In the 1960s an experiment was undertaken to determine if the Nazis really were evil or, if in the right circumstances anyone could perform evil acts under simple instruction. Psychologist Stanley Milgram performed a series of experiments in which test subjects were instructed to electrocute another person in increasing doses.
The world was horrified (well, those who manage to get past watching Coronation Street were horrified) to find that a large number would indeed inflict serious pain on others if instructed to do so – read about the original experiment here.
Ok, so we can be happy that after a couple of generations of teaching people about World War 2, endless TV documentaries on the subject and overall supposedly improved education, we’d be well past that? Well, no.
In a recent version on Discovery where 10 subjects were sat in a room and asked to electrify a “test” subject (who was actually a plant") in increasing doses for answering simple questions, all but ONE did so obediently. Some had doubts as the subject complained about his heart and said he wanted out of the experiment – but when instructed by the authority posing as a psychiatrist who told them despite the pain the person was really in no danger, they continued on, pressing buttons marked 240 volts and beyond.
All 9 of these people were no better than the evil monsters of World War 2 Germany – except there was no chance of them being shot for disobeying orders. To anyone watching the show –and the producer himself this was HORRIFYING – yet absolutely real – we are almost all EVIL at heart and will absolve ourselves of responsibility as long as someone else tells us what to do.
If you think about it, from childhood we are taught by parents to do things regardless of whether we agree or understand – as for school I certainly didn’t understand why I had to do certain things but often, no explanation was given. But most of us started off life like this – and many can be hypnotised easily into doing the will of others. Something, somewhere in evolution went horribly wrong.
If we accept this reality – and anyone who has studied the original experiment and the modern equivalents really has no other choice – it seems to me that we need to do two things – firstly find out what part of our genetic makeup makes 9/10ths of the population prone to committing such evil – what makes the other 1/10th immune to this and start some pretty rapid genetic engineering BEFORE it’s too late and we repeat the horrors of the last world war (If you watch the Discovery show with Eli Roth, such research is being carried out – but going from there to improving the population is a BIG step we’re likely not ready to contemplate). Surely also we should be looking at the responsibilities of authority – the people at the top who we trust in all walks of life – sure everyone can make mistakes and that’s fine but when they deliberately abuse that given authority to make people do things that are immoral – surely we need to dramatically re-think the punishments for such abuse and provide a MASSIVE deterrent – clearly we are mostly sheep who can easily be misguided – and need protection – even if we don’t think we need it.
Think you’re beyond this, that it would not affect you (I certainly would have walked out of the room immediately I knew I was actually inflicting ANY pain – but then I’ve always had a problem with authority - at least I HOPE I would walk out) – that this really is not the case? Study the link I’ve given and more importantly check out the Eli Roth experiment for discovery channel. Read the Q&A in the link below- this is worse than any Hammer horror movie. Beware however that it might put you off people! 9 out of 10 would seriously electrocute another on instruction – that’s REALLY, REALLY horrifying.