News Intelligence Analysis


How to Detect Evil




M. Scott Peck, M.D. wrote a most important book for our times, People of the Lie, The Hope For Healing Human Evil, published in 1983 by Simon & Schuster. It’s a study of human evil. Peck said he chose the title “because lying is both a cause and a manifestation of evil. It is partly by their lying that we recognize the evil.”


Peck’s analysis of the Mylai massacre, its massive cover-up and the deceptions made by our government in the Viet Nam war should not be missed for its lessons for us today.

Peck wrote, “The cover-up was a gigantic group lie.” The troops of C Company of Task Force Barker killed between five and six hundred unarmed villagers. Significantly, a young officer by the name of Colin Powell participated in the cover-up.

Peck cites MyLai as an example of “group evil.” Writing twenty years ago, Peck told us back then: “Twenty years from now, when Vietnam has been largely forgotten, how easy it will be, with volunteers, to once again become involved in little foreign adventures. Such adventures will keep our military on its toes, provide it with real-life war games to test its prowess, and need not hurt or involve the average American citizen at all until it is too late.”

Today, people on talk shows are touting the war in Iraq as “the greatest military victory in history.” A wild national fever of pride burns across the country. But what justification is there for such arrogance? Armed Iraqi soldiers were no match for the might of the American army. Pickup trucks went up against tanks. Rifles competed against heavy artillery. One U.S. Marine Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bryan McCoy told Time magazine (April 14, 2003) reporters: “Let’s quit pussyfooting and call it what it is. It’s murder, it’s slaughter, it’s clubbing baby harp seals.” McCoy’s men had just killed 92 Iraqis and taken 44 prisoners, with no injuries to the American troops. Once the peace came and protests began with Iraqis shouting, “Americans Go Home,” American soldiers fired into crowds of unarmed civilians, killing many.


Peck draws a profile of the evil: they have no regard for the truth; they lie and live in a world of lies. They are masters of disguise and cloak themselves with masks of respectability, goodness and often piety. (Peck tells us that religiosity is a common and effective disguise.) But it is the appearance of propriety and respectability that is the important factor. Peck defines evil as: “The exercise of political power—that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion…” Or in other words: it is the use “of political power to destroy others,” for the purpose of defending or preserving the integrity of one’s sick self (or group).


There is today in America a disease, a sickness of hatred. It’s very existence is a universal form of group narcissism. Peck calls it, “enemy creation,” or “hatred of the ‘out-group.’” If a group does not have an enemy, “it will most likely create one in short order.” Peck wrote, “The groups become cliques. Those who do not belong to the group are despised as being inferior or evil or both.”


Jerry Falwell was fond of telling the story of how he learned the secret of being a successful pastor. As a young man he went to an older minister and asked, “What do I have to do to be a success?” The old pastor put his arm on Jerry’s shoulder and said, “Son, if you want to be a success, keep a good fight going all the time!”


Peck wrote, “It is almost common knowledge that the best way to cement group cohesiveness is to ferment the group’s hatred of an external enemy. Deficiencies within the group can be easily and painlessly overlooked by focusing attention on the deficiencies or ‘sins’ of the out-group. Thus the Germans under Hitler could ignore their domestic problems by scapegoating the Jews.”


Today scapegoating has been refined to appear almost reasonable. Sean Hannity once said, “I talk to liberals. I’ll have them over for a barbeque as neighbors. I just don’t want them in office. I don’t want them in positions of power.”

In contrast to the sickness of evil, Peck defines mental health as “an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.”

In the last few months we have watched Secretary of State Colin Powell’s seemingly impressive performance before the United Nations only to find out that his strongest points were lies. And according to columnist Nicolas Kristof, Mr. Powell and Mr. Bush knew their evidence was false, but used it anyway. (N.Y. Times May 6, 2003)


The Bush team has more than demonstrated its willingness to lie to the UN; to use forged documents to prove its case; to cite a plagiarized paper to win a point; to resort to wire tapping diplomat’s rooms; and to stoop to badgering CIA analysts to lie so the administration could have false intelligence data to present to the public and to the UN.


Add to this list the fact that lucrative government contracts were handed to favored corporate contributors with ties to Cheney and Bush, while the White House pushed agendas that rob the poor to pay the rich. This team agreed to the survivors’ demand for an investigation of the events of 9/11, but the White House deleted an enabling $11 million from the budget. Since that time the White House has refused to release the 800 page investigative report on 9/11 related agency failures, written by a bipartisan committee of the Senate. The report reveals that the administration was warned as early as July of 2001 of the coming imminent attacks. The President, himself, received copies of the reports from the CIA. But the administration did nothing.


But this is a White House that thought nothing of placing two convicted perjurers in high-level government positions. And this is a White House that caused America to invade another country for its oil and for global domination. After men have done and said such things, why need anyone tend to anything they have to say?  Surely these acts warrant an investigation with special prosecutors.


Democracy cannot survive in a country where lies reign. Citizens cannot vote intelligently when facts are suppressed or twisted. The best course of action cannot be determined if all sides of an issue are not debated openly.

Every time we believe a lie, our mental health and the health of our nation is diminished. We as a people must stand against the lies. They must be exposed for what they are.



Katherine Yurica was educated at East Los Angeles College, U.S.C. and the USC school of law. She worked as a consultant for Los Angeles County and as a news correspondent for Christianity Today plus as a freelance investigative reporter. She is the author of three books. She is also the publisher of the Yurica Report.





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