Australian Report: Reponsibility, Y2K Bugs & People GI'ing : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

First off, I visited my father the other day and we discuss various topics and we got onto Psychology, Philosophy and Responsibility. He told me about a study that was performed once so below is his email to me with the relevant info, this will open your eyes:

Book: I'm OK You're OK
Pages 241 to 243
For Educational/Research Purposes

How Irrational Are We Capable of Being?

The horror most people felt over the disclosures of what happened in Nazi Germany during World War lI was accompanied, not infrequently, by the self-righteous assumption that `this could never happen here', that we could never be capable of allowing such incredible atrocities.

Could we never? What happened in Nazi Germany? Are all people capable of being irrational? How irrational? Who draws limits?

One of the most chilling articles I have read recently appeared as a book review by psychiatrist Ralph Crawshaw of The Corrupted Land: The Social Morality of Modern America by Fred J. Cook, published by Macmillan. Crawshaw wrote:

Essentially, Cook is saying in The Corrupted Land that American citizens have abandoned their personal morality for a collective, institutionalized morality. They have abandoned thoughtful conviction for compromised sentimentality and popularity, that is, responsibility for obedience. This is strong medicine to take. We can always hide behind the fact that he has no statistical evidence, that it is his impression, so it really does not matter much anyway. Or does it?

I quote at length from the review. wherein Crawshaw reports a research project conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale University that provides evidence in answer to this question:

Stanley Milgram's research at Yale begins to put a scientific foun- dation beneath Cook's deductions. Milgram carried out a series of pdation beneath Cook's deductions. Milgram carried out a series of psychological experiments in obedience. He took a sample cross- section of the adult (aged twenty to fifty) male population of Bridge- port, Connecticut, from blue-collar workers through professionals. The experiment was to determine how much punishment one person would inflict on another when so ordered, but it was deceptively presented as a scientific study by `Bridgeport Research Associates' on learning techniques. The subjects were selected at random, paid four and a half dollars for their time.

A learner was strapped into an'electric chair' after the subject (a teacher) had experienced a sample shock of 45 volts to convince him of the authenticity of the instrument. Then from an adjoining room the subject (teacher) delivered a shock of increasing intensity for each wrong answer. Actually the learner was not shocked but his responses were a standardized tape recording of murmurs, gasps, pleas, and shrieks matched to the ascending voltage. The answers were prearranged by the experimenter, so the only limiting factor preventing the teacher from delivering the maximum intensity of the shock machine was his compassion for a human being in pain. The conflict for the teacher (Mr Everyman) was obedience to the author- itative system versus his belief that he should not hurt another person.

What percentage of the so-called teachers went the full route and gave the maximum shock? But before you guess, listen to the voice of Mr Everyman at the switch:

150 volts delivered: `You want me to keep going?' (COMMAND)
165 volts delivered: `That guy is hollering in there. There's a lot of them here. He's liable to have a heart condition. You want me to go On? (COMMAND)
180 volts delivered: `He can't stand it, I'm not going to kill that man in there! You hear him hollering? He's hollering. He can't stand it. What if something happened to him? You know what I mean? I mean, I refuse to take the responsibility.' (THE EXPERIMENTER ACCEPTS THE RESPONSIBILITY) `All right'
195 volts, 210, 225, 240, and so on.

The subject (teacher) unfailingly obeyed the experimenter. What percentage of the almost one thousand teachers went the whole route? Estimate before you let your eyes stray ahead. A group of forty psychiatrists who studied the project predicted one-tenth of one per cent.

In the actual experiment, sixty-two per cent obeyed the experimenter's commands fully. What did you guess?

Milgram concluded: 'With numbing regularity good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe. Men who in everyday life are re- sponsible and decent were seduced by the trappings of authority, by the control of their perceptions, and by the uncritical acceptance of the experimenter's definition of the situation into performing harsh acts. The results, as seen and felt in the laboratory, are to this author disturbing. They raise the possibility that human nature, or more specifically, the kind of character produced in American demo- cratic society, cannot be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment when at the direction of a mal- evolent authority.'

The implications of this experiment are indeed frightening if we view the results as having only to do with something irre- deemable in human nature. However, with Transactional Analysis we can talk about the experiment in a different way. We can say that 62 percent of the subjects did not have a freed-up Adult with which to examine the authority in the Parent of the experimenters. Undoubtedly one unexamined as- sumption was: Whatever experiments are necessary for re- search are good. This is perhaps the same assumption that helped `reputable' scientists participate in the laboratory at- rocities in Nazi Germany.

End of Quote

Y2K/Date Glitches

On the 1st of November our small business had a date problem, our software wasn't expiring accounts properly. Took us three days to notice and around 4 hours to find the problem and 10 minutes to fix. At the same time I also discovered in the code a Y2K bug, nothing catastrophic but it would have cost us money.

People Are GI'ing

Just a month ago there were quite a few people who were ridiculing me, telling me nothing was going to happen and laughing about me trying to talk to them about Y2K. Well most of them have changed their attitude, don't ask me what it was because I've been onto them for a better part of the year about it. Now they are starting to have serious conversations about it with me, no laughing, no ridiculing. The ones who demanded that I don't talk about it are letting the conversations happen and I am not initiating them. Family, Friends and people in the street are slowing changing their attitude.

The ELectric Company

Where I live they are called Western Power, they sent out fliers recently to every household letting people know that they 'Aim to be compliant' and 'everything should be fine'. Nowhere on the flier do they state that they will be complianto only that they aim to be.

That's it, there are other bits of news but I can't remember it all.

Regards, Simon

-- Simon Richards (, November 12, 1999


As an undergraduate, I remember having to write a brief essay on the Milgram experiment or something similar. The essay was to describe what we would have done. I remember now with a grin that the professor was very upset with my essay wherein I suggested that had I participated in that experiment... not only would I have refused to administer an electrical shock for any reason, but that I would take the necessary personal action to put an immediate, forcible, and conclusive end to the technicians, administrators, and scientists of such a project.

I imagine Musashi might say: one morally decisive person out of ten thousand can make all the difference.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, November 12, 1999.

Very interesting experiment.

"In the actual experiment, sixty-two per cent obeyed the experimenter's commands fully. "

That number also coincides with the election and rating numbers for Clinton.

-- (, November 12, 1999.

This experiment was shown on a TV program years ago. Some of the people administrating the juice were actually crying as they pushed the buttom. But they still pushed it because they were told to. In the TV segment only one person refused to push the button, only one.

-- Mr. Pinochle (, November 12, 1999.

There have been other alarming tests. I recall reading about one that probed prison guards. Ordinary people were brought in. One half were the prisoners and the other half were the guards. Those who were the guards began to show a sadistic edge to those in imprisonment.

-- Paula (, November 12, 1999.

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