posts 16 - 27 of 27
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Brain vs Authority

I think everyone has the potential to become a perpetrator of violence against others. For some, it’s an unwilling experience that’s created from years of following orders in society. For others, it’s a taste of power and authority that pushes the limits of the cruelty of humanity. Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman writes: “The most frightening news brought about by the Holocaust and by what we learned of its perpetrators was not the likelihood that ‘this’ could be done to us, but the idea that we could do it.” I like what xoxogossipgirl said, we always have a choice. Doing the wrong thing is always the easier path, especially when the consequences are taken away. It reveals the true and dark side of people. Experiments like Milgram’s actually explain ordinary people’s active participation in violence, mass atrocities and genocide. However, it is not to be forgotten that other factors come into play. Besides the blind following of authority, there are other things that contribute to some people’s willingness to inflict pain on others. Usually, a loss or gain of some sort. It really depends on the context of the situation. For example, if a person has to inflict pain on others at the risk of their own loved one being hurt, the psychological distance between the victim and their loved one is what differs for that person to make a choice. Clearly, the loved one is in favor and would be protected, regardless of the fact that somebody would be getting hurt either way. Some of the important personality traits that led the ‘teachers’ in the Milgram experiment to disobey the ‘experimenters’ commands to continue to shock the ‘learner’ are people who had a strong sense of self and independence. The article, Rethinking One of Psychology's Most Infamous Experiments raises a question that has us all thinking, “Do they identify more with the cause of science, and listen to the experimenter as a legitimate representative of science, or do they identify more with the learner as an ordinary person?” Although it’s morally conflicting, people know in a situation where the orders they receive are wrong, then they shouldn’t do it. They’re confident in their options, and if the options presented conflict with their values, they’ll create their own option and pioneer a different path. They’ll fight for what they believe in. They know exactly who they are, and that they’re not the type of person to do such cruel things once give the power. They’re stubborn. I believe a large factor of that is how they were raised. People taught to do what they believe is right, rather than following rules blindly are created from a certain type of parenting. For example, Asian kids growing up were taught to always obey authority figures. The belief behind that was: if we do as told, things will be easier for us. We’re already at a disadvantage as a minority, we need to do what we can to get by. This is regardless of right or wrong. That was why the model minority came into existence. As someone with strong morals and Asian parents, it was always a source of conflict. I would want to participate in protests and fight for things I believed in, but my parents wouldn’t let me- fearing for my safety. I think growing up American also factors into people’s strong sense of self and identity. The American label fights for life, liberty, and justice. There’s always another option, even if we have to create it ourselves. For others who grew up in different societies, when given an order from authority figures, their mind can’t even comprehend another option. It ends there. What’s said is what should be done. Period. This isn’t saying that ‘Americans’ are free from becoming perpetrators of violence. At the end of the day, we’re taught from a young age to be obedient to authoritative figures too. We should attempt to create societies that value and encourage the traits of people who disobey unethical authority figures, but that won’t be a societal norm ever. In order to form a society of order, everyone will continue to be taught to listen to authority figures. That’s what differs humans today from neanderthals. The general purpose of this was created for the betterment of humans, but when power of any sort gets into the wrong hands, the original purpose is lost. What ensues is chaos and cruelty.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Learn to Question Post 2: The Milgram Experiment and Obedience

From birth to death we are constantly changing and learning. From the identity vessel projects, we saw how everyone’s identity is shaped by not just external factors such as our experiences, but also who we are born as. Do we experience certain things because of our race? Our sex? Our skin color? Our sexual orientation? Anyhow, from these experiences we are built into the type of person we are now. Is the person that we are now capable of evil? This was tested from the Milgram experiment as well as the Stanford Prison experiment. Although not 100% went all the way up to 450 volts, everyone was capable of doing so had they gone through different experiences prior to the experiment. In “Rethinking One of Psychology's Most Infamous Experiments”, it states, “those who successfully ended the experiment early were simply better at resisting than the ones that continued shocking.” (Cari Romm) I believe that the people who were better at resisting were conditioned throughout their lives to resist, while the people who obeyed have been doing so their lives. If this was during a time where hurting others was so normalized, perhaps the results would have had a higher percentage of people going to 450.

