In 1961, with memories of Holocaust atrocities and the prosecution of Nazi officials at Nuremburg still fresh, psychologist Stanley Milgram undertook a series of now infamous experiments on obedience and reprehensible behavior.
About two-thirds of Milgram’s nearly 800 study subjects, pressed by an authoritative experimenter, were willing to administer increasingly powerful electric shocks to an unseen stranger despite cries of agony and pleas to stop.
“Milgram claimed to have found sort of a dark side to human nature that people were not quite as attuned to,” says Matthew Hollander, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “His study participants were much more likely to obey than he expected, and that was an understandably uncomfortable result.”
But Milgram divided his subjects into just two categories: obedient or disobedient. After examining the experiences of more than 100 of Milgram’s participants, Hollander sees a great deal more nuance in their performances — and maybe a way to prevent real-world occurrences of authority overriding ethical judgment.
FK – The same humanity has for thousands of years burned people alive, tortured them for not ‘agreeing’ with the proper version, sub-version or subversion or for not submitting to taxation or enslavement(same thing) and worshiped ‘gods’ that were patterned after ancient tyrannical kings who did all mentioned above. Why are we surprised? I’m not.
FK – All this sounds wunnerful but there will always be those who seek to fill the power vacuum, always. Until the so-called ‘good’ people learn how to stand up and prepare for what will be required nothing is likely to change.
And he’s assuming there will be ‘war crimes trials’ where the truly guilty are tried. The victors write the history books.