HomeArticlesWhy the Institute is Evil – A Moral Study in Fallout 4
Why the Institute is Evil – A Moral Study in Fallout 4
August 18, 2019
Hello there ladies and gentlemen, this is Oxhorn, And this video is all about why The institute is truly evil. Due to the nature of the subject matter, this video contains endgame spoilers. So if you want to avoid spoilers, please turn back now. Now, Bethesda wants us to think of the Institute as evil. They made the Institute the primary villain and the boogeyman from the very beginning of the game. So its no novel concept to think that the Institute could be evil. Because of this, I’ve seen comments and videos by other players, saying that the Institute is not really evil, because the Institute is the best hope for humanity. That is the justification for everything that the Institute has done: that the Institute is “humanity’s best hope.” As if, without the Institute, humanity itself would be doomed. I will get into all of the horrible things the Institute has done, but I wanna start by tackling this idea that, somehow, the Institute is “humanity’s best hope.” Because I don’t see *any* evidence for it. The Institute is primarily composed of scientists, unlike the Brotherhood of Steel, which is primarily composed of soldiers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Institute is better for humanity. To me, it matters much less what they *are* than what they *do*. Now, it’s true that the Institute has developed some amazing technology. One of the most obvious pieces of technology that is truly revolutionary is their molecular relay. This is the teleportation device that they use to teleport people in and out of the Institute. While impressive, how does that help humanity? We could speculate that a molecular relay like theirs could be used to instantly transport: produce, and supplies, and goods from one area of the Commonwealth to the next. And that is certainly possible, but I wanna focus less on what their technology *could* be used for, and and more on what they have *actually* used their technology for. The Institute is not on the side of the Commonwealth. Members of the Institute only leave the Institute to take something from the Commonwealth. To take a settler for the FEV program, to kill a Railroad operative, to hunt down a Brotherhood of Steel soldier, to send out a synth, to take over the life of another human being. That’s what they use their relay for. They don’t use it to transport goods. They don’t use it to help the Commonwealth, in any way. It is exclusively used to serve the needs of the Institute, whatever those needs might be. Though it has great potential to help the citizens of the Commonwealth, if that potential is never realized, then what good is it? What about Building a Better Crop?
[Institute side quest] Now, it’s true that the Institute did some experimentation on building better crops, that could, in theory, be used to feed the masses of the Commonwealth. But it could also be used to feed people of the Institute. I don’t see any reason to ascribe to the Institute altruistic motives for trying to build a better crop. And at the end of the day, it’s an unimpresive experiment, as the Sole Survivor him- or herself makes clear. In order to build this giant orange melon at the Warwick Homestead, the Institute had to kidnap, and presumably kill, Roger Warwick, and replace him with a synth. Yes, it’s true that the original Roger Warwick was not the best human being, he wasn’t the best husband, or father, and he wasn’t the most hard-working farmer. But are any of those reasons for him to die? To be kidnapped? We have no reason to believe that Roger Warwick was violent in any way. He was certainly no Bill Sutton. The only thing that the Warwick Homstead series of quests showed me is that the Institute is willing to do whatever it wants to get what it wants. It shows me that the institute is really interested in experiments, but it doesn’t care how long those experiments have to go on, and it doesn’t care who it hurts while doing those experiments. Or let’s take Institute weapons. Institute weapons are…they’re not impressive. The Institute is supposed to be the most technologically advanced organization in the Commonwealth. They’re supposed to be humanity’s hope, humanity’s future, and yet their laser weapons are worse than pre-war laser weapons. Yes, their relay grenades are interesting, but this goes back to our conversation about the Molecular Relay technology to begin with. Here’s yet another example that that technology was weaponized; it’s not used to help people, it’s used as a weapon against people. But the Institute laser as a pistol is worse than the laser pistol, as a rifle it’s worse than the laser rifle, as an automatic weapon it’s worse than every other energy automatic weapon. Both laser and plasma weapons are better than the Institute weapons. You are in greater danger going up against one