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As probably every Psych 101 student knows, in 1961, just three months after former SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann went on trial for war crimes in Jerusalem, Stanley Milgram began his experiment with 40 subjects in a lab at Yale. In groups of two, participants were told that one would be the "learner" and one the "teacher," chosen by whomever picked those identities written on folded slips of paper they drew as lots.

But the drawing was rigged. And the "learner" was actually a confederate of the experimenters, an actor. The teacher and the learner were put in separate rooms where they could communicate with, but not see, each other. The teacher was then told to push a button to administer electric shocks in 15-volt increments to the learner each time he answered a question wrong. The learner's reactions were, of course, faked. But none of the 40 teachers knew that. Only one of them stopped "shocking" the learner before the bogus voltage indicator hit 300. Twenty-six of them went all the way to the top, 450 volts.

Participants in France recently did pretty much the same thing, thinking they were on a television game show.

Laurent Le Doyen, an actor in the documentary "Game of Death," broadcast in France, pretends to grimace as participants in a game show obey orders to deliver increasingly powerful electric shocks to him. Ultimately, he appears to die.
The hostess and a chanting audience urged the players — who had levers in front of them — to send jolts of electricity into the man in the box when he gave an incorrect answer.

Even when the player screamed out in pain for them to stop, 80 percent of the contestants kept zapping him. In reality, the man in the electric chair was an actor who wasn't really being shocked — but the players and the audience did not know that.

The documentary makers say reality television relies increasingly on violent, humiliating and cruel acts to boost ratings. They say they simply wanted to see if we would go so far as to kill someone for entertainment.

Christophe Nick produced the documentary, The Game of Death, with a group of scientists and researchers. ...

One of the game show participants, Jerome Pasanau, said in an interview that he was still haunted by the experience.

"I wanted to stop the whole time, but I just couldn't. I didn't have the will to do it. And that goes against my nature," he said. "I haven't really figured out why I did it."

Pasanau told the TV host that he felt intimidated and isolated on the fictitious game show set, and that the crowd was overbearing.

Pasanau's reaction was not striking. Nearly five decades before, Milgram had divided the participants in his experiment into three groups:

• Obeyed but justified themselves.

• Obeyed but blamed themselves.

• Rebelled.

Finally, rebellious subjects questioned the authority of the experimenter and argued there was a greater ethical imperative calling for the protection of the learner over the needs of the experimenter. Some of these individuals felt they were accountable to a higher authority.

However, even though 14 participants in Milgram's experiment rebelled, refusing to continue administering shocks above a certain level, none of them asked after the well-being of the "learner" or demanded to be let into the room to make sure he was OK, even though he had told several of them that he had a heart condition.

All of which proves, once again, that you don't have to be an SS officer to willingly torture someone to death.

• • • • •

At Daily Kos on this date in 2003

Now, that Bush has finally gotten his war going, he's finally talking about the costs of war in treasure and lives. We've already talked about the $90 billion for one month of hostilities. Now, Ari talks about loss of life:

   "Americans ought to be prepared for loss of life," spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

How could they be prepared? The administration and its allies have been saying all along that this would be easy. A matter of days. Mass defections. Smart bombs. Shock and awe.

The president never once said: "We may have to sacrifice the youth of our nation, but their sacrifice won't be in vain because yadda yadda yadda". This was always a video game war where the losers hit "reset" and rise to play again.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:04 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bart Simpson ­>bart Stupak (9+ / 0-)

    Republicans secret dream = the impeachment of Bo the Dog LOL

    by LaurenMonica on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:10:01 PM PDT

  •  I'd like to go back to 2000 and hit reset (19+ / 0-)

    on the Supreme Court.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    -Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:10:30 PM PDT

  •  Shock and Awe was the Marketing (16+ / 0-)

    not the reality - reality was there would be heavy US sacrifices.

    Sad episode in our history that's not ended yet.

    The crooks are leaving have left office, unprosecuted and scot-free fully funded, thanks SCOTUS.

    by BentLiberal on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:10:30 PM PDT

  •  There's another interesting experiment (24+ / 0-)

    kind of like this, from 1969, at a high school in Palo Alto, CA, known as The Third Wave.

    And, of course, the Stanford Prison Experiment.

    Both from my home town, weird.

    •  I was just getting ready to link (11+ / 0-)

      to the Stanford Prison Experiment.  What an ordeal that was.  Pretty frightening to think people have the potential to lose their humanity so quickly and brutally.

      respice adspice prospice

      by Steven Payne on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:35:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Its interesting that you mention (15+ / 0-)

      the Stanford Prison Experiment as that one and the Milgram Obedience to Authority Experiment both caused the American Psychological Association to really change their ethics code to ensure that no research participants were subjected to potentially damaging and permanent effects from research.

      Out of both of these experiments, "debriefing" techniques were developed that helped the participants to understand what they had participated in so there could be no potential lasting effects from being involved with research of this kind.

      It is remarkable how easily people can fall into such destructive and domineering roles over one another and how few will rebel from participating when there's a person with perceived authority telling them to hurt someone else.

      The beatings will continue until morale improves. -8.50, -6.92

      by ferallike on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:48:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder if these experiments can be called (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ferallike

        ethical. Having debriefings afterwards or not,  doesn't cut it for me.

        I think learning is done by imitating other people's behaviour. It's easy to bring a person to believe that his own behaviour or that of the a person he has decided to imitate, is morally justified. Off they go and do what they might have considered evil just days ago.

        Their actions will haunt them their whole lives, once they find out that their justifications for their behaviour have no acceptance anymore in their surrounding community they live in.

        I think, there are two solutions for persons in that situation, either they deny the facts and stick to their justifications their whole life (the life-long closet racists involved in genocidal ethnic war crimes - never admitting they did something wrong) or they engage in life-long tormenting feelings of guilt, shame and anger for having been too weak or uncapable of resisting to the situations in which they became "killers and torturers".

        Both situations are severly traumatic, the aftermath of their experiences completely destructive.

        Therefore I wonder, if "role playing" of situations like that in experiments, tricking the participants, and then broadcasting the event and resulting "morally failures of persons" to millions of people, who themselves feel so much better about themselves, as they would never believe they themselves would break down like the ones they watch in the experiment, is acceptable.

        I wonder why an actor would accept to play a role in those experiments.

        Nothing can be learned IMO from these experiments. Noone, who believes, he will be the hero to withstand the pressures when put in a situation to torture or kill someone in real life, can be sure about his own reactions. Certainly, just because he learned about it and may self-reflect about himself through these experiments, won't make him stronger in a real life situation. Any person can be broken as long as they want to save their own life.

        I think the experiments are unethical.

        •  I hope you get my response to this (0+ / 0-)

          because you made me realize I was negligent in not fleshing out my comment further. The way these experiments were conducted is now prohibited by the APA. But we do learn vital and important elements about human behavior that may be used to influence laws and public policy. Please understand that I'm not arguing with you but just trying to show how understanding this can lead be generalized and used for social justice. I am potentially boiling down and way oversimplifying 6 years of my education to be a psychologist but I hope to adequately explaining this.

          We can no longer conduct research like the Milgram study or the Stanford prison study anymore because of the ethical constraints that were developed out of looking at studies like this and deeming them dangerous to the participants. And the ethical rules go beyond just debriefing to other rules regarding that drastically changed research methods in the 70s to ensure no one sustains permanent harm from psychological research. And as a psychologist and American Psychological Association (APA) member I fully agree with this. This is one of the reasons Valtin's diaries are so important as he has exposed APA members who have participated as observers/ researchers in the conduction of torture operations at Gitmo. This is not only unethical and violates APA ethical rules which should "disbar" them from ever doing anything related to the field of psychology, but also compromises the entire field of psychology and the trust in psychologists all together. By participating in the torture, those APA members are not only being complicit, they are influencing some people into thinking waterboarding and other interrogation techniques are not psychologically harmful.

          The only way we can conduct research for any purpose like we gleaned from the Stanford Prison experiment now would be, for example, to watch newly recruited prison guards go through their jobs in a natural non contrived environment such as in an actual prison. However, because the researcher would not be conducting an actual experiment by putting guards and prisoners though a carefully designed artificially controlled experiment, we can only do correlative research. Correlative research says "X happens at the same time Y happens Z% of the time" rather than "X happens because of Y" which we can strive for in a controlled research environment. The former is a weaker statistic and not as strong statistically as what results from an experiment where we have controls and can create an artificial environment in a controlled experiment but it is still very useful.

          Through experiments like the Milgram studies and the Stanford Prison experiment, we have learned quite a bit about human behavior from them. They were not conducted, though, for the purpose you suggested:

          Noone, who believes, he will be the hero to withstand the pressures when put in a situation to torture or kill someone in real life, can be sure about his own reactions. Certainly, just because he learned about it and may self-reflect about himself through these experiments, won't make him stronger in a real life situation. Any person can be broken as long as they want to save their own life.

          Although these studies were conducted under what are considered unethical standards today, we have learned a lot from them. From studies like these, we can generalize to a larger population to understand how one group within a society can be so easily manipulated into doing harm to another group. From Milgram's study, we can understanding how people can be so easily controlled and even brainwashed so as to cause harm to another. We can even generalize from these experiments to understand how tragic acts of genocide have occurred. From these types of experiments, we can understand how people were influenced and coerced by the Nazis, Croatians, Rawandan Hutus, etc., into committing acts of genocide. The people who participated in this genocide were socially brainwashed by people in perceived authority, into killing the Jews, Serbs, Tutsis and all the other populations murdered by genocide.

          Milgram's study was about just that: why the larger German population participated in committing genocide of the Jews, the Gypsies, the handicapped, the 7th day Adventists and all the other minority groups targeted by the Nazis. His experiment was meant to find out how easy it was to coerce people into obeying/cooperating with a person they perceived to be in authority so that that person aka the learner would harm another person.  

          By understanding how easily people were coerced, we can use this knowledge to prevent these situations from occurring again. By understanding how these acts of genocide occurred, we can see them coming and potentially prevent them. We can create public policy and laws to prevent people from influencing others to conduct these types of tragedies.

          We have constructed laws in this country against utilizing Hate Speech. Hate speech was used by the Nazis, Croat leaders, and Hutus to incite people to murder. We now have laws against this kind of hate speech. By understanding how people are so easily "rabble roused" by hate speech we can define examples of it that can be used in a court of law to prosecute people who use positions of authority to influence others to murder. i understand the family of George Tiller is suing Bill O'Reilly for using hate speech which influenced

          Of course the Milgram study and the Stanford prison experiment were not the only studies used to generate the kind of knowledge used to create this public policy. But from those studies we learned specific elements of human behavior that contribute to people being coerced into harming, subjugating and killing others based on illogical reasoning used by people in perceived authority coercing them to do so.

          But you also bring up something else by your comment to which I say you are absolutely correct!

          Noone, who believes, he will be the hero to withstand the pressures when put in a situation to torture or kill someone in real life, can be sure about his own reactions. Certainly, just because he learned about it and may self-reflect about himself through these experiments, won't make him stronger in a real life situation. Any person can be broken as long as they want to save their own life.

          By understanding how easily people are coerced into doing something harmful to another to save their own lives, we can and should prevent them from being harshly and unjustly punished when they are charged with a crime from doing so. People who are doing this likely suffer from Stockholm Syndrome whereby they agree with their captors opinions even though they are very likely unreasonable, illogical and hateful in order to save their own lives. Doing so should not incur harsh punishment if someone is attempting to save their own lives as this draws upon the instinct for survival. For example, this should be considered in the case of a women who kills an abusive husband who is threatening hers and/or her children lives. Again, this is over simplified but I hope it is adequate for the purpose of explanation.

          I hope I adequately explained this. I've just essentially boiled down and waaaaay over simplified about 6 years of my education as a psychologist. If something is not clear and you want further explanation, I'll invite you to respond to me by email by going through my screen name.

          In any case if you would respond and let me know you got this, I would be very grateful. I would love to know what you think and if I effectively explained this as I think it's important to understand that we do stuff like this for the larger good. We hope to understand why people do what they do and our intentions as psychologists are to help our fellow humans understand themselves and the rest of the world.

