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leicsmac

The Milgram Experiments

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Not sure is we have many psych experts in here or who might be interested in discussing it regardless, but did some interesting reading on this today.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

 

It does explain a lot of human behaviour (now and in history), and is also rather scary IMO. What do other people reckon? Does it repeat that much in the wider world? Is "just following orders" really a reasonable defence to take for heinous acts no matter who you are or should it depend on your station or not? Is at least the potential (at least) for brutal authoritarianism and obedience to authority hard-wired into us and this experiment (along with other ones) merely shows how deep it goes?

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Remember learning about this study in my A levels, I think if I remember afterwards it was deemed an unethical study as those participating were not made aware no one was hurt?

Another example you could use of this was the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam war where soldiers killed/murdered innocent villagers because the lieutenant in charge demanded it and lied that they where housing the Viet Cong.

14 Officers court-martialed but later charges dropped. Lieutenant Calley who gave the order sentenced to life in prison but later had it overturned by Nixon and only served 3 and a half years under house arrest. Pretty light sentence for murdering 20+ innocent people.

As for is it a resonable defence, it shouldn't be. People wouldn't commit acts if some random person asked them to do it but because a higher up has ordered them to they feel they have a get out clause and that they have diminished responsibility as whoever asked them to do it is at fault, forgetting they have their own brains and free will to act and deny orders (Although in a situation between, as an example, ratting on police officers in American police brutality cases and losing my job which I rely on, or keeping quiet and acting like I didn't see anything to keep my job when asked to by a police cheif, I would probably selfishly pick the second option. As much as I wouldn't want to our own needs come before others. Im not an American police officer by the way just using it as an example so im just imagining a case like above)

Could you also argue it is hardwired into us because of evolution? Just guess work here but wouldn't it have been beneficial for people to follow the orders of those above them for survival as those in higher positions are usually more intelligent and would know how to keep our ancestors alive, so not questioning them would be more benificial? Don't know how true that is just some guess work.

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Thanks, leicsmac , it was actually a good read. Learning new things everyday I guess.

 

Back to our subject, there is no excuse for people that do things that they know are inhuman and just barbaric and just say "those are the rules, but I'm a good person"

 

They just need a thing/a person to put the blame on. 

But there are people out there that just fallow orders, for them, its not about right or wrong. For them, they are instructions. There is no "why", its "when" and "where".

 

the fallowing orders because of a potential punishment, that's a thing We see all the time in our daily life. It ranges from people to dogs with electric shock collars (now that's just cruel)

Edited by the fox
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36 minutes ago, TheMightySystem said:

Remember learning about this study in my A levels, I think if I remember afterwards it was deemed an unethical study as those participating were not made aware no one was hurt?

Another example you could use of this was the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam war where soldiers killed/murdered innocent villagers because the lieutenant in charge demanded it and lied that they where housing the Viet Cong.

14 Officers court-martialed but later charges dropped. Lieutenant Calley who gave the order sentenced to life in prison but later had it overturned by Nixon and only served 3 and a half years under house arrest. Pretty light sentence for murdering 20+ innocent people.

As for is it a resonable defence, it shouldn't be. People wouldn't commit acts if some random person asked them to do it but because a higher up has ordered them to they feel they have a get out clause and that they have diminished responsibility as whoever asked them to do it is at fault, forgetting they have their own brains and free will to act and deny orders (Although in a situation between, as an example, ratting on police officers in American police brutality cases and losing my job which I rely on, or keeping quiet and acting like I didn't see anything to keep my job when asked to by a police cheif, I would probably selfishly pick the second option. As much as I wouldn't want to our own needs come before others. Im not an American police officer by the way just using it as an example so im just imagining a case like above)

Could you also argue it is hardwired into us because of evolution? Just guess work here but wouldn't it have been beneficial for people to follow the orders of those above them for survival as those in higher positions are usually more intelligent and would know how to keep our ancestors alive, so not questioning them would be more benificial? Don't know how true that is just some guess work.

 
 

I think the study was challenged, but it's not been conclusively refuted and there have been numerous others like it that have produced similar (though not identical) results.

 

My Lai is an ideal example of such a situation - "just following orders" got that officer out of a likely life sentence.

 

The moral dilemma that you talk about (where bad things happen to you now for disobeying a superior vs. bad things happening later for obeying them) is pretty much unsolvable sadly, and that's why this keeps coming up. I guess the best thing to mitigate is to have a good grievance system in place so that bad orders can be refused and acted on right away - but out in the wider world things are rarely that simple.