Gunner in full combat armor weilding an automatic plasma pistol, than any synth. Coursers can turn invisible with Stealth Boys, but so can Gunners. I’m not impressed with Institute technology. The next big piece of technology is, of course, the Gen 3 synth program. And you’ve got no contest from me, it is truly a remarkable piece of technology. They took the DNA of the Sole Survivor’s child, and they used it to basically clone human beings, to manufacture synthetic humans. That’s astounding! …But how does that help people? How does that make the Institute “humanity’s greatest hope?” If anything, having more synths out in the Commonwealth means that there are more beings that need food, more beings that need shelter, more beings that could become raiders, as we saw with Gabriel. How does the manufacturing of synthetic humanoids help humanity? Now, I can see how it helps the *Institute.* That’s clear. Because the Institute sees synths as machines, they have no moral qualms with treating them like slaves. The synths in the Institute are janitors, are servants; they clean, they launder, they fold, they repair. You don’t find any synth scientists, even though they have the minds for it, as we know from Curie. We don’t find any synth managers, or leaders, with the exception of maybe the Coursers, but Coursers – that’s a great example of what the Institute actually uses the Gen 3 synths for: infiltration, espionage, assassination. We find one Courser decimating an entire squadron of Gunners. The Courser program is the strong arm of the Institute. It’s what the Institute uses to perform surgery on the Commonwealth, to make the Commonwealth less sick in their eyes. I don’t think that the Gen 3 synth program is in any way “humanity’s last hope.” Remember that the motto of the Institute is “Mankind – redefined.” “Redefined…” That word doesn’t mean “help.” That word means to take something and make it what it was not before. How do you “redefine” a free Commonwealth? You make it an un-free Commonwealth. How do you “redefine” humanity? You make it less human. I’ve played a character that sided with all of the major factions in the game, and spending any time in the Institute, we clearly see that everyone, from the lowest member, to the highest member of the Institute sees the Commonwealth citizens as corrupted, the past, history. They see the Institute as the future, and specifically, the Gen 3 synths as the future of humanity. The Institute isn’t their to help humanity, to heal humanity; it’s there to change humanity, to change humanity into synths, ruled by the Institute. This is clear if you spend any time with X6-88. You notice that he’s constantly talking about how he can’t wait for the, quote, “surface dwellers” to die out. Sole Survivor: “Your thoughts?” X6-88: “The world will be better off once the surface dwellers die out.” This is a very troubling thing to hear from X6-88, because it presents us with a conundrum. If any other person were to say what X6-88 says, we could simply chalk it up to that person being obtuse, to that person being evil. But we can’t with X6-88, unless we grant him humanity, unless we grant him personhood, which goes against everything the Institute stands for. The Institute believes that Generation 3 synths are machines that are to be told what to do. But if that’s the case, who told X6-88 that the “surface dwellers” need to die out? If a Gen 3 synth is just a robot programmed by the Institute to achieve a goal, who programmed X6-88 to think that way, and to speak that way? Well, the Institute did. That makes the Institute responsible for not only the actions of all of its Coursers, but of all of their Coursers’ thoughts, opinions, and in X6-88’s case, genocidal tendencies. Now, we could say that X6-88 is a fluke, but he’s really not. He goes in line with everything we know about the Institute. Before you become allied to the Institute, you are kill-on-sight whenever you find a synth. If you get to the Boston mayoral shelter, for example, before you become allies with the Institute, they attack you, and they’ll kill you on sight The same is true for University Point, but that is untrue with all other factions. The Railroad only attacks you if you have made yourself enemies of the railroad. The Minutemen *never* attack you. The Brotherhood of Steel only attacks you if you’ve made yourself enemies of the Brotherhood of Steel. In short, every other faction in the game treats you with neutrality unless you have proven yourself to be an enemy, whereas the Institute treats you like an enemy until you have proven yourself to be an ally. That is a manifestation of their entire attitude towards the Commonwealth, towards the “surface dwellers,” towards the people who are not in the Institute. This “redefining” of humanity is most clearly exemplified by the massacre of the CPG. This “redefining” of humanity is most clearly exemplified by the massacre of the CPG.