          The beatings will continue until morale improves. -8.50, -6.92

          by ferallike on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 03:28:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Made a mistake I just caught (0+ / 0-)

            in the paragraph

            Milgram's study was about just that: why the larger German population participated in committing genocide of the Jews, the Gypsies, the handicapped, the 7th day Adventists and all the other minority groups targeted by the Nazis. His experiment was meant to find out how easy it was to coerce people into obeying/cooperating with a person they perceived to be in authority so that that person aka the learner would harm another person.  

            I meant the teacher not the learner. The learner was a "Confederate" which is defined as someone who knows the purpose of the experiment and was "acting."

            The beatings will continue until morale improves. -8.50, -6.92

            by ferallike on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 04:06:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow .... I take a deep breath ... here I try to (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ferallike

              to answer:

              First to thank you profoundly for your unbelievable effort to help me understand the experiments, their purposes, their effects, advantages and risks.

              Let me just say that I reacted to your and MB's posts in a hurry and basically spontaneous. My response was triggered by the fact that this experiment took place on TV live and was broadcasted to millions of viewers. That rang an alarm bell in me.

              MB reminded us with quotes from Bush in 2003 and called the war a "video-game" war. That reminded me of alarm bells that rang in my ears back then in 2003.

              I rememberd that soldiers in Iraq sent themselves "souvenir" photo attachments of situations depicting humiliations and psychological torture of Iraq prisoners. So, I think, it's also a "network - email - facebook - twitter" war.

              Let me also say that my sentence:

              Nothing can be learned IMO from these experiments

              might have triggered your response. Clearly this sentence was exaggerated and not honest, in fact it was not meant to be taken literally. Of course one can learn something from the experiments. The question is what and if it's worth setting up such experiments.

              At the time I posted, I hadn't read through the link given for the experiment in France and had only mentally made note of the other two experiments, mentioned in the post you answered to, the The Third Wave and The Stanford prison experiment, which I hadn't heard of. I have now read through the links given and feel a bit overwhelmed by what I read.

              I am not sure how to respond to you, who is the "authority" and the "expert", which makes me feel like a clumsy old lady whose thoughts and expressions are often warped and incoherent.

              Let me try to say what goes through my mind and take into account that I have not the vocabulary you guys with professional background and writing skills have. I apologize in advance, if I sound "not right".

              You say:

              From studies like these, we can generalize to a larger population to understand how one group within a society can be so easily manipulated into doing harm to another group. From Milgram's study, we can understanding how people can be so easily controlled and even brainwashed so as to cause harm to another. We can even generalize from these experiments to understand how tragic acts of genocide have occurred. From these types of experiments, we can understand how people were influenced and coerced by the Nazis, Croatians, Rawandan Hutus, etc., into committing acts of genocide. The people who participated in this genocide were socially brainwashed by people in perceived authority, into killing the Jews, Serbs, Tutsis and all the other populations murdered by genocide.

              Milgram's study was about just that: why the larger German population participated in committing genocide of the Jews, the Gypsies, the handicapped, the 7th day Adventists and all the other minority groups targeted by the Nazis. His experiment was meant to find out how easy it was to coerce people into obeying/cooperating with a person they perceived to be in authority so that that person aka the teacher would harm another person.

              Ok, may be I am cynical, but I think people, who read books about history and current events and open their eyes, don't really need such an experiment to understand what's going on.

              They KNOW about the power of manipulation and brainwashing and their consequences. We can experience and watch it around us all the time.

              I believe, over the span of a whole lifetime, there are not many people around, who won't realize that what they believed once in their lives to be morally right, was in fact wrong and might have been the result of some manipulation and brainwashing or extreme pressure. I can't believe that there are people around, who are not aware of that. They just don't talk about it or admit it to themselves and others.

              Aren't we constantly bombarded with all the news around the world and at home about how BAD humans are?

              Teenagers get confronted with gangs, do you think they really don't know what coercion, manipulation and hate-speech is? They are confronted with bullying, gay bashing and what have you. Do you think they really don't know about the seducing feeling of having power over others? Or about the hate that is aroused in themselves, when they become targets and victims of manipulators, getting turned in response into little monsters themselves?

              It feels so good to be the coolest hate-speaker in a little group of people, who admire you for it. I think they know ALL about power, fear, humiliation and shame. Real life situations are plenty enough of an experiments for most of us, I think.

              That's just a general emotional response.

              In specific, I doubt this:

              We can even generalize from these experiments to understand how tragic acts of genocide have occurred.

              I don't believe much in generalizations like these. I do believe that all ethnic- or religious- or ideological based genocidal mass killings have their own set of conditions, facts and circumstances around them, which are so multi-facetted that an outsider, who didn't live through those events can comprehend them. We all try to, reading what we can, but the more we know, the less help might we find in a "generalized" answer.

              Just the realization that humans can be pressured and manipulated to believe it's a morally justifiable act to kill people doesn't seem to me enough of an answer why genocides happen. Though it may explains a lot, I just don't see how the understanding of this basic fact has yet led to prevention of the torture and killings.  

              You say:

              The people who participated in this genocide were socially brainwashed by people in perceived authority, into killing the Jews, Serbs, Tutsis and all the other populations murdered by genocide.

              I also question this a bit for, as long as we are not speaking of members of the armed forces or militias in a totalitarian or police state or super-powers, who believe they are better than the rest of the world.

              My observation is that often you don't have to pressure people at all. They come deliberately to the conclusion that xyz persons are dangerous to their own well-being, evil-doers an the like, and must be fought against and killed or at least put behind bars.

              The belief and feeling of being harmed by a group of people, envy, greed, jealousy leads easily to a deliberate acceptance of hating those people, without being pressured by any perceived authority.

              Hate-speech and feeling can be dormant, behind closed door, then just awaken by minor incidences, triggered, incited and magnified in a group of people agreeing with those feelings.

              A couple of people in your community, who feel the same way as you do, is enough to create hate-groups cheering each other up and organizing themselves to "fight the enemy".  

              What is social brainwashing exactly? I think lots of people just imitate the hate-speech of others as long as it feels good, as long as they can do it without personal repercussions and as long as they feel comfortably at home as members of the group, be it family, clan, tribe, community or any sort of group.

              It's easy to become a hater freely without being pressured. You can turn into hate TV "entertainment", hate religious speech, nobody forces you to do it. So who executes the pressure to become a target of who or what is socially brainwashing you, exactly?

              I answer myself that the pressure comes mainly through constant repetition of hate speech and hate behaviour in the group you belong to.

              These groups can be powerful virtual groups and communities just by their huge numbers of participants and their degree of intimate communication among the members. The media platform, on which these communities live, itself is the enabler of people's "communities". People need them for the purposes of their personal survival and/or well-being. They also can't escape the influence of these communities, as the communication is so powerful and can be entertained without risk to themselves other than emotional distress, as well as emotional comfort.

              It's in these communities, where hate spech can easily be triggered and easily flourish, it can't be prevented to creep into these communities, the hate speech can undermine, can be repeated endlessly and magnified 1000 folds in comparions to a real-life communities.

              Manipulation of masses through hate propaganda and speech on TV, Radio and internet is hate-speech on steroids. Nazi Germany's manipulation powers dwarf against the new media's power.

              All you need is to have a small group of people, who believe in the same thing as you do and feel comfort in belonging to that group. Even if your virtual community is large, it's only a small group of people, who can mainpulate it. If those people happen to have lots of power, tough luck. If they have lots of pulpit, communication power, air-time, broadcasting means and money, tougher luck. If you have a political system that can't control the influence of manipulators over its legislators and can't control the manipulation process over the broadcasting media, it looks to me like the sure way to hell.

              You say:

              We have constructed laws in this country against utilizing Hate Speech.

              Which ones? Do they help? Looks to me there's lots of hate speech around all over. Explain to me how hate speech is legislated in this country. I don't believe you can legislate hate-speech and with it prevent it from happening. What might be legislated is the distribution of hate speech, but even that seems very difficult. In Germany hate-speech is regulated as long as it refers to the Nazi era. I don't know exactly how and who decides what is hate speech.

              You say:

              By understanding how people are so easily "rabble roused" by hate speech we can define examples of it that can be used in a court of law to prosecute people who use positions of authority to influence others to murder

              I obviously hope this could be done, but I have a hard time to imagine how they will define them. There are thousands of reasons why people start hating and abusing, mostly in response to having been target of abuse or hate themselves, on a personal or as well on a national political level.

              I think you have a hard time to define hate speech, if you can't prove that the hate speech led to hate crime and then you go into court for the hate crime, but not for the preceeding hate speech, or not?

              Usually people tend to dig way back into history to find their justifications, why it's moral to fight against those who harmed them. Being the victim of injustice doesn't prevent you from doing injustice yourself. You always can find a logical reason why it's ok to kill your enemy. And if you believe your reasoning is morally right, you become the killer.  

              These conflicts can be resolved by courts? I am all for trying, but I doubt it will work. It also won't prevent the people to continue to hate. But I am a supporter of trying that to the best of our abilities. I support very much the internation war crime court.

              It's not that I doubt that the intention of psychologists to construct experiments like these is meant to be for the greater good. I fully believe that the intention is to help people understand themselves and the rest of the world. And how often do they help, indeed, especially on a personal level.

              That being said, helping to understand a problem might be considered the first step to solving a problem, but it doesn't necessarily leads to the next step and solutions are not found, even if the problem itself has been understood.

              If millions of people watched the experiment on TV live, millions of people will say to themselves how awful mankind can be ... and that's basically all they get out of it. It hasn't solved  the problem.

              May be even more people get harmed, because they realize they can't control much about their own destiny of being humans, who can fail morally.

              All the exploration of human behaviour hasn't prevented the usage of the research's results to be abused.

              Didn't sophisticated subversive emotional torture became refined and used in the US military? Did they justify experiments in training as preparation of their troops to resist torture in war camps? Was that "successful"? Don't you break as easily just because you have learned how people will try to break you?  

              So, now I don't know anything anymore to add.

              Good night and thank you for your outrageously compassionate comment and help.  

          •  I just realized another mistake (0+ / 0-)

            i understand the family of George Tiller is suing Bill O'Reilly for using hate speech which influenced

            I meant to finish that sentence with "Scott Roeder" and finish that paragraph by saying....
            If Scott Roeder saw O'Reilly as a person to respect and who told the truth, he really could have been influenced by specific language O'Reilly's used about Dr Tiller.

            I'm sorry about all the grammatical errors. My father is very ill and I haven't been able to get much sleep lately. My editing skills are shot as a result. This is also the reason I was anxious to see if what I wrote made sense and you understood it.

            The beatings will continue until morale improves. -8.50, -6.92

            by ferallike on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 06:27:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  In the 70's I read a book about Uganda (10+ / 0-)

      during the terrorizing reign of Idi Amin.  Its title is The IK and I don't recall the author.

      The IK tribe was so poor and so abused that they not only lost what we call "humanity", but they became totally indifferent to survival of their own offspring. Individuals became walking bones of self-preservation or, in many instances, indifferent to their own survival.

      While this phenomena is different than the diary, I was reminded of the book in that it's a testimony to what can happen to homo sapiens - how fragile our "humanity" really is.  

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:08:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We are still animals, despite the overlay (5+ / 0-)

        of civilizations.  We are not only animals, but we still are subject to animal instincts.

        The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

        by geomoo on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:33:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Too often, imho, we're lower than other animals. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          isabelle hayes

          Our worst instincts aren't even found in most (if any) other animals or reptiles.

          "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

          by 417els on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:11:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps. I would make a distinction. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            frostieb, 417els, isabelle hayes

            Gorillas will grab a baby from a mother and smash it against a rock, fatally.  A group of male gorillas will kill a gorilla from another band if they come across it.  It's important not to idealize nature.  There is a slew of nasty crap out there.

            So, I would say it's not our instincts that are worse.  It's the perversion of our rational faculty, which thinks up thing like ways to torture.  Can dream up categories such as race and fantasize systems of destroying another entire race.  I think this is a magnification of a fundamental instinct through perverse pseudo-logic  I don't fully understand what I'm trying to get at, but I believe evil, as opposed to instinct, necessarily has an element of higher thought.  Maybe someone else can clarify this thought for me.

