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Behind the Shock Machine

The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments by Gina Perry

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10:51am, September 6, 2013

In 1963, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram reported an appalling discovery: 65 percent of volunteers would deliver electrical shocks to another person at levels they believed were lethal if an experimenter asked them to. Ordinary people, it seemed, could easily be convinced to do monstrous things by authority figures.

The famous obedience experiment resonated in postwar America, where the trials of Nazi officers were fresh in the public mind. Milgram’s work lent scientific credibility to fears about the human capacity for cruelty, says science writer Perry.

But in the 50 years since, much of Milgram’s science has been lost in the sensationalism. Perry examines notes and archived audio tapes to piece together an accurate account of the experimenter’s methodology. Milgram selected his data carefully and downplayed inconsistencies in his

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