Just Following Orders: It Is Shockingly Easy to Get People to Do Bad Things

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authority

The essence in obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as an instrument for carrying out another person’s wishes and he therefore no longer regards himself as responsible for his actions. – Stanley Milgram

Imagine this scenario: you sign up to participate in a scientific study on memory and learning at a major university.

Your role is that of “Teacher,” and an “Experimenter” in a lab coat introduces you to your “Learner.”

You are then placed in front of an electric shock generator. Your Learner is seated in an adjacent room, where he is hooked up to electrodes. You can hear your Learner, but you cannot see him.

The Experimenter instructs you to provide your Learner with a series of word pairs. You are to test the Learner by naming a word and asking him to recall its partner/pair from a list of four possible choices.

If and when your Learner answers incorrectly, you are to administer a remote-controlled electric shock. The severity of the shocks increase with each subsequent wrong answer.

Your Learner answers the first few questions correctly, but then begins to falter. As he continues to provide incorrect answers, you are instructed to administer shocks of increasing  intensity. The Learner begins to object to the jolts and shouts out in pain.

The Experimenter orders you to continue with the test and shocks and assures you that while the shocks may be painful, the Learner will suffer no permanent tissue damage.

Would you continue, or would you stop the experiment?

****

That is the question the late social psychologist Stanley Milgram set out to answer when he conducted the experiment described above.

His findings were surprising and disturbing: the tendency to obey authority figures is strong, no matter how harmful their orders are.

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  • AllodialTitle

    Hi Mom, Mulder is still alive, but beat up pretty good

  • Reverend Draco

    The Experimenter would be needing new teeth about 3 seconds after telling me the Learner was hooked to a generator.

    • hardh8

      Oh yeah tough boy. You were abused as a child so now you want to talk like a tough guy. But you should realize that anyone who’s been to college has taken psychology and knows that talking tough is a sign of fear and weakness

      • Reverend Draco

        Tell that to the gangs of Mexicans who tried (and failed) to kick my ass for 8 years.
        Started with 2-3. . . then 4-6. . . then 8. . . then 10-12. . . the last time, I was 20 (mid-1985). . . 25 of these roaches tried to kick my ass – and couldn’t do it.
        In 2004, my legend was still alive in the minds of those people – I know this because one of them approached me in a bar one evening (I was ass’t manager of a cab company at the time).

        Then, there’s the 6 years of European Martial Arts – sword, axe, spear, flail, mace and morning star. . .

        I have the scars to prove my story.

        Get bent, chucklefuck.

        • hardh8

          Oh wow are you scary. You couldn’t even fight your way out of that gay bar you were in. “one of them approached me in a-bar one evening.” Yeah one of the leather boys approached you. Asking you for a date.But I’m sure you whipped him up real good

          • Reverend Draco

            Are you so utterly braindead on purpose. . . or did your daddy do things to your mouth that can’t be related in mixed company?

            As a taxi driver, it was my job to make the bar circuit – you know, to help cut down on drunk driving? Are you sober enough to understand that part, Paco?

            I’ve never been in a gay bar – you must be speaking from personal experience.

          • I went gay bar hopping with a gay couple who were my best friends during my short residence in Dallas. I found it much more boring than the gays did, because beyond the drinking, there was mostly just pornography rooms and ecstasy selling.
            Before they became a couple (which was a on and off thing with these guys), I attended a party in one of their condos where I was the only straight. I remember my friend asking me whether I remembered a particular guy, who had asked him if I was a racist, because (they were both black and) I’d been ignoring him when he was coming onto me:-) After he got done laughing, he explained that (apparently) neither of us had gaydar.
            As a former taxi driver, there has only been one city where I took people back to the bar the next day, so I doubt that it prevented much drunk driving.

          • Reverend Draco

            The company I managed had a special deal. . . we’d take a guy home in our cab, and have another driver follow us in the customer’s vehicle.
            We charged extra for the driver but not the mileage.