            The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

            by geomoo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:33:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think I see what you're getting at. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              geomoo, isabelle hayes

              I know animals do vicious things (just watched Jane Goodall this evening for a reminder).  Maybe higher thought is required to do absolute evil.  If so, I think we are - or are capable of being - lower than other animals.

              I have wondered for a long time if perhaps we are an experiment of nature that's not working out.  We've only been around for a short time relative to other kinds of life (plants, insects, reptiles, fish,etc.)...we're a blip in history of the Earth.  If we destroy ourselves by destroying what we require to survive? The Earth will carry on without us. The Universe won't even notice.

              Many find that - the thought of human extinction on Earth - a very depressing thought. I don't...no more than knowing there was a time in the past when we didn't exist.  If we aren't capable of living here, if we ruin the world we have to have in order to exist? Well, we shouldn't be here in spite of our "higher intelligence".  It's neither negative nor positive; in my mind it's a neutral.

              "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

              by 417els on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 01:44:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In my 20's I was told by a psychic (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                isabelle hayes

                "You are blessed and cursed with a love for the human race."  It was years before I came to better understand that.  I so love the human race.  I share your objective view as well, but I also feel a visceral pain when thinking of the suffering our race is bringing on itself.  Only recently have I been able to accept with some calm the likelihood that we will be the cause of our own extinction.  Naturally, our extinction is a question of sooner or later, but the fact that we are actively rushing it pains me.  I find your view sensible, but I have an emotional attachment that prevents me from going there fully.

                Funny.  It was precisely Jane Goodall I had in mind when making the above comment.

                The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

                by geomoo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:08:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  In the Army in 1966 they (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi, divineorder

      had a brigade of soldiers training to ship to Vietnam against an aggressor battalion composed of returning Vietnam veterans from the 101st Airborne. The first couple of nights the aggressors played havoc with the training brigade. The NCOs and Officers of the training brigade really got on the backs of the soldiers and stressed that Kill, Kill, Kill mentality into the troops. The third night two soldiers of the aggressors were killed and five severely maimed. Army canceled the exercise and buried everything. The brigade was considered ready for combat.

      Amazing the Time I waste Here! Sometimes it's not wasted though!

      by raster44 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:58:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the Third Wave was CHILD ABUSE. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, Simplify

      It violated every known principle and rule on human subject studies.

      First of all the subjects were MINORS.  

      Second, it was done WITHOUT informed consent, in a natural environment.  

      Third, the subjects were LIED TO even beyond the point of denying them the right to informed consent.  

      Fourth, it did not respect the privacy and anonymity of the subjects.

      Fifth, it produced very real traumatic outcomes.  On children.  

      The people who dreamt up that atrocity should have been charged and convicted on child abuse and sentenced to prison.  

  •  We disturb me, humans. (16+ / 0-)

    I need to keep believing nobody could convince me to electrocute anyone else.

  •  What interesting and (11+ / 0-)

    disturbing to me is that people were willing to shock people on tv.  To me it say's something about the deterioration  of society that it is something that you don't have to hide.  I guess that is what he meant when talking about reality tv increasing  need to humiliate people.  Someone used to say that you know what kind of person you are by how you treat people when no one is looking. Now it doesn't seem to matter.

  •  They rounded up the people in Milgram's (28+ / 0-)

    first group:

    Obeyed but justified themselves

    And gave them positions in Bush's first administration.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:14:01 PM PDT

  •  So, Republicans are the teachers... (4+ / 0-)

    and citizens are the learners, right?

  •  Giving shocks to someone who seems... (0+ / 0-)

    ...to be a volunteer and able to leave at any time, while believing that he's not in danger, isn't immoral act.

    •  In the MGRAM exp. the actor (18+ / 0-)

      pleaded for a stop.  Begged, in fact.  But the authority figure said keep going, so  they kept giving the shock.  The herd instinct is very, very strong in most people.

      No public option. Well, at least we are no longer in Iraq or Afghanistan...

      by Pierro Sraffa on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:23:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's still reasonable to think that if he... (0+ / 0-)

        ..couldn't take it, he would just get up and leave.

        •  why was it reasonable to assume that (8+ / 0-)

          You're assuming that the authority would allow for a moral resolution, when in fact, the point of the experiment was that the authority was thoroughly immoral - willing to push the "teacher" into sending shocks until death occurred.

          •  The people giving the shocks were... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mataliandy

            ...never told that the person who seemed to be receiving the shocks was a prisoner, right?

            •  Huh? (12+ / 0-)

              If someone is begging for someone else to stop a behavior because it is causing extreme pain or the possibility of death (the heart condition), it is implied that they are unable to leave of their own volition.  

              The point is that people are obedient to authority even when what they are doing clearly causes harm to another.

              No public option. Well, at least we are no longer in Iraq or Afghanistan...

              by Pierro Sraffa on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:37:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  If YOU were being jolted with electricity... (15+ / 0-)

              ...to the point of pain, would you get up and leave? I certainly would. So why would you think it's reasonable that somebody who could leave wouldn't leave? That, instead of leaving, he would just beg for the shocks to stop but keep trying to answer questions and getting more shocks?

              I think the possibility of constraint would be a lot more reasonable to assume than the possibility of his being free to get up and leave.

              I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

              by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:44:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think your reasoning is correct, but it would.. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                isabelle hayes

                be pretty easy for people to justify their actions based on the reasoning above.  

                That said, there is one other flaw with the experiments.  The type of people taking part in them is self selecting.  I would have no real interest in taking part in an experiment in the first place.  An experiment involving administering jolts of electricity sounds especially stupid to me.  So, the fact is, someone like me would never be a subject in one of these experiments because I don't have any interest in being a guinea pig, and being told to do stupid things.  

                I think we need to ask whether the people who choose to take part in these experiments might be especially inclined to follow authority, or whether they come in with a mindset that they will do what they are told.  In my opinion this a severe flaw with the experiments.  

                Of course, we can't really test any other way, since it would be illegal to just grab people off the street and force them to take part.  And if you could the experiments would be tainted by the fact the subjects might be afraid or belligerent due to being kidnapped.  

                The "reality game show" experiments are probably even more flawed, as the type of person who would choose to take part in such a show are extremely odd.  I'm sure we've all at least heard of the weird stuff that such contestants are forced to do, so only a certain type of person would be willing to subject themselves to that experience.  They will be more inclined than average to go beyond reasonable bounds in their pursuit of winning the show.  

                Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                by Asak on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 03:10:02 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Put another way... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  isabelle hayes

                  It is definitely true that people are conditioned to obey authority in our society and probably all human societies.  There is no doubt that the extent people will go to follow orders is terrifying.  But people who are less respectful of authority, or even hostile to it, will not voluntarily choose to place themselves in an experiment where they will be told what to do.  

                  Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                  by Asak on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 03:21:08 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  When soldiers refuse to fight, ... (0+ / 0-)

                ...those who are most upset with that decision and choice use the claim that they are "volunteers" to justify the use of continued compulsion.

                I see no real difference between that and the excuses being made here.

                everything is applied mathematics
                the rest is pure mathematics

                by pigeonhole principle on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 05:46:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's pretty much the opposite situation (0+ / 0-)
                  We're talking about a study where it is being seen whether people will refuse to continue, versus a real life situation where people have.  

                  Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

                  by Asak on Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 06:24:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, the person receiving the shock (7+ / 0-)

          begged and pleaded and then all would stop - indicating unconsciousness or death - yet people continued to apply shocks.

          No public option. Well, at least we are no longer in Iraq or Afghanistan...

          by Pierro Sraffa on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:39:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  IIRC, the dial or buttons or whatever (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, Fabian, geomoo, Miep

            also had a label at the top of the range that read "Extreme Danger" or "Lethal" or something similar, which still didn't stop most subjects from administering shocks in that range.

            Bitte sag mir wer das Märchen vom Erwachsen sein erfand

            by badger on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:19:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  you're making excuses. n/t (0+ / 0-)
        •  No it's not. You're so stupid. nt (0+ / 0-)

          So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

          by skeptiq on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:18:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I suggest you see the tapes. They are very (7+ / 0-)

        disturbing.

    •  Part of a Pattern (13+ / 0-)

      In a follow up experiment, a group of subjects was divided into "prisoners" and "guards". The experiment had to be stopped when the behavior of the guards started to get out of control, abusing the "prisoners".

      People seem to have a built-in tendency to go along with authority and "the rules", even when they can plainly see that the results are disturbing.

      The question isn't whether what these people were doing is immoral. The question is what kind of society it tends to create, and whether we want to live in that kind of society.

      We've seen a continual slide in this country toward looser and looser protection of the rights of the individual because people in authority have demanded it. We forget that these people have selfish incentives to demand an increasingly dictatorial government, and that the system itself has a tendency toward dictatorship.

      We need to go back and re-evaluate the so-called Patriot Act and the MCA and various other assaults on our rights with this in mind.

      •  This harkens to the importance of civil liberties (6+ / 0-)

        being protected at extreme costs. The majority have not been exposed to the lessons of these experiments therefore do not understand what they themseves are capable of in the given circumstances. Not only do the Milgram & Guard experiments point out our innate instinct to subcumb to authority but we do so with little or no provoking. We willing give up our ability to self determine what is morally the right thing to do when we are allowed to leave that decision in someone else's hands. The Patriot Act is a prime example of our willingness to allow others to determine what is morally right and leaving us free to float around thinking we are free from any such punishment that is afforded those who disobey the authorities.

      •  So cleverly named, USA PATRIOT ACT. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        It has nothing to do with "Patriotism" as most of the public believes.

        "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"

        "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

        by 417els on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:58:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  People describe soldiers as volunteers, and... (0+ / 0-)

      ...then turn around and criticise them if they decide to quit.

      They say, "Hey, you're a volunteer. You can't quit!"

      And so we don't see sending them to war against their will as an immoral act, since we label them as volunteers.

      Hell, there are folks right here at dKos who would not see reinstituting a draft as an immoral act.

      everything is applied mathematics
      the rest is pure mathematics

      by pigeonhole principle on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 05:35:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Modern Idea About the Self (9+ / 0-)

    Tells you that you create yourself during a process of personal development that goes from childhood to adulthood.

    I think that social conditions likely produce the kind of people that we are -- the electro-shock experiments demonstrate how pliable we are even in adult life when put into these sort of coercive social context.  

    Participants might not be able to explain why they are willing to torture, but I suspect that it has a lot less to do with "human nature" and more to do with the power relation that is set up between experiment administrator, participant and victim.

    Adam and Eve had Iraqi birth certificates.

    by bink on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:21:27 PM PDT

    •  I honestly think it has something to do with (6+ / 0-)

      the way most people are taught to think -- or rather -- not to think.

      For a lot of us, our moral codes come from authority figures, instead of being seen as more rightfully the product of empathy.

      Whether it's religion, or just "the rule of law", the way people are taught to think about behavior is one in which the decision of right and wrong is on the paper (coming from some higher authority), rather than in your mind. Furthermore, this relies on the "technical" -- if it's legal to hurt someone else, go ahead and do it. (Hence all the torture memos get written: if we can just find a way to make it "legal" then it's not wrong... in a society where empathy wins, you don't look for legal loopholes)

      (I've even had one scary evangelical person say to me that if it wasn't in the Bible not to, as an instruction from God, he'd think killing was pretty okay and that anything goes ... he needs his rights and wrongs to be absolutes, dictated from on high, or there's nothing at all)

      •  we are a tribal species (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rebel ga, Gatordiet

        tribal species have strong drives to fit in with the gang.

        "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

        by Miep on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:43:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But bonobos (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lotlizard, rebel ga, isabelle hayes, Miep

          aren't the same as chimps -- there is enough variety among primate behavior that the way homo sapiens lives today doesn't appear -- at least to me -- to be something entirely in our nature. There is more going on.

          •  We love to fit in with the crowd (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian, isabelle hayes

            it doesn't have to involve cruelty. That is just an extreme example.

