If you and three of your college buddies saw people jumping off a steep cliff (without any protective elements) and you walked up and an apparent leader to the suicidal group said to you, "Jump off that cliff over there and I will pay you $5 million USD", and your friends encouraged you to do so without providing any evidence of a safe landing, would you do it? Of course not... I hope.
Some people, however, will do some strange things in the face of obvious facts contradicting what should be done, or outright do something regardless of their actual consciousness telling them to do otherwise. Why do we do things we shouldn't? Below is a link to a fascinating article on five psychological experiments to test out this conundrum among humans.
In studying these experiments we might be able to understand a little bit better about how to program AI in games and to make NPCs and other intelligence-based interactive features feel more "real", instead of predictable responses they often turn out to be.
After reading the article it became more clear why there are "Hitlers" as well as "Napoleons" in the world. As a species humans want to feel accepted amongst each other, avoid feeling vulnerable, embarrassed or weak, and thus will sometimes do anything to satisfy these natural feelings. Even if that means avoiding or outright refusing to accept facts that are right in front of you that contradict your instincts.
Are we really doomed as a species as the article's title suggests? I only see our "doom" when the world falls apart for one reason or another. Unfortunately, it will. All good things must come to an end sooner or later, and thus all the dark elements of our species will come out of what's left of civilization. Those sane enough to control themselves will see the ugly side of humanity, as well as the good (let us not forget that bad things can also bring about the best in some of us as well).
Even though I joke about "Apocalyptic" scenarios amongst friends often, I personally hope to never see that dark day. Things may seem "bad" now, but if one takes a brief look into history, we live in a golden age. So get out there and play those games and forget about this article I told you to read as it simply is too depressing on its implications. Fifty bucks says you read it anyway...