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Authority and Obedience: The Milgram Experiment

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In common parlance, the word obedience is only really used in relation to dogs and children, but in real terms, the interplay between authority and obedience is a part of our everyday lives. At its most mundane, that interplay is realized every time our boss asks us to perform a task. At its most extreme, it can make soldiers carry out orders that they know are morally wrong, or lead hundreds of people to commit suicide because... well, they were told to.

The Milgram Experiment, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram’s greatest work, sought to draw conclusions regarding how obedience of authority figures plays out socially, prompted in part by the 1961 trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Milgram sought to determine whether Eichmann and those like him could have committed the atrocities that they did simply because they were told to. The results were revelatory, controversial, and worrying.

04:15
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Would you kill a person if a man in a white coat told you to? Stanley Milgram's infamous Obedience Test continues to shock us and undermine our concept of who we are and what we believe. In this extract from his lecture on 'Codebreaking in Everyday Life', John D. Barrow, Gresham Professor of Geometry and Professor of Mathematical Science at the University of Cambridge, explains Stanley Milgram's most famous experiment. This is the 3rd part of 'Codebreaking in Everday Life'. The full lecture is available (in 13 parts) here on YouTube, or it can be downloaded (like all of our lectures) in its complete form from the Gresham College website, in video, audio or text formats: http://www.gresham.ac.uk Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website.
03:21
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CURIOSITY continues Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 9PM e/p with HOW EVIL ARE YOU? on Discovery. | http://curiosity.discovery.com/#mkcpgn=ytdsc1 | Take a look at how this version of the Milgram experiment unfolds.
05:27
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Robert Cialdini talks about Social Psychology and what has influenced his work.
01:43
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CURIOSITY continues Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 9PM e/p with HOW EVIL ARE YOU? on Discovery. | http://curiosity.discovery.com/#mkcpgn=ytdsc1 | Eli Roth explores the question, "How evil are you?" in this Curiosity video segment.
02:49
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Watch to see how these participants of this Milgram experiment react. Curiosity continues, Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 9PM e/p with "Life Before Birth." For more, visit http://curiosity.discovery.com/#mkcpgn=ytdsc1 Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/curiositytv Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/DiscoveryChannel
02:19
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This woman reacts much differently to the Milgram experiment than most. Curiosity continues, Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 9PM e/p with "Life Before Birth." For more, visit http://curiosity.discovery.com/#mkcpgn=ytdsc1 Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/curiositytv Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/DiscoveryChannel
00:57
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Jerusalem. Documentation on file, English commentary. High angle General view Courtroom M.S. Eichmann in box MS. Judge. MS. Eichmann in box MS. Eichmann taking oath. Back view of Eichmann's attorney Doctor Robert Servatius MS. Eichmann, CU. Ditto. (Comb F.G.) 90,000 historic films, all SEARCHABLE on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/britishpathe Join us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/britishpathe Tweet us @britishpathe FILM ID:2980.08