            We are a tribal species. One of the very worst things you can do to a human is ostracize him or her. In primitive tribes, people die from that being done to them (I remember reading about this).

            We are also competitive, in the context of fitting in with the crowd. But being competitive is no fun if no one is looking.

            We want to belong. We also want to be the top dog. But these are not the same things. And you can't be the top dog alone, or even if you're the only one who thinks you're the top dog. Not if you're a human.

            Tribe is required. I think hierarchy is an aberrant version of this. Sure, we need leaders. But hierarchy is non-fluid and tends towards ossification and abuse.

            This is not an argument against government. It is just an argument that we need to constantly re-evaluate government.

            "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

            by Miep on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:21:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Adam and Eve had Iraqi birth certificates. (0+ / 0-)

      I Bet they did.

      The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools. (Herbert Spencer) rebel ga*

      by rebel ga on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:09:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  RIP Stanley Milgram (7+ / 0-)

    that groundbreaking study will never get old

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    --Tom Harkin

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:23:42 PM PDT

  •  While it would be nice to believe (11+ / 0-)

    that humans would behave ourselves out of the goodness of our hearts, I think the only reason most humans behave is the fear of punishment by an authority.

    So if you think you can keep doing something immoral, yet are actually encouraged by the authority to do it rather than threatened with punishment, people will go ahead and do it.  In fact, as I think the experiment shows, again, if you think you'll be punished by not continuing the immoral act, you'll continue to do it, because the fear is always punishment by the authority.

    That's why I think, back in the day, religion was important because it established an authority (God) who you had to answer to in the end, when no other authority necessarily had the power to do so.

    Things are rather different now, and of course, religion uses this very fear of authority for it's own advantage by doing immoral things "in God's name" because, well, you don't want to piss off God, just like you don't want to piss off any authority with the ability to punishing you for not doing what they say.

    •  Humans Are Extremely Hierarchical (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, Fabian, lotlizard, Gatordiet

      I think it has a lot to do with authority -- maybe not necessarily also punishment, although that is certainly part of it.  People also simply get gratification from receiving a command and carrying it out.

      Dogs aren't so different than us ...  A dog will experience great joy from just fetching a stick when told to do so.

      Adam and Eve had Iraqi birth certificates.

      by bink on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:27:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow That's a Classic Conservative View (4+ / 0-)

      American, modern, conservative.

      Not much fun in your life? Never seen monkeys grooming?

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:40:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we aren't that far removed (5+ / 0-)

        I remember when I first heard about Milgram, I also heard about a study where a bunch of people were put in a room and they showed pictures of circles on a screen. Everybody was in on it but the test subject. They were all asked to say which circle was biggest.

        It was obvious which one was bigger, but everyone but the test subject was instructed to say the smaller one was bigger. The test subject would succumb reliably and take to agreeing to ignore what was in front of his eyes.

        This is interesting in the context of this discussion because it filters out the cruelty aspect, and looks solely at the drive to go along with people. It runs very, very deep.

        "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

        by Miep on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:47:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, around here it usually suffices to toss out (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Miep

          … an accusation that the "test subject" is promoting CT to silence them and/or recruit others to pile on.

          "Oh, great, another one of those 'Circle B-ers' who think they know better than everyone else. Anyone can see Circle A is the biggest. That stupid Circle B theory has been debunked countless times."

          The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

          by lotlizard on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:15:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  as far as CT goes on this site (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian, lotlizard

            certain kinds of CT, it is not an option to promote the idea that circle B might be bigger, if you want to stick around.

            That does kind of skew the data.

            Since this isn't my blog; what are more interesting to me, are topics regarding which the site owner is not invested in repressing discussion to the extent of banning people, or even necessarily at all - but those where the site users do it on their own.

            It can easily start with just a few people, and no one opposing, and people who want to be "one of the gang" piling on.

            Conversely, a few people standing up and saying "This isn't fair" can easily send it back the other way.

            Being an independent thinker doesn't come with the territory of being human. It ain't minted in the womb; it must be learned.

            "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

            by Miep on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:37:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  An older German guy I met who'd spent his entire (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Fabian, isabelle hayes

              … adult life working for alternative causes, the peace movement, etc., even when they were unpopular such as during the Adenauer years, once told me the story of how he came to his convictions.

              When the war ended in 1945, he had been 12 years old and a model member of the HJ (Hitlerjugend / Hitler Youth).

              Over the next year and a half, he gradually came to the realization that, basically, everything anyone in authority had told him was a lie.

              He said that if there was any lesson he thought important to pass on to the generations to come, it was this.

              Your family, your teachers, your sports coach, your church, celebrities, the media, the government — your authority figures, they can all agree that something is good.

              And nevertheless, it can still be absolutely evil.

              The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

              by lotlizard on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 03:10:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, Gatordiet

      Altruism exists in nature and is a dominant strategy in multiple iteration games.

      Democrats: Bringing Plastic Sporks to Tank Battles Since 1968

      by Attorney at Arms on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:08:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are also economic experiments (3+ / 0-)

        where altruism and fairness concepts have been shown to dominate self-interest most of the time.

        Bitte sag mir wer das Märchen vom Erwachsen sein erfand

        by badger on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:25:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Link? (0+ / 0-)

          My cynical self would like to see the data on that. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, but I need some hard data.

          We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding. - Kurt Vonnegut

          by not a cent on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:28:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sheesh (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger

            Democrats: Bringing Plastic Sporks to Tank Battles Since 1968

            by Attorney at Arms on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:41:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Don't have the links anymore (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            not a cent, blueocean, thethinveil

            I save tons of links when researching stuff, and clean them up periodically, and those links are gone.

            You can google "economics altruism" and find a lot of links. This article looks like a good survey. I read some of the original papers, and one experiment was similar to the University of Cologne study mentioned on the article's second page (but I think it was more recent and from somewhere else). You can probably google the researcher names in the article to find the primary source material.

            Personally, I wouldn't put a lot of stock in just the article linked without looking into the original work and also looking for critiques or contrary studies. I was fairly convinced at the time, and also having been involved with manufacturing incentive pay systems at one time, both from observation and some reading in that area a long time ago.

            Bitte sag mir wer das Märchen vom Erwachsen sein erfand

            by badger on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:44:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's interesting. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, isabelle hayes

              Very micro, but a few decades ago, a handful of companies in Silicon Valley had no lay-off policies. Hard to believe now, I know.

              The net effect was that pretty much everyone took pay cuts, generally about 10%. And at one company with which I am familiar, there were reduced hours along with the pay cuts, although those in key positions took the pay cuts and had no reduced hours.

              At the time, very few complained, and the vast majority seemed happy that their co-workers weren't losing their jobs.

              I'm still not sure if it was altruism, or collectivism. But the net effect is probably not all that different.

              I do wonder if the acceptance would be the same now.

              We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding. - Kurt Vonnegut

              by not a cent on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:01:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Within the last week ... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Fabian, not a cent, isabelle hayes

                My sister-in-law is a nurse at a regional hospital. They're losing $1 million a month, so they're cutting back. The nurse that had more seniority than my SIL chose not to take a cut in hours (don't know her situation). My SIL could have passed the hours cut to either of two nurses below her.

                They're single moms, my SIL's married and her daughter is 30, but she was single mom at one time and refused to do that to them. That meant she not only got a cut in pay, but her hours were too low to qualify for health insurance - another $1500 a month - which they can barely afford (It turns out her husband starts getting Social Security next month - $1500 a month).

                The two nurses below her, without being asked but knowing the situation, each contributed a few hours (the hospital let them), so that my SIL still gets health insurance covered.

                Bitte sag mir wer das Märchen vom Erwachsen sein erfand

                by badger on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:28:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger

                  for reminding me that, despite the common narrative, most of us are decent human beings.

                  We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding. - Kurt Vonnegut

                  by not a cent on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:43:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Uh-Oh... (0+ / 0-)

        a dominant strategy in multiple iteration games

        It's way too late for me to be trying to comprehend your sentence.

        "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

        by 417els on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:04:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I kind of think that knowing about this ex- (5+ / 0-)

    periment should inoculate people from the tendencies that led to the results.  This new French study either shows that fewer people know about it than I thought, or that I'm wrong about the effect of knowledge of our tendencies on our willingness to do bad stuff.  I'm hoping it is the former.

    But as you say, all psyche 101  students know of this. I was in one of these sorts of experiments in 1977, though the available shocks were small.  

    •  I think it has an inoculation effect...but I (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, mvr

      think the effect wears off after a certain amount of time.

      I've known about the milgram experiment for about 10 years, but if someone had put me on this gameshow yesterday, I probably would have been one of the people administering the shock.

      Now that I've read this diary, and with the milgram experiment fresh on my mind, if someone put me on the show tommorow, there is no way I would give the shock.

      So I think there is an inoculation effect, but i'm not sure how long it lasts.

    •  How many Frenchmen went to college? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mvr, Gatordiet

      Not all people have learned about the Milgram experiment.  If they were exposed to the Milgram experiment in high school, well, how much of what we learned in high school and not continually practiced do we remember?  

      2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 04:12:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do people crave "reality" shows (5+ / 0-)

    because of the lack of content in their own lives? I do not know, but I suspect that is part of the answer to this apparent fixation on spectator interaction with competition and suffering. Scapegoating and the authoritarian impulse to punish those who are "incorrect" in whatever world view each person holds seems to be deeply ingrained in humanity.

    Compassion seems to disappear under social pressure and conformity under stress seems to take hold. Group-think, "mob mentality", whatever you want to call it, seems more universal in human behaviour than we would like to believe. Hannah Arendt called it "the banality of evil", alienation from the "other", whoever we may deem them to be.

    Talk radio, reality shows, blogging, whatever the medium, they all seem to lead to a herd mentality and incredible descent into incivility. Or,perhaps they are just the result of the inherent social pressure to be "part of" at the risk of being the one excluded and scapegoated.

    These examples of human willingness to use violence to "teach" or "rectify" has always left me both awed and despairing. I want to believe that humans would not do these things, even in the face of such a mass of evidence that we will. Although not comparable to the greater harms recorded in history, the fact that "civilized" humanity is even capable of this type of action is disheartening, at best...

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:28:20 PM PDT

  •  i can only hope that if i was put (5+ / 0-)

    in a similar situation, i'd act honorably.  i wish i could guarantee that i would, but i can't.  the whole thing is pretty disturbing.

    Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger. ~Abbie Hoffman

    by oblios arrow on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:29:37 PM PDT

  •  I find it ironic (0+ / 0-)

    that right after this post is a faux poll for some corporate entity, which is actually a cryptic advertisement. Almost a redux in some way of the mindless regimen described in the post itself.

    Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

    by detler on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:32:02 PM PDT

  •  The important thing is.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, LeighAnn, Gatordiet

    that everyone should know this experiment (and the prisoner experiment) and remember it when the real time comes.

    On the other hand, when the authorities have your family and order you to perform a service for your motherland, what choice do you have?

    "Oh twaddle squat. There's no scientific consensus that life is important." - Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

    by NorthAndEast on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:32:05 PM PDT

  •  so diplomatic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek

    u all accept this kinda twisted logic?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

    Daniel Levy, a former Israeli government peace negotiator and now an analyst based in Washington, said he believed Netanyahu would have promised Clinton not to undermine US peace efforts with any more surprise announcements of settlement building. "I think there will almost certainly have been private undertakings by Bibi [Netanyahu] to adhere more rigorously to the embarrassment test, meaning no settlement announcements or developments, evictions or demolitions in both Jerusalem and the West Bank," Levy said.

    Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at Washington's American Task Force on Palestine, thought Netanyahu would have given enough ground to allow the Palestinians back into the talks. "The Obama administration has made its point and extracted pretty significant assurances," Ibish said. "I think it will be enough for the Palestinians to go into the proximity talks. Netanyahu tried to defy Obama and did not get away with it."

    •  If the proximity talks actually begin (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gatordiet, isabelle hayes

      maybe the twisted logic works. And of, course in this case "proximity" means that Mitchell shuttles between the two sides. Anyway, who knows? No question Bibi got on Obama's last nerve when the VP and the US were insulted in front of the world. To see Obama handle all this stuff and health care this week with aplomb has been impressive to me. Yes, we get frustrated with him, but this is one exceptional man. I'm glad he is at the helm.

