The Milgram Experiment

Bluegrass

Former Staff
Apr 2007
4,992
1,672
The Milgram Experiment was done at Yale in 1961, which involved finding how many people are willing to obey an authority figure, especially when it conflicts with their personal conscience. It was done to shed some light on whether Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and the rest of the Nazis under him had mutual intent/morals, or they were merely following orders. The study was masked as a "memory study" so the participants would not be aware of the experiment.



The experiment found that 65% of the participants would have administered shocks to another human for wrong answers, ending with a huge 450 volt shock. During the experiment, they were given certain phrases of authority. The study was done like this:



Three people take part in the experiment: "experimenter"; "learner" ("victim"); and "teacher" (participant). Only the "teacher" is an actual participant, i.e., unaware about the actual setup, while the "learner" is a confederate of the experimenter. The role of the experimenter was played by a stern, impassive biology teacher dressed in a grey technician's coat, and the victim (learner) was played by a 47-year-old Irish-American accountant trained to act for the role. The participant and the learner were told by the experimenter that they would be participating in an experiment helping his study of memory and learning in different situations.[1]



The subject was given the title teacher, and the confederate, learner. The participants drew lots to 'determine' their roles. Unknown to them, both slips said "teacher", and the actor claimed to have the slip that read "learner", thus guaranteeing that the participant would always be the "teacher". At this point, the "teacher" and "learner" were separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of the experiment, the confederate was sure to mention to the participant that he had a heart condition.[1]



The "teacher" was given an electric shock from the electro-shock generator as a sample of the shock that the "learner" would supposedly receive during the experiment. The "teacher" was then given a list of word pairs which he was to teach the learner. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the learner. The teacher would then read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong answer. If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair.[1]



The subjects believed that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual shocks. In reality, there were no shocks. After the confederate was separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level. After a number of voltage level increases, the actor started to bang on the wall that separated him from the subject. After several times banging on the wall and complaining about his heart condition, all responses by the learner would cease.[1]



At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner.[1]



If at any time the subject indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, in this order:



Please continue.



The experiment requires that you continue.



It is absolutely essential that you continue.



You have no other choice, you must go on.



If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in succession
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment



Reality shows that virtually any human being has the capacity to do something that goes against their own beliefs if in certain circumstances, and this study adds to that assessment. Consider the Nazi regime, and how collective opinion asserts they were "monsters", etc. No, the were human.



And there are countless other circumstances that could give way for virtually anyone to do virtually anything. But in particular, regarding authority, what are the implications here?
 
Apr 2007
1,990
114
Barely on the affluent side of abject poverty.
Pokes a big hole in the religious fantasy of Satan, people are obviously quite capable of doing all the things we see happening without the help of a supernatural evil being.
 

Bluegrass

Former Staff
Apr 2007
4,992
1,672
[quote name='Mare Tranquillity' date='27 January 2010 - 12:12 AM' timestamp='1264569157' post='106276']

Pokes a big hole in the religious fantasy of Satan, people are obviously quite capable of doing all the things we see happening without the help of a supernatural evil being.

[/quote]



Exactly.



"Good and evil" is useless when experiencing reality, and accepting reality. If we are going to use that black and white duality or put labels on people or call them "monsters", then everyone is "good", "evil", a "monster" or "perfect". I find it interesting that we like to use words like "evil" and "subhuman" to distance ourselves from those people. Quite a reflection of human arrogance and delusion.



Just as a drug addict may violate their own moral codes, so can those under the heel of authority. And many other circumstances.
 

metheron

Former Staff
Nov 2006
14,266
4,166
MI
[quote name='Bluegrass' date='27 January 2010 - 02:37 AM' timestamp='1264577872' post='106324']

Exactly.



"Good and evil" is useless when experiencing reality, and accepting reality. If we are going to use that black and white duality or put labels on people or call them "monsters", then everyone is "good", "evil", a "monster" or "perfect". I find it interesting that we like to use words like "evil" and "subhuman" to distance ourselves from those people. Quite a reflection of human arrogance and delusion.



Just as a drug addict may violate their own moral codes, so can those under the heel of authority. And many other circumstances.

[/quote]



Are they really doing it just because someone in authority told them to? Or is it self presevration.....did they think their was a personal consequence to them NOT continuing?
 

Devil505

Former Staff
Jan 2008
74,303
32,600
Florida
My opinion is that most people have the natural capacity for both good & evil in them to some extent & that outside circumstances will usually dictate which emerges at any particular time. I do not believe anyone is all good or all bad. (Hitler was very kind to dogs & I'm sure Michael Vick would help a blind person cross the street) Whether one does evil things as a matter of self-preservation or because he/she derives pleasure from it & suddenly has societal permission, (soldiers can kill in combat).......that capacity seems to be just below the surface in most of us, especially males. (that actually leads me to a different thought for another thread....I would guess that males are more prone to evil than females, in gross generalization)
 

kmiller1610

Former Staff
Mar 2007
33,760
6,793
[quote name='Mare Tranquillity' date='27 January 2010 - 12:12 AM' timestamp='1264569157' post='106276']Pokes a big hole in the religious fantasy of Satan, people are obviously quite capable of doing all the things we see happening without the help of a supernatural evil being.[/quote]



How do you define where Satan is at work?



Do you think Satan must appear as a cartoon to be Satan?



How do you separate human and supernatural embodiments of evil?



By far, this is the best piece on Satan I have ever read.

Also a fun read:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Screwtape_Letters
 

kmiller1610

Former Staff
Mar 2007
33,760
6,793
[quote name='metheron' date='27 January 2010 - 05:15 AM' timestamp='1264587311' post='106336']

Are they really doing it just because someone in authority told them to? Or is it self presevration.....did they think their was a personal consequence to them NOT continuing?

[/quote]



Motivations are individual and impossible to define as a generality.
 

Bluegrass

Former Staff
Apr 2007
4,992
1,672
[quote name='metheron' date='27 January 2010 - 05:15 AM' timestamp='1264587311' post='106336']

Are they really doing it just because someone in authority told them to? Or is it self presevration.....did they think their was a personal consequence to them NOT continuing?

[/quote]



I think following authority and the notion of self preservation are largely one in the same. But as Kmiller said, it's very individual.
 

Bluegrass

Former Staff
Apr 2007
4,992
1,672
[quote name='kmiller1610' date='27 January 2010 - 07:57 AM' timestamp='1264597023' post='106353']

How do you define where Satan is at work?



Do you think Satan must appear as a cartoon to be Satan?



How do you separate human and supernatural embodiments of evil?



By far, this is the best piece on Satan I have ever read.

Also a fun read:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Screwtape_Letters

[/quote]



A scientific experiment does not take into account a supposed supernatural, obviously. Satan is just another personification of certain elements of the human condition that we as a species like to pretend are not.
 

metheron

Former Staff
Nov 2006
14,266
4,166
MI
[quote name='Bluegrass' date='27 January 2010 - 11:31 AM' timestamp='1264609907' post='106406']

I think following authority and the notion of self preservation are largely one in the same. But as Kmiller said, it's very individual.

[/quote]



I disagree......why I do is that if my boss tells me to hurt another and I say no because I do not want to do it. It has nothing to do with respecting his authority over me.



If he then says if I do not do it I will be fired, jailed and beaten I may then choose to do it for self preservation.



So how by doing it am I at all even recognizing the authority over me. It is about me and the repercussions, not about authority.