Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sigmund remembers Stanley

Liebschen, you remember ven Siggy told you about za experiments of Stanley Milgram, ja?

Doesn't ring a bell, Sigmund Spot.

Ach, grasshopper, it vas right hier.

Oh yes, More Juice I Say! Now I remember.


So zat all the liebschen are up to speed, remember Milgram's experiments vere are how much juice a test zubject was give to another person on za instructions. Here's how Siggy described it before:

Zey told a bunch of people zey need ze help in conducting ze experiment. But ze people recruited to give ze help were really ze subjects! Ach, that's become kind of za no-no, but never mind for now. Anyvay, ze told za recruits ze wanted to study the effects of za electric shock on za (fake) subjects, and zat ze recruits were needed to administer za shocks so za scientist could record the effects.

Za (real) subjects were zeated by za maschine with za dial to zhow za strenth of za shock. It went from za mild to medium, all za way up to zowee! dead as za doornail. But don't worry liebschen, za shocks were not real! Zen, zey hooked up ze fake subject to ze fake maschine, drew a curtain, and instructed ze real subject to start administering za shocks.

Za fake subjects went along with za ruse, and started out by zaying za shocks weren't too bad, zey tickeled, et zetera. Zen as the subject twisted the za dial for higher shocks, za fake subjects started to complain and tell za scientist to stop! Siggy says za ze fake subjects must have had za fun playing their part! But za scientist called for more juice.

Zomtimes, za real subject would say No way, I'm outta here! But zometimes not. Zome subjects woud administer more and higher shocks, even as za fake subjects screamed in za agony and pleaded for zere lives. More subjects quit along za way. But zome of zem were willing to follow za orders of za scientist to twist za dial all za way to zowee! dead as za doornail.

Boy! Siggy's buddy Stanley was critiized for za experiments, but ze gave za chilling insight into za authoritarian personality and how many people could be persuaded to do za bad zings. People still talk about za experiments, liebschen.

Zere was za article in za New York Times just za other tag, Siggy means day:

Consider the psychologist Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies of the early 1960s that together form one of the darkest mirrors the field has held up to the human face. In a series of about 20 experiments, hundreds of decent, well-intentioned people agreed to deliver what appeared to be increasingly painful electric shocks to another person, as part of what they thought was a learning experiment. The “learner” was in fact an actor, usually seated out of sight in an adjacent room, pretending to be zapped.

Here is ze part zat caught Siggy's eye, especially za last quoted paragraph:

In one, a statistical analysis to appear in the July issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, a postdoctoral student at Ohio State University verifies a crucial turning point in Milgram’s experiments, the voltage level at which participants were most likely to disobey the experimenter and quit delivering shocks.

The participants usually began with what they thought were 15-volt shocks, and worked upward in 15-volt increments, as the experimenter instructed. At 75 volts, the “learner” in the next room began grunting in apparent pain. At 150 volts he cried out: “Stop, let me out! I don’t want to do this anymore.”

At that point about a third of the participants refused to continue, found Dominic Packer, author of the new paper. “The previous expressions of pain were insufficient,” Dr. Packer said. But at 150 volts, he continued, those who disobeyed decided that the learner’s right to stop trumped the experimenter’s right to continue. Before the end of the experiments, at 450 volts, an additional 10 to 15 percent had dropped out. [za means zat over half were willing to go all the za way to the end]

This appreciation of another’s right is crucial in interrogation, Dr. Packer suggests. When prisoners’ rights are ambiguous, inhumane treatment can follow. Milgram’s work, in short, makes a statement about the importance of human rights, as well as obedience.

Zis is vhy, Siggy zes, it is so stupid to try come up with new categories of prisoners or detainees, and new definitions for za torture. It makes for za moral ambiguity and the zhameful conduct in our names. Bah! Enough!

Ve have acted like za big Stanley Milgram and now zink it is only people like za Lynndie England who are guilty. But zat is not true.

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