Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Uncomfortable Truth About Mind Control: Is Free Will Simply a Myth?

What Bill and the other volunteers who took part weren't told was that the electric shocks were fake – and that both the Experimenter and the Learner were actors. The real purpose of the experiment was to see how far the volunteers would go. Stanley Milgram had asked colleagues how many people they thought would go all the way and administer a lethal 450-volt shock. Most said less than 1 per cent – and those would probably be psychopaths.

Yet Bill, like 65 per cent of the volunteers, gave an apparently lethal electric shock when told to do so.

I remember thinking, when I first read this, that such a figure was completely unbelievable. I was absolutely certain, and I'm sure everyone who read about Milgram's work was equally certain, that I would never give a fatal electric shock to someone simply because I had been asked to do so by someone in authority. It is inconceivable that I could be manipulated in this way.

Perhaps, I thought, the volunteers had deep-down realised that this was a fake experiment, that they were just playing along. When critics put this point to Milgram he scathingly responded, "the suggestion that the subjects only feigned sweating, trembling, and stuttering to please the Experimenter is pathetically detached from reality, equivalent to the statement that haemophiliacs bleed to keep their physicians busy".
... humans have a tendency to blindly follow orders, if they are presented in a plausible fashion by someone who is apparently in authority. What these experiments revealed was just how strong this "tendency" really is. Psychology, which is often criticised for discovering the bleeding obvious, had shown that it was capable of making surprising, original, disturbing contributions to our understanding of ourselves.

People who live in normal society, who are trapped in the mainstream information bubble, will accept many stories and situations that, to the more well informed and introspective, appear completely unreasonable.

It is because of our tendency to fit within "social norms" we must train ourselves to think independently. At present too many people in the educated Western world remain unaware and not sufficiently concerned about the manufactured wars, fake terrorism and financial corruption that is all about us.

Too many are taught to accept the "it's all under control" memes pushed by the talking heads on TV.

ps. Free will exists (I think!) but we obviously have to work at maintaining it.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, January 13th, 2011.]


steven andresen said...


You said,

"...Too many are taught to accept the "it's all under control" memes pushed by the talking heads on TV."

and I want to respond by pointing out that it starts in schools where teachers expect and push their kids to follow the lesson plan. Those who don't for whatever reason are trouble-makers and are asked to see the teacher after schhool with their "troubles" instead of wasting the classe's valuable time.

There's no thought by these teachers or news repoprters that anyone could have a serious question about what they are trying to get across. Those who do are "conspiracy theorists," proto-terrorists and mass murderers, or have trouble processing the basic facts of life.

So, yes, the TV contributes, but it's more than just them.


SpookyPunkos said...


I agree, it's not just from the TV.

We have been taught, in our present society, to accept the memes we see on TV thanks to the influence of numerous other institutions that shape our conceptual understanding of the world.

We are conditioned to have arguments and debate within a certain framework dictated by mainstream teachers, scientists, academics, media etc that are often corrupted by various biases and politics. The TV helps a lot in keeping people on the "right page" in terms of current affairs (plus history, science etc).

My comment about the "talking heads" on TV was intended to reflect the fact that the media was strongly contributing to the overall ignorance/silence of the public by presenting seemingly well constructed stories that put people at ease when we are all in deep trouble.

The TV could actually make a big difference in shifting the opinions of people the world over. Certain sections of the Internet have been very effective, and the TV could be even more powerful in changing people's level of knowledge and analytical skills.

Alas !

Thanks for helping to clarify the argument here.

Spook !