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2015-11-06 01:21 pm (UTC)
There is a scene in Experimenter in which Milgram describes a few of the modifications he made to the original experiment, all designed to make it
for the teacher to continue to obey...Milgram is flabbergasted, depressed, and fascinated...
He is trapped in the microcosm horror he's created. "The only way to win is not to play." I don't mean this as a criticism of him in particular; it's the notion of creating little mini instantiations of evil/cruelty/whatever we want to call it in order to study that phenomenon. I just think it's too dangerous. Harm is done not only to the participants (both groups), but to him as a researcher, to everyone who normalizes this, to society at large. We have plenty of forensic evidence for anything we need to investigate in this regard--Hannah Arendt learned plenty about people following orders without ever inducing a person to harm another.
I have tried to work out for myself whether it's just psychological experiments into nasty behavior that I find abhorrent or psychological experiments more generally, and I think it's more general. I think I just don't feel it's a good (in both utilitarian and ethical senses) way to learn about the human mind. Harm comes from even inane experiments, the assumptions behind them can be hurtful, and the extrapolations drawn from them can be hurtful.
Maybe the film raises, at least tacitly, this as an issue. I guess by giving me a reason to try to articulate my feelings, it's been valuable to me.
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