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Mind Control – Stanley Milgram’s Experiment
In the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust the world was shocked that normal citizens could be ordered to carryout heinous crimes.
Stanley Milgram developed experiments to test people’s obedience to authority and determine how far regular people would go in inflicting pain on others simply because some authority told them to.
The experiment consisted of two people on Milgram’s team, an Experimenter and an Assistant. The Experimenter represented the authoritative figure and the Assistant was secretly assigned to represented the citizen subject.
A newspaper advert for a Psychology Experiment offering $4.50 per hour Recruited willing participants who became the Teacher representing ‘government’ workers under officials.
On arriving the Experimenter explains to the Recruit that they will be testing the effect of punishment on learning ability.
The Assistant and Recruit draw lots to determine who will be the “Teacher” and who will be the “Student”. The lots were rigged so as to ensure that the Recruit always became the Teacher.
The Assistant Student is then strapped into an electric chair connected to a switch marked with increasing shock voltages controlled by the Teacher. The switch started with 15Volts and increased in 15 Volt increments all the way to 450 Volts. The switch is also rated with labels starting from “slight shock” to “danger: severe shock” and the final two switches are labeled “XXX”.
The Teacher then reads two-world pairs from a list and the Student has to repeat the two word pair. If the Student answers correctly the Teacher moves on to the next two-word pair in the list. If the Student gets the answer wrong, the Teacher administers a shock to the Student starting at 15V and increasing the shock 15V for each incorrect answer.
The Student is actually part of the test team and acts as though being shocked.
Astonishingly every Recruit shocked the Student up to the 300 Volt switch.
65% of the Recruits shocked the Student to the maximum 450 Volts.
Milgram also conducted several follow-up experiments. In one experiment the Recruited “Teacher” was required to hold the hand of the Student when shocking the Student at any level above 150V. 32% of the Recruits held the hand of the Student when administering shocks in excess of 400V. Other experiments revealed that Recruited Teachers were less obedient to Experimenters instructions to shock the Student when the Experimenter communicated with the Recruited Teacher remotely via telephone.
The experiments have been replicated by may other researchers around the world from 1961 to 1985 revealing the same astonishing obedience of Recruits to inflict pain on Students just because they are told to by someone claiming ‘authority’.
What is also interesting from Milgram’s research is that some “Teacher” Recruits would question the Experiment as to who was responsible for any harm to the Student. When the Experimenter told the Recruit they accepted full responsibility, the Recruits, often despite being extremely uncomfortable continued to shock the Student.
“I observed a mature and initially poised businessman enter the laboratory smiling and confident. Within 20 minuets he was reduced to a twitching, stuttering wreck, who was rapidly approaching nervous collapse. He constantly pulled on his ear lobe, and twisted his hands. At one point he pushed his fist into his forehead and muttered ‘Oh God, lets stop it’. And yet he continued to respond to every word of the Experimenter, and obeyed to the end.” – Milgram
The Big Question is whether recruits under some sort of authority are not guilty when they commit crime when their authority tells them to. Milgram’s experiments were inspired by the Eichmann Trials. Eichmann was a high ranking Nazi official largely responsible for setting up concentration camps and exterminating millions of Jews. When he was caught in South America many years after the war and brought to trial in Israel, Eichmann’s primary defense was that his authorities told him to do it and that he was just following orders. Eichmann with his calm, cool and collected posture on the stand during trial shocked the world. Here was what appeared to be a reasonable man calmly saying that he slaughtered millions of people in the most horrific way because he was a good respectable official simply obeying the orders and wishes of his authorities. Eichmann was properly found guilty and executed. (See also Bushes and Bush Bolt Hole).
Clearly a key to this behavior, as reflected by the Recruits who asked who accepted responsibility for hurting the Student, is accountability. Clearly authorities are accountable, despite the fact that they are seldom held accountable. Those carrying out the crime for the authorities are also obviously accountable. However, unless their is a clear and obvious understanding in society and law that if you commit a crime, no matter who tells you, you are responsible, their is little to prevent criminals running amuck in our government.
Results from Milgram’s experiment would be interesting if the Recruit “Teacher” was told that they would be held fully responsible for any injury suffered by the Student. At what voltage level would the Recruit stop shocking his subject?
Biblical Law which is defined in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, perhaps reflects a severity intended to bring the realization of responsibility and accountability to everyone. Judge law, or “Case Law” as it is more commonly referred to, while obviously void it is however currently the de-facto law in U.S. Courts, is creating exactly the opposite problem. See 11th Amendment which eliminates Judicial Power and how the U.S. Judiciary is absurdly claiming that the 11th Amendment grants government officials “sovereign immunity” when in fact the 11th Amendment and the very construct of the Constitution states just the opposite. Criminals are often not held accountable by U.S. courts because they claim something in their past made them do it..