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studies in humanity

Posted on 2005.03.10 at 05:59
Mood: drunkdrunk
this week's assignment:

first, read this.

then, watch the dramatization.

report here with your thoughts, please.

(anyone who's already done both is welcome to share immediately, of course.)


betternewthings at 2005-03-10 14:06 (UTC) (Link)
stanford students are subhuman.

what else is new?
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-10 22:43 (UTC) (Link)
yeah yeah, mister blue-and-yellow-

but in all seriousness, this is one of the points i was discussing w/ roomie last night while we were watching-

when you and i graduated high school a 4.0/1400 alone was not enough to get into stanford. granted, the experiment took place ~2 decades before that, but i think it's safe to state that the people at either stanford or cal are in the intellectual top 2%-

and yet still they're as susceptible as anyone else.
betternewthings at 2005-03-11 04:46 (UTC) (Link)
I admit that I was ribbing that Junior University down in Palo Alto for a bit.

However, in all seriousness, I think a good chunk of this behavior comes from the fact that they are, well, Stanford students.

Think of the people that go to elite private colleges. Intelligence is far from the only factor - in many cases (perhaps most), they're the kind of kids who join activities they don't like to boost their resumes, do busywork and kiss ass to improve their grades, and in general are willing to jump through any hoop, check any box, kiss any ass, to get into college.

After all, college dropouts like you or I or a whole bunch of people we know like scosol or mrcrash (and more and more) are easily bright enough, pure IQ points wise, to get into any school we want (and in the case of mrcrash and I, did get in, and dropped out later)

The difference is that the Stanford students are likely to be far more willing to follow absurd and cruel orders and endure extravagant hardship if they have the blessing of authority, especially academic authority.

These people have been instututionalized as surely as Brooks in the Shawshank redemption.

Try the experiment again, on people just as bright, but make them lazy, perhaps pot-smoking, 30 or 40-something year old college dropouts who had equivalent childhood IQ, and while I think the results would still be scary, it wouldn't be nearly as scary as achievement-obsessed teenage Stanford students.

Milgram lucked out - he picked the one demographic segment that's least likely to say "fuck it, this is bullshit!"
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-12 00:43 (UTC) (Link)
well said.
invisible imaginaries
miss_geek at 2005-03-10 14:40 (UTC) (Link)
i loved that movie.
i've never been a lab rat though, sorry...
invisible imaginaries
miss_geek at 2005-03-10 14:42 (UTC) (Link)
oh i totally misread that... i thought you wanted people that had done little experiments like that to respond. i'm tired... don't listen to me.
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-10 22:44 (UTC) (Link)
haha- no worries :)

yeah, it was a great flick. it took me about half an hour to figure out that i'd seen 77 before, in run lola run.
invisible imaginaries
miss_geek at 2005-03-10 22:45 (UTC) (Link)
he was the reason i picked it up in the first place... he's great :)
The Absurd Hero and friends
jenlight at 2005-03-10 14:50 (UTC) (Link)
I saw the movie a while ago and just read the site.

I was talking about this yesterday, well not the Stanford thing, about prisons. About how they've gotten worse instead of better.

There's no education in prison. There used to be degree programs, college classes. But now you can get a GED and learn a trade. Politicians aren't interested in living in a better world. Like the site said, The worsening of conditions has been a result of the politicization of corrections, with politicians vying for who is toughest on crime

Have you ever read No More Prisons?

And I'm trying to remember the article I read on prison education. It was by a Black Panther (I think).
The Absurd Hero and friends
jenlight at 2005-03-10 14:53 (UTC) (Link)

and real quick

I want to point out that the person who shed light on the immorality of the experiment and was able to see through it was a woman. The men were busy trying to be the best or not give up or do their job.

I find it interesting.
Colonel Angus
scosol at 2005-03-11 00:08 (UTC) (Link)

Re: and real quick

that's why men get things done while women sit at home contemplating :P

Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-11 00:16 (UTC) (Link)

Re: and real quick

well i was going to avoid being the typical male apologist, but since my illustrious friend scott had to throw in his $.02-

i am jack's complete lack of surprise.

considering how i'd act in that situation while watching the movie, i wasn't sure if i'd be the power-drunk way-too-into-it guy, or the one guard with a conscience who ended up a prisoner.

but yeah. takes a lot to get "the horror, the horror" out of us...
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-10 22:52 (UTC) (Link)
And I'm trying to remember the article I read on prison education. It was by a Black Panther (I think).

i remember reading a similar article recently about "the one good prison" in upstate NY, and how it's the only one where you can still get higher education of some kind & everyone's very well-behaved because they don't want to get sent to attica or elsewhere & lose the opportunity. touched a lot on what you mention about higher-ups wanting to seem tougher on crime, but the end result is a revolving door. very sombering. but hell, maybe that's the idea for them- hard for them to look tough on crime if there aren't any more criminals...

