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Will There Ever Be Progress in the Milgram Experiment?

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In 1963, an experiment was conducted by an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, Stanley Milgram. The experiment was preformed to show how people were willing to inflict large amounts of pain on other ordinary people, just because an authority figure told them to do so. Milgram wanted to learn how the Nazis were able to persuade many people to follow their commands, and he got his answers.

To summarize the experiment, there was one room with a large screen dividing it in the middle. The people on one side could not see the person on the other, but could hear and speak to them. A “learner” was strapped to a chair with electrodes attached to his arm, and was placed on one side of the room. The “learner” was then given a series of questions asked by the “teacher,” who was on the other side with Milgram. If he answered them incorrectly, he was administered a shock, which increased by fifteen volts for every wrong answer.

Milgram devised his experiment carefully, because the “learner” was not actually getting a shock, but the “teacher” thought he was. Soon, the “teacher” was giving 150 volts, and the “learner” would cry out in protest, and complain of heart pain and other aches. At 330 volts, the “learner” no longer cried out, and pretended to be unconscious.
The results were astonishing. Over 80 percent of the participants kept giving more shocks after administering the 150 volt shock, and 65 percent actually continued on to 450 volts. Forty-five years later, in 2008, the same experiment was re-conducted by Professor Burger of Santa Clara University, and the results were not significantly different from 45 years prior. Seventy percent of the participants gave the 150-volt shock. Even though this is less then the original experiment, it is not nearly considerably less.
So even in today’s society, we are willing to inflict large amounts of pain on others, just because an authority figure has instructed us to do so. If this is how we behave, is it possible to prevent events like the Holocaust from occurring in the future? We say our society is one of great power and good morals, yet we clearly show that we are still willing to bring pain to other people.

This is why we need to educate today’s children about this, and teach them about the harmful effects of genocide. They need to know that it is not ok to inflict large amounts of pain on other people. If not, we may not see significant results in the future, which will take a negative long-term effect on our society. Hopefully, 45 years from now, we can conduct the same experiment, but get the results we long for.

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