Thursday, March 12, 2009

"The Man Who Shocked the World" Review

Thomas Blass's book The Man Who Shocked the World, was a thorough biographical view of Stanley Milgram through his years both academic and personal, including world events that shaped him. Blass gave detailed information not only of the famous experiments like the Obidence Experiment during his years at Yale but also the "Six Degrees" of separation, "lost letter" experiments, and even one on subway riders and social interactions there.

The Obedience Experiment, Milgram's most noted and most detested, was one that bordered very much on that of staged theatrics to deliver the unbiased results of such an experiement requires. The subject was teamed with an actor playing the "learner" who was being "shocked." Well, with the firmness of the experimenter's voice, Milgram went on to show how much the human will can be bent if prodded enough. In the dangerous possiblities, it showed essentially how the Germany could be so complicit during World War II, but also how much our society could as well. Some of the study seemed contrived. Namely, how the subjects were rebuffed by the experimenters. In a way, Milgram did not fulfill his ethical requirements to be true to the outlined rules and rights of the experiment. However, when the subjects did remember this, they did become more rebellious.

In all, the book was an excellent view into the man of Stanley Milgram—not only his eccentricies but also his brillance to see something extraordinary in the little things of human action. The book also was a great purview into academic life, and just how difficult academic research can be. He truly did "shock the world" with the stretches that we humans can end up going if probed enough.

I commented on Lei Gu's, Tyler Henning's, George Lucchese's and blogs.

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