  •  What nobody mentions about Milgram... (7+ / 0-)

    is that the "teacher" subjects' faith in authority was not actually misplaced in the specific case: they were NOT actually torturing the "learner" subjects.

    I suspect that the subjects understood on some level  that Psych professors could not get away with experiments involving physical torture of white middle class students in this society at that time.

    (Mental torture, maybe.)

    This is not to deny Milgram's main point, that many, even most people are capable of behaving with atrocious cruelty in a social context in which it is directed by authority and/or peer pressure.

    Robert J Lifton has written about atrocity-producing situations; notably war, and fascist regimes.

    In environments where sanctioned brutality becomes the norm, sadistic impulses, dormant in all of us, are likely to be expressed. The group's violent energy becomes such that an individual soldier who questions it could be turned upon. (A Vietnam veteran who had been at My Lai told me he had felt himself in some danger when he not only refused to fire but pointedly lowered the barrel of his gun to the ground.) To resist such intense group pressure, an unusual combination of conscience and courage is required.

    There's no such thing as a free market!

    by Albanius on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:36:31 PM PDT

    •  While they were not actually torturing ... (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina, Fabian, Simplify, lotlizard, 0wn, Miep

      ...the "learner," your suspicion that they understood at some level that the experimenters could not get away with torturing their subjects is backed up by what evidence?

      Dr. Milgram noted that even though many of the subjects were "totally convinced of the wrongness of their actions," they "could not bring themselves to make an open break with authority." So, unless Dr. Milgram lied, many of the subjects administered the "shocks" thinking that they were, in fact, causing severe pain.

      This experiment was replicated by many scientists in several other places, including other countries, and the results were replicated, sometimes with even higher levels of compliance.

      I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:00:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

        "I think the teacher wouldn't ask me to do a bad thing" is no excuse for doing something that is not at all clearly failing to be a bad thing.

        "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

        by Miep on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:49:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not only simulated but actual torture (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, isabelle hayes

        has been replicated too many times to count, which is why I linked to Lifton.

        The evidence such as it is for my suspicion that on some (unconscious) level they trusted the prof is (pace Rumsfeld) the absence of evidence that US profs ever physically tortured middle class white students - ie  internalized implicit awareness of Bayesian statistical evidence.

        Again, I was not disputing Milgram's point that most people are capable of torture, even murder, but rather sought to emphasize Lifton's point that the social context, rather than sinful human nature, is the main causal factor.

        IMO human nature is protean, capable of great good or great evil, which is a major reason we seek to change society to minimize atrocity producing situations, from domestic violence to injustice to war.  

        There's no such thing as a free market!

        by Albanius on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:20:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "If it's important to teach children to... (10+ / 0-)

    ... obey and respect authority, it's even MORE important to teach them to sometimes DISobey and question authority."

    Not sure where that quote's from, but every parent should be required to memorize it.

    "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

    by ratmach on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:36:37 PM PDT

    •  Funny you should mention that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ratmach

      My first born child never needed to be taught to rebel.  He was born with the inclination.

      My youngest son needed lessons in rebellion.  His father thought I was nuts for teaching them to him. LOL

      I knew there was a danger in him not learning to question authority.  Even mine.  He is 13 now and I think the lessons have taken hold pretty well. LOL

      He is still a fantastic child with a very gentle and eager to please nature.  

  •  heavy, (15+ / 0-)

    I'd like to think that I would rebel, who knows.  Part of the human condition I suppose.  We all have a mean side, even lefties.  Heck, I see it in comments here every day.  Cruelty comes in many forms.  We pull the lever on people every day in one way or another.

    "I drank what?!" -Socrates

    by bagman on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:36:58 PM PDT

  •  Added to Dkosopedia (4+ / 0-)

    I've added this as a reference to the Dkosopedia page Prosecuting Officials for Crimes as a warning.

  •  Guide for the Rebellious? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, mataliandy, Fabian, Miep

    I remember reading about this experiment fairly recently, and learned that later in his career, Milgram spent quite a bit of time trying to isolate what it was that made the "rebels" go against the authority figure.

    Unfortunately, the article didn't go into details, but I'd like to find out what, if anything, he learned.  Any psych experts out there know about this?

    It really is scary to think that any one of us could be manipulated by authority, posturing, fear, or whatever to do something like this.  I'm not persuaded that just knowing about this experiment is enough to  inoculate (nice phrase, BTW) people against it.

    Some of the nastier war crimes of the Nazis during WW II were committed by units formed of very ordinary people who had not necessarily been selected for their respect for authority or demonstrated capacity for inflicting pain.  

    But I also resist the notion that most of us are avatars of cruelty waiting to happen.

    "Certe, Toto. Sentio nos in Kansate non iam adesse!"

    by guerrillascholar on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:37:03 PM PDT

  •  People LIKE Screwing Over People, despite barney (0+ / 0-)

    and sesame street and psycho-babble.

    I'm disappointed, uncomfortable, BUT

    rove? atewater? ailes? their minions?

    they're all f'king pricks, mean pricks, MEAN MEAN pricks - and being noble superior, being better than them, rewarding them with love ... that don't change MEAN pricks. (see the last 40 or 50 years of politics!)

    ugh.

    rmm.  

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:49:51 PM PDT

    •  ALL people like screwing other people over? (0+ / 0-)

      Are you sure that's what you meant to imply?  

      If you did, it says more about your own outlook than it does about anyone else.  

      •  Shorthand for "there's a _tendency_ in all people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes

        … to like ___, a tendency that Rove, Ailes, Atwater, etc. have effectively been able to exploit"?

        To give our fellow Kossack seabos84 the benefit of the doubt . . .

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

        by lotlizard on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:23:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  add ALL to all statements which rattle (0+ / 0-)

        your little barney & sesame street world view!!

        next time I'll put on my tutu, sing and dance, then the world won't be so mean!

        I'm sorry your nicey nice was invaded with harsh!

        I'll stay outta your $alon of the cluele$$ debutants and dillitants who live on a higher plane than us ba$e lowly $erf$ in our ba$e lowly reality.

        rmm.

        Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

        by seabos84 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 05:32:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  gee, that really brought out your dark side... (0+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          Hidden by:
          seabos84

          There's enough ad-hominem in there to qualify for a few HRs.  

          Are you sure you haven't been sitting naked on any frozen cactii lately?

          Proctologists should be just above Psychologists in the Yellow Pages, and one of each is probably called for.  

          Ta-ta!

          •  HR away, your little (0+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:
            G2geek

            bambi censor brain needs to shut down people who "attack" you, cuz, what you say isn't an attack or insulting,

            what you say is 'the truth'

            do you realize that EVERY political movement has its protectors of the faith, out burning heretics?

            stick your HR up your ass.

            rmm.

            Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

            by seabos84 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:31:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Another Milgram type experiment... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, Situational Lefty

    ... in England a couple years ago. And in my opinion, every bit as scary as the original. In fact, I found this very hard to watch, and VERY emotional.

    (This is part 2 of a 3-part video. I chose this part because I think it's the most powerful of the 3.)

    "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

    by ratmach on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:50:01 PM PDT

  •  Education: Race to the top= 4.35 Billion (0+ / 0-)

    Yipee! You too can win part of.... 4.35 Billion (with a real "B") as the US Education system shows it's startling statistics... on where we succeed as a nation and where we falter.

    http://www.convergemag.com/...

    That's what, 2 days funding out of the last seven years in an immoral war?

    The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. Paul Cezanne

    by MeToo on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:55:47 PM PDT

  •  Sigh. Same species wherever you go. (5+ / 0-)

    Few of us are immune from this kind of behavior, especially in groups, and it requires mindfulness and humility to remember it when the chips are down.

    On the other hand -- and I consider this a very dark "bright side" -- precisely because "normal" people can be engaged in this kind of mentality, many perpetrators suffer extreme psychological anguish afterwards. IIRC, some of the perpetrators in Stanford experiments similar to Milgram's were plagued with debilitating guilt for years even though they knew they had not actually harmed anyone.

    And apparently a substantial number of Germans who served as death camp workers committed suicide within a few years after the end of WWII. (I've been told that even larger numbers developed terminal illnesses and died within 10 years after the war, but I wonder how many became ill because of toxic environmental exposures rather than guilt.)

    I take some comfort in knowing that committing such cruelties takes a toll on otherwise normal people -- a community-level behavioral regulator, even if its granularity is dissatisfyingly coarse at this point in our evolution.

    •  The Nazi death camp guards (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, raincrow, Gatordiet, Miep

      and, I think, the Einsatzgruppen who murdered civilians and POWs by the thousand in the field, were given generous servings of alcohol to help them murder and torture people.  A member of the German Abwehr (the intelligence agency attached to the Armed Forces High Command) reported seeing a hospital for concentration camp guards who had had mental breakdowns because of what they had done.

      In addition, unfortunately, when an opportunity exists to be sadistic with impunity, the worst people in society will gladly step in and do so.  The concentration camp Gross Rosen, according to reporter Elinor Brecher, was a place where the Schindler Jews who ended up there for a time were met by nothing but "flailing psychopaths" (she wrote this in a book called "Schindler's Legacy," about the Jews saved by Oskar Schindler, another Abwehr agent).  Of course, Gross Rosen was far from the only one.

      "Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar, and are often convincing." -- Oscar Wilde

      by Villagejonesy on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:35:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Feeding speed to modern-day soldiers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gatordiet, Villagejonesy

        particularly child soldiers.

        The ordinary people suffer; their warmongering leaders not so much.

        •  Mm, yes... The Japanese apparently pioneered that (0+ / 0-)

          and had their soldiery use it around or just after World War I, and the Nazis fed it to their pilots like candy in World War II.  Amphetamines apparently act upon the centers of the brain that regulate fear (thus, paranoia).  When you hear of some crime that someone perpetrated that seems so utterly horrific that it shocks even unshockable people, half the time it's someone who used amphetamines a lot, who became paranoid from it.

          "Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar, and are often convincing." -- Oscar Wilde

          by Villagejonesy on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:31:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Latest Sarah Palin Speech Opens Sixth Seal (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lilchas, bagman, raincrow, JML9999, geez53, CalBear

    IDAHO FALLS, ID—Speaking unto an audience of anti-immigration advocates, global-warming deniers, and members of the Tea Party Nation, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave forth utterances Monday that reportedly opened the sixth seal of the Book of the Apocalypse.

    "Wow, it's good to be here, just shootin' the breeze with a bunch of real, hardworking Americans who love their freedom," said Palin, her words echoing across the Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium as mighty tremors caused great unrest beneath the land and the sea. "So are the little guys like you and me gonna fight these Washington insiders with their big government agenda? You betcha we are!"

    And lo, there was then a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair; and the moon became as blood; and "gosh" was spoken repeatedly; and the stars of heaven fell upon the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken by a mighty wind.

    (continued at the Onion)

    :)

    "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange ... including a public option" President Obama, 7.18.09

    by efraker on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:06:36 PM PDT

  •  question for plutonium page? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bagman

    heard we're close on a new START treaty agreement?  from what you know, is it a good deal?

    save our democracy! freespeechforpeople.org

    by thoughtful3 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:09:52 PM PDT

  •  boyd (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yella dawg

    I really can't believe Allen Boyd (FL) is voting "yes" on healthcare.  I never, in a million years, thought he would flip.  It's great, though.

    save our democracy! freespeechforpeople.org

    by thoughtful3 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:11:12 PM PDT

  •  What a great idea to feature (5+ / 0-)

    Daily Kos flashbacks.  I truly enjoy reading them and it helps me understand why I am such a proud member of this community.  There are lots of smart people here.

  •  DKos Bracket Challenge Update (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yella dawg, Situational Lefty

    After round 1, here's the leaderboard:

    1st: Dellinger503 1 & Dbug
    2nd: watercarrier4diogenes 2
    3rd: revdocdee 1 & citizenx1234 1

    I am comfortably in 29th place.  Whoo-hoo.

