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Milgram's experiments (chapter 12) 
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Post Milgram's experiments (chapter 12)
I'm not sure where to post this, I hesitated between the chapter 12 thread (which really has a lot of discussion already) and a new thread.
Then, I may be repeating or ignoring what others have already written, but my copy of the book only arrived yesterday, and for the moment Z and wiki are a lot to digest.

I am going to comment on Milgram's experiments in reference to what Zimbardo writes in ch 12 and also to the wikipedia article (which I highly recommend).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

Obedience to authority.
I don't know what to think. At first I concentrated on the date Zimbardo gives, 1972: I thought (I still think) that over 30 years ago there was more readiness to obey authority (from the pamphlet the people who expemimented could not be students) than there would be today, but then wiki explains that Milgram repeated his experiements over the years, with similar results.

I can't deny that these experiments were made, and yet this contradicts what I see in everyday life. In life, people will do a lot of things to obey and please bosses, because they want to keep their jobs. Apart from that, I don't see much eagerness to toe the line. For example, if people are reminded by authority that they/ their children/ their dogs make too much noise, they are unlikely to comply with the law and change their behaviour.
If the "authority" is one degree below the police and cannot give a fine, they are likely to be insulted as well.
I also see people arguing at length when stopped by the police and they (the driver) are obviously in the wrong.

Could we perhaps argue that someone who volunteers for an experiment is not in the same frame of mind as someone who would be asked (but not told) to take part?

Then, a small point about the "experts".

Zimbardo devotes a paragraph, p 271, to questions which were asked to " a group of forty psychiatrists" before the experiment was done.
I was very surprised that psychiatrists should have beeen willing to commit themselves to answer such a question, but in wikipedia the experts become "fourteen Yale University senior-year psychology majors".
This version, especially in view of the answers they give, makes much more sense to me.

Responsibility: Of course, the willingness to hurt others is the most shocking aspect, but since I can't explain this, I would at least have thought that people would keep their self-interest in mind.


p 271: " when the experimenter reassured him that he would take responsibility, the worried teacher obeyed and continued..."

So, the teachers were either under shock and unable to think, or they were extremely na


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