This has to do with social obedience and control...so I put this in NWO...?
Excerpts from the article by Philip Meyer on Milgram experiments. Bit of a long read, but very interesting...type in italics is my own commentary on
The experiment worked like this: If you were an innocent subject in Milgram's melodrama, you read an ad in the newspaper or received one in the mail
asking for volunteers for an educational experiment. The job would take about an hour and pay $4.50. So you make an appointment and go to an old
Romanesque stone structure on High Street with the imposing name of The Yale Interaction Laboratory. It looks something like a broadcasting studio.
Inside, you meet a young, crew-cut man in a laboratory coat who says he is Jack Williams, the experimenter. There is another citizen, fiftyish, Irish
face, an accountant, a little overweight, and very mild and harmless looking. This other citizen seems nervous and plays with his hat while the two
of you sit in chairs side by side and are told that the $4.50 checks are yours no matter what happens. Then you listen to Jack Williams explain the
It is about learning, says Jack Williams in a quiet, knowledgeable way. Science does not know much about the conditions under which people learn
and this experiment is to find out about negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is getting punished when you do something wrong, as opposed
to positive reinforcement which is getting rewarded when you do something right. The negative reinforcement in this case is electric shock. You
notice a book on the table, titled, The Teaching-Learning Process, and you assume that this has something to do with the experiment.
Then Jack Williams takes two pieces of paper, puts them in a hat, and shakes them up. One piece of paper is supposed to say, "Teacher," and the
other, "Learner." Draw one and you will see which you will be. The mild-looking accountant draws one, holds it close to his vest like a poker
player, looks at it, and says, "Learner". You look at yours. It says, "Teacher". You do not know that the drawing is rigged, and both slips say
"Teacher". The experimenter beckons to the mild-mannered "learner".
"Want to step right in here and have a seat, please?" he says. "You can leave your coat on the back of that chair...roll up your right sleeve,
please. Now what I want to do is strap down your arms to avoid excessive movement on your part during the experiment. This electrode is connected to
the shock generator in the next room.
"And this electrode paste," he says, squeezing some stuff out of a plastic bottle and putting it on the man's arm, "is to provide a good
contact and to avoid a blister or burn. Are there any questions now before we go into the next room?"
You don't have any, but the strapped-in "learner" does. "I do think I should say this," says the learner. "About two years ago I was in the
veterans' hospital...they detected a heart condition. Nothing serious, but as long as I'm having these shocks, how strong are they--how dangerous
Williams, the experimenter, shakes his head casually. "Oh, no," he says. "Although they may be painful, they're not dangerous. Anything
Nothing else. And so you play the game. The game is for you to read a series of word pairs: for example, blue-girl, nice-day, fat-neck. When you
finish the list, you read just the first word in each pair and then a multiple-choice list of four other words, including the second word of the pair.
The learner, from his remote, strapped-in position, pushes one of four switches to indicate which of the four answers he thinks is the right one. If
he gets it right, nothing happens and you go on to the next one. If he gets it wrong, you push a switch that buzzes and gives him an electric shock.
And then you go on to the next word. You start with 15 volts and increase the number of volts by 15 for each wrong answer. The control board goes
from 15 volts on one end to 450 volts on the other. So that you know what you are doing, you get a test-shock yourself, at 45 volts. It hurts. To
further keep you aware of what you are doing to that man in there, the board has verbal descriptions of the shock levels, ranging from "Slight
Shock" at the left-hand side, through "Intense Shock" in the middle, to "Danger: Severe Shock" toward the far right. Finally, at the very end,
under 435- and 450-volt switches, there are three ambiguous X's. If, at any point, you hesitate, Mr. Williams calmly tells you to go on. If you
still hesitate, he tells you again.
