Milgram experiment

This man in this picture looking so desperate is Eichmann. I met him 4 years ago when I was doing my master’s degree. I want to introduce you this man. In a book I read recently give some information regarding this man and the idea of “Banality of Evil” . So I tried to put together this information. Two experimental subjects are told that they are participating in an experiement designed to test the effects of punishment on learning. They draw lots to determine who is going to be respectively teacher and pupil. The lottery is fixed beforehand. The true subject is unaware that his companion is an experimental assistant who is predestined to be the pupil. Consequently, the true subject will always be the teacher. The pupil is strapped into a chair wired up to deliver electrical shocks. The busject/teacher is then led away to another room, where his only contact with the pupil is via a microphone and the text on a display screen showing pupil’s responses. If the pupil anwaers incorrectly, the teacher is instructed to deliver a punishment shock by pressing a button. The shocks are mild at first. Another display shows the voltage and grades the severity –as in 15 volts:mild shock. With each wrong answer, the teacher must gradually increase the voltage in fifteen-volt steps. The scale reaches 450 volts:XXX. To facilitate international comparisons there are precise rules for how the leader of the experiment and his assistant must behave. The pupil is never actually shocked, but when the subject believes that he is delivering 300 volts, the pupil will protest by banging hard on the wall that separates him from the subject. He bangs again at 315 volts and then does or says nothing at all. The implication is that the pupil might be unconscious by this stage. The teacher is told that any failure to answer a question must be regarded as an incorrect answer, and hence, desğite the pupil’s silence, the voltage must be increased another step each time. If the subject protest, the experimental leader has four command options. The first is “Please continue;”then, “The experiment requires that you continue” and next “It is absolutely essential that you continue”. The last option is “You have no other choice. You must continue.” If the subject still refuses to carry on, the experiment is stopped. The most encountered reaction during the experiments is that subjects constantly deny pushing the button. They are also well aware that they are free to leave the experiment at any time they want. Terminating the experiment is in each subject’s own hand and subjects know that doing it would not cause any reprisals or some kind of punishment. Yet, it is observed that 2/3 of the subjects participate in first experiment obey the instructions and continue until the end of the experiment where the last electrical shock is delivered. The experiment results are believed to acknowledge Hannah Arendt’s theory “the banality of evil”. Subject behaviors during the experiments are neither driven by a mental illness nor racism or grief and anger. They are just docile and obedient people who only follow the rules dictated to themselves. In parallel with this, majority of genocide criminals defended themselves in Nurnberg courts by claiming they had to obey the orders given by superiors. Nonetheless, the defense attorneys could not present one specific proof of any German soldier being punished in case they rejected killing innocent people in concentration camps. In summary the guys who commited these atrocities are not basically “evil”. They are all ordinary men. Contrary to belief that they are psychopaths or murderous robots they are normal. They just push some buttons and they do it just to obey the rules. When I first read Eichmann defence I think of myself. I strongly believe that were are not evils just because we are not driven to be so.  

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