posts 31 - 33 of 33
Posts: 18

To Obey Or Not To Obey

This experiment is going to help answer a question that we've all been trying to face this entire year. How is it possible for humans to enact such atrocities onto other humans? This experiment gives us a more scientific explanation to how such events could occur. And while we cannot define human behavior through one explanation of science, it does provide us with patterns. I think we can learn from this experiment that anyone could be a persecutor even when they don't realize it. We learn that we are accustomed to and follow authority regardless of what we think. But at the same time, although many people gave into the experiment, we see some resistance and worry for other humans. I think it's proof that ultimately we don't wish to hurt other people it may happen because of a misconstrued conception in our mind that we must follow all authority. This is just how people are raised, being trained to always do what you're told to do even if it goes against your belief is. We look to authority figures and we taught not to question it. Obviously this experiment shows that no matter who you are, regardless of social or economic status, you're capable of causing harm to others even if you don't mean to. This experiment shows how easily we are manipulated when we don't know how to speak or think for ourselves. It provides us with a greater understanding of why people served under things like the Nazi regime. The experiment shows how humans deal with authoritative presence and how easy it is to fall under their control. But this experiment also shows that there are instances of resistance and how in certain situations, people are less likely to inflict harm. I see this as optimistic because that means that we are not 100% evil, there are parts of people that will be able to recognize mistreatment and stop. No one in that experiment was causing the shocks purely because they enjoyed it.

If I were to get anything from this experiment it would be that you need to teach people to stand up for others when you believe it is important. We. as a society, need to teach people to not be afraid to speak up and take action if they see something horrible. While it is important to follow certain authorities don't let that make you less of you, and into a perpetrator. This goes to show we need to be more aware of ourselves and our actions and who controls our actions.

This relates to Miss Day’s question, “How can you educate a society to combat basic human instincts? How can we turn these instincts around to better serve us? How can these ideas help dissolve demagogues and practices that relate to them?” My answer to this question would be teaching more analytical and empathetic skills in society. With skills like these, we bring in more free thought, more tolerance, and generally more action against injustice. We need to allow people to think freely and we need to listen to people when they speak up. I wouldn’t call this basic human instinct but rather, our society has developed people into trusting and believing authoritative figures, regardless of the case. There has to be a distinction between adhering to rules and to mindless following. With more analytical skills and self reflection, hopefully people will start looking more into such demagogues and practices. I would hope that this means that people strive to look for the rational elements of things. Now my question is, does the time period make a difference in this experiment? If we were to run the same thing today, would the results be different?
Posts: 20

obeying authority

I think that this experiment shows us the potential that humans have for evil. I was shocked that such high percentages of people continued the shock to the highest voltage in all circumstances. The teachers, after being told that they would not be held accountable, continued on with the shocks. This shows me that people often turn to authority for explanation or to place blame, distancing themselves. However, many of the big authority systems in place are unjust or evil. If people distance themselves from systems of power, than they will continue evil acts- letting the blame fall on someone else.

The chain of evil, smaller acts of evil usually being linked to larger scale evil is responsible for the lack of responsibility we feel and the ability for humans to consciously commit horrible acts. It is easy to commit small acts of evil and feel that we are not responsible, yet we are always apart of some larger system. Unless we can make the connection from our small choices to the larger systems, good or bad, people will easily make decisions they believe do not harm anybody. We live in a society full of different hierarchies and powerful institutions and we rely on this places in our lives. We are willing to obey authority, because we have trust in that authority and give these powers responsibility. One example is the justice system. We abide by laws and the courts, yet we can see that the system is failing certain groups of people. What do we do to fix large institutions that we are suppose to trust? How do we hold these institutions accountable?

Posts: 25


So what do you conclude from this experiment? Does it give you any insight into human behavior? What will humans be willing to do, why they’ll do it, what they are capable of doing and not doing? Putting aside Hitler for the moment, what kinds of behavior does this experiment help to explain, not only in history but in our own times?

This experiment was incredibly eye-opening especially since I don’t know what I would have done given the option. I like to think that I wouldn’t have gone that far into administering the shocks as others but authority holds a little bit of power over humanity as an institution. Authority is something that has been instilled over a period of time. When a person needs to tear down that structure that is so fortified in their minds it is nearly impossible. I think another factor to authority besides the power that they hold is the knowledge. If with knowledge comes power it would make sense for the opposite to be true. Personally I would follow the doctor’s orders not because they are the ones with the power in that situation, but because as doctors they know “best”.

Humanity is a complicated entity. A wise man once said that Humanity is a dichotomy of angels and demons. Each person has a choice of what they want to be. When the test subjects were given that choice more than not they chose to go past the point of return. This signifies many things. Are people easily manipulated and willing to go against their morals with a nudge or is worse than that? Are Humans fundamentally evil and are the people who commit great deeds just anomalies? I personally think that it is possible to go against society as has been proven. One needs to have courage enough to go against what seems to be their own morals.

So can we fix the corrupted institution last that we are supposed to trust? The harder question to answer is how. Since authority is a foundation of society we must replace it entirely. If we were to build self esteem in our civilians then maybe standing up against oppressors, no matter who they may be, might be easier.

My question to the class is Are people fundamentally evil? If they are is there a way to combat this?

posts 31 - 33 of 33