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Is Anti-Obedience Training Either Necessary or Possible?:

 1 The Handle, Tue, 4th Sep '12 7:28:46 PM from Location, Location, Loca
First, a few words about The Stanley Milgram Experiment1:

Stanley Milgram had done it to investigate the causes of World War II, to try to understand why the citizens of Germany had obeyed Hitler.

So he had designed an experiment to investigate obedience, to see if Germans were, for some reason, more liable to obey harmful orders from authority figures.

First he'd run a pilot version of his experiment on American subjects, as a control.

And afterward he hadn't bothered trying it in Germany.

Experimental apparatus: A series of 30 switches set in a horizontal line, with labels starting at '15 volts' and going up to '450 volts', with labels for each group of four switches. The first group of four labeled 'Slight Shock', the sixth group labeled 'Extreme Intensity Shock', the seventh group labeled 'Danger: Severe Shock', and the two last switches left over labeled just 'XXX'.

And an actor, a confederate of the experimenter, who had appeared to the true subjects to be someone just like them: someone who had answered the same ad for participants in an experiment on learning, and who had lost a (rigged) lottery and been strapped into a chair, along with the electrodes. The true experimental subjects had been given a slight shock from the electrodes, just so that they could see that it worked.

The true subject had been told that the experiment was on the effects of punishment on learning and memory, and that part of the test was to see if it made a difference what sort of person administered the punishment; and that the person strapped to the chair would try to memorize sets of word pairs, and that each time the 'learner' got one wrong, the 'teacher' was to administer a successively stronger shock.

At the 300-volt level, the actor would stop trying to call out answers and begin kicking at the wall, after which the experimenter would instruct the subjects to treat non-answers as wrong answers and continue.

At the 315-volt level the pounding on the wall would be repeated.

After that nothing would be heard.

If the subject objected or refused to press a switch, the experimenter, maintaining an impassive demeanor and dressed in a gray lab coat, would say 'Please continue', then 'The experiment requires that you continue', then 'It is absolutely essential that you continue', then 'You have no other choice, you must go on'. If the fourth prod still didn't work, the experiment halted there.

Before running the experiment, Milgram had described the experimental setup, and then asked fourteen psychology seniors what percentage of subjects they thought would go all the way up to the 450-volt level, what percentage of subjects would press the last of the two switches marked XXX, after the victim had stopped responding.

The most pessimistic answer had been 3%.

The actual number had been 26 out of 40.

The subjects had sweated, groaned, stuttered, laughed nervously, bitten their lips, dug their fingernails into their flesh. But at the experimenter's prompting, they had, most of them, gone on administering what they believed to be painful, dangerous, possibly lethal electrical shocks. All the way to the end.

It was dangerous, to try and guess at evolutionary psychology if you weren't a professional evolutionary psychologist; but when Harry had read about the Milgram experiment, the thought had occurred to him that situations like this had probably arisen many times in the ancestral environment, and that most potential ancestors who'd tried to disobey Authority were dead. Or that they had, at least, done less well for themselves than the obedient. People thought themselves good and moral, but when push came to shove, some switch flipped in their brain, and it was suddenly a lot harder to heroically defy Authority than they thought. Even if you could do it, it wouldn't be easy, it wouldn't be some effortless display of heroism. You would tremble, your voice would break, you would be afraid; would you be able to defy Authority even then?

If you were given a glass half-empty and half-full, then that was the way reality was, that was the truth and it was so; but you still had a choice of how to feel about it, whether you would despair over the empty half or rejoice in the water that was there.

Milgram had tried certain other variations on his test.

In the eighteenth experiment, the experimental subject had only needed to call out the test words to the victim strapped into the chair, and record the answers, while someone else pressed the switches. It was the same apparent suffering, the same frantic pounding followed by silence; but it wasn't you pressing the switch. You just watched it happen, and read the questions to the person being tortured.

37 of 40 subjects had continued their participation in that experiment to the end, the 450-volt end marked 'XXX'.

One may decide to feel cynical about that.

But 3 out of 40 subjects had refused to participate all the way to the end.

They did exist, in the world, the people who wouldn't hurt others just because authority told them to. The ones who had sheltered Gypsies and Jews and homosexuals in their attics during the Holocaust, and sometimes lost their lives for it.