Basically, the REAL object of the experiment was to find the shock level at which the person would disobey the experimenter and refuse to pull the
switch. Most psychology majors asked about possible results thought that some would break it off early, most in the middle, and few towards the end,
voltage wise. All agreed, the highest estimated number of people who would go all the way to 450 volts was 3. Milgram hypothesized that Germans have
a readiness to obey authority without question, more so than other people. He intended to experiment first in the USA, then in Germany. It was based
on the fact that so many followed Hitler during the second world war.
In his pilot experiments, Milgram used Yale students as subjects. Each of them pushed the shock switches, one by one, all the way to the end of the
So he rewrote the script to include some protests from the learner. At first they were mild, gentlemanly, Yalie protests, but "it didn't seem to
have as rash effect as I thought it would or should," Milgram recalls. "So we had [some] violent protestation on the part of the person getting the
shock...but simply to generate disobedience. And that was one of the first findings. This was not only a technical deficiency of the experiment,
that we didn't get disobedience. It really was the first finding: that obedience would be much greater than we had assumed it would be and
disobedience would be more difficult than we had assumed."
The only meaningful way to generate disobedience was to have the victim protest with great anguish, noise, and vehemence. The protests were
tape-recorded so that all the teachers ordinarily would hear the same sounds and nuances, and they started with a grunt at 75 volts, proceeded through
a "Hey, that really hurts," at 125 volts, got desperate with, "I can't stand the pain--don't do that," at 180 volts, reached complaints of heart
trouble at 195, an agonized scream at 285, a refusal to answer at 315, and only heartrending, ominous silence after that.
Still, 65 percent of the subjects, 20- to 50-year old American males, everyday, ordinary people, like you and me, obediently kept pushing those
levers in the belief that they were shocking the mild-mannered learner, whose name was Mr. Wallace, and who was chosen for the role because of his
innocent appearance, all the way up to 450 volts.
Even then, there wasn't enough disobedience, so the script had to be rewritten.
He put the learner in the same room with the teacher. He stopped strapping the learner's hand down. He rewrote the script so that at 150 volts the
learner took his hand off the shock plate and declared that he wanted out of [the] experiment. He rewrote the script some more so that the
experimenter then told the teacher to grasp the learner's hand and physically force it down on the plate to give Mr. Wallace his unwanted electric
Milgram felt that hardly any people would go on after this, and it would be the absolute limit..he was wrong.
Milgram tried (the new version) with 40 different subjects. And 30 percent of them obeyed the experimenter and kept on obeying.
"The protests of the victim were strong and vehement, he was screaming his guts out, he refused to participate, and you had to physically struggle
with him in order to get his hand down on the shock generator," Milgram remembers. But 12 out of 40 did it.
Milgrim said that by nature humans are obedient, and do what they are told without (quoting milgram) "limitation of conscience, so long as they
percieve that the command comes from a legitimate authority. If, in this study, an anonymous experimenter can successfully command adults to subdue a
50-year old man and force on him painful electric shocks against his protest, one can only wonder what government, with its vastly greater authority
and prestige, can command of its subjects".
"It's quite true," he says, "that this is almost a philosophic position, becase we have learned that some people are psychologically incapable of
disengaging themselves. But that doesn't relieve them of the moral responsibility."
After the series of experiments was completed, Milgram sent a report of the results to his subjects and a questionnaire, asking whether they were
glad or sorry to have been in the experiment. Eighty-three and seven-tenths percent said they were glad and only 1.3 percent were sorry; 15 percent
were neither sorry nor glad. However, Milgram could not be sure at the time of the experiment that only 1.3 percent would be sorry.
One thing that happened to Milgram back in New Haven during the days of the experiment was that he kept running into people he'd watched from
behind the one-way glass. It gave him a funny feeling, seeing those people going about their everyday business in New Haven and knowing what they
would to to Mr Wallace if ordered to.
So...couple questions if you read through it. Why do you think people are so willing to obey, and what would you have done if you were a participant
in this experiment?
[Edited on 11-3-2004 by Shoktek]