 

The evolutionary argument is an interesting one - humans seem to like collaborating (most of the time) only when there is indeed a single or at least minimal numbers of leaders coordinating things. Perhaps that is indeed a holdback from the early man idea that if someone appears to know enough about staying alive they can teach you and protect you and so you survive too - by following their leadership. Not sure if similar results regarding that particular principle have been demonstrated in other mammal species. If indeed it is an inherent quality, evolution is most likely the reason.

 

22 minutes ago, the fox said:

Thanks, leicsmac , it was actually a good read. Learning new things everyday I guess.

 

Back to our subject, there is no excuse for people that do things that they know are inhuman and just barbaric and just say "those are the rules, but I'm a good person"

 

They just need a thing/a person to put the blame on. 

But there are people out there that just fallow orders, for them, its not about right or wrong. For them, they are instructions. There is no "why", its "when" and "where".

 

the fallowing orders because of a potential punishment, that's a thing We see all the time in our daily life. It ranges from people to dogs with electric shock collars (now that's just cruel)

 
 

No problem! :thumbup:

 

I definitely agree that some people enjoy abdicating responsibility and as such really, really bad things happen - and when they do often they don't face up to their own role in the thing. Why do some humans do that? Big question. Why do they then use the "just following orders" defence? Easier question - as you hint, it's to square things away with their own moral compass, I would think. That being said, the moral dilemma that was talked about above often lends a sense of helplessness to their situations - what happens then?

 

Perhaps different people need different motivators - some go better if they know there's a punishment waiting if they don't, while others freeze up if that's the case and work better if instead they know there will be a reward at the end.

Edited by leicsmac
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Obeying orders in fear of your life and that of your family is a very different thing.  Free will can be removed by those with power over you.

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23 minutes ago, Jon the Hat said:

Obeying orders in fear of your life and that of your family is a very different thing.  Free will can be removed by those with power over you.

Most definitely. The moral dilemma is obvious.

 

Know we're probably edging into the metaphysical/philisophical here but I'm of the opinion that free will is an absolute (no mysterious higher power, no predestination etc)...except when acted on by the free will of other people.

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Like TMS I did this in A-Level Psychology, another interesting and perhaps more widely know experiment into authority and leadership was Zimbardo's Stanford Prison experiment. 

 

Both were ultimately considered unethical but taught us a lot about the human psyche when it comes to perceived authority and adhering to that authority. 

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Yes another one for the @leicsmac bingo card :D 

 

Freewill is an absolute

 

 

 

 

Realpolitik

Nihlism

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36 minutes ago, Wookie said:

Yes another one for the @leicsmac bingo card :D 

 

Freewill is an absolute

 

 

 

 

Realpolitik

Nihlism

Could help you fill out the rest in one sitting if you like. :D What's left?

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59 minutes ago, leicsmac said:

Could help you fill out the rest in one sitting if you like. :D What's left?

Getting into less specific phrases but stuff about Korea, academic science research stuff, global warming and the EPA. Obviously everybody has their own talking points but yours have clearly stuck haha :)

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14 minutes ago, Wookie said:

Getting into less specific phrases but stuff about Korea, academic science research stuff, global warming and the EPA. Obviously everybody has their own talking points but yours have clearly stuck haha :)

 

:D

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Did this at length in A level Psych a couple of years ago, the idea behind the experiment was that it would prove Germans to be immoral and that they chose to do what they did in the camps under Hitler's rule, what they didn't expect to find was that American's (Students in the original, but there were many variations done) would, beyond all reasonable doubt, have done the same thing. The variations showed that obedience very much depends on perceived authority and legitimacy of power (Location, respect etc.). Scary stuff though.

 

As above, another very interesting study was Zimbardo and the Stamford prison experiment. Made into a film a couple of years ago too... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420293/

 

Asch's study into conformity is worth a look too.

 

As well as... 

 

Edited by stevelcfc
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Our modern society is the subject of widespread brainwashing, anyone taking a step outside the "norm" is ridiculed. We are all a part of it.

 

The shoes you wear, the music you like, the place you live, the job you do....even the club you support, is an example of falling into line with authority.

 

You need to question every decision you make and ask WHY are you making that decision, is it your choice?.... or is it buckling to authority?

 

Image result for question all authority

 

 

 

 

Edited by ozleicester

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13 hours ago, leicsmac said:

Is "just following orders" really a reasonable defence to take for heinous acts no matter who you are or should it depend on your station or not?

I'm reminded of that midfield diamond debacle this season at Southampton away.

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13 hours ago, Jon the Hat said:

Obeying orders in fear of your life and that of your family is a very different thing.  Free will can be removed by those with power over you.

No it can't. It can be made more difficult, but it can't be removed. There's plenty of people who have died for their beliefs that taking a certain course would be wrong.

 

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12 hours ago, stevelcfc said:

Did this at length in A level Psych a couple of years ago, the idea behind the experiment was that it would prove Germans to be immoral and that they chose to do what they did in the camps under Hitler's rule, what they didn't expect to find was that American's (Students in the original, but there were many variations done) would, beyond all reasonable doubt, have done the same thing. The variations showed that obedience very much depends on perceived authority and legitimacy of power (Location, respect etc.). Scary stuff though.

 

As above, another very interesting study was Zimbardo and the Stamford prison experiment. Made into a film a couple of years ago too... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420293/

 

Asch's study into conformity is worth a look too.

 

As well as... 

 

The Stanford prison experiment is a very famous experiment, but a lot of doubt has been thrown over it, with participants saying they were encouraged to act that way or were doing it consciously, aware it was an experiment. The fact it was advertised as a prison experiment and so participants were selected from a pool of people who were intrigued by the idea of participating in a "prison experiment" also casts doubt on its accuracy.

 

It is anecdotal but not very scientific.

 

The Milgram experiment is more interesting, but says more about our trust in authority than any underlying sadistic tendencies. It happens in the workplace quite often, when your manager tells you to do something you don't agree with, or you've ballsed something up and you're told not to worry about it, you don't because someone else in a position of authority is taking that decision for you and you believe that they will be responsible for the outcome not you.

 

It is an extreme case, giving someone a potentially lethal electric shock, but most participants will not be sure of the effects of electricity nor what 450 volts is, when comparing it to atrocities committed at war it has its parallels but it is not the same thing as actually killing someone. It does show how weak some people are in the face of authority and with most armed forces well versed in conditioning people to obey orders without question or thought, it is only a small leap to get to the point where people will kill because someone in authority told them to.

Edited by Captain...

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1 hour ago, ozleicester said:

I love these dilemmas. The two classic one's work where you can change the track to save five people but kill one where people generally do it. However, when you can save five people by physically pushing one person off of a bridge to stop the trolley then people tend to not do it.

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It's a tough one because you actively do something that kills a man rather than staying out of it and letting the consequences of someone else's action kill 5 people.

 

The other factor is those guys standing  on the active line should be more careful and can be considered at fault for carelessly standing on a live tram track, but the single guy is standing on an inactive line so wouldn't necessarily be thinking of oncoming trams. There are a load of other variables such as how likely they are to die, a group of five people is more likely to spot the impending doom than a lone man. Basically I wouldn't do it, I would shout "look out" and hope for the best. Shouldn't be standing there anyway.

 

The problem is it is too practical an example to allow variables in justification. Assuming death is certain, do you valueine life over 5? Obvious answer is no. Could you kill an innocent person to save 5? Here's a gun shoot that guy in the head or we will kill these 5 people! Could you do it?

Edited by Captain...

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5 minutes ago, Captain... said:

It's a tough one because you actively do something that kills a man rather than staying out of it and letting the consequences of someone else's action kill 5 people.

 

The other factor is those guys standing  on the active line should be more careful and can be considered at fault for carelessly standing on a live tram track, but the single guy is standing on an inactive line so wouldn't necessarily be thinking of oncoming trams. There are a load of other variables such as how likely they are to die, a group of five people is more likely to spot the impending doom than a lone man. Basically I wouldn't do it, I would shout "look out" and hope for the best. Shouldn't be standing there anyway.

 

The problem is it is too practical an example to allow variables in justification. Assuming death is certain, do you valueine life over 5? Obvious answer is no. Could you kill an innocent person to save 5? Here's a gun shoot that guy in the head or we will kill these 5 people! Could you do it?

 

You hit on the main issue here with the trolley problem - it doesn't have nearly enough variables and so isn't really a good measure of moral choice in real life situations beyond being an interesting curio.

 

Speaking of which, that problem has spawned a fountain of memes, some of which are utterly insane.

 

555.png

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