Humans are still nasty little monkeys.


So, it looks like ABC found a way to re-do the Milgram Experiment minus the shaky ethics. 


Has the human race evolved a compassion gland after 40 years?  Perhaps the leaps in technology have taught humans that “just following orders” is a shitty excuse?  Maybe, just maybe, people will reject a sadistic “authority” and think for themselves?


Of course not.  Just like last time, about 70% of the test subjects would willingly electrocute another human because they were told to.


However, some other interesting things were learned:


·                                 The experimenters’ physical presence has a marked impact on his authority. As cited earlier, obedience dropped off sharply when orders were given by telephone. The experimenter could often induce a disobedient subject to go on by returning to the laboratory.

·                                 Conflicting authority severely paralyzes action. When two experimenters of equal status, both seated at the command desk, gave incompatible orders, no shocks were delivered past the point of their disagreement.

·                                 The rebellious action of others severely undermines authority. In one variation, three teachers (two actors and a real subject) administered a test and shocks. When the two actors disobeyed the experimenter and refused to go beyond a certain shock level, thirty-six of forty subjects joined their disobedient peers and refused as well.

“Perhaps only when rebels outnumber authority figures can disobedience readily spread.”


That last line sounds important. 

One thought on “Humans are still nasty little monkeys.

  1. Of course the alternative message I get from this is that standing up to authority acting in ethically suspect ways is even more important than before. Not only on its own merits, but for convincing others. Which is at least somewhat heartening.

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