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Friday, January 5, 2007
I was too busy finishing my column to follow up on this till now, but I was amazed Wednesday night, while flipping channels, to come across this piece on ABC's "Primetime," which appeared to replicate -- with the help of a Santa Clara University psychologist -- the famous Milgram experiment at Yale involving electric "shocks" and authority figures.
The unwitting subjects in that experiment were told to administer electric shocks of increasing strength to another test subject. The shocks weren't real and the second subject was in on the experiment. The point was to see how far ordinary people would go in torturing another human being.
I'd thought the experiment was unrepeatable, given modern human-subjects regulations. I've emailed the psychologist, Jerry Burger, to find out how they pulled this off -- and what restrictions, if any, his university placed on him.