We saw in the prison experiment how cruel people can be. But we have to take in factors such as how “Guards do indeed self-select into their jobs, as Zimbardo’s students self-selected into a study of prison life.” (Maria Korrinkova, 2015) These people are probably more likely to have been exposed to violence or acts of humiliation throughout their lives prior to the experiment which led them to signing up. When a group of people are committing acts of violence towards another group it becomes normalized so it is hard to differentiate right from wrong. Beside the blind following of authority, people are willing to inflict pain on others because they see their group as an “us” while they see the other group as a “them” and it is naturally understood that we are opposed to them. As stated “it’s not the person’s fault for doing the bad thing, it’s the situation they were put in.” (Arthur Miller) This shows how when a person is put into the right environment and has adapted to certain things, they are able to take things to the limit without realizing the severity of their actions. I believe anyone has the potential to go to the extremes when in the right environment and situation.

From what one of the previous posts had mentioned, manipulation is a scary thing because people can be talked into committing acts that they do not fully understand the consequences of fully. We see an example of this in cults, where the followers blindly follow the cult leader while ignoring their own conscience. Another aspect of human behavior that makes it possible for us to willingly inflict pain on others is when we believe that no responsibility will be put on us, making us think that there would be no consequences for our actions. When people believe this, they are more willing to commit horrible acts towards others because they think they can get away with it. The article “How Nazi's Defense of ‘Just Following Orders’ Plays Out in the Mind” states, “they felt less responsible when they acted under orders.” (Joshua Barajas, 2016) People believe that because they were ordered to do something it is not their responsibility, but they act like it’s not their choice to really do it or not. As we saw from the Milgram experiment, one man said how he was told to keep shocking so he had to keep going which was false because he could’ve just stopped on his own.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

In a society where we are constnatly preparing (even subconsciously) for danger, questioning authority is essential for preserving our humanity.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think anyone has the potential to be violent toward someone else, but I do not believe that anyone would behave cruelly with little encouragement. For example, I (and most people) would never dream of hurting someone else, even when told to do so, but if I had to hurt someone to protect my little brother, or one of my cousins, that would be a different story.

However, this is not exactly what Milgram’s experiments tell us. In every scenario, the “teacher” was only verbally encouraged to hurt the “learner” and reassured that they would face no consequences for their actions. The participants who went all the way to inflicting a shock of 450 volts did not do so to protect a loved one or themselves, but because they believed they had to. (Key word: believed). For me, this is the frightening part of Milgram’s experiments: 50% of participants administered a shock that would certainly kill someone (though the learner never received any shocks, the participants believed he did) because they confused being encouraged to do so with being forced to do so.

As xoxogossipgirl said, it has become a reality for all of us to prepare for the (slim) possibility of violence wherever we are. Therefore, how do we guard against being tricked into believing ourselves to be in danger, or into thinking that we must hurt someone to protect ourselves, as Milgram suggests can easily happen? And since we live in a world where violence is a greater daily possibility than it has been in the past, how do we prevent ourselves from hurting others if we do find ourselves in a dangerous situation?

Milgram’s experiments do teach us that ordinary people will follow orders, even orders to hurt others, if they believe they have no other choice. But, this does not explain the actions of ordinary Germans during the Holocaust, many of whom did have a choice whether to fully commit to Hitler’s regime, attack their Jewish neighbors, and teach their children propaganda and hate, or to resist, even just internally and at home. According to Maria Korrinkova (“The Real Lesson of the Stanford Prison Experiment”), “suggest, as the Stanford setup did, that we should behave in stereotypical tough-guard fashion, and we strive to fit that role” (Korrinkova 4-5). Based on this conclusion, some ordinary Germans may have participated in the violence and cruelty of the Holocaust because the Nazis created an environment where cruelty and betrayal (as long as one wasn’t betraying the Nazis) was encouraged.

Taken together, Milgram’s experiment and the Stanford Prison experiment mean that we all have a tendency to obey, or that all of us, at least subconsciously, want to obey authority, because in doing so we escape the dissonance between disobeying authority and our perception of ourselves (trained from a young age) as people who listen to adults, whether they be teachers, parents, or governmental figures. These experiments point out the danger of a society that trains us to obey without teaching us to first question the authority we are obeying, and ensure that they truly have our best interests at heart.

