The Milligan psychological experiment is the one in which ordinary people were willing to torture to death someone on instructions form an authoritative scientific figure. But recent commentary claims many participants knew it was faked. Accounting for this reduces the proportion of people willing to torture someone to death to about a third. While this is a reduction, there still appears to be a significant minority willing to kill people for the greater good.
The results overshadowed the ethical standards. It appeared that sixty-five percent of people would torture someone to death, if pressured to do so. The results made their way into both psychology and cocktail party conversation. But were they correct? At least one woman doesn’t think so. Gina Perry, for her book, Behind the Shock Machine, traced as many participants in the Milgram experiment as she could, and re-examined the notes of the experiment. Milgram claimed that seventy-five percent of the participants believed in the reality of the experiment, but Perry puts the number at about half. The change makes a big difference in the results. The people who didn’t buy that they were actually shocking people were far more willing to increase the intensity of the shocks. They wanted to know how far the experimenters would go in the ruse, while the experimenters were wondering the same thing about them. Those that believed that they were shocking people were much more likely to keep the shocks down low. While Perry still thinks about a third of the people would crank up the shocks even if they believed, that’s a big drop in overall percentage.
That the majority of participants in the experiment were not willing to murder for the greater good is not as protective of society as it might appear. The reason why is clear in this op ed by Paul E. Marek:
I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”
We are told again and again by experts and talking heads that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.
The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behea
The fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history.
d, murder, or execute honor killings. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority,” and it is cowed and extraneous.
Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a war-mongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across Southeast Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians – most killed by sword, shovel and bayonet. And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery? Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving”?
History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt; yet, for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghanis, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us, watching it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts: the fanatics who threaten our way of life.
Erik Hoffer’s The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements outlines the reasons why people to join extremist groups. In tough economic times, the number may increase. Tough economic times, such as those which are or will be experienced in much of the West, will undermine the legitimacy of existing institutions. The erosion of our cultural capital makes society less resistant to toxic ideologies and their resulting behaviors.
Corporate and other psychos form a component of any society. In the West in normal times their influence is constrained or even made to benefit society. If the path for power hungry maniacs to get power and wealth is through giving people what they want for less than they are willing to pay for it, we all benefit. But when they get wealthy through manipulating government regulations to stop competition, and expropriating the wealth of others through executive fiat then we all suffer. Much of the green energy “revolution” has simply been extortion and a transfer of wealth from the poor to the wealthy. Ditto with the post 2007 bailouts around the world. These measures make us poorer
Measures which make us poorer reduce our standard of living. The reduction can be delayed through increasing debt. But given the debt is created to fund consumption or inappropriate investment, a drop in living standards is inevitable. It is simply a question of when and who experiences it, not whether there will be any such reduction.
Graphic courtesy of Orphans of Liberty