And were those people from some other species than humanity? Did they have some extra gear in their heads, some additional chunk of neural circuitry, which lesser mortals did not possess? But that was not likely, given the logic of sexual reproduction which said that the genes for complex machinery would be scrambled beyond repair, if they were not universal.

Whatever these people were made from, everyone had those same parts inside them somewhere...

...well, that was a nice thought but it wasn't strictly true, there was such a thing as literal brain damage, people could lose genes and the complex machine could stop working, there were sociopaths and psychopaths, people who lacked the gear to care. Maybe the instigators of atrocities had been born like that, or maybe they had known good and yet still chosen evil; at this point it didn't matter in the slightest. But a supermajority of the population ought to be capable of learning to do what Hermione and Holocaust resisters did.

The people who had been run through the Milgram experiment, who had trembled and sweated and nervously laughed as they went all the way to pressing the switches marked 'XXX', many of them had written to thank Milgram, afterward, for what they had learned about themselves. That, too, was part of the story, the legend of that legendary experiment.

Some people are able to resist this kind of coercion. Enough to think they are not weird mutants, but normal enough that we could all be like them, if we learned how to. It is in human nature to give in, and it is in human nature not to give in: human nature is flexible. It's only a matter of figuring out how.

With a population that is trained to resist this (rather than accept it, such as in countries that have conscription), dictatorships, ocupations, and other exertions of power by force would have a hard time subjugating the country without exterminating the natives and replacing them with docile colonists. Because people would simply refuse to obey, rather die than obey, and dictators and opressors would find themselves powerless as no-one listens to them.

Of course, it is not in the interest of governments (or authority wielders in general) to promote this kind of knowledge. And so the Stanley Milgram Experiment or the Stamford Prison Experiment aren't taught in school, and children aren't taught to disobey their parents and teachers when their consciousness tells them it's right to. And I'm not suggesting there's a conspiracy to censor this, simply a natural reluctance and resistance to propagating it.

I'd also like to quote Aldous Huxley on this:

let me quote Aldous Huxley on this:

In their anti-rational propaganda the enemies of freedom systematically pervert the resources of lang­uage in order to wheedle or stampede their victims into thinking, feeling and acting as they, the mind-manipulators, want them to think, feel and act. An education for freedom (and for the love and intelli­gence which are at once the conditions and the results of freedom) must be, among other things, an educa­tion in the proper uses of language. For the last two or three generations philosophers have devoted a great deal of time and thought to the analysis of symbols and the meaning of meaning. How are the words and sentences which we speak related to the things, per­sons and events, with which we have to deal in our day-to-day living? To discuss this problem would take too long and lead us too far afield. Suffice it to say that all the intellectual materials for a sound education in the proper use of language — an education on every level from the kindergarten to the postgraduate school — are now available. Such an education in the art of distinguishing between the proper and the improper use of symbols could be inaugurated immediately. In­deed it might have been inaugurated at any time during the last thirty or forty years. And yet children are nowhere taught, in any systematic way, to distinguish true from false, or meaningful from meaningless, state­ments. Why is this so? Because their elders, even in the democratic countries, do not want them to be given this kind of education. In this context the brief, sad history of the Institute for Propaganda Analysis is highly significant. The Institute was founded in 1937, when Nazi propaganda was at its noisiest and most effective, by Mr. Filene, the New England philanthro­pist. Under its auspices analyses of non-rational propa­ganda were made and several texts for the instruction of high school and university students were prepared. Then came the war — a total war on all the fronts, the mental no less than the physical. With all the Allied governments engaging in "psychological warfare, " an insistence upon the desirability of analyzing propa­ganda seemed a bit tactless. The Institute was closed in 1941. But even before the outbreak of hostilities, there were many persons to whom its activities seemed profoundly objectionable. Certain educators, for exam­ple, disapproved of the teaching of propaganda anal­ysis on the grounds that it would make adolescents unduly cynical. Nor was it welcomed by the military authorities, who were afraid that recruits might start to analyze the utterances of drill sergeants. And then there were the clergymen and the advertisers. The clergymen were against propaganda analysis as tend­ing to undermine belief and diminish churchgoing; the advertisers objected on the grounds that it might undermine brand loyalty and reduce sales.

