Hope for Iranians in the French Torture Game

A group of French psychologists recently recruited 80 volunteers for what they claimed was a pilot for a new TV Show. The game involved posing questions to another “player” — in reality, an actor –and punishing him with as much as 460 volts of electricity when he answered wrong as the roaring crowd screamed “Punishment!” Of the 80 volunteers, only 16 refused to obey and walked out. The other 80% went all the way until the actor appeared to have died. One of the contestants who went forward with the torture admitted that she was the granddaughter of a Jewish couple who were tortured and persecuted by the Nazis in World War II.

The experiment was paralleling that the Yale Psychologist Stanley Milgram, in which individuals were told to inflict pain on subjects. Similar to the French show, most of the recruits in that experiment went forward and followed the authority of doctors in white coats, even as they heard screams and pleas from the person next room that they thought they were torturing.

Psychologists have used the results of Milgram’s experiment and others done since then to support the concept that in contrast to the belief of many, it doesn’t take a mentally deranged individual to commit horrific acts. But rather, under certain social circumstances, any average individual is capable of committing violence against another individual. These circumstances often involve someone with an apparent claim of authority who is issuing the or…

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