Monday, April 30, 2018

Stanley Milgram and Obedience to Authority

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Stanley Milgram [born in 1933 in New York City–died in 1984 in New York City], in 1961. Prof. Millgram is a social psychologist best known for his experiment on obedience to authority, which was influenced by the Holocaust and the trial of Adolph Eichmann (1961–1962) in Jerusalem. The experiments, which were first conducted at Yale in 1961, published in an academic journal (Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology) in 1964 and in book form ten years later, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View, published in 1974. Milgram’s family was affected by the Holocaust and Milgram, who was Jewish, had a strong identification with the Jewish People and what they suffered and endured. The experiment was Milgram’s way of trying to understand an aspect of the Holocaust, particularly how far people will go to “follow orders,” even if it means fatally hurting others. The results are well-known (65% gave what they believed was a fatal shock); and they have been repeatable over the years, including most recently in a Polish study (90% of the participants knowingly and willingly gave the highest level of shocks). Can it be that humanity is not progressing at all, that “decent human beings” are no better than 50 years ago?  Real-life results validate this, with sparks of humanity showing here and there. This is the reason why we find goodness so appealing, since it is so rare. We want to believe otherwise, so we seek out goodness where it can be found, including in people, in animals, in art, in music, in literature, and in Nature. It takes a certain kind of person to have faith in “progress,” in  humanity. I am no longer that kind of person. Perhaps I never was. Perhaps it is that the majority of human beings are not really self-regulating, and the people that do good are truly exceptional, the everyday heroes. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Via: CNN & Alexandra Milgram