Furthermore, these experiments are by no means an excuse for the behavior of Nazi soldiers or ordinary Germans during the Holocaust. In the end, we all always have a choice between obeying authority or rebelling. In the version of the Milgram experiment we watched, 50% of participants rebelled. In one version, 35% rebelled, and in the other two versions, 77% and 90% rebelled; as the “teachers” were asked to inflict increasingly direct pain on the “learner,” more and more “teachers” rebelled. Therefore, it is certainly possible for all of us to question authority when being asked to hurt others, and I would argue that we should question authority even when cruelty is not on the table; doing so is a means of preserving our humanity.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Obstacle of Obedience

I think that everyone in society has the potential to become a perpetrator of violence against others. Milgrim’s experiments help to convey this idea, because he gathered regular everyday people to undergo the procedure. He had these people inflict pain onto others after being told to do so. This shows us that if someone is given an order by a person of which they acknowledge to be a figure of authority one is compelled to obey the commands. This aspect of human behavior, the obedience to an authoritative figure, portrays the possibility for us to willingly inflict pain on others. From the article “Rethinking one of Psychology’s most infamous experiments,” written by Cari Romm, Milgrim is quoted stating these people are “not psychopaths, and they’re not hostile.” He then goes on saying, “They’re just people, like you and me.” With this quote from Romm’s article, Milgrim explains once again that the experiments are showing how ordinary people have the potential to be a perpetrator of violence onto others. Given a command from someone of a higher authority, anyone would feel the need to obey. When put into certain situations where one is to follow orders of an “authoritative figure” obedience takes over their morality. Another explanation towards their actions is the fact that they are able to justify inflicting pain on others because of these commands. If someone believes they are just listening to commands, this creates justification for them not to be at fault. Along with this, if a person believes, or is told, that they do not have to take accountability for the damage caused by their actions they are more likely to obey.

Through this denial of accountability one will commit unspeakable acts of violence. Causing the ability to see how ordinary people participate in mass atrocities and genocide. As mentioned before, when a command is given by a trustworthy authoritative figure one is more likely to follow their orders. If the figure giving the commands is seen as someone who has been trustworthy and dependable any person would follow their orders. Trust creates obedience, so these people would be more willing to fight for the authoritative figure. Therefore, committing mass atrocities and genocides. Other factors that play into active participation in violence include dehumanization. A person can feel their actions are justified if they passionately believe they are not human, or “other.” People are also more willing to inflict pain if the person they are harming is emotionally disconnected from them. Hurting a person you do not know is less difficult than hurting someone close to you. If the person is compelled to harm a relative or friend it would be more difficult to obey their command. Meaning that if someone is not close emotionally to the one they are harming, it would be more easy to commit these terrible acts onto the other person. The final factor that comes into play in ordinary people’s active participation in mass atrocities is when these orders are being given in increments. If the harm starts off manageable it will be easier for the person committing these harmful acts to continue leading to even larger threats of violence.

Dak Prescott
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Learn to Question Post 2: Reflection on Obedience and the Milgram Experiment

Every person has the capacity for violence, which is part of human nature. We are built to protect people and things they care about, and overcoming a tendency for violence is essential to maturing. The Milgram experiment shows how an authority figure can expose the immaturity and groupthink that plague all of us. When listening to an authority figure, our brain is able to take the easiest way out; we don’t have to think at all. It is harder to pause and consider the consequences of our actions. Approaching a problem with violence worked when humans were human gathers thousands of years ago, but in the modern age, our life is not a game of survival; it is a complex web of relationships we have with those around us. The Milgram experiment used the relationship we all have with authority figures that allows us to override our empathy. This lack of empathy is exactly the mindset of those who perpetuate acts of genocide. It is easier to follow our orders or even try to please authority figures than to use empathy.

In the Stanford prison experiment, The warden of the jail turned a blind eye to the behavior of the guards, who knew they were being watched. This led them to the logical conclusion that what they were doing was what the experimenters wanted. Since they were just doing what the experiment allowed, they were able to deflect the responsibility of their own actions to an authority figure. Souplover used a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that aligned with what I am saying: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” The quotes are talking about how easy it is to ignore evil, deflect, and not accept any responsibility for your actions. It says that even though a person may not accept responsibility for their actions or lack of action, they are aiding in any evil acts that were perpetrated.