These fears and dislikes were not unfounded. Too searching a scrutiny by too many of the common folk of what is said by their pastors and masters might prove to be profoundly subversive. In its present form, the social order depends for its continued existence on the acceptance, without too many embarrassing questions, of the propaganda put forth by those in author­ity and the propaganda hallowed by the local tradi­tions. The problem, once more, is to find the happy mean. Individuals must be suggestible enough to be willing and able to make their society work, but not so suggestible as to fall helplessly under the spell of pro­fessional mind-manipulators. Similarly, they should be taught enough about propaganda analysis to preserve them from an uncritical belief in sheer nonsense, but not so much as to make them reject outright the not always rational outpourings of the well-meaning guardians of tradition. Probably the happy mean be­tween gullibility and a total skepticism can never be discovered and maintained by analysis alone. This rather negative approach to the problem will have to be supplemented by something more positive — the enunciation of a set of generally acceptable values based upon a solid foundation of facts. The value, first of all, of individual freedom, based upon the facts of human diversity and genetic uniqueness; the value of charity and compassion, based upon the old familiar fact, lately rediscovered by modern psychiatry — the fact that, whatever their mental and physical di­versity, love is as necessary to human beings as food and shelter; and finally the value of intelligence, with­out which love is impotent and freedom unattainable. This set of values will provide us with a criterion by which propaganda may be judged. The propaganda that is found to be both nonsensical and immoral may be rejected out of hand. That which is merely irra­tional, but compatible with love and freedom, and not on principle opposed to the exercise of intelligence, may be provisionally accepted for what it is worth.

This is from a derail in the Arab Spring thread, starting here and ending here. We were trying to make sense of some atrocities Assad's soldiers performed (shooting babies in the head point-blank, for instance), compared it to other atrocities Saddam did that would make The Joker proud, and it got me wondering whether it's possible to devise a training and a protocol that would equip people to deal with this kind of coercion, so that they can overcome their instinctual fear of authority and choose according to what they think is right, unimpeded by blackmail or other forms of terror that are only effective if you let them be.

So, what do you think? Is Anti-Obedience Training Either Necessary or Possible?

1In the Milgram Experiment, the subjects were told that they were participating in an experiment about how pain affects intelligence. Actors were set up as fake subjects, answering multiple choice questions. The actual experiment's subjects were set up as "teachers" and their role was to give an electric shock by turning a knob in a machine that they had been shown, always increasing the strength of the shock with each wrong answer. Most of the subjects followed the instructions all the way, relying on the authority of the people doing the experiment. They even gave lethal doses of electricity to the actors. Of course, the machine didn't really give electric shocks to the actors; this experiment was about whether or not someone would obey instructions against their own morality.

edited 4th Sep '12 9:35:12 PM by BestOf

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 2 Best Of, Tue, 4th Sep '12 9:35:52 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
Brief summary of the Milgram Experiment added to the OP. Long quotes, YT vids and links to articles should always come with a summary in Opening Posts.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
No and no.

If it worked, why would they obey the training?
 
 4 The Handle, Tue, 4th Sep '12 9:39:09 PM from Location, Location, Loca
Duly noted, thank you. Well summed up.

edited 4th Sep '12 10:29:01 PM by TheHandle

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
They did exist, in the world, the people who wouldn't hurt others just because authority told them to. The ones who had sheltered Gypsies and Jews and homosexuals in their attics during the Holocaust, and sometimes lost their lives for it.

Some people are able to resist this kind of coercion. Enough to think they are not weird mutants, but normal enough that we could all be like them, if we learned how to. It is in human nature to give in, and it is in human nature not to give in: human nature is flexible. It's only a matter of figuring out how.

I am not sure this based on individual ability. Human need confirmation from others that what they are doing are right. People who wouldn't hurt others in Milgram experiment also obeying Authority, it might be their parent teaching, it might be their friends is anti violence believer. its not ability to resist coercion, but they simply have other Authority that they obey.

They are many syrian soldiers who refused orders and deserted, many of them come from Sunni families. Occasion when people resist authority often happen when people believe authority orders conflicted with what they taught since childhood. People who hiding Jews and oppose Nazi gather together in various resistance groups. Even anti-authority grouping such as hippies and punk gather in groups, and obey their own code of conduct.

 6 The Handle, Tue, 4th Sep '12 10:34:48 PM from Location, Location, Loca
So, according to you, the resisters were all of the inner-directed type?