  •  Justice Stevens to retire announcement coming? (4+ / 0-)

    According to Orrin Hatch he will:

    The second-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch also said Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, 89, is "likely" to announce he is stepping down next month

    http://www.bloomberg.com/...

    I suppose this will be get ugly in the Senate when trying to name a successor.

    I wonder when he'll retire?

    Where are the "better" Democrats?

    by lalo456987 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:23:52 PM PDT

  •  Soooo excited!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, Purple Priestess, CalBear

    I found out a little while ago that Howard Dean will be debating Karl Rove on my college (UNLV) campus!  I had no idea until I checked out my college's homepage.  But I just cannot wait.

  •  Milgram--Peter Gabriel wrote a song about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, Purple Priestess, Miep

    the Milgram experiments, called "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)."

    "Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar, and are often convincing." -- Oscar Wilde

    by Villagejonesy on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:28:05 PM PDT

  •  Thank you MB (2+ / 0-)

    for bringing this to our attention. I've long known about the original experiment; it is of great interest to hear that it was repeated, and the context is chilling as well.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:37:25 PM PDT

  •  Psst. Pass it on. (5+ / 0-)

    I know that I wouldn't be one of those people who kept pressing the button.  I'm absolutely certain of that fact.

    I know, I know, that sounds smug, when 80% of people did it no matter what.  Do I think I'm better than them?  Just who do I think I am?  Why am I so sure?  How do I know?

    Simple.  I know because I know about the experiment.  And I know that, after reading about it, and having my share of nightmares about it, there will always be a little voice in my head, watching what I'm doing over my shoulder, and saying, 'so... are you going to be one of the 80%?  Or one of the 20%?'

    If you know about it, and you remember it, then it won't be you.

    Psst.  Pass it on.

    -fred

    •  But it's not the experiment that's important (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy

      in itself. It's what you'd do in real life under real pressure.

      I know of a couple of instances where I've stood up that I'm proud of. I also know of more instances where I should have, but didn't, because of peer pressure, fear, desire for acceptance, or whatever.

      Bitte sag mir wer das Märchen vom Erwachsen sein erfand

      by badger on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:08:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  BTW, a quibble (0+ / 0-)

        I addressed what you said here below, but I do have to mention one thing: you talk about not standing up because of fear.

        Fear is a motivator that I realistically don't expect most people to be able to overcome  If someone were holding a gun to my head, I can't say for sure what atrocities I would or wouldn't commit. If someone were actually willing to torture me in order to get me to do things, I don't know that they'd be able to get useful information out of me, but I bet they'd be able to get me to do pretty close to anything that they wanted me to, physically. I am a realist in that regard.

        I have been in one situation where I thought maybe I could save someone a serious beating, but where I thought there was a pretty decent chance that if I failed, I'd have the crap beaten out of me as well. (I'm not a fighter, so I was pretty sure I'd get my ass kicked if it came to that.) I held my tongue, because I'm not a martyr, and I like my internal organs where they are. That doesn't mean I didn't call an ambulance for the guy who got the crap beaten out of him, although apparently he was fine except for some cuts and bruises. But it did mean that I didn't intervene when I could have. Am I proud of that? Well, I'm not ashamed of it: I assessed the risk, and decided that it was too high. I did what I could.

        This wasn't a study of whether people under threat of death can be made to do awful things. They can be. This study was about whether you could make people do awful things when there was no risk of repercussions to them whatsoever, aside from social stigma. And in that regard, I think I'm being realistic.

        -fred

    •  The fact you know about the experiment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi

      doesn't mean you would not submit to authority.

      It only means that you would probably not press the button in a situation that resembles the Milgram experiment.

      Are you sure you would not obey in a situation similar to this experiment, but with different forms and context?

      Some of the people who had fought the Nazis (and sometimes had been submitted to torture) became torturers afterwards...

      •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

        If that's the level to which you're willing to extrapolate ('I wouldn't push the button in an experiment like this') then that's the level to which you learn.

        If you extrapolate from this experiment more widely, to the point where you constantly question yourself: am I sitting back and letting something bad happen here, because I don't have the guts to stand up to it?  Am I doing what I can to prevent bad things from happening to people?  Am I, in short, keeping true to my own moral code?  If you have internalized the meaning of this experiment, you have a little voice in your head saying those things all the time.

        On two occasions I have broken up fights on public transportation, just with words, without touching anyone. Anyone could have done it, it didn't even take much guts, because it was pretty obvious in the one case that nobody who wasn't calling the guy in question 'ni**er' was going to get punched, and in the other case, I stepped in before the fists started flying and distracted the mentally ill guy. Nobody else even tried. Maybe they were scared, okay. But if they were, I still don't think they were rationally assessing the situation, because it seemed pretty obvious to me that it was safe for anyone who wasn't already involved in the altercation, in both cases.

        And to me, morally, it's the same thing: if you see a situation in which you can prevent harm to someone else, without significant risk of harm to yourself, you have the moral obligation to do so. Reading about this experiment is what convinced me of that, and it's what gave me the little bug in my ear that said 'you have to do something here' when everyone else was staying well back.

        I don't do it when I think I could get injured myself, and that still bothers me a little. It means that if someone were saying to me, 'if you don't torture this person, we will tie you down and torture you,' I'm not sure what I'd do. But I know I'm not a martyr... I'm just a person who tries to live up to his own moral code, and in the absence of a clear danger, I know I can.

        -fred

  •  I'm still stuck on Great War of Yankee Aggression (0+ / 0-)

    But I saw the thing on the Frech torture show.

    WTF, France?

    That's definitely more than one movie from the 1980's coming true.

  •  Ive never wante to be on a gme hiw (0+ / 0-)

    Grandma's not shovel ready. (Stolen from Maddow show)

    by MNGrandma on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:50:55 PM PDT

  •  an interesting aspect of this comment thread (3+ / 0-)

    is the thought that people agree to commit atrocities because humans are hierarchical. I don't agree...I don't agree that we're inherently hierarchical. I think we're inherently tribal, and that hierarchies are a kind of aberration. But since they are so widespread in acceptance, we accept them because we are tribal.

    Or perhaps we accept them because we are told they are widepsread in acceptance.

    We were tribal until what, eight or ten millenia ago? That's relatively recently. The dawn of agriculture. That's when it all started, this business of assuming hierarchies were necessary to "improve."

    It's an assumption, not a given. And it should be challenged at every opportunity.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:56:59 PM PDT

    •  Important point. Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miep

      BTW, your handle always reminds me of Miep Gies, the Dutch woman who helped Anne Frank's family and who recently passed away at the age of 100.

      She is, so to speak, the patron saint of "Diary Rescue".

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:32:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Damn that posted (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Purple Priestess

    just because a jelly bean fell on my keyboard?  What I was so poorly saying was meant to be I never wanted to be on a game show or a reality show, but I feel I would welcome the testing of this.  I certainly hope I would keep my hands folded, but I've learned in my years that I can't even positively predict my own reactions to life.

    Grandma's not shovel ready. (Stolen from Maddow show)

    by MNGrandma on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:58:16 PM PDT

  •  Reading a book right now called (0+ / 0-)

    'Chasing the Sun' by a guy called Neville Williams. Funny how some books just seem to tie a whole lot of things together?
    This is certainly shaping up to be one of those.

    Just thought I'd post that because I think from the two chapters I've read, this one is going to be a bit of a 'changed my life' or at the very least will change a few of the beliefs I have.

    Anyone else read this book?
    Chasing the Sun

    Any thoughts on it I'd like to hear.

    Those folks who are trying to get in the way of progress - let me tell you, I'm just getting started. I don't quit. I'm not tired; I'm just getting started.

    by Unenergy on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:58:20 PM PDT

  •  A game show torturing people - sick bastards LOL (0+ / 0-)

    Support good reform not a political party blindly.

    by Eposter on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:15:13 PM PDT

    •  LOL? (0+ / 0-)

      What's funny?

      •  Absurdity of the game, its creators, participants (0+ / 0-)

        it is so outrageous it is laughable. Bust out laughing like they got to be shitting me. They must have been smoking something to dream up a game like that and actually found people to play it. Funny as in dark humor or black comedy about a bizarre awful subject. That's why the phrase sick bastards preceeding LOL.

        Support good reform not a political party blindly.

        by Eposter on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:28:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The TV show (0+ / 0-)

          La Zone Xtreme (the game show) was not a real game show; it was a probe to see if people pressured by a studio audience (of actors) and a host would give horrible shocks to an innocent.  

          Comparisons between the two are unfair, since in the original Milgram experiment the actor was playing the role of a neutral student and in this current demonstration, the actor was playing the role of a rival.  The rules of the game are not made clear in the link -- was the contestant expecting to be locked into a seat while the actor had a chance to push the levers on her?  

          2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

          by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 05:07:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The most important lesson from Milgram, (4+ / 0-)

    and I feel strongly about this, is that most of us need to learn that we would probably be willing to torture someone.  What people usually focus on is that other people are willing to torture.

    Once we accept that human nature is such that the vast majority of us are capable of torture, are likely to yield to group pressure, can easily behave irrationally, and will behave in ways in contradiction to our conscious identity.  We puff ourselves up, ride high horses, and dispense judgment from our imagined superior position, secure that our fine sense of ourselves as good people is unassailable.  Numerous experiments have demonstrated this attitude, this self-identity, to be as fleeting as any other emotional state, much more dependent on circumstance than any of us care to admit.

    The greatest damage is done when we see problems as issuing from specific, definable "bad" people, people whom we imagine to be unlike us, less high-minded, less moral, less compassionate and caring of others.  On its coarsest level, this attitude leads to racism, sexism, and the such.  More common is war, in which Arabs or Muslims, for example, are imagined to be of a different fundamental nature than we.  More subtle still, is the imagining that, for example, conservatives are fundamentally different from us.  We see conservatives as behaving in a callous manner toward the suffering of others because they are inherently worse people.  I believe the truth is that 90% of liberals would behave the same way as conservatives if their circumstances were the same--level of education, IQ, cultural influences.

    The reason I defend religion against wholesale dismissal is that I believe all religion is based on an understanding of a technology of human behavior which applies to all humans.  The core of all widely followed religion is the golden rule.  Wise humans have discovered that it is possible for any human to step out of his or her narrow concerns, out of his or her fear of group alienation or judgment, to step outside of greed and competition, and see the experience of the other as equally as important as the experience of oneself.  I defend religion because applying the golden rule is not easy; assuming one is naturally good and inherently fine is dangerous--a lot of history and scientific experiment has definitively shown otherwise.

    Conscious application of the golden rule--of putting ourselves in the place of teabaggers, of suicide bombers, even of torturers--does not lead to weakness or defeat.  It is the route to transcending the delusion that violence can prevent violence, that hate can stamp out hate, that being right can banish wrong.  Skillful behavior in this respect requires conscious practice with the humility of accepting our basic human nature.  This is why I regret the wholesale dismissal of religion by much of the portion of our society I find most devoted to nurturing the common good.  I don't see where religious practices are being replaced during the process of tossing out what are seen as irrational religious beliefs.

    At the very least, I would hope the Milgram Experiment and the others of its kind would bring each of us a degree of humility.

    The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

    by geomoo on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:30:29 PM PDT

    •  Unfortunately, religions that preach the GR (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard

      don't always practice it, notably toward each other, and especially toward heretics.

      Not only Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus, but devotees of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought have persecuted unbelievers since time immemorial.

      Bertrand Russell wrote a long essay on the gruesome  history of religious wars.

      The fault of course, is not in the Golden Rule, but the failure to apply it consistently.  Religions that claim special access to revealed truth are not necessarily ideal vehicles to solve that problem.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:55:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then what is the "ideal" vehicle. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, thethinveil

        The problem with religions is not religions--it's human nature.  Humans don't practice what they preach in any and every enterprise.  Show me the exception.  Humans are hypocritical, inconsistent.  The behavior of humans is dependent on circumstance; yet humans insist otherwise with grand language.

