Ever hear about the Milgram Experiment? It was a rather famous – or infamous – 1962 experiment that measured the willingness of ordinary Americans to brutalize or even torture another human being under the auspices of a white-coated authority. Milgram found that 62 percent of Americans would pull a switch that delivered what they believed was progressively high doses of electricity that ultimately reached what would have been a fatal dose of 450 volts.
Milgram said by way of conclusion to what he had learned through his experiment that, “If a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we had seen in Nazi Germany, one would be able to find sufficient personnel for those camps in any medium-sized American town.” [But allow me to point out at the very outset that Milgram’s initial experiment actually measured garden variety Connecticut liberals and the subsequent verifications of his experiment mainly measured liberals located in liberal university towns].
That thought frankly ought to scare the crap out of you as you survey your neighbors and your friends and consider what kind of hell they would willingly support in the event of a political change. You ought to realize you could very quickly end up being the next “Jew” in the next Nazi Germany. And if you claim that the fundamental decency of the American people would preclude that from happening, the title of “fool” belongs to you.
I was watching a program about a repeat of that experiment that ended up showing that ordinary Americans are as willing to follow a white-coated authority figure’s instructions to brutalize as they EVER were. You can skim through this to familiarize yourself with the experiment and the findings:
Would You Have Been A Nazi?
A new test of Milgram’s obedience experiment asks if it can still happen here.
Ronald Bailey | January 6, 2009
Don’t answer too hastily, but have you ever wondered what you would have done if you grew up in Nazi Germany? Of course, we all hope that we would have had the moral strength to stand against that monstrous regime, but can we be so sure? After all, times were tough and both important politicians and leading intellectuals supported Nazi theories and policies. And then there were the ordinary Germans, friendly neighbors like Karl and Lötte down the street. They had joined the Party and were sending little Wolfgang and Gretchen to healthful Party-sponsored summer camps. Being a Nazi was normal for many Germans. Would things have been any different for you or me if we had been unfortunate enough to grow up at that time and in that place?
The most horrific feature of Nazi and Communist regimes, of course, was their industrial-scale savagery. The Nazis managed to murder six million Jews and 22 millionother Europeans. The Soviet Communists exterminated 62 millionand the Chinese Communists killed 35 million. While these murders were ordered by vicious dictators, they were actually carried out by ordinary people like Karl and Lötte. Which brings us to the famous obedience studies conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram.
In 1961, Milgram did research involving ordinary residents of New Haven, Connecticut, who participated in an experiment that ostensibly aimed at determining the effect of punishment on learning. Along with the experimenter, the situation involved two subjects, one a “teacher” and the other a “learner.” The learner was a confederate of the experimenters, so the teacher was the only actual participant. In the experiment, the learner was supposed to memorize a list of word associations. The learner was strapped down to a chair with an electrode attached to his wrist. To encourage learning, the teacher was to pull switches that would supposedly increase electric shocks from 15-volts up to 450-volts in 15 volt increments. Before the experiment began, both the teacher and the learner were given 45-volt shocks. In addition, the switchers were labeled with warnings such as Slight Shock, Moderate Shock, and so forth, all the way up to Danger: Severe Shock. The final two switches were marked XXX.
As the experiment proceeded, the learner (experimental confederate) would keep making wrong answers. The teacher (experimental subject) would then be instructed by the expermenter to progressively pull the switch for ever higher levels of shock. The learner would begin to make noises expressing pain at 75-volts increasing in loudness until 150-volts, at which point he would urgently demand to be released, complaining of heart palpitations. His complaints would grow louder until 300-volts were reached. At 330-volts the learner fell silent. If the teacher showed signs of wanting to discontinue, the experimenter offered a series of prompts:
- “Please continue”
- “The experiment requires that you continue”
- “It is absoulutely essential that you continue”
- “You have no other choice, youmust go on”
The appalling results of these obedience experiments was that 65 percent of participants eventually pulled all of the switches, ultimately reaching the 450-volt level. But perhaps modern Americans would be less susceptible to the demands of authority. After all, the intervening years have seen the rise of the civil rights, peace, and gay rights movements, right? Not necessarily. Last month, Santa Clara University psychologist Jerry Burger reported the results of replicating Milgram’s experiment. He excluded people who had heard of the original experiments and found that the average rate of obedience remained the same at around 65 percent. In addition, there was no difference between men and women.
In 1965, Milgram wrote, “With numbing regularity good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe. Men who are in everyday life responsible and decent were seduced by the trappings of authority, by the control of their perceptions, and by the uncritical acceptance of the experimenter’s definition of the situation, into performing harsh acts.” In 1979, Milgram’s judgement was more severe: “If a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we had seen in Nazi Germany, one would be able to find sufficient personnel for those camps in any medium-sized American town.”