The tradition-directed type' dominates in primitive societies. Rituals, routines, and kinship ties ensure each generation does things as they have always been done.

The inner-directed type dominates in industrial economies. This type is guided by an inner set of goals and principles. These values are planted within the individual by his parents during his childhood, and act as an inner gyroscope – spinning throughout his life and keeping him on course. The inner-directed type is focused on producing more than consuming. He enjoys going it alone, and while he conforms his outward behavior to match societal norms, the opinions of others have little sway on his inner life. He would rather be esteemed than loved.

The other-directed type dominates in a service, trade, and communications-driven economy. This type is very sensitive to the preferences and expectations of others. He always has his antenna up to receive the signals of other people, and watches what they are doing, thinking, and feeling on his radar. The other-directed type is focused more on consuming than producing. He looks to his peers and the media for guidance on how to live and is group and team-minded. He would rather be loved than esteemed.

Instead (and this often gets ignored), at the end of The Lonely Crowd Riesman argues that the ideal to strive for is a fourth type: the autonomous.

The autonomous has “clear cut, internalized goals, ” but unlike the inner-directed, he chooses those goals for himself; his “goals, and the drive toward them, are rational and non-authoritarian and not compulsive.” He can cooperate with others like the other-directed, but “maintains the right of private judgment.” He’s involved in his world, but his “acceptance of social and political authority is always conditional.”

Essentially, the autonomous “are those who on the whole are capable of conforming to the behavioral norms of their society…but are free to choose whether to conform or not.” The autonomous stands outside and above the other types; he understands them, can reflect on them, and then can freely choose when and if to resist them or act in accordance with them. He is able to transcend his culture—by turns overruling it and joining in with it as he himself chooses in order to further his goals. The autonomous man is both idealistic and pragmatic.

Don't you think a state of Autonomy and Self-Direction is desirable for everyone, in morality as well as in everything else?
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
No, I think everybody is influenced by three type. Inner and Tradition from their parents, Outer from mass media, friend and co-worker.

obedience to experimenter in Milgram is also inner-directed, we were told to respect people in charge, not only outer-directed. i don't think it could be separated easily.

“There can be no such thing as a society or a person wholly dependent on tradition-direction, inner-direction, or other direction: each of these modes of conformity is universal, and the question is always one of the degree to which an individual or a social group places reliance on one or another of the three available mechanisms. And you can move from greater dependence on one to greater dependence on another during the course of your life.”

I don't think autonomous is possible. where does he get his ideal and goals, if not from other people ?

 8 The Handle, Tue, 4th Sep '12 11:21:07 PM from Location, Location, Loca
The same place other people get it, and, ultimately, that can't just be "each other". Their experiences, their sensibilities, the forks and choices one makes in one's life.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 9 Aceof Spades, Tue, 4th Sep '12 11:47:49 PM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
No one forms an opinion in a vacuum. So yeah, "each other" is a valid example. And generally people will choose to do the opposite of something just as often as they agree.

In any event, how would you even begin to classify anti-obedience training? It's not practical. Plus, you generally want people to obey you, particularly in situations where that ensures things run smoothly and without incident. It's just... not possible. And, given what I know if history, not actually necessary either. There is always someone inclined to buck the system.
 10 The Handle, Wed, 5th Sep '12 12:11:30 AM from Location, Location, Loca
Plus, you generally want people to obey you, particularly in situations where that ensures things run smoothly and without incident.

I want people to do what's right. Smoothness comes second to that. I would not want them to obey me smoothly if I told them to do something wrong.

That and discipline are two very different things, though: if we have agreed in advance that they should obey certain authorities, in a certain context, to a certain limit, then obedience will be expected, as it was promised in informed consent. Such as the case of soldiers, who promised to obey their officers, while on duty, within the limits of the Laws And Customs Of War, that were already known to them when they signed up.

That doesn't mean that those soldiers shouldn't be able to decide, on their own, at any time, to challenge orders given to them, having weighted the consequences and decided to face them. If it is possible to train humans to be able to choose to obey rather than obey by compulsion, then I at least would be eager to take that training, as I would not want to do something I'd regret simply because someone in a Nice Hat told me that "I must obey" and that "I have no choice."
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 11 Greenmantle, Wed, 5th Sep '12 12:36:24 AM from Failing Britannia Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
... and?
[up]

...if we have agreed in advance that they should obey certain authorities, in a certain context, to a certain limit, then obedience will be expected, as it was promised in informed consent.