        The only thing different about religion is that it attempts to address this problem.  It is ironic that passionately anti-religion people hold religion up to a higher standard than anything else.  You would think they were the greatest believers of all, highly disappointed that religion doesn't work.  Of course religion doesn't work any better than any other human enterprise.  Look at our government today.  No one points to that as proof that the constitution was a bad idea.  The problem is that the constitution is not being followed.  The same thing, as you point out, is a problem with religion.  Just like our government, religious institutions have come to be dominated, for the most part, by people who are not committed to the ideals they purport to represent.  The solution, as with the constitution, is to restore the ideals which would work, not to condemn religion as stupidity or a bad idea.

        It makes me nuts when people smugly say that popular chestnut today:  religion causes war.  Human nature causes war.  Humans have engaged in war since before language.  Pagans engaged in ceaseless warfare.  Every religion has been associated with warfare.  You might as well say economic systems cause wars, because every economic system has been associate with war.  Or race causes war.  Or boundaries of countries cause war.  It is human nature.  Since the major religions have within them the practices to end war, it is perverse to blame religion for war.  Failure to practice the tenants of religion causes war.

        What I see in culture today is indulgence in blaming of others.  If everyone could be like us liberals, to bring it home to us, there would be no wars, no poverty, no suffering.  It doesn't take long on dailykos to see plainly that we liberals are petty, accusing, hateful, and blaming.  We are like all people elsewhere.  Where is the humility.  

        I ask again, what is the ideal vehicle.  Or do you propose that no such vehicle exists?

        The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

        by geomoo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:25:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  not everyone is capable of torture... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard

      ...but I'll tell you what I am capable of: knowing the difference between right and wrong.

      I'm capable enough to understand what is a "privileged motion" and stand before Congress like Dennis Kucinich did, and introduce Articles of Impeachment.

      I'm capable enough to tell Bush, unlike Yoo and Bybee, that "I'm not going to write you any letter giving you legal cover whatsoever for your war crimes"! But instead, "I'm going to walk straight out this door to the nearest Federal Magistrate and personally file criminal charges against you for violating the Convention Against Torture(CAT) and the War Crimes Act"!

      That's what I'd do FIRST. Next, I'd tell Bush, "I'm capable enough to put my own life in jeopardy for my principles and tell the whole world what horrible war crimes and crimes against humanity crimes you committed in all of our names against our Constitution and the rule of law!

      And I wouldn't have to be elected president to know my duty to prosecute them all to the fullest extent of the law! Instead of "turning the page", I would throw the whole book at them!

      "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

      by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:48:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like to think of myself that way as well. (4+ / 0-)

        And in fact, I have proven myself a few times to be in the small percentile--I have behaved at odds with those around me, in the face of intense peer pressure and uncertainty as to where my acts would lead.  Yet, though I can know myself to be unusually independent, I still would do not believe I can be sure how I would act if I were in another person's shoes.

        It is very easy for you to say the things you say in this comment.  I hope you understand the difference between idealizing what you would hope you would do and actually doing it.  Surely, like all people, you have had the experience of falling short of your expectations for yourself.

        I wish MB had added a poll to this diary.  I would guess that well over 50% of the people here would insist that they would be part of the small percent who refused to torture.  And I would guess you would find the same self assessment on Red State.  This lack of realism about our own nature, I would call it lack of humility, is ironically, one of the crucial aspects of human nature that leads to torture and war.

        If indeed, you are one of the few brave ones, one of the few ones with the integrity of your beliefs, then I hope you feel content in yourself.  That still does not mean it is skillful or useful for you to accuse others who share a basic nature which has proven to be fundamentally human, yet problematic.

        So long as the problem, whatever the problem under discussion, is seen to reside in others but not in ourselves, then we will see war, torture, and genocide.  Our society is largely deluded that compassion and empathy are weak and ineffectual.

        Sorry, friend, I love what you bring to the table here, but anger and self-righteousness are not a complete solution.

        The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

        by geomoo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 01:03:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  then you surely don't know me at all... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lotlizard

          ...I'm the son of a retired Lt. General in the USAF, who was a Commanding General and very high in the intel community of this nation.
          I was a former police officer. I'm 1/4 Jew, and made it one of my life's goal to stand against fascism and totalitarianism. I have intensely and rigorously studied Hitler's Reich for over 30 years, and know war crimes when I see them. I was an armor crewman on M-60 A1 tanks, but I don't have to see them rolling down my street to know tyranny when I see it right before my eyes. I am a devout christian who personally knows the Lord how much he detests lies and mass murderers. You can call me what you will, and I detest censorship in any form, and would die to protect you while you attack me. But I am not, and I have never ran a popularity contest-or poll, to decide which way the wind is blowing before I make my decisions in life. I take full responsibility for my actions at all times, and when I fail(and that's a lot) I'm human enough to know that sometimes, just saying "I'm sorry" isn't quite good enough. Life has consequences and so do our individual decisons!

          "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

          by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 01:16:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am mystified by the defensiveness (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian, ImpeachKingBushII

            and I say that sincerely.  You have read a lot into my remarks which simply isn't there.  Starting with the fact that I made no claim to know you nor any claim about who you are one way or another.  I do make the point, and it is a point I stand by, that anger and self-righteousness will never bring peace and understanding to this world.

            In none of my comments was I even thinking about the war crimes of the previous administration, nor the complicity of the current administration.  Nor do I have any disagreement with you whatsoever concerning the tyranny which is even now establishing itself virulently in our country.  As to your personal history, I am impressed but not surprised. I repeat, "I love what you bring to the table."

            Given your passion for individual liberty and against tyranny--a passion I share, if not as devoutly or as impressively--I am disheartened to find this vehement reaction to gentle words encouraging compassion, humility, and empathy, all human traits which I firmly believe to be a sine qua non for combatting the evils you hate.

            The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

            by geomoo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 01:28:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  that's just my writing/speaking style... (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Justina, Fabian, lotlizard, geomoo, thethinveil

              ...Forgive me. It's very hard to "untrain" oneself. Years of scholastic debate taught me a brutally honest skill that I used quite effectively in "dismembering" my opponents with swords made of words and slicing and dicing their arguments in front of large audiences. Glory years. It's hard to unring a bell and impossible turn back the clock. "The whole is equal to the sum of its parts". Yes, I've been in "combat mode" lately these days, as the HC debate winds down, and as I see the rise of pre-fascist corporatism in my nation of birth. I feel I've not done my duty, that I have let my God and my country down. This last year has been the hardest year for me. I almost died 4 times from nearly bleeding to death from a terminal liver dsease. So please don't take my own defensiveness to heart. I actually agree with many of your well-taken points. I just feel a sense of urgency that our time is too short to save America from this pervasive, persistent tyranny that has engulfed our land.

              "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

              by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 01:40:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No apology necessary. Thanks for explaining. (4+ / 0-)

                Your sincere passion comes through powerfully.  I had forgotten about your health challenges, which I now remember having read about.  It saddens me, but it is a part of life and death, so I can accept it with a degree of equanimity.  Otoh,  it is telling that the part of your comment that brings me to tears is this:

                I just feel a sense of urgency that our time is too short to save America from this pervasive, persistent tyranny that has engulfed our land.

                These are such difficult times.  Last week, when it became clear what this health bill will look like, and became clear how many people here on dkos fail to appreciate the degree to which our government is now effectively a corporate tyranny, utilized first and foremost as a tool for transferring wealth upward, I had a crisis wrt dkos.  I wondered if even participating here, a site in support of the Democratic Party, constitutes unacceptable complicity.

                I think I have reached a personal resolution.  I am trying to stop making myself crazy combatting the horrible lies and endless misperceptions concerning what is happening in our country.  It is just too big for one person to take on.  Also, I vowed to make a switch from attempting persuasion to one of simply attempting to name what I see.  Let the seeds fall where they will, on fallow or fertile ground.  I have been more at peace since reaching these two resolutions.

                My heart goes out to you in your illness.  But it seems obvious you are brave and realistic.  You can face your disease.  Even more deeply do I feel your pain of responsibility toward the country we both love.  That hurt, which I share, is more difficult to accept.  We all do what we can.  I take as a useful truth the advice of trainer Gil Reyes to Andre Agassiz:  "Your best is always good enough."

                I'm glad you're on my side.  May blessings be heaped upon you.

                The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

                by geomoo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:01:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  reminds one of my life's models... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Justina, geomoo

                  ...whose steadfastness I've always I tried to emulate. When this graduate of West Point reported to the President of VMI to teach, the president told him to "wait here, I'll be back shortly to speak with you". Well, the next day the president walked in and seeing this man still sitting there, asked him in utter amazement, "why are you still here"? His reply, "you told me to wait here until you got back".

                  He was one of the most gifted commanders in US Military history. His name was, General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson!

                  I've been called "hard-headed" and "a loose cannon" my whole life", and I owe that dubious distinction to the way Jackson was described, "Look at Jackson standing there like a damned stone wall!"

                  "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

                  by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:52:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  after re-reading your comment again... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  geomoo

                  ...let me just try to encourage you by saying, never give up, don't leave dkos or our party! Winners never quit and quitters never win! Before America entered the war, Churchill's Britain stood alone against Hitler's once invincible Werhmacht, but no matter the cost he was determined and undaunted by their brutality. No, he stuck to his guns and with our help, they not only survived but they prevailed in the end. And so it is with us. "Out-manned and out-gunned". That's how the corporate masters who really rule this nation snidely and insidiously look at us mere "traitorous rabble", proletariats! But we have one thing they don't have: We still have a voice, the vote, and up to and until the day comes that we can be arrested and tried for treason for the simple act of dissent and for speaking out against them, then we all have a chance to turn this whole thing around. It's not over until it's over, baby!

                  "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

                  by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 03:18:28 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  And, forgiveness, compassion, understanding (3+ / 0-)

            do not eliminate the need for justice.  They are not mutually exclusive.

            The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

            by geomoo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 01:38:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  excellent framing... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              geomoo

              ...I would only add that forgiveness, compassion and understanding, while they allow us to live through, learn from, and over-come our mistakes, it is justice that is the glue that holds any civilized society or nation of free man and women together. Without justice, there is only anarchy, slavery, oppression and death. Another one of my life-long heroes once said on March 23, 1775, and I feel they are just as relevant today as they were then:

              "It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, "Peace! Peace!" -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

              Patrick Henry of VA

              "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

              by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 03:43:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Recently, I read an article (0+ / 0-)

    about these kind of experiments. I couldn't help but draw an analogy to the Tea Baggers. Particularly the Stanford Prison Experiment. I thought about writing a diary but can't seem to suitably draw it all together.

    A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.

    by Purple Priestess on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:53:21 PM PDT

  •  Conservative Panelist Stephen Moore (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lupin, G2geek

    gets pwned on Bill Maher tonight.

    All this conservative fuss about the budget deficit and the impact of the HCR bill...

    the Mayor of San Francisco (I forget his name, I apologize) wonders why there wasn't a peep or a whisper about the budget deficit in 2001 when the CBO mentions that Bush's tax cuts added $1.3trillion to it.

    All Moore could do was change the subject and start whining about Medicare.

  •  Damn you Jon Stewart (0+ / 0-)

    Your Glenn Beck impersonation was so funny that it is impossible to forget.  I can still see you flailing and blubbering with that crazy stare whenever I shut my eyes.  Please don't be in my dreams.    

    If cats could blog.... they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:22:25 AM PDT

  •  "I was just following orders"... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lupin, lotlizard, Situational Lefty

    ...Tell that to the children that they're orphans now because we couldn't stop ourselves; "we had to obey our orders"!
    Photobucket

    And when they've grown up and they're looking for revenge --you know revenge is a dish best served cold, don't you?-- let me know how this worked out for you, all of you warmongerers on the right, who worshipped that torturer, the murderer of Baghdad's fathers, mothers and children, and all those who walked goose-stepping in blind obediance to the tune of Bush's sheet music: "America uber alles"!

    Photobucket

    "Peace is the protector of genius. War is the mortal enemy of both peace and genius."

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 12:26:41 AM PDT

  •  I read about this when I was a kid. (0+ / 0-)

    The writeup started out by saying that it was an experiment in obedience to authority.  To my 10- or 12-year old mind, that description was an abstraction: I hadn't yet begun to grasp the extent and depth of depravity of which humans are capable.  

