Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Personal Account from One Who Refused

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 9:40 am

The Milgram ExperimentIt seems unlikely that anyone has NOT heard about the psychological experiment in the sixties called the Milgram Experiment, but if you haven’t, here’s the Wikipedia entry:

If you were asked to shock another human being and could hear him screaming at each shock, would you continue to shock him? What if the shocks were increased to a dangerous level and the other person said he had a bad heart? What if you were ordered to? We like to think that we wouldn’t do it, but in the experiments, 85% believed they gave shocks strong enough to kill.

I saw the footage of this experiment in a psychology show and I’ll never forget the subject who kept shocking, even when the “learner” had stopped responding and was considered dead. But what about that 15% that refused? Here is a personal account from one of them:

Still, the results of the Milgram experiment demonstrates how rare and heroic is the “Courage to Refuse” (as one of their organizations is named). These are people who deserve to be honored.

It seems his distrust of authority was the one thing that saved his “learner” from suffering. What I attribute to paranoia could actually save someone’s life. It’s funny how fine the line between sanity and madness is.

Via: Mind Hacks: The man who defied Milgram’s conformity experiment


1 Comment »

  1. As an educator, this makes me wonder, what can we do to teach people to think for themselves and make ethical decisions???

    I really believe that people would RATHER be nice to each other and would RATHER let people live, but because we are such social creatures, many, maybe most people will be willing to kill if their group, especially group leaders insist on it. It’s very ironic that our ability to bond can be used to make us kill.

    I just have to say, (I know everyone thinks this, and we can’t all be right, but I think evidence from my life supports this) I would have refused to administer those shocks.

    Say no to torture.

    Comment by B. — 5/8/2008 @ 12:30 pm

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