The Milgram experiment shows how normal people can be a part of acts of violence; it is part of human nature to take the easiest way out. People in general don’t like to do things that are hard, and the entire point of civilization is to make things easier on ourselves, but this philosophy can have dangerous consequences when an authority figure knows how to exploit this trait. For any soldier or everyday citizen, simply following orders and living a regular life is easier than questioning orders and the consequences of their actions. Leaders like Hitler knew how to exploit our laziness by pointing fingers. Creating scapegoats and purely evil enemies allows for frustration to grow and manifest in a willingness to look away from or actively practice violence. To make the masses follow orders, all one needs is confidence. If others think we are sure of our thinking, they will also become believers, whether or not what we are saying is true. So, in society, the only trait we need to question about authority is to not always take the easy way out.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Milgram experiment LTQ

I believe that under the right circumstances all people have the potential to commit violence against others, but I also believe that certain people may be more likely to commit violent acts than others. People can have many psychological predispositions that may be environmental or genetic that cause them to be more or less willing to be violent, and the Milgram experiment does a good job of illustrating this. The participant that was willing to go to the maximum voltage did so reluctantly, but the way he behaved throughout the experiment still gave huge insight into what factors make someone more willing to inflict pain on other people. Multiple times throughout the experiment the participant wanted to tap out and stop shocking the learner, but the experimenter would reassure them that they wouldn't be responsible for any harm done and so the teacher continued. This showed how people are much more willing to harm others if they didn't have to deal with the consequences. When the learner stopped making noises of pain in response to the shock the teacher wanted to check if he was okay, but the experimenter reassured him that he was fine and so he continued, also showing how authority figures make someone more willing to hurt others.

The Milgram experiment could be used to make many conclusions on people's willingness to participate in violence, but since the group of participants was so small and had only one demographic, it's hard to tell whether it could be used to make conclusions about the broader population as a whole. Like I talked about before, the Milgram experiment showed that people were more likely take part in violence also meaning atrocities and mass genocides if they thought they wouldn't have to face the consequences. It also showed how if an authority figure told them to do something violent, they were much more likely to do it rather than if some random person told them to. This is further backed up by Joshua Barajas in Scientific American who says, "people actually feel disconnected from their actions when they comply with orders, even though they’re the ones committing the act." That being said, giving people electric shocks and full-on atrocities cannot be compared, so it's hard to tell if the results of the experiment carry over that well into real life. Besides the blind following of authority, something that could motivate people to hurt others is the belief that they are doing the right thing by hurting this group of people. Germans in WWII were brainwashed to believe that the Jews were evil, which made them more compliant in all of the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Some teachers during the Milgram experiment refused to continue shocking the student after a certain point. We discussed before in class how people with high self-esteem are less likely to commit bad actions because they are not in line with their view of themselves, so they have cognitive dissonance. This cognitive dissonance causes them to act out to solve the problem to resolve the dissonance. This should obviously be encouraged, and to do this society as a whole needs to start encouraging people to be more individualistic and to recognize their self-worth in order for them to build better morals.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

The Dark Side of Human Nature

While the vast majority of us believe we would never intentionally do anything to hurt another human being, there lies many traps along the way that string people along to doing things they wouldn't normally. Of course there are people who do hurt other people intentionally and are filled with deep hatred for others, but it is these people that have ways of influencing those around them, whether through authority or groupthink, to act similarly.

In Milgram's experiments, a lot of the participants had no desire to harm the "learner" yet when pushed by the authority figure to do so, they complied. It was almost instinctual the way authority took over the brain in the face of a confusing situation, even when this authority figure did not have any true power over the people in the experiment. This shows how susceptible people can be to these manipulations, and that authority figures have so much power over people that can be used for good or for bad. Just about anyone can be affected by this power because when humans are unsure of something they are thinking, they rely on other humans to validate it. This is simply the way we survive in this world, by building off of each other's experiences. However, being constantly told anything can make it seem right.

Although people are susceptible to manipulation, people can also be taught to avoid following badly aligned authority measures. In "Rethinking One of Psychology's Most Infamous Experiments" Matthew Hollander stated that even some of the people who went all the way to 450 volts were expressing that they did not want to do the experiment anymore. Despite this they were unable to disobey this authority presented to them. How can we stop this from happening? Somehow people need to know when to comply and when to take your morals into your own hands.

