If you've attended one of our workshops or read our blog posts, you've probably heard about the infamous and illuminating Milgram experiments that were first conducted in the 1960s to explore our susceptibility in relinquishing our responsibility in the face of authority.
I've heard and read about the experiments many times, but the horror I felt from that was nothing compared to watching a replication of those experiments. In 2009 as part of a BBC series exploring violence, host Michael Portillo witnessed 12 people participating in an updated version of the experiment (tweaks were even made that you'd think would make participants even less likely to complete the experiment). These were modern-day Brits who have learned about the Jewish Holocaust, genocide, and war. Yet their results mirrored those of other experiments. The majority of participants completely relinquished their sense of responsibility and morality and "shocked" their "fellow participant" to the maximum.
Anyone who resisted or expressed concern was told by the "scientist" in the lab coat:
"The experiment requires that you continue." or "Please continue."
If they hesitated again, they were told:
"There's no lasting tissue damage." or "It's essential that you continue."
That's all it took. You could see the participants writhing in indecision and concern, but 9 of the 12 continued until the end.
Watch the video in 3 parts here:
As host Michael Portillo said:
"When I started looking into this. I thought of violence as something other people did. And now I see for the first time that it's not some malevolent force out there; it's very much in us. In you, in me, in every one of us."
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