Thursday, 2 June 2011

It's Magical Me again

The previous two posts on the Milgram experiment and the Bystander Effect may suggest a number of conclusions. Maybe one of them is to wonder why we have apparently made so little moral progress since the parable of the Good Samaritan. Or maybe we don't pay enough attention to moral teaching?

The Milgram subjects were volunteers – so easy enough to back out one might think.

Bystander Effect subjects were passers-by. Maybe not quite so easy to break stride and take a look at those people on the ground apparently in distress. It wasn’t happening in a dark alley though, so no real risk in taking a look was there?

These two experiments tell us things we don't quite want to know, things we are happy to acknowledge as curiosities, but nothing to do with real life. We prefer to see ourselves as Magical Me who makes rational choices, adopts a rational lifestyle, makes decisions, sifts the evidence and acts accordingly. Yet these two clips are evidence against the very existence of Magical Me - evidence widely available on YouTube. So never mind the psychologists who conducted the experiments, what do you think? 


Demetrius said...

I sometimes wonder whether in the deep past that a more intelligent and less aggressive hominid lost out to our own species. As the Neanderthals allegedly had a bigger brain could they be a candidate?

A K Haart said...

I've wondered about the Neanderthals too. Whatever happened, the survival of the fittest hominid may not have been compatible with survival of the more peaceful hominid.