Have you ever read No More Prisons?

no, but i will on your recommend.
Doc Strange in the Range
tysonian at 2005-03-10 18:15 (UTC) (Link)
heh, we studied that shiz in sociology. check out this one:
oh shit, I can't find it now. it's really famous, the one where the guy in Harvard (I think) supposed that Germans were more obedient than other people that's why the whole holocaust thing happened so he does that experiment where they create a fake lab and comment unsuspecting people to shock people in the other room ugring them to apply higher and higher levels of electricity. the guys name was stan or something...shit, it's a good one.
Got Habits
wetnun at 2005-03-10 19:52 (UTC) (Link)
I remember reading about that one. They were shocked because a majority of the people would take the voltage into fatal with minor pushing from the lab worker. They didn't think that a majority of people would be so easily swayed into killing or torturing other people.

Gotta love humanity. Sorta like that weird stain that always seems to form under refrigerators.
Doc Strange in the Range
tysonian at 2005-03-10 18:17 (UTC) (Link)
oh yeah, also in the same class we read "New Jack" which is a book written by a reporter who goes undercover as a CO for over a year and works in Sing Sing, you might want to check it out, it's a good read.
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-10 23:41 (UTC) (Link)
will do.
Got Habits
wetnun at 2005-03-10 20:21 (UTC) (Link)
Off hand I think this was a retarded experiment. Having some personal insight into this because my brother is in and has been for almost 6 years now in two different prisons if you don't count the initial processing at San Quentin. Which is amazingly over crowded now by the way. Every room there and even some hallways apparently has cots in it now. At least according to new inmates, fresh from processing.

My brother started on a Level 4 yard though. Which is all multi-life prisoners. Which was a mistake, they fucked with his points to get him sent there and hopefully axed since he used to be in the Coast Guard which is a branch of law enforcement. Which generally leads to very short life expectancy on higher yards. I won't bother to go into how the Santa Cruz "judicial" system fucked him so royally. But there is an Assistant District Attorney I'd still wouldn't mind running over.

For example, racism is used to pit Blacks, Chicanos, and Anglos against each other. In fact, in a real prison the greatest threat to any prisoner's life comes from fellow prisoners. By dividing and conquering in this way, guards promote aggression among inmates, thereby deflecting it from themselves.

That is totally true though. My brother doesn't associate with any formal groups for a reason. He doesn't want to be there when shit goes down or to have some other group try to extract revenge on him for the actions of any of his affiliations. There are a lot of people on the inside that are just there waiting to finish their time.

But people do get strange when you cage them up. And the guards often try to start more shit than the prisoners. They intentionally will release groups with known issues into the yards together once they are off lockdown to encourage a fight to break out. Which puts them right back on lockdown. That was a huge problem up in Susanville. But they do this more often not out of hatred for the prisoners but for greed. Prisons are funded based on how many prisoners they hold and of what levels. Guards are paid based on how many hours they work and they get hazard AND time and a half if the prisoners they are guarding are on lockdown.

While my brother was in Susanville he was off of lockdown for 4 weeks. He was there for 2 years. During lockdown you get very limited yard time, store access maybe once a week but normally people have to bring you stuff (to write and such), and you only leave your cell to eat. It was also common to see guards married to guards up there. So now you have too people with a base rate of pay at $25/hr that work 50+ hours a week with tons of bonuses in a town where a house costs $120K if that. So where is their incentive to not treat the prisoners as a way to buy a new car every year?

He's in Salinas right now and it's not as bad for us or him since it's a lower level yard and we can visit him even if he is on lockdown. But I talk to a variety of people while I'm there are a lot of them are just trying to survive and wait out their time.

That experiment looked like bunch of fucktards trying to be scientists. Standford's Pschology department has done some pretty wierd shit over the years. Of course Pschologists tend to be the most fucked up people I know. So go figure.
nobodylkl at 2005-03-10 21:24 (UTC) (Link)
Of course Pschologists tend to be the most fucked up people I know.

Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-11 00:32 (UTC) (Link)
Of course Pschologists tend to be the most fucked up people I know.

yeah, interesting, that- idunno, my personal hypothesis is that the interest just isn't there in people who aren't profoundly fuctup in the first place.
Got Habits
wetnun at 2005-03-11 07:09 (UTC) (Link)
Possibly. I was amused that they have to go through a certain amount of "sofa time" before they can be licensed. :)
(Deleted comment)
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-03-12 00:47 (UTC) (Link)
no worries. shouldn't have made that a blanket statement-

but of these groups:

there are those who are genuinely interested in how genetics, past experiences, environment, and culture affect how people behave and react to situations and there are those who are interested because they are profoundly fucked up themselves.

i've run across more of the latter. armchair psychologists, if you will. i think you get what i mean, even if i shouldn't have generalized.
hemophiliacmel at 2005-03-10 23:24 (UTC) (Link)
I'm familiar with the Stanford Prison Study and I've seen the movie.

Although the movie was entertaining, and Moritz Bleibtreu makes it even better, I thought the film could have been done a lot better.

First of all, it was a Stanford study, not a German study. Now, I'm not knocking the Germans, for I'm 100% German myself. But, I think if they had stayed to what actually went on in the study and delved into more of the psychological torture they did to the guys it would have been better. I realize they showed more violence because that's what sells movies... Anyway. the film was totally different than the study and that was ok. I just would have preferred a movie like when went on at Stanford.
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