Milgram’s torture experiment and laboratory of real life

On 28 August 2019, The Times reported about doubts surrounding the famous Milgram psychological experiment on obeying authority and administering pain to other human beings carried out in 1961, Shocking truth about famed Milgram torture experiment. One of those involved in re-analysis of the experiment is Gina Perry (University of Melbourne), quoted in the article.

Here is my comment to The Times article.

The interpretation in Milgram’s experiment depends, at least partly, on the selection of data.

The sample size was small and there are surely other shortcomings we can point out. I see the value of this experiment in posing an important question and attempting to answer it, however imperfectly. This is all ok, provided one does not withhold data and the contextual information from scrutiny.

One cannot view this experiment on its own as a conclusive evidence of a widespread inherent cruelty of humans, although it is a very interesting and important contribution to psychological science. It stimulated discussions and further research. That is good.

On the subject of widespread human cruelty, however, there is plenty of evidence from real life. The data in this case can also be extracted and analysed.

I recommend studying e. g. coercion, psychological and social terror in real life. There are whole countries, whose daily operation involves broad participation in organised social violence. Social violence need not have necessarily a physical component. Some of those countries are EU members.

I became involved in this kind of research out of necessity, much less by choice, as both a target and an observer. The project is ongoing. Results are very interesting and very disturbing.