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Decades Later, Still Asking: Would I pull That Switch?

Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments in the early 1960’s were the kind that forced a question. Would I really do that? Could I betray my own eyes, my judgment, even my humanity, just to complete some experiment?

Milgram tested how far people would go in delivering painful shocks to another person, when instructed to do so by an authority figure. It’s been 50 years since the Jekyll & Hyde experiments and they still inspire. In fact, some have even thought of making them into a Reality TV gimmick where hundreds of decent, well-intentioned guests agree to deliver increasingly painful electric shocks to another person, as part of what they thought as a learning experiment.

If the show existed, it would run something like this: Guests would begin with what they thought were 15-volt shocks, and work upward in increments, as the experimenter instructed. At 75 volts, the “learner” in the next room would begin grunting in apparent pain. At 150 volts he would cry out: “Stop, let me out! I don’t want to do this anymore.” The shocks would continue on and on, until the learner in the next room flat-lined. That’s when Ashton Kutcher would come out from behind the curtain shouting, “you’ve been Punk’d!” revealing the “learner” as only an actor, and the guests for the degenerate sociopaths they are. Americans would love it, and that would be a wrap.

How would you interpret Milgram’s findings? Leave a comment and start a Brawl!

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One Response

  1. I find this study quite fascinating. Check out this video I found of a modern day reenactment of the Milgram experiment. I really can’t believe how far some people will go!

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