Do you know who Stanley Milgram was?

Do you know who Stanley Milgram was? You should. His research into human behaviour was literally shocking. Still not there? Then follow me...

People have a tendency to obey authority. Once people accept an authority, they will be willing to relinquish moral authority also and do things that would normally conflict with their idea of right and wrong. The upshot is that you get people saying "We were only obeying orders" when subsequently challenged about behaviour that is morally abhorrent. Also, you get people who say "It was within the RULES".

Lets go back to Milgram and put you out of your misery.

In the early 1960s, Yale social psychologist Stanley Milgram, PhD, conducted an experiment whose purpose was supposedly to study the effects of punishment on learning. The experimenter told the subject that his job was to teach a learner in an adjacent room to memorize a list of word-pairs, and every time the learner made an error, the teacher-subject was to punish the learner by giving him increasingly severe shocks by pressing levers on a shock machine. There were 30 levers whose shock values ranged from a low of 15 volts to the maximum of 450 volts. (In actuality, no electric shock was involved. The "learner" was an actor who only pretended receiving them, but the subject did not know this.) Despite the learner's increasingly pitiful screams and pleas to stop, a majority of subjects (over 60%) obeyed the experimenter's commands to continue and ended up giving the maximum "shock" of 450 volts.

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The article continues:

We did not need Milgram's research to inform us that people have a propensity to obey authority; what it did enlighten us about is the surprising strength of that tendency-that many people are willing to obey destructive orders that conflict with their moral principles and commit acts which they would not carry out on their own initiative. Once people have accepted the right of an authority to direct our actions, Milgram argued, we relinquish responsibility to him or her and allow that person to define for us what is right or wrong.

If the expenses scandal has taught me one thing, it is that our MPs and Ministers have such a poor grasp of personal morality, that they are prepared to devolve this valuable human trait to a junior clerk at the HoC Fees Office. On the whole, the defense has been "it is within the rules". It reveals them to be moral midgets with a breathtaking inability to think for themselves. But we knew that, didn't we?

Perhaps a few of them, on reflection, realise that, had they consulted their consciences, this theft, this treason, would have been seen for what it is.

What does this tell us? Well it tells me that they are, as individuals, unfit for office. Surely, what we need of our Government is leadership; the kind that wins the Victoria Cross, the kind that conquers inhospitable territories, the pioneers, the brave, the independent thinkers who went against the grain; Emmeline Pankhurst, Captain Scott, Churchill, Thatcher, Wilberforce,Montgomery, Nelson.

Instead what we have is something that is truly representative of the population - a group of people. Members of Parliament, with such blind faith in authority that, ultimately, they would send Jews to the Gas chambers or reduce personal freedom to a minimum if Gordon Brown told them to do it. As I have said before, you do not start by gassing Jews, you start by taking away democratic freedoms and telling lies, and they have already gone along with that.

And they are running the country. I ask all who read this to think very carefully where they place their votes on June 4th.


Screech said...

Just tagged you after reading Rabs comments, hope you don't mind

hangemhigh said...

The country is finished and most folk complaining about MPs expenses would be filling their boots if they had the chance. I think our corrupt MPs are just a reflection of our corrupt society. Even Ming Campbell is filling his boots with designer crash pads and £400 a month for food. He looked a sorry ass on QT tonight having to explain himself to a group of Grimsby's finest. Car crash TV and so sad , sad , sad.
And now Claire Short is at it. Too stupid to know the difference between Capital and Interset on a mortgage. WTF !!
It's all the fees office fault I suppose. I'd love to visit this fees office. I've got some weird mental picture of the place. Little grey haired guys with feather quills and big desks like Scrooge. Bony hands leafing through sheafs of reciepts for plasma tellys and toilet seats. Ughh I hope they were on expenses.

Wrinkled Weasel said...


Yes, I go with that imagery! Very least that's what I imagine.

Jim Baxter said...

Yes yes. Milgram. Boring. Seriously overrated, like Zimbardo. Try game theory instead, the Prisoner's Dilemma, the non-zero sum game. Much more apt.

Then try Erich Fromm, 'The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness'.

Then poison yourself rather than tolerate for a minute longer the true horror that we all face. No, I don't mean you, think of the family, think of the chickens. And anyway I'm speaking figuratively. a bottle of gin will do, just to get you through the night.