          • Tipsy Taxis are very popular here, being funded by local governments. They don’t pay for anything but the ride home, though. The mileage not charged for is the that covered by the customer’s vehicle? I bet the insurance on that driver was pricy.

          • hardh8

            Oh I get it now. You’ve got daddy issues. That’s why you’re pretending to be a tough guy on the web. Did daddy abuse you or did he just ignore you? That’s also why you’re a homosexual. By the way, I’ve never actually seen you at a gay bar. I was just guessing because of the way you were blowing so hard on this site. So your secret is safe. If you can keep yourself from coming on here and confessing that is.

  • This is why we need proper laws against torture, and they need to be rigorously enforced. Offenders must be punished. Having been subjected to enhanced interrogation in Switzerland after reporting a suicide, in an attempt by the Swiss police to have me confess to murder, I have witnessed first hand what following orders means. Before travelling to Switzerland read my story here : http://www.actionsuisse.com/story and for more extensive details of what the Swiss police got up to because torture is not criminalised read http://www.areyouseriouslyinsane.com/swiss_torture

  • AllodialTitle

    a few snippets from: http://caught.net/nwsltr/candef.htm

    SECRET CANON 1 ATTORNEY GENERAL AND PUBLIC DEFENDER

    1 Prosecutorial Discretion

    1(A) We hold the prudent practice of “see, hear and speak no evil” essential as related to the office of the Attorney General [secretly called the “power structure’s Mafia”]. Therefore:

    1(A)(i) We hold the latitude we give the Public Defender’s office compensates for any inequality of justice or prosecutorial misconduct and

    1(A)(ii) We ignore the practice of overcharging by the Attorney General regardless of how many are forced into false admissions or plea bargains.

    1(A)(iii) We hold overcharging can assist bar members with revenue enhancement and improves efficiency by reducing demands for jury trials and we shall not consider

    any guidelines stating otherwise or

    the devastation in the lives of those so affected.

    1(A)(iv) Since it is the job of the Attorney General to “get” people, any means they use to do so is acceptable since they are the will and voice of the people.

    1(A)(v) If the Attorney General’s Office violates laws, rules or ethics while “getting” people then let the trial process sort it out. To hell with the following:

    those who can’t afford effective counsel, a trial or those having a Public Defender and

    those who get a Judge skilled in the use of judicial discretion who covers up or ignores prosecutorial misconduct citing “judicial efficiency” and the “duty of the state.”

    1(A)(vi) Having a bold aggressive Attorney General is of greater benefit to Society than any possible damage to individual life and liberty.

    1(B) Public Defender

    1(B)(i) The importance we place on justice can always be measured by the amount of resources given the Public Defender in proportion to the amount of resources given the Attorney General.

    1(B)(ii) Under staffing and under funding of the Public Defender:

    enhances Judicial efficiency and eases the court calendar by promoting plea bargains, suicides, breakdowns, despair, fleeing etc. and

    can give us more bang for our buck by turning the Public Defender into an extension of the Attorney General’s office and

    can demonstrate effective use of the “good cop (Public Defender)” “bad cop (Attorney General)” scenario and

    can assist members of the bar with property acquisition and other revenue enhancements.

    1(B)(iii) Any uncooperative Public Defender making an issue of judicial or prosecutorial misconduct or ethics violations shall be removed as quickly as possible.

    SECRET CANON 2 JUDICIAL BEHAVIOR TOWARDS LITIGANTS

    2(A) Confident Litigants

    Any litigant appearing confident can be baffled by minutia or Judicially enhanced procedural criteria.

    2(B) Judicial Dominance

    Occasionally we encounter a litigant who doesn’t know we are king. We hold the following tools effective in forcing a resistant litigant into submission:

    intimidation by any means

    condescending looks, gestures or comments

    expressing or instigating anger, outrage or shock

    obvious impatience

    rushing the proceedings

    frequent checks of the time

    cautionary glances toward the Bailiff

    appearing distressed or uncomfortable like one needing to go to the bathroom

    yelling the magic word “NEXT!”

    raising unrelated, irrelevant or confusing issues and

    loud bangs using the gavel.

