I was initially hesitant to publish this post for the simple reason that I love my posts to be positive and highlight some of the many wonderful things about our world. However, I was so shocked by the results of this experiment that I have decided it is better for people to have a realistic understanding of what humans are capable of. In a recent lecture for a subject called Marketing and Audience Research my peers and I were introduced to ‘Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Experiment’.
This was an experiment conducted by Psychologist, Stanley Milgram in 1961. The experiment seeks to investigate the legitimacy of the defence offered by many of those accused of committing acts of genocide during the Second World War. The defence offered by many at the Nuremberg War Criminal trials was ‘obedience’; their justification was that they were just following orders.
In 2009, Social Psychologist Jerry M. Burger, PhD conducted the experiment with 12 individuals from the general public. People like you and me. Please watch the following three links.
I visited Auschwitz in December of 2012. One of the quotes displayed on a building in the concentration camp reads as follows: “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again”. I think this quote by George Santayana is incredibly powerful and is still a relevant message for the world today.