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What is good, and bad, seems like a trivial question until you google things like – who are the good peoplescale of good and evilscale of evil listMichael Stone’s 22 level scale of evil murdersWars and anthropogenic disasters

It is a lot harder to get a list of unequivocally good people than bad ones. That seems strange to me because everyone I encounter claims to be good. Few of the famous American serial killers have killed over a dozen people, but when this is compared to world history some individual military snipers have killed hundreds. There arises the question, are these snipers good people doing a good work for their country, and is that justification enough for intentional killing? And are serial killers killing what they consider to be the evil people of their society the bad ones?

Were the founders of societies, such as Genghis Khan, who founded the Mongol empire, and who with his family members killed a larger percentage of humanity than anyone, good or bad people? It seems the definitions get difficult when in their own time they were considered paragons of virtue by their own people. Over the millennia of history there are many famous conquerors, such as Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, Attila the Hun, Napoleon, but are they good people, or more reasonably thought of as successful homicidal maniacs? A complex person to define on this issue is Winston Churchill, whose policies got possibly a half a million British soldiers killed in the Gallipoli Campaign in WWI, and thus he was hated by his own nation, but then he provided the courage and stamina to hold Hitler and his armies out of England during WWII, and thus Churchill became revered by the people who a few years earlier had hated him. So, was Churchill good, really good, or evil, or really evil, or all of the above?

The founders of religions have universally been considered as paragons of virtue, at least by their own followers, and probably they were conspicuously honorable in their personal behavior. However, hierarchical religions that organize societies to form more cohesive groups often get spun into reasons for killing out-group people who may even believe nearly identical doctrinal things. Few people who come to power are seen as evil by their supporters, and it is probably an over-willingness to strike down out-group people in support of in-group ones that creates the most suffering.

The most extreme examples of goodness are difficult to distinguish from the ultimate acts of badness.

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