I think the issue lies in how we are taught to take responsibility for our actions. I like how one person's response expressed that if you actively do something, blame still falls on you no matter what. If we are ingrained with this ideology it is more likely for us to wake up and realize that we have autonomy over our own bodies. Well intending people might end up doing bad things less frequently. We are in control of our actions no matter what we are told, but some of us do not even want to believe this fact. Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful tool. We can convince ourselves that our actions, no matter the severity, are morally excusable because of our specific circumstances. This psychological phenomenon that is part of our nature is a great danger to us, because it can lead literally anyone down a path of bad deeds. In the Holocaust, even Germans who didn't believe in what the Nazis did, were led down a path of dissonance filled with propaganda and lies.

My belief is that in this modern age, we can either realize the mistakes humanity has made in the past, study it and move on without repetition, or social media can begin to control our minds, and take away our ability to think for ourselves, make conscious moral decisions or have an active role in this world.

West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 10

Understanding People's Action

While viewing the video documentation of the Milgram experiment, many people are quick to think “How could a person do something like that? They should have just been stronger willed” but probably the most common thing people think is “I would have done better than they did and not conformed”. While all of these points are valid for one to say after watching, the last point is scarcely true. People want to believe that they have the power within themselves to defy what is being yelled at them to do by a man of authority in a building of status but the fact is, people are taught their entire lives not to defy these powers. The results of Milgram’s experiment proved exactly this to be true — not only in the experiment but also in history. The Nazis are a prime example of this. They followed these orders to commit disgusting and deadly acts on millions of people on the basis of being told to do so. High-ranking Nazi officials even used this exact thing as their excuse. In Joshua Barajas’s article How Nazi's Defense of "Just Following Orders" Plays Out in the Mind, he explores this idea further saying, “people actually feel disconnected from their actions when they comply with orders, even though they’re the ones committing the act”. This disconnect from the act makes it easy for people to hide behind their actions by saying “They told me to do it!” and switching the blame from one person to the next. They were being told to do something by someone who they deemed worthy of status and from there, blindly followed instructions. I think that Milgram’s experiment somewhat explains people’s roles in mass genocides and violence but falls short in some areas. I don’t think Milgram’s point is that people do these horrible things just because they are being told to account for all the factors like the individual's biases and personal psychology of a person.

Despite many participants in the Milgram experiment following the instructions and continuing to inflict intense pain, some participants decided not to conform to what was being asked of them. This was greatly affected by the level of closeness they felt toward the person. The people who were in the room alongside the “learner” and witnessed all of their pain firsthand usually stopped faster. The people who couldn’t hear or see the “learner” usually went all the way up to 450 volts of electricity. Not only did the Milgram experiment demonstrate that people blindly follow authority but it also shows how when people can disconnect from the person they are harming, they are more open to doing it. This idea has also been represented historically in Nazi Germany. At the beginning of World War Two, Nazis in concentration camps would do mass killings of Jewish people by lining them up and opening fire. However, this posed to be difficult for some nazis despite higher authority telling them what to do. Their solution was to create gas chambers for Jewish people to enter and kill them without having to see their faces or hear their screams. Milgram’s experiment lays as a good foundation for understanding the motivation behind the atrocities committed by the Nazi party. Even though Milgram’s experiment is fairly recent in the scheme of history, it allows us to examine history through a new lens and understand people more. Being able to explore why some people think the way they do is important and this experiment did a great job exploring just that.