    2(C) The Need For Attorneys

    We shall continue to stress the need to have an Attorney without addressing the fact the overwhelming majority of Americans can not afford them. This is effective in keeping the unresourceful and ineffective at bay.

    2(D) The Ultimate Authority

    Citizens must be continually led to believe that the Judiciary is the final or ultimate authority in our system of Government.

    2(E) Practice Of Law Forbidden

    We shall try as best we can to confuse clarifying issues with our inability to give advice. This makes us less apt to stick our foot in our mouth.

    2(F) Sincerity Of The Judiciary

    We shall never appear insincere when stating absurdities, untruths, mistruths or nonsense. We shall always act like the hearer is unknowledgeable, naive or unseasoned.

    2(G) Judicial Fairness

    We shall always remember when deciding the significance of an individual to consider money, connections, power, politics and the ability to get media attention in deciding how fair we need to be.

    2(H) Judicial Response To Criticism

    We forever hold the response to valid or invalid criticism should be indignance.

    2(I) Judicial Efficiency

    We hold instigating outrage, frustration, anger or other emotions in litigants can be an effective tool to rid ourselves of the unwanted litigant.

    2(J) Judicial Handling Of The Ignorant

    The client demanding Justice and the full respect of their rights shall be treated with pity and patience.

    2(K) Judicial Authority

    Due to the authoritative nature of black robes, we shall continue to resist their removal.

    SECRET CANON 3 EXPERTS AND EXPERT TESTIMONY

    3(A) Efficiency Of Experts

    We hold one of the greatest innovations for eliminating ineffective and unresourceful litigants is the ever expanding use of expert testimony.

    3(B) Evolution Of Experts

    This innovation will reach maturity when we routinely use levels of experts on experts to testify on the validity and expertise of each expert.

    SECRET CANON 4 JUDICIAL AND PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION

    4(A) Discretion Defined

    We maintain judicial and prosecutorial discretion is doing whatever we damn well please within the judicially prudent guidelines we happen to be following at the time.

    4(B) Review Of Discretionary Acts

    We shall never promulgate awareness of the real legal issue regarding the use and review of judicial and prosecutorial discretion which is the process of reasoning used in the discretionary act’s decision making process. We shall convert the process of reasoning argument into an argument regarding the validity of doing or not doing the discretionary act.

    SECRET CANON 5 JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT

    5(A) Oversight Immunity

    The immunity of everyone overseeing the Judiciary must be maintained to prevent witch hunts and the overzealous from affecting the independence of the Judiciary. The Judiciary does not require the vulnerable or corrective oversight of the masses.

    5(B) Judicial Objectivity

    We shall always remember the real symbolic reason behind the woman with the blindfold and scale. Objectivity and independence means remaining as blind as possible to wrong doing committed by the Judiciary, members of the bar, and the resourceful and effective.

    5(C) Judicial Self-Evaluation

    To maintain the independence of the Judiciary, we hold each others rulings to be legally and factually correct regardless of the injustice that results, the facts or the law.

    5(D) Judicial Opinions Of Judges

    To insure effective oversight of the Judiciary, we shall never criticize each other regardless of the severity of the wrong or the injustice.

    5(E) Trust Us, We’re Judges

    We hold self monitoring and absolute immunity as foolhardy, ineffective and unworkable for everyone except the Judiciary and judicial oversight committees.

    5(F) Judicial Job Performance

    To allows us to remain unconcerned about upsetting the status quo, we shall keep the public convinced their interference will negatively affect the independence of the Judiciary making Judges afraid to do their jobs.

    5(G) The Judicial Mosaic Tablet

    We shall forever speak of centuries of Judicial immunities as proof of Judicial immunities’ necessity and effectiveness without ever mentioning Judicial wrongdoing has been around as long as Judges.

    5(H) Delay = Denied

    We hold admission of any Judicial wrongdoing delayed is admission of Judicial wrongdoing denied.

    5(I) Complete And Through Review

    We hold there is no judicial wrongdoing which can not be diminished by time, levels of hearings and precise dissection , categorization and delegation of related facts and responsibilities.

