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What motivates the Whistleblower?

“ The light shines in the darkness; and the darkness has not overcome it “ – John 1:5

In 1917 on the second of November the Balfour Declaration become a public statement issued by the British Goverment—establishing a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, more interestingly five months prior to this declaration occurred the Espionage Act. The act was passed on June 1917 prior to the U.S entering WWI. Interesting or coincidence? Hitherto the act has been amended numerous times.

Espionage or spying, is the act of obtaining secret or confidential information without the permission of the holder of the information. Spies help agencies uncover secret and covert information. Any individual or spy ring (a cooperating group of spies), in the service of a government, company or independent operation, can commit espionage. The practice is clandestine, as it is by definition unwelcomed and in many cases illegal and punishable by law. Espionage is a method of  intelligence gathering which includes information gathering from open sources. Commonly when we here the term “ Whistleblower “ we think of people like Edward Snowden the former NSA contractor whom had the flee the United States—because of the espionage act, he doesn’t have a “ right “ to explain to the goverment why he did what he did.

William Binney intelligence official (NSA)

What about Bill Binney? The Intelligence Officer whom had his home raided? Squad pushed through the door held a gun to his son’s head pulled Bill out of his shower and promptly interrogated him on his back porch, this gets back to something quite intriguing— there’s an ethical ambiguity surrounding whistleblowing, and the negative outcomes that whistleblowers often face raises the question; what really leads people to the complicity of whistleblowing in the first place?  It’s almost quite simple, The duality of Morality and Ethics.

The Moral ambiguity when you’re exposed daily to large volumes of abuses, subversions, violations—-eventually biases will occur limbic responses will trigger then you feel action is needed if even if the cost could possibly be the end your life, being a small faction of the biggest and most powerful intelligence apparatus in the world, you’ll have to ask yourself what could be so bad that a man who was stationed in Hawaii making six figures a year could burn his life to the ground and flee to another country and leave it all behind? The situational factor—these are influences that dont occur from within the individual, but from the environment and others around you.

Many strong predictors of whether a worker will decide to blow the whistle or not are determined by the worker’s organization, including organizational support and encouragement for whistleblowing, dissemination of knowledge about the proper avenues for reporting unethical behavior, and clear safety measures to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. In addition, situational factors that increase the salience of the act’s severity facilitate blow- ing the whistle — people are more likely to voice disap-proval of others’ behavior when that behavior becomes unethical abruptly rather than slowly over time by contrast, the more immediate and noticeable the act of whistleblowing feels, the more difficult whistleblowing becomes.

Evidence for this link comes from a study in which experimenters examined university students eager and  willingness to comply with an unethical request to unconventionally endorse a potentially harmful sensory deprivation study to the universitieresearch review board Some participants were asked to imagine what they would do hypothetically if faced with a request, and a significant majority said that they would blow the whistle on the experimenter. Another group actually faced the unethical request in reality, and less than ten percent blew the whistle. These findings point to psychological closeness as an important factor driving whistleblowing — when evaluating the act in the abstract, blowing the whistle seems like the right and easy thing to do, but in the face of an actual opportunity to blow the whistle in the moment, norms favoring obedience to authority and maintaining group loyalty become more difficult to subvert.

But then it begins to question the personal factors that predict whistleblowing— According to one analysis of all cases of corporate fraud from 1996 to 2004, in ‘82% of cases with named employees, the individual alleges that they were fired, quit under duress, or had significantly altered responsibilities as a result of bringing the fraud to light’ Snowden in particular in a interview reflected on how his grandfather was in the Pentagon on 9/11 whilst he was in Fort Meade—he takes the threat of terrorism very seriously, theorist have argued the damage left in the Pentagon isn’t the result of a plane crashing into it—Snowden blew the whistle in 2013 was there more to just PRISM and UPSTREAM?

49208733-E2F5-42C7-95C1-284B87A72D84Related to the ideal that normal inclination for loyalty inhibit whistleblowing, studies investigating the personal factors that positively predict whistleblowing reveal the importance of overcoming conformity to the collective. The few employee demographic factors that correlate with higher rates of whistleblowing include increased tenure of employment at the company, increased pay, increased education, and being male. These correlational patterns suggest that people with greater occupational power are more likely to dissent, Maybe it’s because they face reduced threat of punishment for violating group cohesion. Moreover, people who feel an internal locus of control, thereby taking on more responsibility for their behaviors, are more likely to report positive intentions to blow the whistle—among personality traits, people who are high in extraversion are more likely to blow the whistle. Finally, people with a proactive personality who seek to influence and control their environment, are less susceptible to situational influences and appear more likely to engage in whistleblowing. Together, these findings suggest that whistleblowers are those who possess personality traits that support non- conformity, which is a good thing without people like this the world would be so much more worse then what we already have learned to cope with.

” Everytime we witness an injustice and do not act; we train our character to be passive in it’s presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. “  – Julian Assange 


Click to access DunganWaytzYoung_2015.pdf

Devon UI

I’m a Biohacker | Psychologist | Bibliophile, My insight’s are derived from deep Biblical and Scientific analyses—Politics are fun too.

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