But can it really happen here? It’s a giant step from a Yale psychology lab to Auschwitz and the Gulag. What Milgram showed was that ordinary people are deferential to authority figures in laboratory settings. The exact nature of the authority wielded by experimenters is controversial, but it seems based on both perceived legitimacy and expertise. It doesn’t take too much imagination to think that even more people would have gone all the way to 450-volts if the experimenter had the power to punish disobedience. Leaders of governments, militaries, religions, corporations, universities, and gangs all arguably exercise these types of authority. Hierarchy is a universal feature of human societies.
As obedience experiments show, Americans are not really any better at resisting the claims of authority than other people, yet there was no Gulag and no Auschwitz here. True, there was the immense moral evil of slavery, the destruction of Native Americans,Woodrow Wilson’s imprisonment of thousands of dissidents, Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese Americans, and more recently, the Abu Ghraib cruelties. Leaders at all levels can persuade some Americans to participate in immoral activities. However, the arc of American history has been toward correcting old evils and the commissioning of fewer atrocities over time. Why? Because our institutions of freedom have maintained and expanded the norms that limit the powers wielded by authorities.
For example, a free press is able to criticize practices like slavery and racial discrimination and help establish new norms. If Bill and Joanne down the street send their kids Joe and Kathy to an ethnically mixed school, in other words, it must be OK. In addition, American governmental powers are fragmented and in competition with one another. As another Milgram experiment showed, if two experimenters disagreed about continuing the experiment, the majority of participants sided with the one who argued for stopping it. In other words, when people could refer to an authority figure who agreed with their moral views, they were much more likely to act on them. Similarly, dividing up governmental power increases the chances that some authorities will act ethically and thus inspire people to act on the dictates of their consciences.
Milgram didn’t really explore why it was that Germans created death camps while Americans did not. The answer is liberty. In 1974, Milgram more generously noted, “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.” Americans have not escaped the natural human tendency to defer to authority. Instead, we have had the good fortune to find ourselves in the situation where our social institutions have traditionally limited what authorities can get away with. The institutions of liberty are what enable people to act on what Lincoln called, “the better angels of our nature.”
Ronald Bailey is reason‘s science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.
Well, this is what occurred to me as I watched the program: this shocking experiment could easily be rephrased as a measurement of one’s commitment to liberalism.
Why would I say that?
Which political ideology WANTS a state possessing limitless power (see here and here for examples)? Which ideology is only too über-willing to commit itself to every new pseudo-scientific trend that appears under the sun? Which ideology is constantly trying to expand the role and power of government to have the ability to shape and control peoples’ lives? Which ideology has the frightening tendency to worship its leaders in what I argue is a shockingly similar to the adoration that the German people accorded to their Führer?
Let me begin with my last question first: let’s consider the Obama worship that I argue conservatives would NEVER have applied to George W. Bush.
If you’re a liberal and you want to deny or rebut my premise, YOU SHOW ME REPUBLICANS DOING CRAP LIKE THIS FOR THEIR MESSIAH PRESIDENT GEORGE DUBYA BUSH (see also here):
That ought to terrify the hell out of you almost as much as the Milgram experiment.
You show me this:
You show me government school teachers indoctrinating precious American schoolchildren (including REPUBLICAN PARENTS’ children) like this:
And of course this liberal propaganda-in-public-school crap goes on ALL the time, as government and union teachers exploit their positions as opportunities to try to indoctrinate, as we again recently saw. Leftwing political meddling in the guise of “education” goes on all the time because the essence of the left is fascist propaganda.
Spike Lee: “It means that this is a whole new world. I think…I’ve been saying this before. You can divide history. BB Before Barack. AB After Barack.”
Barack Obama – a future president of the United States of America – not only attended but actually helped ORGANIZE the Louis Farrakhan-organized Million Man March. I’d say that combined with the fact that liberals themselves claim that a million men attended that march is more than enough to acclaim Farrakhan as a major liberal religious figure. So you show me an equally powerful CONSERVATIVE religious figure saying similar stuff about George Dubya Bush that Farrakhan said about Obama:
“You are the instruments that God is gonna use to bring about universal change, and that is why Barack has captured the youth. And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn’t care anything about. That’s a sign. When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear, and the Messiah is absolutely speaking.”
I’d like to see rightwing conservative media figures appearing on rightwing news sources such as Fox News or the Wall Street Journal the way Newsweek editor Evan Thomas appeared on MSNBC to say something like this about George Dubya Bush:
“I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God.”
You show me the mainstream media smiling happily while George Bush claimed, “There are no red states or blue states, just BUSH states.” You show me that.
There is a worship of Barack Obama from the left – even after the years of abject failure – that we never saw coming from the right for George W. Bush. Not only would the mainstream media – which is overwhelmingly dominated by liberalism which dives into ideological propaganda – never allow this, but conservatives themselves are simply not the kind of people who would so blatantly succumb to messiah-worship from its political leaders no matter how much we might respect a Ronald Reagan or a Margaret Thatcher. It’s just not in our DNA.