Posts: 11
I think everybody has the potential to become a perpetrator of violence and suffering of others, whether intentionally or unintentionally under certain circumstances. This can be for many reasons. These reasons can vary from the perpetrators thinking they are doing nothing wrong to perpetrators are feeling pressured to do something that causes violence or suffering of others. The Milgram experiments show this best. The Milgram experiments were an experiment that gathered its participants under the cover of a study for memory. In this experiment the participants were selected to be teachers while another was to be a learner. Whenever the learner got something wrong, the teacher would be instructed to shock them with increasingly powerful shocks. As the shocks increased, the learner, who was an actor and not actually being harmed, would indicate their suffering through shouts. The Milgram experiments suggest that humans listen to orders given by authority figures even when they are immoral especially when they are coerced or pressured by them. Experiments like Milgram’s do actually explain ordinary people’s active participation in violence, mass atrocities, and genocide. Many other factors may also come into play like, groupthink, distance from the suffering they are causing, pressure from the authorities, and justification of the immoral action. Groupthink plays into people’s willingness to inflict suffering on others because when they see others doing it as if it is the norm, they will want to fit in. Distance from the suffering they are causing matter because of their guilt. This is shown in the milgram experiments since whenever they were exposed to the suffering of the learners, the less teachers decided to use the shocks. Pressure from authorities plays into people’s willingness to inflict suffering on others as well because the more they ask or do anything that applies pressure, the more the perpetrators will feel obligated as shown with the milgram experiments. The authorities telling the teacher to shock the learner would remind the teachers that they are obligated to do so and as a result, the teachers would listen even if they themselves did not really want to. Justification for their immoral action plays another major role in their willingness to inflict suffering on others because if they believe that the victims deserve whichever punishment is being enacted, they are less reluctant to do so. Perhaps the reason some of the teachers disobeyed the authority’s orders to shock the learner was because they are rebellious in character. They are more willing to speak out against what they deem morally wrong and therefore call out what they see wrong with the questionable orders given by the authorities. While this trait of disobeying unethical authorities and what they say to do can be a positive trait for society, this should not be normal of every human in the society. This is because morality is subjective and some people may genuinely believe the opposite is the morally correct choice. For example this means if an authority says to not shock a learner, somebody might disobey because they find shocking the learner to be morally correct. So, this kind of trait and disobedience of unethical authorities is a positive thing for society but should not be the norm. It is only positive if it is in moderation.
Boston, Massachusettes, US
Posts: 8

Reflections on Obedience and the Milgrim Experiment

Everyone has the potential to become a violent perpetrator due to circumstances that could be out of their control, like life-threatening danger, or authority figures(government, teacher, employer, etc.) giving instructions. A quote from How Nazi's Defense of "Just Following Orders" Plays Out in the Mind by Joshua Barajas explains, “In other words, people actually feel disconnected from their actions when they comply with orders, even though they’re the ones committing the act. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, described this distance as people experiencing their actions more as “passive movements than fully voluntary actions” when they follow orders.” There could also be things in their control like hatred, prejudice, and comfortability with their actions. Milgrim’s experiments suggest that everyone has that turning point as to what amount of damage they are willing to inflict on another person. The distance between Experimenter and Teacher, distance between Learner and Teacher, emotional distance, cultural distance, and having to physically inflict pain(whip, beat, bludgeon) all affect the obedience level. It all has to do with distance. Any distance, physical or mental, put between the aggressor and the victim will create an atmosphere where actions and behaviors are more tolerable in their mind.

We as a society should at least attempt to create an environment that values the traits of people who disobey unethical authority figures. It may be difficult because all people think differently. Some may see an action as harmless while others may view it as unethical. Everyone would need a basic understanding or a common round of what they believe is right and wrong and ultimately that is impossible. People are entitled and selfish, if a world like that was possible it would have been done already.

I think the experiment’s explain what ordinary people’s activity could but not their participation in actual violence or hatred. The Teacher and Learner were not being put in a strict position of “us” or “them”, they were both quite similar in age, race, and gender. In times of war or tragedy, it is easier to become angry at a group of people than a single person. It can justify what happens to an entire country in a time of war. A bad persona on thousands or hundreds of thousands of people is what creates the “them”. An example of this can be seen in the conflict between the U.S and Japan. America created an “us” and a “them”. Japan as a whole was seen as conniving, even those in America faced racism and experienced hatred. Because even though they were in America and had nothing to do with the conflict between the two governments, they were caught in the cross-fire. Like mentioned in one of my previous paragraphs, things like hate and prejudice contributes to people’s willingness to follow authority. But also devotion and inspiration. For example, people who join the military in an act of devotion may have to commit atrocious acts by following orders or commands given to them by superiors. There are endless possibilities of what can contribute to someone performing terrible acts to another human being.

Boston, Massachusettes, US
Posts: 6

I think that everyone has more than enough potential to become a perpetrator for violence. Humans are very emotional and it’s really common for those emotions to consume us to the point that we don’t even realize what we’re doing or to the point that we feel separated from what we’re doing. I myself have definitely lashed out at my little sister many many times, and she’s definitely lashed out at me all the same. All that has to happen for someone to cause great harm is motivation and a lack of care about the consequences you could face and if someone told you to hurt someone it would take care of both of those. You’re motivated because someone told you to and you won’t be facing any negative consequences for doing it, if anything you’ll be rewarded by whoever told you. If the worst thing that can happen to you after doing something is that you don’t get super rewarded then you’re in a pretty good spot, so why not do it? If someone was charismatic enough they could probably get everyone to do everything they say. As asdfghjkl;’ said: “Given a command from someone of a higher authority, anyone would feel the need to obey. When put into certain situations where one is to follow orders of an “authoritative figure” obedience takes over their morality.” I feel like while this wouldn’t apply to everyone, it would apply to a very large amount of people.

