Excerpts from the article by Philip Meyer on Milgram experiments. Bit of a long read, but very interesting
He doesn't worry much about the Nazis anymore. He worries about you and me, and, perhaps, himself a little bit too. Stanley Milgram is a social psychologist, and when he began his career at Yale University in he had a plan to prove, scientifically, that Germans are different.
The Germans-are-different hypothesis has been used by historians, such as William L.
Shirer, to explain the systematic destruction of the Jews by the Third Reich. One madman could decide to destroy the Jews and even create a master plan for getting it done.
But to implement it on the scale that Hitler did meant that thousands of other people had to go along with the scheme and help to do the work. The Shirer thesis, which Milgram set out to test, is that Germans have a basic character flaw which explains the whole thing, and this flaw is a readiness to obey authority without question, no matter what outrageous acts the authority commands.
The appealing thing about this theory is that it makes those of us who are not Germans feel better about the whole business. Obviously, you and I are not Hitler, and it seems equally obvious that we would never do Hitler's dirty work for him. But now, because of Stanley Milgram, we are compelled to wonder.
Milgram developed a laboratory experiment which provided a systematic way to measure obedience. His plan was to try it out in New Haven on Americans and then go to Germany and try it out on Germans. He was strongly motivated by scientific curiosity, but there was also some moral content in his decision to pursue this line of research, which was in turn colored by his own Jewish background.
If he could show that Germans are more obedient than Americans, he could then vary the conditions of the experiment and try to find out just what it is that makes some people more obedient than others.
With this understanding, the world might, conceivably, be just a little bit better.
But he never took his experiment to Germany. He never took it any farther than Bridgeport. The first finding, also the most unexpected and disturbing finding, was that we Americans are an obedient people: That one person is the subject of the experiment.
The subject, of course, does not know he is in a play. He thinks he is in real life. The value of this technique is that the experimenter, as though he were God, can change a prop here, vary a line there, and see how the subject responds. Milgram eventually had to change a lot of the script just to get people to stop obeying.
They were obeying so much, the experiment wasn't working--it was like trying to measure oven temperature with a freezer thermometer. 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.
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. Then you listen to Jack Williams explain the experiment.
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.In the essay, "If Hitler Asked You to Electrocute a Stranger, Would You?
Probably", Meyer takes a look at Milgram's study that mimics the execution of the Jews (among others) during World War II by placing a series of subjects under similar conditions of stress, authority, and obedience.
Nov 29, · Best Answer: Hitler convinced people the perfect person was everything he was not and yet people still followed him. Why because he was very charismatic and, persuasive and good with words so people obeyed him.
So "if Hitler asked you to electrocute a stranger would you?"Status: Resolved. Hitler Asked You to Electrocute a Stranger, Would You?
Probably. I read a text called “If Hitler Asked You to Electrocute a Stranger, Would You?Probably” by Philip Meyer who was born in He taught at Universities and wrote a books about journalism such as “Precision Journalism”, “To Keep the Republic” and “Editors”. Feb 03, · In the article, “if Hitler Asked You to Electrocute a Stranger, Would you?” Philip Meyer discusses how Stanley Milgram wanted to do an experiment that he created to measure obedience of Americans to Germans but, this plan didn’t work because simply to many people where obeying.
If Hitler Asked You to Electrocute a Stranger, Would You? Probably by Philip Meyer Main Concepts Questions Summary In this reading, Milgram brings in a "teacher" and a . Nov 03, · 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 volts on the other. So that you know what you are doing, you get a test-shock yourself, at 45 volts.