It sure is in the DNA of the left.
I also asked, “Which ideology is only too über-willing to commit itself to every new pseudo-scientific trend that appears under the sun?” I think of global warming that got morphed into the even more nebulous category of “climate change” and the answer is again blatantly obvious: it is the essence of the left to take the marching orders coming from the white coats while we conservatives are shaking our heads in skepticism and dismay at all the liberal “sheeple.”
I’ve written numerous articles on the legitimate issues casting doubt on global warming. Consider facts such as: 1) the history of planet earth is a history of climate change and huge swings in climate; 2) we have seen even larger episodes of “global warming” on the planets in our solar system – none of which have SUVs driving around on them – than we see on our own planet earth; 3) the “science” of global warming has been warped with mindbogling acts of fraud and shocking manipulation of data; 4) not only is there no “consensus” about “global warming” but in fact increasing numbers of scientists are outright hostile about “‘decarbonizing’ the world’s economy”; and 5) in spite of all evidence to the contrary, the United Nations is demanding $76 TRILLION in what amounts to pure socialist redistributionism to “save the planet” from “climate change.”
I just learned that the Old Kingdom of Egypt began as a result of an enormous climate shift in which Northern Africa went from a verdant and fertile land to a desert while the Nile began to bloom (4000 BC) and collapsed as a result of massive climate change in which the Nile transformed from lush farmland into dust. And nobody was driving SUVs, were they??? Just as nobody is driving SUVs on Mars.
The fact of the matter is that it was never anything more than a completely artificial and arbitrary decision to blame manmade CO2 – which constitutes such a tiny infinitesimal fraction of the actual global warming gasses it is unreal – for all of our current climate change. When manmade CO2 very obviously never had ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to do with all the myriad episodes of climate change that have characterized the history of planet earth from time immemorial ever before.
But liberals swear up and down that we must spend at least $76 trillion to fight the manmade CO2 bogeyman regardless.
And the conclusions of the left as to what we need to do to billions of human beings to deal with this bogeyman are themselves so shocking they made the brutal results of the Milgram Experiment look like the warm fuzzies:
“My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.” – Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!
“Mankind is the most dangerous, destructive, selfish and unethical animal on the earth.”
– Michael Fox, vice-president of The Humane Society
“Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.”
– John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
“Humans on the Earth behave in some ways like a pathogenic micro-organism, or like the cells of a tumor.”
– Sir James Lovelock, Healing Gaia
“The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.”
– Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point
“A reasonable estimate for an industrialized world society at the present North American material standard of living would be 1 billion. At the more frugal European standard of living, 2 to 3 billion would be possible.”
– United Nations, Global Biodiversity Assessment
“A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions.”
– Prof Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb
“A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”
– Ted Turner, founder of CNN and major UN donor [and major DEMOCRAT PARTY DONOR]
Hitler wanted to exterminate Jews and other “racial inferiors.” But for the liberals in global warming establishment of today, NEARLY THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE IS THE NEW “JEW” TO BE VIEWED AS A DANGER TO BE EXTERMINATED.
Please don’t think for a nanosecond that these people wouldn’t gladly up your voltage when they electroshock you to death. AND THEY ARE LIBERALS, LIBERALS, LIBERALS!!!
You can look at my articles and see the mindset of the left: how DARE you be against global warming! The guys in the white coats tell me to believe it and if they tell me to turn that knob and deliver a fatal dose of electricity then the only reasonable thing to do is turn that damn knob and push that damn button!!!
Just a few days ago we larned that the arctic sea ice is the thickest it has been in more than a decade:
Heavy ice could delay start of Shell Alaska’s Arctic drilling
May 28, 2012
The heaviest polar ice in more than a decade could postpone the start of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean until the beginning of August, a delay of up to two weeks, Shell Alaska officials said.
Unveiling a newly refurbished ice-class rig that is poised to begin drilling two exploratory wells this summer in the Beaufort Sea, Shell executives said Friday that the unusually robust sea ice would further narrow what already is a tight window for operations. The company’s $4-billion program is designed to measure the extent of what could be the United States’ most important new inventory of oil and gas. […]
“We’re seeing multiyear ice that they’ve not seen in such large quantities in over a decade, and it could impact our ability to start the well,” Slaiby said. Of particular concern, he said, is the region of the Chukchi Sea around the company’s Berger Prospect – potentially the crown jewel of the company’s offshore oil inventory – which in normal years would be accessible by mid-July. This year, it may be unreachable until late July or early August. […]
Compare that to the dire warnings just five years ago from the left that there would be NO arctic ice by now:
Arctic Sea Ice Gone in Summer Within Five Years?
