Regarding the My Lai Massacre and Obedience Study

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Kimberley Brassfield Engl. 1213 10 February 2015 The Monster Inside Perhaps, the monster that lives under the bed is in fact, living inside each of us. Do we have more in common with history’s monsters than we would like to admit? Stanley Milgram’s obedience study suggests that we do. Stanley Milgram designed an experiment that would test the effect that obedience has on an individuals, when they are confronted with a moral dilemma. Three people were part of the experiment. The experimenter represents an authority figure, the learner an individual taking part in a memory experiment, and the true subject of the experiment is called the teacher. The teacher is required to read word groups to the learner. If the learner is unable to repeat the word groups back to the teacher correctly the teacher is required to shock the learner. The shocks that the teacher administers vary in range from 15 volts to 450 volts. The experimenter will inform the teacher that they need to continue the experiment, if the teacher balks at shocking the learner. The experiment ends when the teacher either quits the experiment or the learner is shocked with 450 volts three times. Surprisingly, the results of Milgram’s experiment proved that when individuals are in a position of following an authority figure’s directive, or their own moral conscience, people will overwhelmingly choose to obey. Milgram’s study could be viewed as a blueprint to explain why a rather ordinary person, can become a world renowned war criminal, during war time. General Douglas MacArthur said, “The soldier, be he friend or foe, is charged with the protection of the weak and the unarmed” (qtd. in Carter 20). On the morning of March 16, 1968, three American military companies entered two Vietnamese villages My Lai and My Khe (Cookman 156). The Vietnamese were not concerned about the arrival of so many soldiers.

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