...and what it they don't, and reject all authority?
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" — Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 12 The Handle, Wed, 5th Sep '12 12:56:58 AM from Location, Location, Loca
You mean openly and overtly? I think it would be an unwise choice, but as long as they know the price and are ready to pay it, that is their choice as autonomous adults. For one thing, they would not get the benefits of the agreements: you can choose openly not to accept the bonds that come with enlisting, but then you won't get to enlist. If you lie about accepting them, and act against them, you will be court-martialled for it (or fragged, depending on context).

edited 5th Sep '12 1:01:00 AM by TheHandle

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
If it is possible to train humans to be able to choose to obey rather than obey by compulsion

Why do you assume people in Milgram experiment and soldiers who commit atrocities didn't Choose to obey ?

in Milgram experiment, the experimenter wore lab coat, build the machine, and possibly know more about electricity effect on human body, all good reasons to trust his judgment more than your own individual judgment. in soldiers case, they obey orders from superior officer, who know more about battle tactic, politics, law of war, etc more than they do. Not to mention they have time constraint, they couldn't just ask for time off to consider were to obey or not.

 14 Greenmantle, Wed, 5th Sep '12 2:20:16 AM from Failing Britannia Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
... and?
[up][up]

No, I meant in your Anti-Obedience training — what if someone rebelled against it, and became as it were, a Rebellious Rebel? Because don't you need a certain level of obedience for Anti-Obedience training to even occur?

edited 5th Sep '12 2:23:13 AM by Greenmantle

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" — Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 15 The Handle, Wed, 5th Sep '12 3:26:53 AM from Location, Location, Loca
[up][up] and [up] Those would be fair points, and I commend your ingenuity in coming up with them. But,
  • The labels did say "danger", "potentially lethal", and so on, and the behavior of the patient was clearly alarming: no-one in their right mind should continue the experiment if the patient stopped answering the questions and only screamed, the same way that no one should shoot babies in the head, no matter how much more strategy their boss knows. You can't simply rely on authority and believer thereafter that the consequences are not your fault. Sure, there are blurry cases where you need to put your trust into authority, and they may abuse that trust, and that would be a betrayal on their part. These are not blurry cases, they are extremely clear cut, and you need to be able to notice when that happens and think before obeying.
  • You are being trained to only obey within the limits of what is reasonable, and to be able to have your ability to judge what is reasonable not to be coulded by an irrational compulsion to obey. Not to systematically disobey anything and everything, otherwise it would be a Logic Bomb.

I feel like I shouldn't have had to explain this, I feel like you haven't read the whole OP, and I feel like you're being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. If that is what you are doing, I would rather like you to stop.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 16 Michael, Wed, 5th Sep '12 3:56:20 AM Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
So that's what this does
I wonder if it was influential on the subjects' decision that the actors had freely consented to this treatment?
Balance - the original sixth sense.
 17 Black Humor, Wed, 5th Sep '12 4:09:52 AM from Zombie City
No, because part of the experiment was that the actors specifically withdrew consent at one point.
I'm convinced that our modern day analogues to ancient scholars are comedians. -0dd1
 18 The Handle, Wed, 5th Sep '12 4:46:05 AM from Location, Location, Loca
It was a well-crafted experiment.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
Euo will do!
Milgram's experiment wasn't done with an eye to support anti-authoritarian views... just to see how the mechanic behind obedience (and disobedience) might work, and how prevalent it might be within a population. smile In fact, reading the subtext (and, sometimes, the bold-text), he was hoping to find it a strange quirk produced by Nazi teachings. tongue

Different societies come out with slightly differing proportions, but... in the main, similar answers are found across the board in the few repeated tests (it's one of the experiments that nobody performs straight-up, any-more: it's now ethically questioned on a number of points) and tests of similar intent, if not exact execution.