I believe that the Milgram experiments suggest that humans typically aren’t confident in themselves and their choices and are nearly always looking for guidance. I think that a lot of people are scared of themselves and desperately want to feel better about themselves which they accomplish by following someone. A lot of us would rather have someone to listen to and end up doing a lot of bad stuff than be on our own. I also think that another aspect of human behavior that could contribute to participating in things like the Milgram experiment is the feeling of superiority. We want to feel like we’re better than others, we want to feel popular and liked, we want to be told that we’re doing a good job. To not obey and go out of line with that can feel terrifying. At the very least you could get ostracized because of it, and I don’t think there’s a single person in this class that would like to get ostracized. I think that what coolcat16 said is important to this. “When people were told what to do, especially by a strong and convincing leader, a number of things could've gone into play. One of them could be fear. The fear of becoming watched, threatened or hurt from disobeying.” We all just want safety and security at the end of the day and not many people would give that up for something that can seem as small as morals and the safety and comfortability of someone you don’t even know.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 5

No one is truly Innocent

Every human being has the capability of being a perpetrator of violence, but the question that should be asked is how far someone will go. Obviously not everyone could go to the extent of killing someone or even just inflicting severe pain. But, if no human had the capability of using violence then there would be no violence in the world. Everyone can get a little violent sometimes if there are the right conditions and the right incentives. As an example a mother would do anything, even murder a person for their child, which would be their incentive in the right situation. In the Milgram Experiment the situation was an experiment and there were a lot of external pressures. Whenever someone would question what they were doing, the scientist would tell them that they must continue because it is for the experiment. It’s essentially guilt tripping someone in continuing because no one wants to ruin a big experiment. The experiment adds to the idea that with the right circumstances and influences, you could get a lot of people to do anything really. There are a very few people, however, that can resist the pressures and follow what they believe alone. There were a few men in the experiment that simply refused to continue because they didn’t want to hurt anyone, they didn’t even care if they ruined the experiment. But there is also the flip side of that where someone still continues even if they hesitate and don’t want to. There was one guy that continuously asked for the learner to be checked on and hesitated to continue because he heard the learner in pain, but he continued with the experiment anyway. The man asked for reassurance that he wouldn’t be blamed for anything that happens in the experiment, like the learner dying, and when he got that reassurance he was able to continue. So the mix of present external pressures and blame being placed elsewhere allowed the man to continue shocking the learner. Once the blame is no longer on ones-self, that is definitely when someone could hurt someone else. People hate taking accountability for their actions and when they have the option to blame someone else, they will. That’s why so many people are falsely imprisoned, because people can do the crime but never take accountability for it.

The Milgram experiment could probably be used as an excuse for peoples crimes like genocide, but it is not a justification. Many people would probably say things like “I didn’t want to do it” or “I did it unwillingly” but there could always be something else. Some torturers from the Holocaust have tried to use this as a reason for why they tortured the Jewish people but it is not as simple as they had no choice. Some people actually chose to torture the Jewish people and it was done happily. There were many people that supported Hitler and felt the same way, those torturers can not use “Hitler made me do it”. If people really wanted to stop the genocide of the Jewish people the could have, Hitler was only one man in a large country. He remained in power because that country allowed him to be. Everyone simply blames Hitler for the mass genocide of Jewish people but there were countless other people guilty of actually killing and hurting Jewish people. Everyone always has a choice, even when those choices have deadly consequences, people can make them, and they can’t blame it on anyone else. Something like the Holocaust can happen anywhere at any time because people will always have differing beliefs and opinions that could cause a possible conflict. Bauman’s idea that “we could do it” is very real because if two sides have such strong conflicting opinions, people will and can go to war over it. Some people are willing to do anything for what they believe, that's why there are so many revolutions and changes. But there is always the chance that the differing beliefs could lead to something like the Holocaust once again.

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