Source: Jason Cooper
Are human beings able to defy an authority’s orders? What if those orders are evil? What if those orders run counter to everything we believe?
We feel that in our heart of hearts, we would resist. We would stop. We would turn on that authority and refuse to continue. But is that true? Maybe we humans are more like sheep than we care to think. What does it take for abusive authority to turn us into evil and abusive sheep?
Stanley Milgram was a scientist at Yale who asked this question. It was 1961, one year after the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. He wondered if there was something unusually sheepish about the Germans of the late ’30s who followed Eichmann’s orders. Would Americans be more defiant? Or could we be easily made to follow an evil order if given by the right authority?
Milgram put an advertisement in a local paper looking for participants to take part in a study at Yale University.
When volunteers arrived, each was paired with another person (actually a confederate in on the experiment). They were told they would be the “teacher” and the other person would be the “learner.”
The volunteer “teacher” was led into a room containing an electric shock generator with rows of switches delivering volts from 15 volts to 450 volts (marked as extreme danger). In another room, the confederate “learner” could be seen strapped into what appeared to be a chair with electrodes placed on him.
A researcher who wore the double authority of a white lab coat and a position at Yale University ordered the volunteer to ask the “learner” questions and to administer shock when he got the answers wrong. The shock was not real, but the confederate “learner” acted as though it were.
The Yale researcher in the white coat ordered the volunteer to administer increasingly high volts with each wrong answer. If the volunteer “teacher” protested, the researcher ordered him firmly but calmly to continue. Shockingly 65% (two thirds) of volunteers (i.e., teachers) continued to what they believed was a potentially lethal dose of 450 volts. All the participants continued to 300 extremely painful volts.
Are we so different today? Are we too “woke” to be such evil and abusive sheep? Could we really be convinced by people in white coats to administer a lethal dose of electric shock or its equivalent? If you think you would stand up to authority in such a situation, then ask yourself this: where have I been these past six months? As people in white coats have demanded cruelty from us in the response to COVID, what have we done?
A story in the Washington Post headlined “Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar” provides a stark and disturbing example. The story tells the tale of those suffering from irrecoverable dementia. Since the pandemic broke, over 130,000 of these victims have died of their dementia. They have died all alone. They have essentially been put in glass-windowed cages where their relatives can view them, like some wild beast. But to enter the room and hug them or kiss them or even to just touch them is forbidden. A wife may not kiss her husband. A son or daughter may not hug his mother. Its forbidden. By whom? Why? Are we that worried a patient suffering severe and fatal dementia might catch COVID? Touch is the one language still understood by someone with dementia on that scale.
Such pure cruelty. Are we so worried about COVID that we deny this most basic human kindness? Men and women in white coats from prestigious institutions give these cruel and inhumane orders. But we are the ones who follow them.
One man interviewed in the Post story explained that he could tell that the isolation was killing his wife, but all he could do was stand there and watch.
“It’s like we as a country just don’t care anymore about older people,” the man said, as he drove to his wife’s nursing home in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. “We’ve written them off.”
How did we get here? Men and women in white coats started it. The mainstream media amplified it. They vilified anyone who disagreed. They harped endlessly on the need to follow these cruel dictates. They chided anyone who disagreed as anti-science. Science says be cruel. So we must. On this site, the brilliant William Sullivan has written many of the best articles on the subject of COVID only to run afoul of the censors on the major social media platforms.
Telling the sickest members of our society to die in isolation is perhaps the cruelest of the electric shocks we have administered to ourselves under orders, but it is far from the only one. Businesses have been told to close. People put their lives in those businesses. But don’t go in there or get shamed. Let the owner’s livelihood and life’s work starve and shrivel. No guests at weddings. No guests at funerals. Let your friends and loved ones die alone and in isolation. Watch it on Zoom. Don’t visit your family. Don’t visit your parents. Don’t hug. Don’t let any human being within six feet of yourself. Make sure your face is masked.
Who ordered this? And who is following it?
We are all subjects in a Milgram experiment now. The evil sheep are among us. But it is never too late. We can still wake up from our “woke” state. The power is ours — each person standing up on his own and refusing to further take part.
Stand your ground, friends. Be kind. Don’t let the white coats stop you!