Shocking… But True … Part 1

John … I mean – who else?
ahem …. what is ‘truth’

Graham was reminded…

…that it’s been more than 50 years since Stanley Milgram’s famous, or notorious, “electroshock” experiments, that claimed to show how compliant people would be to authority figures. So compliant, in fact, that they would electroshock a stranger at lethal intensity just because a man in a white coat told them they must. And people are still questioning those conclusions, even re-replicating, because after all, who wants to think they would do such a thing to another human being for no good reason?

And Graham began musing that what Milgram, his academic career blighted by the experiments, needed was a better write-up; a better spin doctor, perhaps, placing him in a fresher, more modernist light. (After all, spinning it seems to work for the present White House…) Then he read something Milgram said, and the obvious candidate sprang to mind….

When Tommy Met Stanley
Or, Lines from the Love Song of J. Stanley Milgram

When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient wired and strapped upon a table

In the room the women come and go / Talking of Pavlov, and Skinner, and Edison, and pachyderms long ago

I should have been born into the German-speaking Jewish community of Prague in 1922 and died in a gas chamber some 20 years later

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled…
The better to facilitate the electrodes…

A more human face to domination, control, and torture, don’t you think?

But there is a darker reason for this musing — see Part 2…

Can’t Wait!

Then Again …

… this is what we know …

It’s inspired songs by Peter Gabriel (lyrics: “We do what we’re told/We do what we’re told/Told to do”) and Dar Williams (“When I knew it was wrong, I played it just like a game/I pressed the buzzer”); a number of books whose titles make puns out of the word “shocking”; a controversial French documentary disguised as a game show; episodes of Law and Order and Bones; a made-for-TV movie with William Shatner; a jewelry collection (bizarrely) from the company Enfants Perdus; and most recently, the biopic The Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard as the title character—and this list is by no means exhaustive.

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