Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pearl's Parallels to the Milgram Study

Barring some other major news event that bumps the story, Michael Pearl is slated to appear on NBC's Today Show sometime between 8 and 11 AM tomorrow, December 7th, to discuss the controversial child abuse deaths linked to his book, To Train Up a Child.

What does the Milgram Experiment have to do with Michael Pearl?

A comment I posted at AndersonCooper.com

Stanley Milgram did a study in the sixties of how far people would go if an authority told them to do certain things, prompted by his questions about how the Nazis facilitated a whole nation to willingly go along with the Holocaust. He wanted to study the problem of evil. “How many people would electrocute someone if Hitler told them to do it?”

He had subjects (teachers) deliver a series of shocks to another test subject behind a partition (learners) to test the effect of punishment on learning. The “teachers” could hear the “learners” and their responses but could not see them. The shocks ranged from minimal voltage to “triple X” deadly (range of 15-450 volts), set out incrementally through a series of switches that the teachers operated.

Prior to the study, researchers thought that most people would stop delivering shocks when the learner expressed great pain and frustration. Guess how many randomized people from all walks of life followed through do deliver the maximum shock at the urging of the authority figure, dressed in a lab coat, telling them that the study and researchers would be morally culpable and responsible for their participation? 65% of people finished the full course of shocks, even after the “learners” feined that they were unconscious and likely dead. Only 10% of people followed their conscience against the urging and manipulation of the authority figure (the subjects were told that were not responsible for their actions, they had a duty to finish the study based on their commitment contract to participate, and the study was for the greater good to help people learn better ways to learn).

Pearl's Real-Life Milgram Experiment
In this system that Pearl has created, Pearl is the authority figure, telling people that not only will they be rewarded for following the system, they have a moral duty to do it and must do it to avoid hellfire for their children and themselves. People displace their own sense of moral responsibility and judgment and trust Pearl who repeats and repeats that parents cannot vary in how they carry out his plan as laid out in the book. You must discipline until the child breaks, and I don't think that fellowship and loving trust works to “break the 'diabolical' will” of a tyrant.

Pearl has recreated a real life repeat of the Milgram study, and families like the Williams and Schatz families were part of the 65% of people who will max out the system.

Read more about the Milgram Study:

Click here to read the entire series on the archive.