5 Psychological Experiments That Prove Humanity is Doomed

5 Psychological Experiments That Prove Humanity is Doomed

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When I first read this I found it fascinating but not enough to post. But I keep thinking about it enough that I felt I needed to dig it up and at least put it here so I could find it more easily.


"As it turns out, it's usually fear of repercussion that keeps us from torturing our fellow human beings. Give us absolute power over somebody and a blank check from our superiors, and Abu Ghraib-esque naked pyramids are sure to follow."
  • I've known about the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments for a while. (The Stanford Prison experiment is a part of why getting approvals for human subjects trials is much harder, these days.)

    I wonder if it'd be possible to get less depressing results out of some of those experiments if they weren't conducted using a test field of all Americans. Though I suppose in some cases, the results would probably be even worse...
    • Milgram originally planed to do the experiment in Germany as well, but once he saw the US results he decided there was no point - it was painfully obvious that it could have happened here just as easily. I wish he had done so, for one simple reason. The only person who responded to any of the Milgram experiments in the originally expected manner (calmly refusing to continue participating when it became clear that their actions were causing harm) was Gretchen Brandt, a woman who was unique in that she was the only subject who had grown up in Nazi Germany. While others did refuse to continue, they were under very clear distress when they did so - she was exceptional in that she acted as if refusal was the most natural thing in the world. I'd love to know if her reaction is more common amongst Germans who witnessed/participated in Nazi rule than amongst Americans, or even amongst Germans who came afterwards (is that sort of lesson teachable without the atrocities?).

      But we would do well to remember that for every Sabrina Harman there is a Stanislav Petrov. Zimbardo has a wonderful TED talk on the subject, I highly recommend it.

      Edited at 2008-09-28 11:40 pm (UTC)
  • Hmmm... they left out the blue eye/brown eye experiment.

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