infamous Milgram experiment…will he or won’t he?

Below is a concise PPT that I put together for a general audience, (feel free to click on ‘theobedience’ hotlink below for the ppt. download)


Just a week ago, Trinity College Dublin said NO to British hatemeister and BNP leader, Nick Griffin, debating immigration at the University. Even the conservative Daily Telegraph (UK) recently headlined “The rise of the far-Right: Europe’s worrying trend.”

With the ascendancy of the abominable BNP in the UK, Front Nationale in France, and other political movements that are motivated by discrimination, division, the attribution of blame and implicit conformity, sharing perspectives on antidotes to tyranny is as necessary now as ever. Add into the mix economic tsunamis and the urgency intensifies.

Hannah Arendt, philosopher and writer, covered Adolf Eichmann’s trial for the New Yorker from Jerusalem, where he faced a court in 1961. The latter Gestapo head evaded capture until 1960 and had been living in Argentina. She witnessed successive psychiatrists declare him to be clinically sane, his demeanour was ‘ordinary’…

“in certain circumstances, the most ordinary, decent person can become a criminal”

Banality of Evil’, H.Arendt (1963)

Evidence based research of the social psychology of tyranny and despotism evolved from a very humanistic intention to understand more about the situational dynamics that underpinned and facilitated the ascendancy of Hitler and Stalin…and the many people who were “just following orders.” ‘Banality of Evil‘ was the impetus for Professor Stanley Milgram’s notorious Yale obedience studies, (1963,1965 & 1974)…more on this on the hotlink above.

Milgram gave the world even more tangible evidence that as humans, there can be a very strong tendency to obey authority, even in violation of conscience.

Add to the vertical social dynamic of obedience to authority the horizontal peer pressure of conforming to group norms and we have the essential ingredients for tyranny and despotism.

“The power of authorities is demonstrated not only in the

extent to which they can command obedience from

followers, but also in the extent to which they can define

reality and alter habitual ways of thinking and acting.”

Phillip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect (2007)

Having had a former incarnation as a Psych lecturer, this interpretOr just wants to share a few scraps of evidence on the attached ppt.

(J Healy, MBPsS, Assoc MAPS)