I was talking with some friends these days and the conversation went to the Milgram experiment. Though i had heard of this experiment before, i could not recall the name (Milgram). Then Pike sent me a batch of youtube links with a remake of the Milgram experiment.
Here is the story of this experiment. The Milgram is one of the most controversial experiments in the history. Back in 1961, a 20 years old social psychology professor at Yale named Stanley Milgram decided to study people's obedience to authorities by conducting a psychological experiment. Just a few years had passed from the end of WW2, and people could not understand how the Nazi officers and simple soldiers had done such horrible crimes against humanity. Many people believed that the reason was that Germans had difficult childhood and were raised generally in a very authoritarian environment, especially regarding sexual relations.
But the Milgram experiment came to change all this. The "subjects" were volunteers, mainly students, who agreed to run the experiment and get some money for this. They were told that the experiment was regarding the human memory. The volunteers were separated into 2 roles, those who conduct the questions (teacher) and those who must answer (learner). The subjects had to draw a "random" lottery which would decide who would be the teacher and who the learner. The role of the teacher is to ask the learner specific questions which he had to answer. Failing to answer correctly had a punishment, and this punishment was an electric shock. After each wrong answer, the voltage was increased in steps of 15 Volts, from 15 up to 450 Volts. Above each volt selection switch there was a sign writing phrases like "light shock", "Danger - Severe shock". For the 435 and 450 volts the label was "XXX".
Then, the learner was tied up on a chair (both hands and legs) in front of the eyes of the teacher. Afterwards, the teacher was brought in front of the shock generator and had no visual contact with the learner. A man responsible for the experiment was behind him, observing the experiment. Every time that the teacher was giving a shock to the learner, he could hear the voice of the learner. As the voltage was increased, the shock was more and more intense. Many teachers stopped the experiment in the middle, saying to the observer that they could not continue, but the observer was telling them that they had to continue and that the shock would not cause permanent damage - and so they did.
At 420 volts, the shock was so intense, that the teacher would get no answer from the learner there after, obviously because either he had fainted or had been severely damaged. The teacher once more turned to the observer. The observer said that if he gets no answer, he has to count this as a wrong answer and that he had to continue the experiment.
And now the real experiment: The only subjects to this experiment were the teachers. The learners were just actors. The experiment's purpose was not to test the affect of stress in human memory, but the obedience of people to authorities when they think that they are not responsible. Amazingly, over 65% of the teachers went all the way up to lethal 450 Volts, even though the learner had stopped answering their questions from before.
Now, wonder yourselves: Isn't this the way that most big companies work? Ask the employee who throws the old and burned oil from the ship into the sea - he will say that he follows orders. Ask the bank employee who sings for a home seizing - he just follows orders, the policeman who tazed a man to death followed orders... And then ask them if they feel guilty for what they've done - probably not, because they were following orders. So did the Nazis in the world war 2, they were following orders.
The very same experiment was conducted again in 2009, from a group of social scientists. This time, the test was recorded on camera. Watch the full experiment from start to end in these links: