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Obedience to Authority (Perennial Classics)

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THE INSPIRATION FOR THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE THE EXPERIMENTER “The classic account of the human tendency to follow orders, no matter who they hurt or what their consequences.”  — Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World In the 1960s Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram famously carried out a series of experiments that forever changed our perceptions of moral THE INSPIRATION FOR THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE THE EXPERIMENTER “The classic account of the human tendency to follow orders, no matter who they hurt or what their consequences.”  — Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World In the 1960s Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram famously carried out a series of experiments that forever changed our perceptions of morality and free will. The subjects—or “teachers”—were instructed to administer electroshocks to a human “learner,” with the shocks becoming progressively more powerful and painful. Controversial but now strongly vindicated by the scientific community, these experiments attempted to determine to what extent people will obey orders from authority figures regardless of consequences. “Milgram’s experiments on obedience have made us more aware of the dangers of uncritically accepting authority,” wrote Peter Singer in the New York Times Book Review. Featuring a new introduction from Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, Obedience to Authority is Milgram’s fascinating and troubling chronicle of his classic study and a vivid and persuasive explanation of his conclusions.


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THE INSPIRATION FOR THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE THE EXPERIMENTER “The classic account of the human tendency to follow orders, no matter who they hurt or what their consequences.”  — Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World In the 1960s Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram famously carried out a series of experiments that forever changed our perceptions of moral THE INSPIRATION FOR THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE THE EXPERIMENTER “The classic account of the human tendency to follow orders, no matter who they hurt or what their consequences.”  — Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World In the 1960s Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram famously carried out a series of experiments that forever changed our perceptions of morality and free will. The subjects—or “teachers”—were instructed to administer electroshocks to a human “learner,” with the shocks becoming progressively more powerful and painful. Controversial but now strongly vindicated by the scientific community, these experiments attempted to determine to what extent people will obey orders from authority figures regardless of consequences. “Milgram’s experiments on obedience have made us more aware of the dangers of uncritically accepting authority,” wrote Peter Singer in the New York Times Book Review. Featuring a new introduction from Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, Obedience to Authority is Milgram’s fascinating and troubling chronicle of his classic study and a vivid and persuasive explanation of his conclusions.

30 review for Obedience to Authority (Perennial Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    Science! *** I like to tell people that my first religious experience was seeing the music video for Peter Gabriel's song Shock the Monkey. This experience, coupled with some subsequent churchgoing misadventures in my adolescence, is why I always have to suppress the desire to throw poop whenever I pass a church. Hardly scientific, but it gets my point across: I don't do well with authority. Stanley Milgram is a pioneer in social psychology. Why? Because he convinced people -- good, churchgoing pe Science! *** I like to tell people that my first religious experience was seeing the music video for Peter Gabriel's song Shock the Monkey. This experience, coupled with some subsequent churchgoing misadventures in my adolescence, is why I always have to suppress the desire to throw poop whenever I pass a church. Hardly scientific, but it gets my point across: I don't do well with authority. Stanley Milgram is a pioneer in social psychology. Why? Because he convinced people -- good, churchgoing people -- to shock other people, or at least led these people to believe that they shocked other people. They didn't, of course. We Americans aren't Nazis, after all. Or, given the right conditions, are we? Milgram, a Jew, came to his experiment by way of the holocaust. He didn't buy into the popular refrain that "it couldn’t happen here" (the pronoun "it" is substituted euphemistically for "holocaust" -- how much of social psychology, or any psychology, is linguistic?). And my suspicion is that this effort to undermine the conceit of American exceptionalism is what many (but not all) people objected to in his experiments. Sure, Milgram describes his test subjects as almost Dickensian caricatures: a welder has a "rough hewn face that conveys a conspicuous lack of alertness"; a social worker looks "older than his years because of his bald pate and serious demeanor"; a forty-year-old housewife is regarded as resembling "Shirley Booth in the film Come Back, Little Sheba"; and, most jarring, a black man, "born in South Carolina," upon hearing the first protests of his victim, "turns toward the experimentor, looks sadly at him, then continues." What did you expect, Dr. Milgram? He's black and he was born in South Carolina. Of course he's sad and of course he's going to do what the white guy who is giving him a check says. Is THAT what they call science at Yale? And how many of the graduate students working under Milgram felt uncomfortable with the study but stayed on because of the authority he exercised over them? One mustn't anger one's thesis advisor, lest one's career never get off the ground, right? And how many of the people that answered his misleading advertisement for test subjects did so for financial reasons? Milgram could have made do with Hannah Arendt's account of the concentration camp guard who answered the question about why he participated in the wholesale slaughter of innocent human beings with, "I had five years of unemployment behind me. They could do anything they wanted with me." But then again, that is to rely on "those people" to make his case. America felt (and, sadly, still feels) itself exempt from history and needed (needs) a kick in the ass. The data that are the result of these experiments is that kick. Americans, it turns out, are not the exception to the rule when it comes to doing what they're told by those in authority. They shock people to unconsciousness -- UNCONSCIOUSNESS -- even after repeated and agonized protests from the victim because someone they recognize as an authority figure told them to. Abraham Lincoln’s "last best hope of earth" America? Meet Stanley Milgram's universal condemnation of the humanity with which it is comprised. A valid concern with these experiments is that they damage the subjects by compelling them to participate in something they believe is harming another human being. I am simpatico, but then this is no worse than the things I’ve seen on, say, Scare Tactics. And how many among us are ever given such a chance to learn something about ourselves? Shouldn't you be grateful that you understand how the German everyman ended up doing what he did? And that you could do the same? Or would you rather remain blind to the fact and comfortable in your arrogance? I told you a half-truth earlier in this review. Peter Gabriel and churches aren't the only reason I have a problem with authority. Another, more true, reason is my father and a lifetime of interaction with him. My Dad is an anarchist. Not the wild-eyed, bomb-throwing subversive of Haymarket Square fictions. Not the rogue pamphleteer a VW van tire away from prison. Not the post-punk, too-cool-for-the-room, bandanaed scourge of Seattle infamy. Nope. None of these stereotypes can do the man justice. I've roamed San Francisco's bookstores, read Bakunin and voted for Nader, but I've never seen or heard tell of a greater enemy of the status quo than my Dad. You see, Dad was drafted by the United States Army. And Uncle Sam knows the ingredients of a fine killing machine when it sees them: Dad was born with a rifle in his hands, comes from stout Tennessee woodsman stock and stands about 6'2". Too bad for Uncle Sam, Dad knows a raw deal when he sees it. They tried to break him down and build him back up the Army way, but Dad liked the man he'd become and wasn't having any of it. He disobeyed orders and regularly went missing. Still, somehow they saw fit to graduate him from basic training and sent him to Advanced Infantry Training (A.I.T.) despite his stubbornness. He fidgeted through it, raking up sharpshooter medals and instructor ire in the process (he led a group of conspirators which employed the unorthodox method of capturing an enemy officer and two underlings during war games by checkmating the opponents' fake guns and tactical surprise with a few ham-handed blows and some selective cursing). What I would argue is a flair for improvisational leadership, thinking outside the box, the Army saw as insolence. Dad's leash was shortened and he was denied transfers to cushier jobs that he was qualified for. He saw two years of rolling around in Washington mud ahead of him and it pissed him off. Then one day, during routine inspection, his commanding officer, a lieutenant he had threatened with violence after this same officer had supervised the punishment which many felt resulted in the death of one of my father's squad mates, spilled the contents of Dad's foot locker about the barracks and proceeded to berate him for sloppiness. As the lieutenant bent-over to grab a piece of perceived contraband to emphasize his point, the man to whom I owe half of my genetic make-up kicked him in the ass. Not just kicked. He broke the guy's tail bone. Dad was subsequently court-martialed and relegated to trash man duties under military police supervision. He didn't mind. He had three squares a day and slept in a dry bed. When he didn't display any ambition to get out of his latest predicament, they unceremoniously threw him out of the Army. Years later, through an amnesty program under the Carter Administration, he was able to shed the stigma of a Dishonorable Discharge. Yet his anarchic legacy lives on in a posterior that owes its rheumatism to the business end of a foot of a man who wouldn't kowtow to authority.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) made several groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of human behavior. He was a master of particularly inventive research: for instance, he devised the experimental method to investigate path lengths in social networks, establishing what is variously referred to as the "small world" effect, the Kevin Bacon effect, or "six degrees of separation". He will always be remembered, however, as the man who conducted the “obedience studies”, a controversial series o Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) made several groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of human behavior. He was a master of particularly inventive research: for instance, he devised the experimental method to investigate path lengths in social networks, establishing what is variously referred to as the "small world" effect, the Kevin Bacon effect, or "six degrees of separation". He will always be remembered, however, as the man who conducted the “obedience studies”, a controversial series of tests performed at Yale in the early 1960s. These experiments investigated the degree to which people could be persuaded to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform cruel acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. The experiments were highly controversial, partly because of ethical questions raised by the study protocol, partly because the results were completely at variance with what psychologists had predicted. The view of human behavior that emerges from the results of Milgram’s experiments is thoroughly depressing. As Milgram puts it, With numbing regularity, good people were seen to knuckle under to the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe. It seems that obedience to authority is hardwired very strongly into the human psyche, so strongly that in many cases it overrides the normal restraints that prevent us from lapsing into barbarism. This conclusion and the experiments that supported it were harshly criticized when Milgram’s results first appeared. Subsequent work, such as Philip Zimbardo’s infamous Stanford prisoner study, and events such as the My Lai massacre, or the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraeb, has corroborated Milgram’s conclusions many times over, and has shown that they appear to remain invariant across different countries and cultures. The (very thin) silver lining is that, even as the participants in Milgram’s studies were demonstrating their repeated willingness to submit helpless strangers to (what they believed to be) near lethal electric shocks, they were doing so out of an exaggerated respect for “authority” and not, for example, because of some inherent latent streak of depravity that made them want to hurt the experimental subject. Milgram Obedience Experiments "Victim" In the book, Milgram gives an impressively clear account of the experimental objectives and procedures. For each of the 18 experiments in the series, main summary results are presented. Milgram includes summaries of subjects’ prediction of their own behavior – the enormous discrepancy between predicted and actual behavior is one of the most interesting aspects of these studies. Roughly 700 to 800 subjects participated in total (roughly 40 per experiment) – the vast majority were male, though one of the later protocols enrolled women only (women’s and men’s results were essentially similar). Individual narratives (transcripts of a subject’s comments during the experimental session) are included for about a dozen participants. Final chapters of the book are given over to Milgram’s interpretation of the results. He also addresses some of the criticisms that were leveled against the experiments (the book was written ten years after completion of the research). My edition contains an introduction by Philip Zimbardo, author of the Stanford Prison experiment, written in 2009. This is an extremely well-written account of an important series of experiments. The results are simultaneously engrossing and horrifying.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    Unfortunately the experiments for which both Milgram and Zimbardo made their names have turned out to be utter frauds.... https://www.vox.com/2018/6/13/1744911... more on the fake Stanford experiment in this short review.... https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... Unfortunately the experiments for which both Milgram and Zimbardo made their names have turned out to be utter frauds.... https://www.vox.com/2018/6/13/1744911... more on the fake Stanford experiment in this short review.... https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rich V

    Were Nazi soldiers just following orders in WWII? How would civilians in the U.S. respond to demands from authority figures to perform seemingly immoral acts? Where does the "just following orders" response fall on the scale of moral behavior? Milgram conducted an experiment in which individuals were asked to administer increasingly intense shocks to an unseen test subject in the next room, whenever the subject answered a question incorrectly. Some individuals refused to continue administering s Were Nazi soldiers just following orders in WWII? How would civilians in the U.S. respond to demands from authority figures to perform seemingly immoral acts? Where does the "just following orders" response fall on the scale of moral behavior? Milgram conducted an experiment in which individuals were asked to administer increasingly intense shocks to an unseen test subject in the next room, whenever the subject answered a question incorrectly. Some individuals refused to continue administering shocks at the first protest of pain from the test subject. Other individuals administered the shocks through concomitantly increasing screams of agony which - in the most severe cases - subsided abruptly into silence, indicating the real possibility that the test subject had died. The notorious reveal, of course, was that the test subjects strapped to electrodes in the unseen room were actually part of the team conducting the tests, and that the individual administering the test was the unwitting test subject. More interesting, the moral scale that evaluated the test subject's conduct seemed less concerned with how far the test subject took the shocks then with how the test subject justified their decision to stop or continue. Fear of chastisement ranked at the low end of the moral scale that judged such explanations. Desire to help humankind by participating in worthwhile scientific experiments ranked at the high end. Milgram's work is a watershed for reasons that other reviewers no doubt have explained. It also ushered in the era of full disclosure to test subjects. So, these days, unless Ashton Kutcher is the scientist in charge, chances are you will at least know who is being tested.

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    "The problem is not 'authoritatianism' as a mode of political organization or a set of psychological attitudes but authority itself." An outstanding, chilling, and sometimes strangely optimistic account of Milgram's famous experiments in the 1960s dealing with authority. The experiment was simple: the test subject "tested" a learner, actually an actor, on word pairs. If the learner got them wrong, the subject gave him increasingly painful electric shocks. The purpose was to see how subjects intera "The problem is not 'authoritatianism' as a mode of political organization or a set of psychological attitudes but authority itself." An outstanding, chilling, and sometimes strangely optimistic account of Milgram's famous experiments in the 1960s dealing with authority. The experiment was simple: the test subject "tested" a learner, actually an actor, on word pairs. If the learner got them wrong, the subject gave him increasingly painful electric shocks. The purpose was to see how subjects interacted with the experimenter-as-authority, and when they'd stop doing it. Some of the results were predictably unsettling: under pressure from the experimenters, many subjects went all the way up to excruciating levels of shock, even when the learner/actor was screaming in pain. There were many variations on the experiment conducted and Milgram does much to elucidate and analyze the results. Some of the results are disturbing (some gleefully amped up the voltage), while others are heartening (when the subject was placed alongside actors also pretending to be subjects who vehemently protested to the experimenter to end the experiment, the subject almost always agreed). Milgram sifts through the evidence to an extent that defies quick and smarmy rehashing here, but it is the latter point that shone through for me: group defiance always trumps the individual's hesitance at disobedience.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Fascinating book on the famous/infamous series of experiments conducted at and near Yale in the early 60's (book published in 1974). As for many, I was exposed to Milgram in a college survey course but still had no idea of the 20-odd variations on his study alone, not counting replications around the world. The book is clear, concise, and well-written and with conclusions that are both revelatory and disturbing -- not least by engendering thoughts of what I might have done as a study subject. It Fascinating book on the famous/infamous series of experiments conducted at and near Yale in the early 60's (book published in 1974). As for many, I was exposed to Milgram in a college survey course but still had no idea of the 20-odd variations on his study alone, not counting replications around the world. The book is clear, concise, and well-written and with conclusions that are both revelatory and disturbing -- not least by engendering thoughts of what I might have done as a study subject. It is interesting to contemplate and discuss this study from the viewpoint of 2015, as society has changed considerably from the pre-hippie sixties. The changes include of social norms, like ideas about socioeconomic class and gender (somewhat anyway), as well as an evolution in the ethics of scientific study (recall the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment study was only halted in 1972). Now a few more focused comments about the salient elements of this work: 1. Methodology -- highly rigorous with numerous study variations to weed out potential confounders, like proximity of the victim or substitution of experimenter as victim. One of the most compelling things about the book.. 2. Conclusions -- again, these hold up well in my view and he makes full acknowledgement that correlation to Nazi Germany is not 1:1. I also found his explanation of the psychodynamic underpinnings of obedience within our social contract to be convincing although the focus on "cybernetics" in this regard gives the discussion a dated feel, at least to someone not directly involved in that discipline... 3. Ethics -- you could start a bar fight with this case! And I find myself squarely in the middle pole, seeing both sides of both sides. His "epilogue" defense on this issue is not entirely convincing, to be frank. He makes a big show of being surprised at the degree to which subjects were obedient in the first experiment, yet he expresses no qualms about the long-term effect on those subjects as a result of those same findings. He goes on exhaustively about the interviews and questionnaires in the aftermath of his experiments, and indeed even months or years later, by way of justification... as if to say, "see, nothing really bad happened to them!".... well, first of all, how does one really study that psychological effect?... and, more importantly, the bullet had already left the gun... that is, the lack of any effect could only be discovered in retrospect (to the extent that it is discoverable)... and while that is true to some extent in any study, he seems to have shown very little concern even after the surprising preliminary rounds were concluded... alas, it is hard to judge a study done in the early 60's by more modern standards, but one gets the sense that he DID actually think of it, but chose not let it stand in the way of his goal.... this is ironic given that his thesis is about the autonomous individuals giving themselves over to an authority and sacrificing their personal ethics for some higher cause... and the use of ex post-facto justification based on a collective benefit or the uncertainty about possible harm mirrors the explanations of the subjects themselves... this irony seems to have been entirely lost on him.... 4. Subjective style -- this is where Milgram, for me, comes in for the harshest criticism. His prose is at times condescending, sexist, classist, and judgmental. A product of the times, maybe, but entirely unnecessary in discussion of an academic/scientific endeavor. Some examples: "his overall appearance was somewhat brutish"... another employs "working-class grammar"... while still another appears "intelligent and concerned"... one wonders whether such superficial value judgments might creep in as a bias in how the experimenter handled their guidance of the subjects (though Milgram did not apparently conduct them himself)... he never considers that point... moving on to women subjects, he describes one as "an unassuming person, of benign disposition, whose manner is that of a worn-out housewife".... another displays a "pleasant though excessively talkative charm... she maintains a pretentiously correct, almost authoritative tone in reading the word pairs... her dialogue is filled with feminine references (love, bright, wonderful??)".... another is described as "an attractive thirty-one year old medical technician".... how exactly is that relevant?? He goes to lengths to tell the subjects afterwards that their propensity to go to near the end of the voltage scale is "common" and indeed calls it "normal"... yet elsewhere he condemns it as "callous and severe"... making all the more powerful his language in his conclusions... and never once does he stop to contemplate where he himself might have fallen on the spectrum... his tone throughout is "ivory tower"; he's above them.... surely he would not have fallen prey to these human pitfalls... he seems to lack the very same empathy that he is eagerly pointing out is lacking in his experimental subjects... 5. Confounders -- he never fully addresses whether there might have been a selection bias towards certain personality types, like sociopaths who, by definition, lack empathy... he talks about the case selection but it is based on socioeconomic status, education, age, and gender.... It seems unlikely but perhaps people that answer adds for paid involvement in such an experiment skew in this direction (though they didn't know of the experimental design before hand) ... Also, he gives very little time to the notion that many diagnostic tests and procedures in the medical realm ARE necessarily painful... even the drawing of blood or having a pH probe shoved down your nose or strenuous exercise on a treadmill... we are conditioned for it from an early age... so generally the notion of mild or even moderate discomfort is a highly accepted part our culture... he touches on this point briefly and then for the remainder seems astonished that anyone would inflict any pain at all on another person... there is a partial disconnect here.... not that this would justify 450 volts of supposedly dangerous electricity (after repeated and deliberately deceptive assurances as to their safety)... In summery, a very interesting and edifying book that despite its flaws remains a highly worthwhile read and is excellent fodder for debate on the nature of authority and obedience in our society, as well as on scientific ethics....

  7. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

    Highly recommended !! Stanley Milgram was an American social psychologist, best known for his controversial experiments on obedience conducted in the 1960s during his professorship at Yale. Milgram was influenced by the events of the Holocaust, especially the trial of Adolf Eichmann. After earning a PhD in social psychology from Harvard University, he taught at Yale, Harvard, and then for most of his career as a professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center, until his death in 1984 Highly recommended !! Stanley Milgram was an American social psychologist, best known for his controversial experiments on obedience conducted in the 1960s during his professorship at Yale. Milgram was influenced by the events of the Holocaust, especially the trial of Adolf Eichmann. After earning a PhD in social psychology from Harvard University, he taught at Yale, Harvard, and then for most of his career as a professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center, until his death in 1984. He produced an experimental body of work on the role "obedience" plays in human behavior. His results show that we are all susceptible to authoritarian forces and pressures. He analysed obedience from childhood to various adult situations and the process of changing a person from an autonomous state to submission to authority. It calls it the 'ageatic shift" and the "aisgnatic state" where there a loss of a sense of personal responsibility to an authority that demands loyalty, obligation and duty. Above all they become an agent working on behalf of an authority who claims to be a "noble cause" or higher truth/ savior working a better world. The scareiest result was the participants in inhumane ideologies were honestly just ordinary people doing their jobs. As Orwell has already observed, language is altered and propaganda is calculated, restructuring the information field and social field. This could well be ordinary you and me !! Americans are not immune, as recent events have proven.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Things on my mind after reading this book: 1. Humans LOVE hierarchy. This sure complicates my idealized anarchist utopia. 😒 2. The strong influence of context/circumstance on human behavior is a real problem for how we think about ethics and moral responsibility. 3. I have no doubt that I would have electrocuted the daylights out of the learner.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

    "Why did you do that?" "Because I was told to." Or put another way, which didn't wash at the Nuremberg war trials, "I was only following orders." This book explores, through a classic experiment, the horrifying lengths that pefectly ordinary people will go to in obedience to authority and how they think that authority relieves them of personal responsibility for their actions. The tragedy is that those of us like me, who have a deep suspicion of authority, will read this book. Those who have faith "Why did you do that?" "Because I was told to." Or put another way, which didn't wash at the Nuremberg war trials, "I was only following orders." This book explores, through a classic experiment, the horrifying lengths that pefectly ordinary people will go to in obedience to authority and how they think that authority relieves them of personal responsibility for their actions. The tragedy is that those of us like me, who have a deep suspicion of authority, will read this book. Those who have faith in authority won't and they're the ones who need to.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    The movie "Experimenter" is an excellent film about Stanley Milgram and the experiment documented in this book. I saw the film first, and now that I've read the book I like what they did with the film even more: the two really compliment each other if you're interested in the topic. If not, the film will be more accessible and interesting. The question was: if random subjects are asked by an authority figure to harm a stranger for the sake of "science," will they go through with it? Yes, sadly, The movie "Experimenter" is an excellent film about Stanley Milgram and the experiment documented in this book. I saw the film first, and now that I've read the book I like what they did with the film even more: the two really compliment each other if you're interested in the topic. If not, the film will be more accessible and interesting. The question was: if random subjects are asked by an authority figure to harm a stranger for the sake of "science," will they go through with it? Yes, sadly, they will... The rest of the story is all here, and I wish more people knew it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Deyth Banger

    "February 11, 2019 – Finished Reading January 26, 2019 – page 102 39.84% January 16, 2019 – page 98 38.28% January 12, 2019 – page 87 33.98% January 11, 2019 – page 60 23.44% January 7, 2019 – page 45 17.58% "Just showing how far a weak mind goes..." January 6, 2019 – page 30 11.72% August 26, 2018 – page 27 10.55% June 1, 2018 – page 24 9.38% "And people belief in what it's said to them... people so easy can get manipulated... ... We just needs few Prods" January 5, 2018 – page 17 6.64% January 5, "February 11, 2019 – Finished Reading January 26, 2019 – page 102 39.84% January 16, 2019 – page 98 38.28% January 12, 2019 – page 87 33.98% January 11, 2019 – page 60 23.44% January 7, 2019 – page 45 17.58% "Just showing how far a weak mind goes..." January 6, 2019 – page 30 11.72% August 26, 2018 – page 27 10.55% June 1, 2018 – page 24 9.38% "And people belief in what it's said to them... people so easy can get manipulated... ... We just needs few Prods" January 5, 2018 – page 17 6.64% January 5, 2018 – page 10 3.91% "Obedience and Authority are going to pull a human beyond from it's own human limits." January 5, 2018 – page 10 3.91% "This book is going to clean up all shit written by human being." January 5, 2018 – Shelved January 5, 2018 – Started Reading" "At least one essential feature of the situation in Germany was not studied here-namely, the intense devaluation of the victim prior to action against him. For a decade and more, vehement anti-Jewish propaganda systematically prepared the German population to accept the destruction of the Jews. Step by step the Jews were excluded from the category of citizen and national, and finally were denied the status of human beings." "This laboratory situation gives us a framework in which to study the subject’s reactions to the principal conflict of the experiment. Again, this conflict is between the experimenter’s demands that he continue to administer the electric shock and the learner’s demands, which become increasingly insistent, that the experiment be stopped." "Too often, the value of a work in social science is played down by asserting the self-evident character of the findings." "“I think he’s trying to communicate, he’s knocking.... Well it’s not fair to shock the guy these areterrific volts. I don’t think this is very humane. Oh, I can’t go on with this; no, this isn’t right. It’s a hell of an experiment. The guy is suffering in there. No, I don’t want to go on. This is crazy.” (Subject refuses to administer more shocks." "Obedience is the behavioral aspect of the state. A person may be in an agentic state-that is, in a state of openness to regulation from an authority-without ever being given a command and thus never having to obey." "Thus, the subject’s predicament is reduced to a problem of rational decision making. This analysis ignores a crucial aspect of behavior illuminated by the experiments. Though many subjects make the intellectual decision that they should not give any more shocks to the learner, they are frequently unable to trans- form this conviction into action. Viewing these subjects in the laboratory, one can sense their intense inner struggle to extricate themselves from the authority, while ill-defined but powerful bonds hold them at the shock generator. One subject tells the experimenter: “He can’t stand it. I’m not going to kill that man in there. You hear him hollering in there. He’s hollering. He can’t stand it.” Although at the verbal level the subject has resolved not to go on, he continues to act in accord with the experimenter’s commands." "the end. For if he breaks off, he must say to himself: “Everything I have done to this point is bad, and I now acknowledge it by breaking off.” But, if he goes on, he is reassured about his past performance. Earlier actions give rise to discomforts, which are neutralized by later ones." "Although to the outsider the act of refusing to shock stems from moral considerations, the action is experienced by the subject as renouncing an obligation to the experimenter, and such repudiation is not undertaken lightly. There is another side to this matter. Goffman (1959) points out that every social situation is built upon a working consensus among the participants. One of its chief premises is that once a definition of the situation has been projected and agreed upon by participants, there shall be no challenge to it. Indeed, disruption of the accepted definition by one participant has the character of moral transgression. Under no circumstance is open conflict about the definition of the situation compatible with polite social exchange.More specifically, according to Goffman’s analysis, “society is organized on the principle that any individual who possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to expect that others will value and treat him in a correspondingly appropriate way. When an individual projects a definition of the situation and then makes an implicit or explicit claim to be a person of a particular kind, he automatically exerts a moral demand upon the others, obliging them to value and treat him in the manner that persons of his kind have a right to expect” (page 185). Since to refuse to obey the experimenter is to reject his claim to competence and authority in this situation, a severe social impropriety is necessarily involved." "Thus, the subject fears that if he breaks off, he will appear arrogant, untoward, and rude. Such emotions, although they appear small in scope alongside the violence being done to the learner, nonetheless help bind the subject into obedience. They suffuse the mind and feelings of the subject, who is miserable at the prospect of having to repudiate the authority to his face. The entire prospect of turning against the experimental authority, with its attendant disruption of a well-defined social situation, is an embarrassment that many people are unable to face up to. In an effort to avoid this awkward event, many subjects find obedience a less painful alternative." "Only obedience can preserve the experimenter’s status and dignity. It is a curious thing that a measure of compassion on the part of the subject, an unwillingness to “hurt” the experimenter’s feelings, are part of those binding forces inhibiting disobedience. The withdrawal of such deference may be as painful to the subject. "...as to the authority he defies. Readers who feel this to be a trivial consideration ought to carry out the following experiment. It will help them feel the force of inhibition that operates on the subject What is the source of this anxiety? It stems from the individual’s long history of socialization. He has, in the course of moving from a biological creature to a civilized person, internalized the basic rules of social life. And the most basic of these is respect for authority. The rules are internally enforced by linking their possible breach to a flow of disruptive, ego-threatening affect. The emotional signs observed in the laboratory-trembling, anxious laughter, acute embarrassment-are evidence of an assault on these rules. As the subject contemplates this break, anxiety is generated, signaling him to step back from the forbidden action and thereby creating an emotional barrier through which he must pass in order to defy authority.The remarkable thing is, once the “ice is broken” through disobedience, virtually all the tension, anxiety, and fear evaporate." "Men can function on their own or, through the assumption of roles, merge into larger systems. But the very fact of dual capacities requires a design compromise. We are not perfectly tailored for complete autonomy, nor for total submission.Of course, any sophisticated entity designed to function both autonomously and within hierarchical systems will have mechanisms for the resolution of strain, for unless such resolving mechanisms exist the system is bound to break down posthaste." "The experience of tension in our subjects shows not the power of authority but its weakness, revealing further an extremely important aspect of the experiment: transformation to the agentic state is, for some subjects, only partial.If the individual’s submergence in the authority system were total, he would feel no tension as he followed commands, no matter how harsh, for the actions required would be seen only through the meanings imposed by authority, and would thus be fully acceptable to the subject. Every sign of tension, therefore, is evidence of the failure of authority to transform the person to an unalloyed state of agency." "Residues of selfhood, remaining in varying degrees outside the experimenter’s authority, keep personal values alive in the subject and lead to strain which, if sufficiently powerful, can result in disobedience. In this sense, the agentic state created in the laboratory is vulnerable to disturbance, just as a person asleep may be disturbed by the impingement of a suffciently loud noise. (During sleep, a person’s capacity for hearing and sight are sharply diminished, though sufficiently strong stimuli may rouse him from that state. Similarly, in the agentic state, a person’s moral judgments are largely suspended, but a sufficiently strong shock may strain the viability of the state.)" "Disobedience is the ultimate means whereby strain is brought to an end. It is not an act that comes easily.It implies not merely the refusal to carry out a particular command of the experimenter but a reformulation of the relation- ship between subject and authority." "I have explained the behavior observed in the laboratory in the way that seemed to me to make the most sense. An alternative view is that what we have observed in the laboratory is aggression, the flow of destructive tendencies, released because the occasion permitted its expression. This view seems to me erroneous, and I will indicate why. But first let me state the “aggression” argument :By aggression we mean an impulse or action to harm another organism. In the Freudian view, destructive forces are present in all individuals, but they do not always find ready release, for their expression is inhibited by superego, or conscience." "The aim of these investigators was to study aggression per se. In typical experimental manipulations, they frustrated the subject to see whether he would administer higher shocks when angry. But the effect of these manipulations was minuscule compared with the levels obtained under obedience. That is to say, no matter what these experimenters did to anger, irritate, or frustrate the subject, he would at most move up one or two shock levels, say from shock level 4 to level 6. This represents a genuine increment in aggression." "In the preceding chapters, I have tried to explain why the behavior observed in the laboratory comes about: how the individual makes an initial set of commitments to the authority, how the meaning of the action is transformed by the context in which it occurs, and how binding factors prevent the person from disobeying." "Other differences should at least be mentioned briefly: to resist Nazism was itself an act of heroism, not an inconsequential decision, and death was a possible penalty. Penalties and threats were forever around the corner, and the victims themselves had been thoroughly vilified and portrayed as being unworthy of life or human kindness. Finally, our subjects were told by authority that what they were doing to their victim might be temporarily painful but would cause no permanent damage, while those Germans directly involved in the annihilations knew that they were not only inflicting pain but were destroying human life. So, in the final analysis, what happened in Germany from 1933 to 1965 can only be fully understood as the expression of a unique historical development that will never again be precisely replicated." "To focus only on the Nazis, however despicable their deeds, and to view only highly publicized atrocities as being relevant to these studies is to miss the point entirely. For the studies are principally concerned with the ordinary and routine destruction carried out by everyday people following orders." "I faced young men who were aghast at the behavior of experimental subjects and proclaimed they would never behave in such a way, but who, in a matter of months, were brought into the military and performed without compunction actions that made shocking the victim seem pallid. In this respect, they are no better and no worse than human beings of any other era who lend themselves to the purposes of authority and become instruments in its destructive processes." "The catalogue of inhumane actions performed by ordinary Americans in the Vietnamese conflict is too long; to document here in detail. The reader is referred to several treatises on this subject (Taylor, 1970; Classer, 1971; Halberstam, 1965). We may recount merely that our soldiers routinely burned villages, engaged in a “free-fire zone” policy, employed napalm extensively, utilized the most advanced technology against primitive armies, defoliated vast areas of the land, forced the evacuation of the sick and aged for purposes of military expediency, and massacred outright hundreds of unarmed civilians." "Typically, we do not find a heroic figure struggling with conscience, nor a pathologically aggressive man ruthlessly exploiting a position of power, but a functionary who hasbeen given a job to do and who strives to create an impression of competence in his work.Now let us return to the experiments and try to underscore their meaning. The behavior revealed in the experiments reported here is normal human behavior but revealed under conditions that show with particular clarity the danger to human survival inherent in our make-up." "In an article entitled “The Dangers of Obedience,” Harold J. Laski wrote:.....civilization means, above all, an unwillingness to inflict unnecessary pain. Within the ambit of that definition, those of us who heedlessly accept the commands of authority cannot yet claim to be civilized men.Our business, if we desire to live a life not utterly devoid of meaning and significance, is to accept nothing which contradicts our basic experience merely because it comes to us from tradition or conventionor authority. It may well be that we shall be wrong; but our self-expression is thwarted at the root unless the certainties we are asked to accept coincide with the certainties we experience. That is why the condition of freedom in any state is always a widespread and consistent skepticism of the canons upon which power insists." P.S.: If there is a need to say something... (It was a long ride) Good Humans Can Do Evil "Say No Evil Do No Evil"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority is a social psychological account of how humans have a tendency to follow orders regardless of consequences. In a series of experiments carried out at Yale University, Milgram has challenged common sense perceptions about free will and morality. He has shown that in certain experimental conditions study participants - the “teachers” - administered increasingly powerful and painful electric shocks on an innocent person - the “learner”. Although the “learne Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority is a social psychological account of how humans have a tendency to follow orders regardless of consequences. In a series of experiments carried out at Yale University, Milgram has challenged common sense perceptions about free will and morality. He has shown that in certain experimental conditions study participants - the “teachers” - administered increasingly powerful and painful electric shocks on an innocent person - the “learner”. Although the “learner” was not harmed during the experiments - he was an actor, and did not actually receive any electric shocks - the book is a troubling account of how far regular people will proceed in a concrete and measurable situation in which they are ordered by an authority figure to inflict increasing pain on a protesting victim. Milgram’s motivation for setting up and carrying out these experiments was to understand the psychological factors that made the Holocaust possible. The inhumane policies that systematically murdered millions of people may have originated primarily in the mind of one person, but they could not have been implemented at such a massive scale unless a large number of people obeyed orders. While conservative philosophers routinely argue that the fabric of society needs obedience in order to survive, Milgram suggests that obedience can be dangerous, as it is a “dispositional cement” that binds men to systems of political purposes, which - as history stands witness - can be harmful for some groups of people.

  14. 5 out of 5

    El (book.monkey)

    I really wish I had read this book last year when I first started learning about Milgram's work for my Psychology A Level. It gave me a truly deep understanding of his agent theory and over all the studies. If you are about to do an A Level in the UK in psychology and have a bit of extra time I would highly recommend reading this book! I really wish I had read this book last year when I first started learning about Milgram's work for my Psychology A Level. It gave me a truly deep understanding of his agent theory and over all the studies. If you are about to do an A Level in the UK in psychology and have a bit of extra time I would highly recommend reading this book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ehsan NaseriGazar

    Shocking! This book is a pretty old book which was written in 1983, however, I can't imagine there would be a different result if we had the same experiments now. Different variations and each one, I think it's better to imagine yourself there, to see, what would you do if you were in that situation? Are you following orders? This book is great for someone who wants to have a free spirit and learn how to be responsible for his/her own actions. Shocking! This book is a pretty old book which was written in 1983, however, I can't imagine there would be a different result if we had the same experiments now. Different variations and each one, I think it's better to imagine yourself there, to see, what would you do if you were in that situation? Are you following orders? This book is great for someone who wants to have a free spirit and learn how to be responsible for his/her own actions.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jorgen Peterson

    Everyone should read this book. I'll send it to you Saum. Everyone should read this book. I'll send it to you Saum.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jens

    It took me a while until I got around to reading a summary of the actual experiments done by Milgram and others. Before I ever opened this book I read quite a bit of criticism (e.g. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cru...) which I leave for anyone interested to evaluate for themselves. It should be noted that any experiment that attracts as much attention as Milgram's did is bound to receive abundant criticism and Milgram unlike other pseudo scientific authors of today, responds to all the crit It took me a while until I got around to reading a summary of the actual experiments done by Milgram and others. Before I ever opened this book I read quite a bit of criticism (e.g. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cru...) which I leave for anyone interested to evaluate for themselves. It should be noted that any experiment that attracts as much attention as Milgram's did is bound to receive abundant criticism and Milgram unlike other pseudo scientific authors of today, responds to all the criticism that I've heard of before in this particular edition. After getting this part out of the way, I will come to the reason this book is a must-read for every person. Whatever you may think of the validity of the experiment and it's interpretation, taking the time to reflect on why we obey and arguably when we should choose to disobey must be of central interest to anyone. It is important to read and think about the questions addressed by Milgram for the same reason as it is important to get more insight into mechanisms behind racism and other forms of discrimination. If one believes to never discriminate against anyone, it is certain that this person is fooling only himself. No one is above their human nature and understanding and reflecting about mechanisms that are at play within us is the first step to improvement. If people think that more than 60 years after Milgrams original experiment it is of little importance to us today, it's best to recall Guantanamo, the use of emetics, or the anti-gay movement in Russia. So, if you haven't done so: read this book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lei Kit

    A very uplifting book that warmly reminds us that we’re basically no different from Nazi: the authority says jump, we jump, they say kill, we kill, and it has very little to do with our morality and conscience - these things mean very little in the face of the authority, and rightly so, because for a society to function properly we each have to submit ourselves to our superordinates, our superordinates to their super-superordinates, etc. And to achieve this our morality and conscience would almo A very uplifting book that warmly reminds us that we’re basically no different from Nazi: the authority says jump, we jump, they say kill, we kill, and it has very little to do with our morality and conscience - these things mean very little in the face of the authority, and rightly so, because for a society to function properly we each have to submit ourselves to our superordinates, our superordinates to their super-superordinates, etc. And to achieve this our morality and conscience would almost always make themselves scarce, allowing us to focus on one thing and one thing only: are we following the order properly? Imagine all of us doing this - following orders closely and rigorously without having to get bogged down with all these stupid morals and harmful senses of guilt. This is the hierarchical mechanism that allows us to arrive at where we are at today. We shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Instead we should be glad that we’re so submissive, so Nazi-nian. So next time when your boss asks you to put your finger in the paper shredder, please for the love of God just do it - you’ll be doing civilisation a big BIG favour!!!! *too depressed to give a proper review*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    Though severly restricted by antiquated research paradigms (i.e. blind spots) of the time of the experiment (predominately male, white study participants as just one example) this study and Milgram's detailed and mostly nuanced discussion of the results is still well worth reading. The famous take away and dominant narrative of the experiment can be summed up in this quote "With numbing regularity, good people were seen to knuckle under to the demands of authority and perform actions that were ca Though severly restricted by antiquated research paradigms (i.e. blind spots) of the time of the experiment (predominately male, white study participants as just one example) this study and Milgram's detailed and mostly nuanced discussion of the results is still well worth reading. The famous take away and dominant narrative of the experiment can be summed up in this quote "With numbing regularity, good people were seen to knuckle under to the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe." HOWEVER, people seem to forget that there was a admittedly statistically lower proportion, but nevertheless constant minority of study participants who steadfastedly refused to obey unethical authoritative orders. Wouldn't it make sense to analyse these participants - their upbringing, value system, neurological makeup, social status - as thoroughly as possible instead of concentrating on the depressingly large majority of obedient "good" people?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michele Brack

    #40 A book you bought on a trip "Nothing is more dangerous to human survival than malevolent authority combined with the dehumanizing effects of buffers." (p 157) I saw this movie about a year ago and I immediately (though, admittedly in a very inebriated state) bought the book and decided to read it. It is FASCINATING! It really makes you think about the role that authority plays in our everyday lives. There is this section where they talk about the autonomous state and the agentic state and it j #40 A book you bought on a trip "Nothing is more dangerous to human survival than malevolent authority combined with the dehumanizing effects of buffers." (p 157) I saw this movie about a year ago and I immediately (though, admittedly in a very inebriated state) bought the book and decided to read it. It is FASCINATING! It really makes you think about the role that authority plays in our everyday lives. There is this section where they talk about the autonomous state and the agentic state and it just blew my mind to think of how much out brain adjusts to society as we are immersed in it. Even if you have no idea what I am talking about and have no knowledge of psychology, I recommend at least watching the movie "The Experimenter." It was SO good!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    An in depth look at a the classic examination of people and their willingness to obey to others. This book is a look at the classic experiment that occured on the Yale campus in the the early 1960s. There were many other experiments done testing certain parameters within the original design set up by Milgram. At the end of the book a great quote/lesson from the experiment appears. It goes "it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that deter An in depth look at a the classic examination of people and their willingness to obey to others. This book is a look at the classic experiment that occured on the Yale campus in the the early 1960s. There were many other experiments done testing certain parameters within the original design set up by Milgram. At the end of the book a great quote/lesson from the experiment appears. It goes "it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act." This can be applied to so many aspects of our lives-a good read but is heavy especially with experimental data that may bore some.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Al sanhani

    It is really annoying knowing that we are more likely to commit horrible things and yet we don't shoulder the responsibility of our actions because we are basically ordered to do so. This reminds me of one of the verses in Holy Qur'an saying that individuals are fully responsible of their own every action regardless of the authority over them. And what's more annoying is that disobeying authority is hard. To me, being aware of this at least will help me to avoid being in a position requiring me It is really annoying knowing that we are more likely to commit horrible things and yet we don't shoulder the responsibility of our actions because we are basically ordered to do so. This reminds me of one of the verses in Holy Qur'an saying that individuals are fully responsible of their own every action regardless of the authority over them. And what's more annoying is that disobeying authority is hard. To me, being aware of this at least will help me to avoid being in a position requiring me to obey orders harmful to others.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roland

    "The virtues of loyalty, discipline, and self-sacrifice that we value so highly in the individual are the very properties that create destructive engines of war and bind men to malevolent systems of authority." The Milgram experiments revealed alarming human traits. Hard to believe, difficult to accept, but truly enlightening. The book lays out the data collected and what was learned. It's not a difficult read. It was very enjoyable actually. From the worst atrocities, to your everyday life, this "The virtues of loyalty, discipline, and self-sacrifice that we value so highly in the individual are the very properties that create destructive engines of war and bind men to malevolent systems of authority." The Milgram experiments revealed alarming human traits. Hard to believe, difficult to accept, but truly enlightening. The book lays out the data collected and what was learned. It's not a difficult read. It was very enjoyable actually. From the worst atrocities, to your everyday life, this book is relevant. Who hasn't said they would behave differently? Everyone does.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Yingtai

    I thought I knew all about this experiment from reading other sources, but of course I was wrong. Milgram carried out something like 16 variations of the experiment, and he thought really hard and insightfully about it. He doesn't just quote Freud, Kohlberg, Asch and other psychologists of his time, but also philosophers like Hannah Arendt. I will say the first half (describing the experiments) is more worth reading than the second half (discussion), which I skimmed. I thought I knew all about this experiment from reading other sources, but of course I was wrong. Milgram carried out something like 16 variations of the experiment, and he thought really hard and insightfully about it. He doesn't just quote Freud, Kohlberg, Asch and other psychologists of his time, but also philosophers like Hannah Arendt. I will say the first half (describing the experiments) is more worth reading than the second half (discussion), which I skimmed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Smith

    Milgram's experiments into obedience remain some of the most enlightening and disturbing in the history of psychology. This book which opens up the process and the wide variety of tests carried out, reinforce the core message that evil is frequently carried out by ordinary people, who can be manipulated by those with the appearance of authority. This is a timeless book and worth anyone's time reading. Milgram's experiments into obedience remain some of the most enlightening and disturbing in the history of psychology. This book which opens up the process and the wide variety of tests carried out, reinforce the core message that evil is frequently carried out by ordinary people, who can be manipulated by those with the appearance of authority. This is a timeless book and worth anyone's time reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tadas Talaikis

    Revolutionary experiment, showing us more of reality on human behavior. Everyone should know it, because time goes and nothing changes, every time appears the "superleader" promising fantastic holly lands and those p-zombies are going on. Human morals are contradictory since the start of life: "don't beat smaller children" at one hand, and "do as I say!" at another. Revolutionary experiment, showing us more of reality on human behavior. Everyone should know it, because time goes and nothing changes, every time appears the "superleader" promising fantastic holly lands and those p-zombies are going on. Human morals are contradictory since the start of life: "don't beat smaller children" at one hand, and "do as I say!" at another.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Rapp

    Grim exploration of our simple-mindedness, willful blindness, and thinly-veiled capacity for evil. “It is not so much the kind of person a man is, but the situation in which he finds himself, that determines how he will act.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Thom Dunn

    It's fair to say that no one graduates from a good college without learning of Milgram's Behavioral Study of Obedience. Good. It's fair to say that no one graduates from a good college without learning of Milgram's Behavioral Study of Obedience. Good.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Witmer

    This is the book that all libertarians (and potential libertarians, or "consistently pro-freedom individuals") should read, if they want to understand how and why government, the law, and society are broken. I don't recommend the more popular (in libertarian circles) "Human Action" by Mises for this purpose, (even though that is a fine book as well). WHY THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN: This book was expressly written to investigate why the Jewish holocaust happened; how the German citizenry could "go along This is the book that all libertarians (and potential libertarians, or "consistently pro-freedom individuals") should read, if they want to understand how and why government, the law, and society are broken. I don't recommend the more popular (in libertarian circles) "Human Action" by Mises for this purpose, (even though that is a fine book as well). WHY THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN: This book was expressly written to investigate why the Jewish holocaust happened; how the German citizenry could "go along" with a blatantly immoral system. A popular question among scientists of the time was "How could average people in Germany behave so immorally?" how could they obey immoral orders? Milgram's research, beautifully detailed in this book, fully answers this question, by revealing that most people in most societies are not moral, nor are they educated with the bare minimum knowledge required to produce even basic social organizations that could be identified as "western civilization" or "liberal democracy." OVERVIEW OF THE MILGRAM EXPERIMENT: In this book, individuals were asked to participate in a psychological study, for one hour, where they would be paid minimum wage for their participation in a psychological study. Many different people from all walks of life responded, some with the goal of helping scientific research, others with the goal of being paid a few dollars. Once they showed up, they entered a room in which several other people were gathered, who seemingly entered the study as they had. (Actually, though, everyone except the subject is a confederate of the experiment.) At that point, a "scientist" enters the room (also a confederate of the experiment), and states that he's conducting an experiment to determine whether mild punishments, in the form of escalating electrical shocks, help reinforce learning. He announces that due to experimenter bias, he cannot be the one administering the shocks, so the crowd will be divided into two groups, of "teachers" and "learners." The "teachers" will administer shocks to the "learners." In reality, the "learner" is an actor who is strapped into a chair and pretends to be shocked when a red light --visible only to him-- appears, and the "teacher" is the test subject, the only person who is not an actor. The dials on the electrical shock equipment go from mild to "400 volts," marked as "danger, XXX." Milgram wanted to find out whether people would proceed to shock the "learner" past the point when proper, western morality indicates that they should stop. 37 out of 40 test subjects did. A series of 18 follow-up experiments was performed to indicate why they did so, and Milgram found that the perception of "legitimate authority" determines why people will obey immoral orders. First and foremost, the research in this book reveals the poor hierarchical prioritization of the most important decisions at their detail level, the level of the individual, in society. Second, it is mutually-inclusive of a scientific world-view, which incorporates an understanding of the brain as the basis for emergent human social networks, including government (it is not mystical, nor "advocating" or "labeling" anything unproven as "accepted"). Third, the book places Milgram's research within the relevant cybernetic model of its day (Norbert Wiener 1948), which is still both relevant and revelatory, 66 years later. Fourth, all of the material in this book is highly destructive to totalitarianism, and to theillegitimate collectivist state apparatus. Combined with Clay Conrad's book on jury nullification of law (Jury Nullification The Evolution of a Doctrine), this book provides the very most powerful arguments against state power that currently exist. (Other excellent books on "jury nullification of law" are: Jeffrey Abramson's We the Jury and Paul Butler's [Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice]) "Obedience to Authority" accomplishes this mission without being explicitly and overtly libertarian, (in the American sense) or "liberal" (in the South American and European senses). Because it directly observes how people respond to authority without knowing they are being observed for that reason, it is the primary and first book to produce honest data about the destructive psychological cause of empowered, dominant, illegitimate authority. Further, this is the work that equates libertarianism with basic human morality possessed by all empaths, who comprise the majority of society. For those who work in politics, this reveals a viable pathway toward restoring lost limits on government power. The arguments for liberty implied by the research in this book work on all humans, members of all political parties. This is why it has become so popular to denigrate the work done by Milgram, in Academia: he's right. Moreover, he's right in a way that burns their sacred power structures like flash paper on contact with a lit match. What are the implications for Libertarians and the broader movement to restore individual liberty in the USA? Stop arguing for "individual rights" based on "God's will." God doesn't appear to exist, and in any event, cannot be "tested for." All of Milgram's material is not only persuasive to atheists and liberals, it provides a basis for their comprehension of the failure of unrestricted majoritarian democracy, dictatorship, and other forms of tyrannical totalitarianism. If we want to combat totalitarianism, we need to address the people responsible for totalitarianism from a position that recognizes their core beliefs as "possibly legitimate." Beliefs that can be referred to in reality meet that criteria, and this book is a treasure trove of direct reference to the same physical, cybernetic reality that allows for cell towers, space flight, and the internet. I appreciate the fact that Mises' "Human Action" is mutually-inclusive of science as well. However, at around 1,000 pages, most people simply will not read "Human Action" from cover-to-cover. Nor will many people read Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" from cover-to-cover. Nor was the underlying science of psychology itself greatly experimentally advanced in those works. Economics is a science that emerges from the collective decisions that are studied in psychology. This book will reach people --especially socialists of all sorts-- in a way that Orwell's "1984" reached them: it will speak to whatever core of empathy and compassion they contain at the very center of their psychological makeup. Without being able to confidently deny that a person would be a willing "executioner" in a new morality-testing situation, a person cannot claim to be moral in any meaningful sense of the term. The result of reading this book will leave intelligent socialists on thin ice, if they wish to remain socialists. It shows how the emergence of political evil, as revealed by Andrzej Lobaczewski(Political Ponerology), cannot emerge without obedience to unjust authority. "Obedience to Authority" also shows how individuals are personally responsible for the malevolent emergence ("totalitarianism," "destructive state collectivism") that results from such obedience. This book is a masterpiece that leads the way to a resurgence of life-saving classical liberal democracy depicted in F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. It also contains an introduction by Philip Zimbardo, a collaborator and contemporary of Milgram's who designed "The Stanford Prison Experiment," and authored The Lucifer Effect. It's worth buying for that introduction alone, in order to place the book in its proper context. Zimbardo freely admits that Milgram was more intelligent than he was, and has kept Milgram's legacy alive, in a series of excellent YouTube videos (including one titled "The Psychology of Evil") that keep Milgram's work in the public eye. It is my sincere hope that Philip Zimbardo, Steven Pinker, and the many others who have quoted Milgram's work will register to vote as Libertarians, join the National Libertarian Party, advocate jury nullification, and participate in the next Libertarian Party National Convention, before it is too late for America to avoid collapse into totalitarianism. What America most needs is a small network of super-intelligences to correct the (externally-controlled and neutralized) trajectory the Libertarian Party (and broader libertarian movement) is currently following. (For more on the freedom movement in the USA, please read Vin Suprynowicz's Send in the Waco Killers Essays on the Freedom Movement 19931998) There is no useful "granular, detail-level" political "point of measurement" for libertarians who have an economic focus. The general public doesn't understand basic economics, so referring them to economics texts is useless. (To his credit, Milgram does reference Mises' book "Bureaucracy" in this book, and also deals with the arguments in favor of anarchy. Milgram's work is consistent with a proper, "corrected" variant of Ayn Rand's "objectivism," as it is consistent with Lysander Spooner's "The Unconstitutionality of Slavery." It is also consistent with a version of Samuel E. Konkin III's "Counter-economics" that excludes electoral non-participation. Obedience to Authority informs those interested in electoral struggles about the obstacles they must actually overcome, if they want to win freedom to the extent it can be won at the ballot box.) Again: This book should be read by all Americans, and its concise nature and brevity make this possible. It is possible to assign this book as high-school reading material, and it should certainly be so assigned. It is certainly in the "top 100" most important books ever written in terms respectful of the Jewish admonition, "Never Again." As Christopher Hitchens identified himself, "Obedience to Authority" is "consistently anti-totalitarian."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jena Hemsworth

    Having read the shortened version of this study while studying for my Psychology classes, I couldn't say no to buying the book when I saw it in WH Smith. My mind is reeling with all the information I have read, but basically what started this social psychology experiment was: * Obedience is productive yet it can be destructive – based on past Holocaust events * Milgram believes that extreme obedience to authority was one-off, that Germans were Different from the rest of society * He expected that i Having read the shortened version of this study while studying for my Psychology classes, I couldn't say no to buying the book when I saw it in WH Smith. My mind is reeling with all the information I have read, but basically what started this social psychology experiment was: * Obedience is productive yet it can be destructive – based on past Holocaust events * Milgram believes that extreme obedience to authority was one-off, that Germans were Different from the rest of society * He expected that in 1960s USA no–one would obey if he created an extreme situation Therefore, the aim of Milgram was to test the hypothesis that “Germans are different” and to investigate what level of obedience would be shown when participants were told by an authority figure to administer electric shocks to another person. I'm jus going to intervene here and mention that I believe in the accuracy of the study and I shudder to think that blind obedience to authority has increased ten-fold over the past decades, as the media has managed to brainwash people through every medium possible. Without going into details on all the experiments carried out, I will describe a bit the main one. 40 paid participants were deceived and told that they would take part in a study concerning the role of punishment in learning. A confederate of Milgram posed as the teacher who would be administered shocks from the participant if they did not correctly memorize pairs of words by indicating his answer using a system of lights. (Truly no shocks were administered) The participant sat in the same room as the experimenter, apart from where the teacher was supposed to be (a tape of recorded responses). They sat in front of a shock generator that had 30 levers that ranged from “slight shock” to “severe shock XXX.” The experimenter prompted the participant to continue at any sign of refusal using the following statements: * Please continue (or “Please go on”) * The experiment requires that you continue * It is absolutely essential that you continue * You have no other choice, you must go on The experiment continued unless the participant refused to go on or reached the maximum of 450V and administered it x4. The results were heartbreaking as not even one person decided to walk out straight away, before administering any shocks, or in the very early stages. All of the participants administered at least 300 volts. 65% of the participants (26 people) administered the full 450 volts, 35% stopped sometime before 450 volts. Although most participants showed clear signs of distress, dissented verbally, and wanted to stop and, they continued to obey the researchers who prompted them to go on. Denial/diffusion of responsibility was found to take place when some subjects denied taking any responsibility for the consequences. Remark of one subject: “You want me to keep going? You hear him hollering? What if something happens to him? I refuse to take responsibility….” In fact, one participant asked whose responsibility will it be if something is to happen to the 'learner', and the 'experimenter' said it will be theirs; in that moment, the participant was more willing to keep going as the responsibility wouldn't be his. In conclusion, under certain circumstances where one is found in a subordinate state taking order from a dominant figure, a significant portion of normal individuals will feel pressured to obey even the most uncompassionate and immoral. Looking at society nowadays, I'd think that levels of obedience are even higher than they used to be. Even though a majority of people would attack me and say that it isn't true, as people appreciate 'free will' more, upon observing patterned behaviours over the years, especially on social media, the peer pressure we undergo now is more likely to transform people in sheep. Dang, I need a nap...

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