[Commonwealth Provisional Government] Now, many will say will say that the Institute is not the one responsible, but that’s not true; the Institute *is* responsible. This misconception is due to a misunderstanding of the material that we find about the CPG. We learn about the CPG from Nick Valentine. He tells us the story… So, if what Nick is saying is true, then at one point, the citizens of the Commonwealth were trying to heal. They were hard at work, they were coming together, and progress was being done. But it was the Institute that stopped it all by slaughtering the CPG representatives. But there is more to this story: in recording #52, we learn that the Institute spent at least four years dedicated to preserving the Commonwealth Provisional Government. Here’s the tape… Now, this is all that we hear about the CPG from the Institute side of things. Notice that we don’t hear in this holotape anyone talk about how the other representatives shot first and the synth representative was simply the last one standing. In fact, this very holotape talks about wanting to deploy androids to the surface to, quote, “maintain order.” In this holotape, they’re talking about using androids, or synths, to exert their influence and dominate to get their way. When it comes to the CPG, this is not a case of choosing which story we want to believe: Nick Valentine’s, which talks about murder of the CPG done by the Institute, or the Institute, which talks about everyone else shooting first. Because we don’t actually find that in the Institute. The Institute’s recording can go along nicely with what Nick says. We find that the Institute at one time tried to work with other settlements in the Commonwealth, but when those settlements were not as orderly as the Institute would have liked, they came in with a synth, and they killed everybody. They just needed to tie up some loose ends. See, democracy is not neat and tidy. Freedom is not orderly. If you’ve ever watched videos of the UK Parliament in action, you know how absolutely disorderly it can be. But just because there’s lack of order, and just because things seem chaotic, does not mean that democracy isn’t working, it doesn’t mean that freedom has failed, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the best thing humanity needs is the strong arm of the Institute establishing order that favors the Institute, and killing those that object. In short, we can’t have it both ways. Either Gen 3 synths are people, with free will, who are therefore accountable for their own thoughts and actions, Or, Gen 3 synths are machines, programmed by the Institute, and therefore the Institute is accountable for the actions and thoughts of Gen 3 synths. My argument is that they are people, and I believe that this is best evidenced by Gabriel. Gabriel is the synth that escaped the Institute and had his mind wiped by the Railroad. But once his mind was wiped, he chose to become a raider at Libertalia. Now, the Institute didn’t program him to become a raider at Libertalia, and the Railroad did not program him to be a raider at Libertalia. He chose of his own free will that lifestyle, which of course is the problem with *free* will: because it’s free, people can choose the wrong option. People can choose to do evil things. But of course, that’s a necessity for there to be the option to do good things. The story of Gabriel only proves that Gen 3 synths have souls. It only proves that they’re people, capable of free will, capable of making moral and immoral decisions. Which is why Gabriel became a headache for the SRB. Which is why Gabriel became a headache for the SRB.
[Synth Retention Bureau] The Synth Retention Bureau, the SRB.
That’s another interesting point Before the Gen 3 synths existed, there was no SRB. The SRB was not needed; there was no need for a Synth Retention Bureau, because the Gen 1 synths and the Gen 2 synths did not leave. There was no need for them to be retained. That’s because they were true robots. The Gen 3 synths, however, need retention. You need an entire bureau dedicated to the retention of Gen 3 synths. This is not just due to the efforts of the Railroad, this is due to the very nature of Gen 3 synths to begin with. As we learn from the questline with Liam Binet, there are scores of synths living and working out of the Institute who believe that they are slaves and want to be freed. There are no Gen 2 synths who believe that way. There are no Gen 1 synths that think that way. Only Gen 3 synths have the desire for freedom. I believe the SRB is more evidence that Gen 3 synths are people, because if they weren’t, you wouldn’t need it. It’s also evidence that the Institute is more interested in their own power, maintaining their own power, and exerting their will on the Commonwealth, than helping it. Each of the different bureaus within the Institute exists really only to help the Institute. They do experiments for the sake of doing experiments.
