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Opening Arguments

Today's Zeitgeist highlight

A French TV experiment has duplicated the findings of psychologist Stanley Milgram, who in the 1960s demonstrated that, when encouraged by an authority figure, people would willing administer lethally dangerous electic shocks to hapless victims. In the French version, people didn't even need that -- a shouting TV audience merely had to egg them on:

On the TV show, the game consisted of one participant asking questions to another player locked inside a booth with an electrode hooked up to his or her wrist. Any wrong answer meant the first player had to push a lever that subjected the victim in the booth to electrical charges up to 460 volts as punishment.

The audience applauded and chanted "Punishment! Punishment! Punishment!" when the contestant inside the booth answered wrong.

The victim contestant would then plead for mercy while the host urged the punisher to administer the charge. Approximately, eighty percent of those in power administered charges that would have been lethal.

And then they all went home and blogged about it.

Posted in: Current Affairs


Fri, 03/19/2010 - 9:42am

I read a blog post somewhere recounting the reaction of a Fox News panel, opining that it must be something unique to the French that prompted this response. They were, apparently, utterly unaware of the Milgram experiment.