Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mob mentality and TV "Authority"

Patrick Murfin has a great post about the Tea Party participant who mocked the man with Parkinson's.

Meanwhile, I've been reading about the documentary everyone in France is talking about:
Eighty people who thought they were participating in the shooting of a pilot for a French reality series were willing to deliver potentially lethal electric shocks to a contestant who had incorrectly answered knowledge questions, according to the documentary, "The Game of Death," airing on French TV on Wednesday night...

In "Zone Xtreme," the faux contestants who gave all the wrong answers were actually actors. Each "contestant" was strapped into an electric chair. The 80 wannabe famesters were each asked to punish the contestant, when a wrong answer was given, by administering up to 460 volts of electricity. The majority of them ignored the contestant's screams and obeyed the orders of the weather-chick hostess to ratchet up the jolt. They also obeyed the chant of "Punishment!" from the studio audience -- which did not know the game show was a fake -- until the contestant fell silent and appeared to have died. Only 16 contestants walked away, according to press reports.

The idea for the show came from the work of psychologist Stanley Milgram, who conducted the experiment at Yale University in the 1960s. Milgram found that most people, if pushed by an authority figure, would administer ostensibly dangerous electric shocks to another person. His experiment became famous, having been conducted at the same time as the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

"People never would have obeyed if they didn't have trust," Nick was quoted as saying in the paper's Wednesday edition. "They told themselves, 'TV knows what it's doing.'"

"People were convinced that they'd never succumb to this — and then they discovered they did it in spite of themselves," Nick told The Associated Press in an interview, referring to the participants. "They were stupefied."

Said the Tea Partier, "I snapped. I absolutely snapped and I can't explain it any other way."


Green Sufi said...

This makes me so sad.

kimc said...

frightening. it's in us all.