The Game of Death – “We were just following orders”
I read about this experiment a long time ago. Basically, it shows that people can do all manner of torture to other human beings based on the wishes of an authority figure. There is a French television show where this experiment was reproduced with basically the same result from the 1960’s.
In the TV show, they found that 80% of the subjects were willing to administer a fatal shock if told to do so … “Makers say 80 percent of those participating in the show were willing to give a potentially fatal electric shock, if show producers said they should…”
The writers of the article try to attribute this as the power of television… “They argue this demonstrates how TV shows can misuse their power and influence…” Well, not really. The outcome of this experiment shows the influence of authority figures on typical people. What happened on this French television show is just an instance of a general principle.
The Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.
The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the question: “Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?” In other words, “Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?” Milgram’s testing suggested that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs.
Read more – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
Fast forward to 2010
In the ominously titled “Le jeu de la mort” (“The Game of Death”) participants were told to inflict pain on their competition if they answered trivia questions incorrectly.
This was done by flicking a switch to administer electric shocks of various levels up to a potentially fatal 460 volts. They would then watch the reaction of their rival (actually an actor) on a monitor.
The actor screamed in pain and begged for mercy with each wrong answer, until the contestants increased their “shocks” to a deathly level.
Makers say 80 percent of those participating in the show were willing to give a potentially fatal electric shock, if show producers said they should. They argue this demonstrates how TV shows can misuse their power and influence.
The stunt was based on the “Stanley Milgram Experiment” and will air tonight in France as part of a documentary on the manipulative power of television.
Keep reading to see footage. Remember, he’s an actor. But the contestants don’t know it.