    SECRET CANON 6 JUDICIAL THOUGHT AND LEGAL REASONING

    6(A) Judicial Zen

  • whiteberry

    This experiment was pretty crazy, I’ve researched it quite a bit over the years. It is simply proving that most people are sheeple who will bow down to “authority” figures… no matter what.

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  • Unapologetically White

    Well, we got a lot of low-information morons to vote for Obama.

    • Plextt Plextt

      Who did you vote for?

      • Unapologetically White

        That’s the second dumbest question today…
        It’s “For whom did you vote”, you moron.

        • Plextt Plextt

          I must have pinched a nerve=) That rude response is an indicator that you are fully aware of the fact that both sides are equally destructive.

        • hardh8

          “Who did you vote for” is correct

          • PJ London

            “At one time, schoolchildren were taught that a sentence should never end with a preposition. However, this is a philosophy actually associated with Latin grammar. While many aspects of Latin have made their way into the English language, this particular grammar rule is not suited for modern English usage.”
            Would you please explain why such a rule is not suited to modern English usage.
            I am sorry, if you were speaking American, then of course, the rules do not apply.

    • I forgot

      It’s “We have a lot of…” dip shit.

      • Unapologetically White

        Ebonics your first language?

        • I forgot

          If you are going to act like Obama, you should expect people to call you a nigger.

    • Wags71

      or to vote for anyone on the ballot…

  • RandyJ/ProudSurvivor

    The results of this study are precisely why we shouldn’t take for granted that US troops wouldn’t fire upon American citizens, if/when ordered to do so by any one of a number of maniacs in charge. It is much easier-and safer-to blend in with the masses, doing as they do, to avoid ridicule and possibly death. Even when it is known to be immoral and wrong. Our society has been rebuilt upon a foundation of conformity and acquiescence to power that has shaped and defined the current herd mentality. “Waking up” requires accepting painful levels of public, social and even familial scorn and ostracization. Many people may be awake enough to see what is going on, but aren’t willing to acknowledge it publicly.

  • Vlad TheSkewerer

    Yep, if somebody in the proper costume, be it a lab coat, officers uniform or Brooks Brothers suit says “hey don’t worry, this all goes south I will take the hIt” you can get people to do anything. And CIA mind control experiments have proven that if you appeal to ego, patriotism or career/funding objectives you can play authority figures like fiddles too.

  • americuh

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  • PJ London

    “Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

    Police on the field are taught to say key phrases to save them from legal woes down the road and justify whatever action they might dish out on someone: “STOP RESISTING”, “GET YOUR HAND OFF MY GUN”or in the courtroom, “I WAS IN FEAR FOR MY LIFE” “HE WAS REACHING FOR SOMETHING” etc…..”
    Can’t remember the source.

    • hardh8

      Listen to PJ London, the Police State will murder. Like he explains, they are trained to lie. Or as he puts it, “use certain phrases to save THEM.” So if you’re one of the last people on earth who doesn’t realize that the “Protect and SERVE” days are gone. Wise up.

      • PJ London

        If you read about the Kapos, then you will understand the current police. Hated and feared, they represented the oppressors. When freedom came the inmates turned and killed them in their scores.
        “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”– Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

  • Barn Cat

    It’s called the Milgram experiment. It started in 1961. It doesn’t tell us much about people are now.

    • PJ London

      Are you really that dumb or did you just have a brainfart?

      • hardh8

        I somewhat agree with Barn Cat. I see Americans far more corrupted and cowardly than the toughs in Russia. I think the reaction to America become a gulag will be different

        • PJ London

          Sorry, but are you saying that after 10,000 years of humanity being innately inclined to “follow orders”, somehow in the last 50 years they are suddenly changed?
          The Milgram was in America, by Americans on Americans. If anything, they are a lot less independent than many nations I have met.
          The only difference is between the 1984 of Russian Gulags and “A Brave New World” of the American Gulag, and if the Soma doesn’t work, the boot will.