Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thinking Milgram, Once Again

We have discussed it before. It should be discussed again, and often. But here are a couple of videos without further comment. One is disturbingly serious, the other disturbingly funny. Both recall the famous Milgram experiments.


Big Myk said...

Well, these two films seem to support the banality of evil theory, particularly, the "Marry a Stranger" clip. In fact, with just a few tweaks, you've got a pretty good Monty Python sketch.

Alex Halsam is still not buying this, however. See Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo's Studies Really Show.

But my question is Scrooge's question in "A Christmas Carol": "Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?" In other words, is conformity to authority written in our DNA or is it a behavior that we can change?

In a TED talk, Philip Zimbardo, the fellow introducing these clips, suggests that we can change. Zimbado says that, just as it's easy for a good person to slip over the the dark side, it's also possible for people to resist authority and act nobly. He claims that what he calls the "heroic imagination" can be taught, and is developing programs instill this imagination in students. See The psychology of evil.

James R said...

I don't know the answer to Scrooge's question, alternatively stated as "Do we have free will?", but I suspect that those like Philip Zimbardo who believe in free will are more likely to have it, than those, who for religious, scientific or other reasons, believe all is determined.