They’re scientists because they want to be scientists. They’re curious because they’re human. Humans are naturally curious, and so they perform experiments, but not necessarily to help the people of the Commonwealth, really only to satisfy their curiosity, or to help the Institute itself. Remember that the Institute has been around for over 200 years. Many of the experiments that they have undertaken have been going on for over a hundred years, like the FEV program. They’ve had plenty of time to publish research and to enact programs that help the common man, but instead they’ve chosen to hide in their underground city. To reap the benefits of their own research without sharing those benefits with anyone else. In short, if they had altruistic intentions, if their goal was to help humanity, they would have done so by now. They’ve had plenty of time. On top of all of that, there’s no true directorate. Instead, the Institute is ruled by the tyrany of the Director. And this is something that many other people have noticed, and many would agree with me on, and that’s that Father is a really bad Director. He makes poor decisions, and he’s a brutal tyrant. You would think that in some scientific utopia, there would be some semblance of democracy, or that the Director would at least value the opinion of the incredibly smart scientists that are working for him, before making decisions. But that is not the case with Father. There is no discussion once Father has made a decision. We see this most clearly when Father decides to appoint you, the Sole Survivor, as Director of the Institute. Despite the objections of literally every leader of all of the other departments, of all of the other bureaus, Father is bull-headed; it’s his way, or the highway. That’s a dictatorship. You can dress it up with all the labcoats and science words you want, but at the end of the day, that is a pure dictatorship. And the irony is that if Father listens to those who object to appointing you the Director of the Institute, then there’s no way for the Institute to ever fail. By appointing the Sole Survivor as the Director of the Institute, he only gets a one-in-four chance of getting a favorable outcome. Three of the other four options end in the destruction of the Institute: siding with the Railroad, the Minutemen, or the Brotherhood of Steel. It’s an incredibly foolhardy and rash decision. Who in there right mind would appoint a wastelander to be the director of the Institute? A wastelander with no scientific background. The scientists who oppose Father in this case are right. All of them, they’re all right! But Father still gets his way, because he is in charge. We find a lot of evidence that Father simply ignores the thoughts, opinions, and suggestions of his staff. When Virgil, who is in charge of an entire program, the FEV program, repeatedly, over the span of 10 years, goes to Father and goes to the directorate, and expresses his concern over the FEV program, and how he thinks that it’s no longer necessary, he is ignored and his motions are denied, time and time again. This is something I covered in a separate video, dedicated to the FEV program. In that video I proved that the Institute had been kidnapping people from the Commonwealth over the span of 100 years (109 years, to be exact). and injecting them with a virus that turns them into super mutants, before killing them, or setting them loose on the Commonwealth. The FEV program at the Institute is responsible for all the super mutants found in Boston. Let that sink in: how is the Institute “humanity’s last hope,” if they’re responsible for all super mutants in Boston? You know what makes more sense? It makes more sense that the Institute wants the surface dwellers to die out, just as X6-88 says. Would you send super mutants into the Commonwealth to see what happens if you wanted the Commonwealth to live? No, but you would if you wanted the surface dwellers to die out. It’s not just Brian Virgil that Father ignored; Father wanted to create a synth child, and he was instantly met with push-back. You find a holotape in the Institute from a scientist who is completely shocked, and absolutely refuses to cooperate with Father on the project… …because the scientist recognizes that this child synth experiment is just a personal experiment from Father. He’s wanting to use his staff to do his own personal experiments Having a child Shaun doesn’t help the Commonwealth in any way: the child is weaker than an adult, it can do less work than an adult, it has worse processing capacity compared to an adult. And it will never grow up; it will stay a child forever. Why make it? How does that help the Commonwealth? It doesn’t even help the Institute! It only satisfies the curiosity of Father, and that’s why it’s done, despite objections by other scientists. One of the reasons that Madison Li can even be convinced to leave the Institute is due to the behavior of Father, and the lack of transparency she finds in the directorate. She doesn’t like being ruled and ordered. She thought she was joining an institute where she could collaborate with other scientists to do great research and make wonderful things. And instead, she finds a tyranny, ruled by one man and a lack of transparency into the decisions that the organization is making. Now, it’s tempting to just put all of the sins of the Institute on Father’s shoulders, to say, “Well, the Institute is really filled with good people, and therefore it’s really an okay organization; it’s-it’s just Father that’s bad. Y’know, Father’s really the only bad one.” That line of thinking just doesn’t work. Even though the Institute may be comprised of individually good people, the effects of the Institute are what matter. Ten good people working on one evil project, that takes many lives, produces a net evil result. I’m perfectly comfortable saying the Institute is evil, and admitting that there are good people that work at the Institute. We must also remember that Father himself is a victim of the Institute. He is the man he is because he was raised to be that way by an organization. In a way, Father is really the offspring of the Institute. He is the Institute made flesh. But the evil of the Institute has existed long before Father. It was the evil of the Institute that turned Kellogg into their representative, that kidnapped Shaun from Vault 111, that killed your spouse, that sent you into the wasteland to die. It was the evil of the Institute that kidnapped Commonwealth citizens, injected them with the FEV virus, turning them into super mutants, and then disposing of them when first doing research into synthetic organisms that they could control. All of this happened long before Shaun ever became Father. Because if you take a look at the FEV program, you find out that it’s been going on for one hundred and nine years, for over 100 years. We find that at least 60 years ago, the guy who was in charge of the program had at that time already admitted that it had failed. In fact, it was due to the research in the FEV program that they kidnapped Shawn to begin with. The Institute kidnapped Shaun because they needed uncorrupted DNA from a child that had not been exposed to radiation, so that they could make the Gen 3 synths. The whole point of the FEV program was to try and come up with some sort of genetic material that would allow them to create a super race, a race of superhuman beings, subject to the will of the institute, incidentally . But despite the success of the Gen 3 program, the then-Director still continued the research into the FEV, despite the fact that the people who were working on FEV at the time objected to it. So it’s not just Father. This rule from above has been going at the Institute for a very long time. But the greatest evil that the Institute has done is the evil it did toward the Sole Survivor by kidnapping your son. Not only did they kidnap your son, but they brainwashed him, and turned him into a psychopath. If the parents could have seen this sociopathic mentality, this very callous view of the world starting to emerge within their son, they could have taken steps at an early age, but that freedom was taken from them. Instead, Shaun was raised by an organization, and not a parent. If the Institute had wanted, they could have very easily taken Shaun and both parents, giving the parents the freedom to raise their child from within the safety and security of the Institute. Why did they have to kill one of the parents to begin with? You could blame that on Kellogg, but it was the Institute’s choice to use Kellogg as their tool. The Institute knew fully well what kind of man Kellogg was. That’s why they sought him out. That’s why they wanted him to work for them. That’s why they invested so much time and energy turning him into an android, extending his life, so that he could be a useful tool for years to come. They knew full well the kind of decisions Kellogg would make in the field. Because of that, they are just as responsible for the death of the Sole Survivor’s Spouse, as Kellogg is. But even if they couldn’t control Kellogg, why did they leave you in the cryopod? They say that you were the backup, but could you not have been as good of a backup living and aging within the Institute, with the freedom to raise your own child with the values that you think are important, and still be a backup? The Institute killed your spouse and left you in the cryopod, because the Institute didn’t want you to raise your child. *They* wanted to raise your child. They wanted to instill *their* values into their child. And they got what they wanted. They produced a man who they turned into the Director of the Institute, who is a domineering tyrant, where it’s his way or the highway. A man who instills fear for their own lives into the scientists who work under him, lest they disagree with him. They brainwashed your son into thinking about surface dwellers they way the Institute thinks about surface dwellers. They turned him into a sociopath who doesn’t think about surface dwellers as human beings, not even if they’re his own parents. What kind of son sends his parent out into the wilderness, expecting his parent to die? What kind of son experiments on his mother or his father, just to “see what would happen?” Their greatest evil is the evil they’ve done against you, the Sole Survivor. Your family: they killed your spouse, they stole your son, they turned your son into a creature you never would have raised, into a creature you can’t even recognize. Into a creature that admits that he’s never known love, into a creature that forces you to join him or kill him. This is, however, a role-playing game. If you side with the Institute, is it possible for you to roleplay the Institute as being good? Well, anything’s possible, but