Excerpt from the Foreword to Genesis and Genes

Genesis and Genes (Feldheim, 2013) is now available in selected bookstores in Israel. A shipment is making its way to the USA, and then to South Africa and elsewhere. In the meantime, I intend to post a number of sample passages. Here is the first. 

From the Foreword by Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb: 

In the early 1960s Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, conducted one of the most famous series of experiments in the history of psychology. Students were paid a small sum to participate in what they understood would be “a study of memory and learning”. A white-coated experimenter assigned to pairs of volunteers the role of teacher and learner. The learner was told he had to memorise lists of word pairs; if he could not recall them, the teacher was asked to give the learner, who was strapped into a chair, a small electric shock. With each incorrect answer, the voltage rose, and the teacher was forced to watch as the learner progressed from small grunts of discomfort to screams of agony. 

What the teacher did not know was that there was actually no current running between his control box and the learner‘s chair, and that the learner was in fact an actor who was only pretending to get painful shocks. The real focus of the experiment was not the victim, but the teacher turning the dial. How would he cope with administering pain to a defenceless human being? Despite their reservations, most of the subjects continued to follow the orders of the experimenter and inflict progressively greater shocks on the learner. Indeed, as Milgram noted, “… a substantial proportion continue to the last shock on the generator.” This happened even when they could hear the cries of the learner, and even when that person pleaded to be released. Over the years, the Milgram experiment has been replicated around the world with similar outcomes. [1] 

References: 

[1] See http://knol.google.com/k/obedience-to-authority#. Retrieved 23rd July 2011. Milgram reported his results in his 1974 book Obedience to Authority.

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