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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010 45 In 1961, fOllOwing the tRiAl of nazi war criminal Adolf eichmann in Jerusalem, Yale social psychologist Stanley milgram conducted a study to find out how much pain test subjects would be willing to inflict on other people at the behest of an authority figure. he was trying to ascertain whether peo- ple could perform acts that went against their conscience merely as a result of “tak- ing orders.” when the results were published in 1963, the milgram experiments became instantly famous and controversial. Advertised to would-be participants as a study of memory ability, the experiment asked them to act as “teachers” who would test the memory ability of a “learner.” when the learner offered a wrong answer, the teacher was to administer electric shocks of increasing severity, up to four hundred and fifty volts. these produced screams from the learner, whom the teacher could hear but not see. if the teacher resisted applying more shocks, the experimenter verbally prodded him to do so, issuing increasingly stern commands. in reality, there were no shocks, the cries of the learner (an actor) were taped, and the commands came from a script. The Science of Love Are there provable methods we can use to become more altruistic and compassionate? Can Buddhist compassion practices be adapted for a secular society? Barry Boyce reports on the growing number of scientists and researchers who are studying how to bring out the best in human nature. Left: The Venice Night, by Jim Dine