Eli Roth, one of the newest of the famous horror movie directors (Cabin Fever, Hostel) has been enlisted by the Discovery Channel to recreate Stanley Milligram's famous experiment to see if people would shock other people just because a scientist told them to.
Hint: the did. And the upped the power consistently too just because of the authority figure. Creepy!
This sparked (pun intended) a fascination with Eli, and he explains:
“I’ve always been fascinated by what people do. It comes from my Jewish upbringing and so much Holocaust education. My dad’s books were like “The Nazi Doctors” and at dinner, my dad would be like, ‘The Nazis did this and that,’ and you think, ‘How did this happen? How can people do this?' I remember seeing footage from the Milligram experiment where people were shocking each other because a scientist told them to, it just showed what people will do when there is an authority figure telling them to do something horrible.”
Not only did Eli test a bunch of different kinds of people, but he also tested himself — to extensive brain testing, scans, and full genetic sequencing on his DNA — to see if he has what's called the "evil gene."
“I don’t think there is an actual thing that is ‘evil,’ and I do not believe ‘evil’ exists and it’s completely your point of view. To one group, a suicide bomber is the anti-Christ and to another group, they’re a hero and a saint. There are certainly acts that are unquestionably evil acts, but the reasons most people do them is that they truly believe that they are right, and it is for some kind of greater good, or they feel totally justified doing it. What was most disturbing to find out was that it was exactly the same, most people would still shock someone to death if an authoritative figure tells them to do so. The tension of sitting there watching people continually shock people at greater and greater voltages, hearing the other person scream and knowing they are in pain or have a heart condition, and watching them keep going, was one of the scariest things. But at the same time, as humans I understand we need authority in our society. We need to see the policeman on the corner, or to know if there is a fire, there’s a fire truck. We listen to our teachers and we have to have authoritative figures for society to work and function, but it does come to a point where it is more of a parlor trick than a scientific experiment.”
So bizarrely interesting what people will do under authority. It might have the same exact results as Milligram's tests, but Eli is a charming dude to listen to and it'd be kinda engrossing to see it all play out — so if you want to, catch it on the Discovery Channel this Sunday!
[Image via WENN.]