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March 30, 2007

Comments

dearieme

Fortunately the Global Warming chaps are not experimentalists and therefore don't wear white coats.

DaninVan

Perhaps starting with the basic assumption that mankind and especially the individual, is inherently moral-less, not good, would clear away most of the misunderstanding.
I see very little evidence that I'm wrong.

Matt Munro

But was Zimbardo "bringing out the sadist in someone" or showing that a "bad" system can elicit "bad" behaviour in all/most of us ? His comment about the perceived need to appoint a superordinate to supervise him is revealing, but would it have made any difference ? The only objector was female and at that point a potential girlfriend, would he really have listened to another man in a white coat ?

I think the damage done to subjects in such experiments is overstated, and unfortunatly has led ethics to develop in a way which means no such experiments can ever be repeated (which accounts for the fact that nothing new has come out of social psychology since the 1970s). Psychology can learn nothing about the human condition if it does not find a way to understand suffering (from both sides of the fence), and although the understandable focus of the Milgram experiments are the compliant subjects, I've always thought the 30%-40% who refused to apply the highest shocks are the ones we can learn most from.

Ben

Uhm, Matt- while only 65% did the final 450 Volt shock, only one person refused to go over 300 V. That means that more like 97.5% (39/40) people were willing to use shocks more powerful than you would get to drive your washing machine. I am not sure how much we would gain from looking at the 15 people who refused to shock a seemingly unconscious, maybe already dead, individual. We'd probably be better off looking into the one single person who refused, but that is a small sample set. Though this experiment has been redone a few dozen more times, so there is a bit more data on that. Apparently, Australian women are particularly resistant. (shrug) Go figure.

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