Seth Borenstein in Washington
December 12, 2007
An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer—a sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point.
One scientist even speculated that summer sea ice could be gone in five years. […]
“The Arctic is screaming,” said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government’s snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colorado. […]
That’s an Associated Press screech that was re-screeched by National Geographic.
On the one hand you have actual facts and reality and legitimate science and on the other hand you have the Associated Press, National Geographic and “senior government scientists” PUTTING THEIR EARS TO THE ICE AND CLAIMING TO HEAR IT SCREAMING.
I frankly don’t give a damn how many diplomas are on these fools’ walls. They have abandoned “science” in favor of a fanatic religious committment. And they will use the raw, naked power of government force and – if they get their way – exterminate human beings by the BILLIONS to force the world to bow down before their global warming gods.
Global warming has been utterly refuted and the motives and methods of its white-coated priests have been discredited time and time again. But these people – liberals – cannot even theoretically ever possibly be proven wrong to their satisfaction. And that is only because they have a worldview that is totally divorced from reality.
Liberals are now beginning to admit that the ethanol that they imposed on America wasn’t such a good idea, after all. Even Al Gore said he was wrong about that little doozy. Who would have guessed that burning food for fuel might possibly contribute to hunger? But that doesn’t matter, so never mind; they’ve moved on to DIFFERENT energy boondoggles to demagogue and are screeching even more loudly about them than they screeched while imposing ethanol.
And this love of death and complete fanatic insanity that today’s liberalism has embraced isn’t new. We can go back to Darwinism and eugenics – and the Holocaust was nothing more than applied Darwinism – and see a history of liberalism, liberalism, liberalism.
Margaret Sanger – Hillary Clinton’s personal hero – was all about killing as many black babies as she could.
On large families:
“The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” (Women and the New Race, Eugenics Publ. Co., 1920, 1923)
On blacks, immigrants and indigents:
“…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ‘spawning… human beings who never should have been born.” Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, referring to immigrants and poor people
On sterilization & racial purification:
Sanger believed that, for the purpose of racial “purification,” couples should be rewarded who chose sterilization. Birth Control in America, The Career of Margaret Sanger, by David Kennedy, p. 117, quoting a 1923 Sanger speech.
On the right of married couples to bear children:
Couples should be required to submit applications to have a child, she wrote in her “Plan for Peace.” Birth Control Review, April 1932
On the purpose of birth control:
The purpose in promoting birth control was “to create a race of thoroughbreds,” she wrote in the Birth Control Review, Nov. 1921 (p. 2)
On the rights of the handicapped and mentally ill, and racial minorities:
“More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief aim of birth control.” Birth Control Review, May 1919, p. 12
On the extermination of blacks:
“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, by Linda Gordon
Margaret Sanger had other things to say, too. About the birth control that the left wants (Sanger said it would lead to a “cleaner race”); about sterilization (“to prevent multiplication of this bad stock”); about hell on earth which she demonically believed was a Utopia.
I don’t believe I have to say a further word about how genuinely EVIL this hero of liberalism, who was not only a Nazi sympathizer but whose work was cited as justification for the Nazis’ own extermination program, truly was. Her own volume of words and her entire life’s work betray her.
The Planned Parenthood that Margaret Sanger founded continues to be THE darling of liberalism. This organization of pure hate continues to “exterminate” black babies and locates 80% of its clinics to ensure that black women continue to self-eradicate two out of three of their black babies. And we just learned that Planned Parenthood is perfectly willing to wipe out another “inferior” – women.
As I previously stated above, liberals are absolutely immunized from accepting reality. Liberals are morally insane, regardless of their color, gender or professed creed. That is why black liberals continue to support the ideology that is wiping out blacks in a genocide that surpasses the Holocaust and female liberals and female liberals continue to rabidly support a party that will not condemn killing female babies as women pursue their “right” to sex-selective as well as race-selective abortions.
Barack Obama, himself the object of fanatic liberal worship, may best exemplify my point: this man who once demonized George Bush as a warmonger while repeatedly embracing a fantastically unrealistic view toward terrorism (not “terrorism” but “man-caused disasters; not the war on terror but the “overseas contingency operation”) while idiotically vowing to close Gitmo within a year of his assuming the presidency (see also here), this man whose foreign policy was frankly best captured by terms such as “unicorns” and “fairy dust,” is now personally pouring over “baseball card”-style “kill lists” to lift his thumb up or down like an emperor deciding who should live and who should die. Were it George Bush doing this, the left would have screamed that this was CLEARLY the act of a fascist Nazi stormtrooper monster. But it’s Obama lifting his thumb up or down like some deranged Roman emperor deciding who lives and who dies with his political advisor sitting in the room, so it’s A-okay.
For the record, Barack Obama just failed his very own Milgram experiment by the very standard that he himself assumed the presidency espousing.