    Then came the description of what actually occurred.  

    I'm one of those empathic types who automatically "puts himself" (it's not voluntary; the phrase "puts himself" does not do it justice, it just happens) into the scene.  To the extent that when there's something violent on TV beyond the level of a Batman-style choreographed fistfight, I switch the channel or leave the room.  I can't read descriptions of torture because they haunt my body in a visceral way for years.  

    So.

    I read about what happened.  And my automatic reaction was to see myself tell the experimenter, "excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom," and then head straight for the nearest payphone and dial Operator (this was before universal 9-1-1) and say "This is an emergency, get me the police....  Hello officer?  Someone is being held against their will and harmed at this address..."

    I have no doubt in my mind that I'd do exactly that, because when these scenarios run in my head, they are as real as if I was there.  I can still to this day see the picture in my mind's eye, of walking hurriedly down an office corridor, past the white porcelain drinking fountain, past the wooden doors with their overhead ventilation flaps open, and then running down the steps in front of the building to the payphone on the corner and looking over my shoulder as I dialed Operator, meanwhile wondering how long it would take for the police to arrive.  

    I find it interesting that the reactions were categorized as "compliant" and "rebellious," and that the "rebellious" reaction was to object and stop giving the shocks.  My reaction was to find an excuse to get out of that room, and find the first safe place to call for help in order to make it stop and get the victim safely out of there.  

    And to this day I can't grasp how anyone could keep pressing those buttons.  

    •  empathy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      is a terrible gift;
      i am another who cannot watch violence, even if it's mediated;
      when i was in high school, after a football game on the way home i saw some boy students getting assaulted on the street by other boy students, because one group were jews and the other italians, all americans of course; the sight made me terribly ill physically and psychologically, and abhorrence of violence stamped me forever;

      •  for some reason.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes

        ...when I'm on the scene of an actual emergency, I go into what I call "public safety mode," and get really detached so I can call 9-1-1 and get help.   The stuff that gets me torqued inside is when there's nothing I can do to help; probably because the "get help" reaction overrides the empathy in the same manner as the fight-or-flight reaction overrides pain.  

        Know what's really disgusting?  The word "bullying" is used as some kind of excuse or euphemism by which violence by kids on other kids is dismissed as "just kids being kids."  By that logic, violence by adults against adults should also be dismissed as "just grownups being grownups."   As it was for domestic abuse until recently.  

        All of this stuff has to be taken seriously, with a zero-tolerance policy whereby kids who beat up other kids get arrested and put through the juvenile court system, and remanded to psychologists for therapy if there is any way to fix them.  

        I wonder about this:

        Entactogenic (empathy-inducing) drugs as possible inpatient treatment for violent behavior.  Give someone a dose of MDMA or 2CBR or any of those, and expose them to high-def video of various scenes that include affection and violence, sequenced to elicit a therapeutic reaction.  

        That couldn't be done for pre-adolescent kids because their bodies react differently to meds than adults do, but it could be done for adolescents & adults.  

        As it turns out, some of those compounds have a rebound reaction a few days later, consisting of heightened anxiety.  That would be useful as well, for a re-exposure to violent stimuli, in the context of an aversive mood.  It would then be followed up a couple of days later with another exposure to affectionate stimuli as their mood shifts from anxious to normal, thereby providing positive reinforcement for the empathic mood they experienced in the entactogen session.  

        Hmm.  I should get in touch with MAPS about proposing a study.  They deal with all the researchers in the field, and sponsor projects of various kinds that receive FDA approvals.  

  •  yo Meteor Blades: James Prescott: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, isabelle hayes

    Bodily Pleasure and the Origins of Violence.  

    http://www.violence.de/...

    Quote:

    As a developmental neuropsychologist I have devoted a great deal of study to the peculiar relationship between violence and pleasure. I am now convinced that the deprivation of physical sensory pleasure is the principal root cause of violence. Laboratory experiments with animals show that pleasure and violence have a reciprocal relationship, that is, the presence of one inhibits the other. A raging, violent animal will abruptly calm down when electrodes stimulate the pleasure centers of its brain. Likewise, stimulating the violence centers in the brain can terminate the animal's sensual pleasure and peaceful behavior. When the brain's pleasure circuits are 'on,' the violence circuits are 'off,' and vice versa. Among human beings, a pleasure-prone personality rarely displays violence or aggressive behaviors, and a violent personality has little ability to tolerate, experience, or enjoy sensuously pleasing activities. As either violence or pleasure goes up, the other goes down.

    Results:

    Correlation level of .98 cross-culturally.  The higher the level of sensory pleasure in a culture, the lower the level of violence, and vice-versa.  

    •  That's why TPTB hate the DFH (Dirty F'n Hippies) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, isabelle hayes

      … and moved to shut down the counterculture by imposing draconian penalties on use of psychedelics, cannabis, etc.

      If people discover the pleasure of everyday life, the violent culture of war and its handmaiden, economic exploitation, is undermined.

      WALKING IN SPACE
      from the musical Hair
      by Gerome Ragni / James Rado / Galt MacDermot

      Doors locked (doors locked)
      Blinds pulled (blinds pulled)
      Lights low (lights low)
      Flames high (flames high)

      My body (my body)
      My body

      My body (my body)
      My body

      My body
      Is walking in space
      My soul is in orbit
      With G~d face to face

      Floating, flipping
      Flying, tripping

      Tripping from Pottsville to Mainline
      Tripping from Mainline to Moonville

      (Tripping from "Pot"-sville to Starlight
      Tripping from Starlight to Moonville)

      On a rocket to
      The Fourth Dimension
      Total self awareness
      The intention

      My mind is as clear as country air
      I feel my flesh, all colors mesh

      Red black
      Blue brown
      Yellow crimson
      Green orange
      Purple pink
      Violet white
      White white
      White white
      White white

      All the clouds are cumuloft
      Walking in space
      Oh my G~d your skin is soft
      I love your face

      How dare they try to end this beauty?
      How dare they try to end this beauty?

      To keep us under foot
      They bury us in soot
      Pretending it's a chore
      To ship us off to war

      In this dive
      We rediscover sensation
      In this dive
      We rediscover sensation

      Walking in space
      We find the purpose of peace
      The beauty of life
      You can no longer hide

      Our eyes are open
      Our eyes are open
      Our eyes are open
      Our eyes are open
      Wide wide wide!

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 02:55:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it was even simpler than that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        Hippies were smoking pot and promoting uninhibited sex, and engaging in quasi-sexual and nonsexual affectionate behaviors in public places.

        Pot made sex more pleasurable, so it reinforced the promotion of uninhibited sex.    

        Nothing enrages a puritan more than seeing people making out.  All the more so if the guy has hair down to there and the puritan mistakes him for a gal and gets a Boehner thinking he's watching a couple of lesbians, and then snaps out of it and gets enraged that he got a Boehner over another guy!

        Contraceptives had become legal via the Griswold case, so that meant the end of the risk of pregnancy.  That pissed off the puritans even more.

        Ever since, they're trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

        This suggests a bumper sticker that will be persuasive to middle-of-the-roaders but enrage puritans all the more:

        Enjoy your God-given body!

  •  Thank you for referencing Milgram. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes

    Another fascinating/horrifying study (can't remember offhand who the scientist was), the subject was asked to choose which among two lines was longest (and it was fairly obvious that one line was longer). However, the others in the group (confederates of the scientist, unbeknownst to the subject) all insisted that the shorter line was longest.

    Most of the subjects changed their answer to conform with the majority's response, regardless of what they saw with their own lying eyes.

    Chilling. But revelatory.

  •  (facepalm) (0+ / 0-)

    "All of which proves, once again, that you don't have to be an SS officer to willingly torture someone to death."

    No, what it shows is that there are a whole lot more metaphorical SS officers than people are generally willing to acknowledge. Instead, people like this diarist take the meta-justification route, maintaining the fiction that it's "just a few bad apples".

  •  Most people, I think, assume that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lupin, mimi, Fabian, DrTerwilliker

    torture is gratifying to the perpetrator.  So, if they engage in an action that's personally repulsive, against their personal inclination, they perceive it as an act of obedience and self-abnegation.  And being obedient is, presumably, a virtue.  Sacrificing one's own preferences and subordinating oneself to do another's bidding is virtuous.  

    "This hurts me more than you," is a common and sincere statement by a person who's carrying out socially prescribed behavior.
    That coercing someone to engage in personally disgusting behavior (swallowing goldfish, for example) is a strategy for subordinating a person by making him feel guilty for having been "weak"--i.e. felt revulsion at swallowing a live fish.  Most people aren't aware that the bonds of personal attitude and commitment (love, honor, obedience) are much stronger than any that are externally imposed.  That's the value of the "all-volunteer" military.  Troops that have given their word of honor to support their buddies (a microcosm of the nation they love) are much less likely to resist what we would consider unlawful directives.  They are bound by their own honor to obey.  They are bound to disregard personal preferences.  DADT is an integral part of that.  When personal preferences are given any status, then the whole strategy of control through intimidation is undermined.

    There's a reason so many troops are coming back with PTSD.  They've been traumatized by the horrors they were forced to commit, but which they had agreed to.  And for what?

    Evil tricks good people into doing bad.  For some reason, ever since the Garden of Eden, we blame the doer and let the trickster go free.  I suspect it's a matter of pride.

    http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

    by hannah on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 01:53:12 AM PDT

  •  As Greenwald pointed out.... (0+ / 0-)

    ...a couple of days ago, what the filmmakers tried to prove and warn against has become standard operating procedure among this country's political and media elites.

    OVER HERE: AN AMERICAN EXPAT IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, is now available on Amazon US

    by Lupin on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 03:04:49 AM PDT

  •  While I am not a Bush fan your attempted (0+ / 0-)

    linkage was not even close.

  •  Explosive documents involving Irans Central Bank (0+ / 0-)

    http://ccoaler.blogspot.com/...

    Note: I dont speak Dutch this well

    Dutch secret service found explosive sheets.They describe how Irans Central Bank circumvented international sanctions for years against Iran's banks which handle the rocket and nuke program carefully. Account numbers, sums, schemes, everything black on white.

  •  always question authority and trust your thinking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes

    thanks meteor blades for reminding me. I know myself, and I know that it takes mucho mindfulness on my part to resist. My polish/catholic/boyscout training is in obedience, so I can't easily say that I wouldn't push the button.

    I trust that my self-knowledge will be there for me should I ever be told by an authority figure who I respect to do something cruel or unethical, but I cannot take it for granted.

  •  I think we train ourselves. (0+ / 0-)

    My guess is that almost everybody thinks they would give up at least during the moderate shock phase.  The evidence says otherwise.  

    My own guess is that habit trumps thought.  A person who refrains from joining the crowd in picking on people is less likely to push the levers.

    2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

    by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 05:18:54 AM PDT

  •  Thank Michel Foucault for Milgram redux on TV n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

    by annieli on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 05:41:19 AM PDT

  •  Expts like Milgram refute the conservative mantra (0+ / 0-)

    you dont need rules or laws or codes of conduct when you put person or 1 group of people at the mercy of another. All you need is to make sure the 'right kind of people' are in charge. You know, right thinkin, Gawd fearin folk. Total Bullshit. The subjects in Milgram, or on French reality TV, werent sadists or sociopaths or anything of the sort. Thats too easy. They were perfectly 'normal' people. The experimenters in Milgram didnt hold a gun to their head or threaten them in any way. All they said was 'I'll take full responsibility. Please continue.' Over and over again.
    That was all it took.
    These situations always turn out badly. Always.
    Because people are inherently weak.

  •  For a (not all that) fictionalized account (0+ / 0-)

    of Milgram see -

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    Yes its Shatner but not in 'dramatic gopher' mode.

  •  MAYBE the audience was NOT unaware (0+ / 0-)

    If I were French, I would be thinking "there is no way they are actually going to put that guy in danger, so this could be some sort of sociological experiment. And since I wasn't educated with Texas schoolbooks, I can make that conclusion."

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