewhere else, you might cast your essay as a reclamation project. The Bystander Effect—a real phenomenon—is tainted by the weakness of everybody’s favorite (deeply flawed) example. A systematic and detailed comparison of the Bad example with your own Good example would point out the obvious strengths of the theory while at the same time rescuing it from years of accumulated sloppiness.

  2. davidbdale says:

    Suffers severely from a lack of citations, Sanchez. You need to correct this pattern of listing sources in your Works Cited but without citing anything. Having read all three of your arguments now, I’m very confused about your actual thesis. You’ve spent far more time arguing that the KG episode is a bad example of the BE than anything else, including demonstrating that there is such a thing as the BE. I can think of better explanations for the failure of the gang-rape witnesses to report the crime, and those explanations should be part of your argument. Can you give me a one-sentence statement of your thesis?

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