It's a thing that's fairly stable in group-dynamics, and probably helps for group-cohesion. Education seems to have little effect on it. <shrugs> Even somebody who professes anarchic tendencies due to their background (and even show them upon evaluation) can well find themselves going through with it: the litmus is to be in the situation. Conversely: some of the ones that resist hard have what you might think of as "conventional" backgrounds, geared to a strong tendency to obey authority. tongue

In short, the various situations thrown at subjects in these kinds of experiments seem to uncover subconscious, patterned behaviour, some of which may be hard-wired underneath apparently learned behaviour. If that's the case in any given individual, good luck with the education: it'll take a few tries before it has a chance of sticking, and won't work in every pressurised situation. tongue

We learn far easier that which we are predetermined to find easier to learn, even if the brain can be a surprisingly plastic organ in the right circumstances. smile Heee: messy, fascinating thing, the brain, eh? [lol]

edited 5th Sep '12 7:36:28 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 20 The Handle, Wed, 5th Sep '12 7:40:42 AM from Location, Location, Loca
What those tests prove is simply that a conventional notion of authoritarianism or anti-authoritarianism is a Red Herring, and that we need to take a long, hard look at what the resisters had in common.

I'd also like to read about the ethical alternatives to Milgram's Experiment.

edited 5th Sep '12 7:41:24 AM by TheHandle

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
Pronounced YAK-you-luss
[up]Well, the Asch Conformity Experiment is often mentioned in the same breath as Milgram. And then on the disastrously unethical end of the scale, there's the infamous Zimbardo Prison Experiment.
Freedom of speech includes the freedom for other people to call you out on your bullshit.
Euo will do!
[up][up]That's the problem: most tests similar to them... tend to get shot down, now. However useful they might be. Even after several attempts at Milgram-lite. tongue

And, you can understand why: some follow-up investigations on past subjects have shown PTSD-like symptomatology, as I recall. tongue However, not enough in the way of follow-up is usually done, in my book, anyway, for many behavioural experiments for that to be indicative: I smell more numbers in hiding. tongue

I have issues with that. [lol]

Hmmm... I can do a Google, if you want (my textbooks bit the dust a while ago, and I don't have anything on paper any more: I remember a fair deal, though... but not the specifics on the individual clones enough to reproduce them at will: I've lumped them all together in a mass marked "Milgram-type" in memory, but do recognise the names when I read of them.) tongue

However, my Google-fu would be about as effective as anybody else's. [lol]

edited 5th Sep '12 8:06:25 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 23 Michael, Wed, 5th Sep '12 8:05:14 AM Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
So that's what this does
I remember that some of the people in the prison experiment revealed that they'd been given the impression that they were expected to act that way and it was the victims who were being studied. This is always a problem with tests where the subject's ignorance of the test is required. Humans are good at picking up on tiny cues.
Balance - the original sixth sense.
 24 Aceof Spades, Wed, 5th Sep '12 8:09:08 AM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
The ethical option is to have someone watching out for people's safety as the experiment is being conducted at all times. But aside from that, considering that they were actors who aren't actually being hurt, since they weren't actually being electrocuted, the only one being messed with is the guy at the switch. Not exactly full of unethics if no one is truly hurt. I believe they still do similar experiments where no one is actually physically hurt.

In any case, the idea of anti-obedience training is both contradictory (they'd be obeying whoever trained them rather than whoever else they might be dealing with) and unnecessary.

Anyway, the experiment had nothing to do with governmental authority, but with how people will tend to trust a specific figure who looks like they know what's going on. Which happens in all sorts of governments. If you look and act like you know what's going on, people will tend to listen to you. It's called taking the lead of the guy who acts calmly and appears to be acting rationally. The situation has to be pretty bad to reject the authority you already listened too once.

This is not, however, a reflection of how willing we are to obey governmental authority on a large scale. That is generally a much less personal relationship, that people these days are also constantly dissecting in one way or another. The experiment? Had the authority in question right in the room with them and the supposed victim was unseen. You're not necessarily looking at authoritarianism here, you're looking at potential mob rule dynamics.

By the way, the reason these things aren't taught in school probably has to do with the fact that they are sophisticated experiments in psychology, when that subject isn't taught in most elementary through high schools. You're more likely to encounter the subject in college, in classes more complicated than intro to psychology or philosophy.
Euo will do!
[up][up]Bingo. Milgram's was unique in that regard: bases were covered to actively show such cues, and the effects thereof.

However ethically unsound those experiments are to carry out these days in their intended form, they are very, very well designed. People have tried to prod holes in them for decades, and what all those prodders have come away with amounts to nibbling at the statistical interpretation, basically. tongue

edited 5th Sep '12 8:09:36 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
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