I think that would be very hard, because so much of what makes the Institute, the Institute, would have to change. The first thing is that you’d have to reorganize the way the Institute administration works. You’d have to turn it into a true directorate, where the heads of all of the different departments are represented equally at the decission table. Where they each have an equal vote. Where one man doesn’t wield absolute power and sway over everybody. That would be a big change. The second thing is you’d have to change the character and philosophy of the Institute concerning surface dwellers. Consider the Broken Mask Incident: The Broken Mask Incident is when the surface dwellers first became aware of Generation 3 synths. A synth was sitting in a bar in the middle of the Diamond City marketplace when he short-circuited, or somehow malfunctioned, and went on a killing rampage. Now, granted, this was not at the direction of the Institute; the Institute did not order this synth to go on a killing rampage. It was a malfunction, as we learn from a holotape that we find in the Institute. The problem is how the Institute responded: the Institute responded with silence. That silence allowed fear and paranoia towards the Institute to fester and grow within the Commonwealth, which helped lead to this mutual distrust that the surface dwellers and the Institute have toward eachother. If the Institute was really concerned about the Commonwealth, if it was really concerned about humanity, it would have responded to the Broken Mask Incident differently. It would have reached out, and apologized. Maybe it would have offered to pay reparations. Maybe it would have tried to honor the dead in some way. The Institute’s lack of communication has paved the way towards all of the accusations that the Commonwealth has placed towards the Institute. It could change by making its scientific rolls less of an inherited title and more of a job application. On more than one occasion, the Institute has gone outside the walls of the Institute to find people to work at the Institute. In so doing, it’s admitting that the people that are growing up in the Institute don’t always fit as scientists, that sometimes they need external blood. What if the Institute became a place where the best and most brilliant minds in the Commonwealth could go to get a job, to provide for their families, to contribute to an organization that would actually benefit the Commonwealth? The Institute would also have to change to have greater respect towards individual humanity and dignity. This is best exemplified with the situation with T. S. Wallace. Here, the Institute finds a man, T. S. Wallace, and they want the man to join the Institute, because he’s an excellent scientist, and he can help increase the productivity of their departments. They send you to ask him to come, but refusing is not an option. If you fail all of the speech checks, there’s no option where the Institute doesn’t get what they want. They get what they want. They relay in a synth to knock the guy out, kidnap him, and take him to the Institute *by force*! Later on, even though he admits how nice it is in the Institute, he’s still not pleased with the idea of not having the choice. This is what I mean by “lacking respect for individual freedom.” Instead of seeing citizens of the Commonwealth as guinea pigs to be experimented on, as they did during the FEV program, or barriers to the Institute’s will, as they did during the CPG massacre, they would have to recognize and appreciate individual human dignity. Basically, in order for the Institute to be good, we’re talking about a complete reenvisioning of what the Institute is, and how it’s presented to us in the game. But the way the game is, we don’t really have any of those options. Even as Director of the Institute, you get to make only one decision. This decision doesn’t have any meaningful impact in the game. But more than that, this decision doesn’t benefit the Commonwealth in any way. It is solely Institute focused. So yes, you could have some sort of headcanon (for lack of a better term) where you as the Director of the Institute have changed the way the Institute operates, and maybe you’ve turned it into a good place. Sure. But speaking strictly from within the bounds of the lore presented to us, the Institute is clearly evil. But, that is just one man’s opinion. What’s your opinion? I have been as thorough as I could possibly be. Let me know in the comments below if I missed anything. I read each and every comment that you guys leave on my videos; they really help me with coming up with topics for future videos and making each of my videos much more interesting. I’ll be doing a video like this for every major faction in the game, so make sure that you subscribe so that you don’t miss those videos. If you liked this video, and you wanna support me in a more personal way, consider becoming one of my patrons on Patreon. Patreon subscribers get access to my private Discord server, as well as a bunch of other cool Oxhorn perks. But more than anything, ladies and gentlemen, I’m just so glad that you’re here watching. Thank you for watching this video from the bottom of my heart. I make a new video every single day of the week, so stay tuned until tomorrow, when I’ll publish my next video. Until then, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for watching.