Saturday, October 22, 2005

It was only a test

Okcupid's Nazi test (see previous posts) was only a fun test, and obviously cannot conclude with certainty whether or not you would have become a Nazi. It does evaluate some of your attitudes, particularly ones that are believed to have facilitated Nazi rule in Germany. It also leaves out certain aspects that would be influential in your personal choice, but I think it is important to realize that it wasn't a yes/no answer for many of the people involved either. No one went door to door asking who would be willing to support an empire that would later be regarded as one of the most evil manifestations of power in the history of the world. The process was gradual, and many of the people that either supported it or got sucked into it held specific political views. Another interesting series of experiments inspired by the second world war were Stanley Miligram's obedience experiments. He wanted to see if Americans were as easily influenced by authority as Germans. They were. In his experiments the subject would be asked or told to give increasingly high voltage electrical shocks to an actor in another room. The subject was lead to believe that the actor was actually receiving shocks and in pain. Miligram described the results as such, "Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not."

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