RE: The Experiment

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Fri May 24 2002 - 15:15:51 BST

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    Subject: RE: The Experiment
    Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 15:15:51 +0100
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            <Hi Vincent,

    > The non- compliance bit is not the one that worried me. The bit that the
    > guards had from the beginning no control over the situation did.
    > The experiment was set up to see how people would react in a guard-
    > inmate situation, but from day one the guards never took up the respon-
    > sibility just to do that !
    > I agree a non- violence aspect was attached to it, but when the two man
    > broke out, there was no intention whatsoever from the guards to rein-
    > force the intented goal.
    > ( This was shown also by the behavior of the man in the other cells, there
    > was no interest. The lack of real force/ power left them non- interested
    > for the goal of the experiment)
    > But, although everything what happened, if we transpose this to the real
    > world, the conclusion was/ is significant. I don 't like hierachies
    > either,
    > not even be overpowered by any system, but you have to take on res-
    > ponsibility whatever you are supposed to do !
    > The power vacuum is something that exists in the real world, and yes
    > indeed, like they said in the program ( and what in a sense can be seen
    > in Holland with Fortuyn ) if you can 't fill it up, tirrany will emerge.
    > The guards, IMO were to blame not the system. The system was set
    > up to work properly if everybody did what they have to do, but they
    > didn 't and the system crumbled_ even everybody knew it was a test !>
            The lack of physical/verbal force governing both sets of people
    really undermined the guards I think. They knew that their possible
    sanctions weren't punishments really, although they didn't even try these
    most of the time. I think the final programme's conclusions about the
    emergence of tyranny in a vacuum of power weren't right. They should have
    let that guy try his coup. Maybe one (or more) of them would have tried
    non-compliance (without the threat of force even a coward like me might have
    tried this), to reinforce the view that leadership and power is understood
    by many people today to rest on consent, and those who govern by force can't
    handle peaceful non-compliance. But the experiment's leaders weren't
    prepared to let that opportunity arise. Still, it was a fascinating piece
    of TV, and I only hope that the trouble-maker who leads a church youth group
    in real life doesn't lose his job as a result (although maybe the kids will
    recognise the value in challenging the arbitrary authority of the church the
    way he challenged the arbitrary authority of the guards, and the kids will
    be free of the thrall of religion).

            Maybe they should repeat the experiment with women.


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