CommunityMy FDL

Monday Watercooler


Cat in a Bow Tie

“Chemtrails? Building 7?! But my food dish is empty!”

Tonight’s music video is “Fuck Alex Jones” from Sole and DJ Pain1 on the new album Warfare. Sole comments:

I know it seems like an absurd waste of time to make a diss song/battle rap about Alex Jones, and it kind of is. Unfortunately the creep of his influence seems to be almost everywhere I look. Whether I’m at an organizing meeting, a party or a show there is always some well meaning, but misguided soul who wants to tell me ‘the truth’ about how everyone needs to ‘wake up’ about non-issues like Chemtrails & Flouride. Infowars is spoon-feeding uninformed people to believe that climate change doesn’t exist, that we need to dismantle social services, that we should dismiss the liberation movements of women & queer folk and so many other bullshit conspiracies seem to only serve the interests of the religious far right.

Remember the infamous Milgram Experiment, which seems to prove that people will viciously torture others on command? On Social Science Space, researchers Nick Haslam and Gina Perry summarize a paper recently published in PLOS ONE where they attempted to compare Milgram’s many experiments, conducted under diverse conditions, to see what human patterns actually emerge:

Milgram conducted 23 different kinds of experiments, each with a different scenario, script and actors. This patchwork of experimental conditions, each conducted with a sample of only 20 or 40 participants, yielded rates of obedience that varied from 0 percent to 92.5 percent, with an average of 43 percent. Contrary to received opinion, a majority of Milgram’s participants disobeyed.


Making systematic sense of those variations did not interest Milgram himself, but we have published a first attempt today in the journal PLOS ONE. Using his original data and backed up by research at Yale University’s archives, we synthesizsed data from 21 of his experimental conditions, involving 740 participants in all.


According to our analysis, the most powerful factor was whether or not the experimenter directed the teacher to administer the constantly rising shock levels. In conditions where the teacher was free to choose the shock levels, very few proceeded to the maximum voltage.

Obedience levels were significantly lower when there was dissent between the experimenters, when there was support for disobedience among the teachers and when the experimenter was absent from the room. Interestingly, it was no higher when the experimenter was a more legitimate authority figure, or when the experiment was conducted in a more prestigious institutional setting.

By implication, obedience is strongest when authority figures give concrete directives, present a united front and maintain close contact their subordinates. It is also strongest when subordinates lack collective support for resistance.

Thanks to Firedoglake’s DSWright for this link!

Housekeeping notes:

  • Please review our About Us page if you need a refresher on site rules, and
  • We encourage you to use our flag system — if you see an abusive comment, user or post, please flag it rather than replying. We review every flag and take the best action available to us.
  • If you have questions or concerns about Firedoglake-specific issues, please limit their discussion to Watercooler posts rather than starting new posts or making off-topic comments in others. But remember,
  • Firedoglake editors and staff are not allowed to comment on any moderation decisions.

What’s on your mind tonight? Got Firedoglake questions? The watercooler is an open conversation.

Photo by Rob Boudon released under a Creative Commons license.

Previous post

Late Night: What's the Impact of Today's Pulitzers on Whistleblowers?

Next post

Late, Late Night FDL: The Laws Must Change

Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and