Formula for Torture
The Stanford Prison Experiment
+ The Milgram Experiment
= Abu Ghraib etc.
The Stanford Prison Experiment: a landmark 1971 psychological study of the human response to captivity, in particular, to the real world circumstances of prison life, conducted by a team of researchers led by Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University. Volunteers played the roles of guard and prisoner, and lived in a mock prison. However, the experiment quickly got out of hand, and was ended after only 6 days.
The Milgram Experiment: a famous scientific experiment of social psychology, conducted circa 1963 by Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, to measure the willingness of a participant to obey an authority who instructs the participant to do something that may conflict with the participant's personal conscience. 65% of participants demonstrated sadistic behaviour, a percentage that remains remarkably constant when the experiment has been replicated by other researchers.
[Herr van der Rohe was correct that God is in the details. If you are not familiar with the studies, I encourage you to follow the links to learn more.]
I originally posted this article under the title Conspicous Omissions at BOP News almost 2 years ago, on October 26, 2004.
My question then was, "Why isn't everyone talking about both of these studies, everywhere, all the time, in reference to Abu Ghraib?"
Since then, references to the Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments have popped up more frequently...but the MEANING still hasn't got through. And the "official" public discourse is as absurd and morally repugnant as a dyspeptic nightmare stewed up by George Orwell collaborating with Sinclair Lewis and Philip K. Dyck.
If you aren't familiar with the studies, please click through to read up on them: so you understand how torture happens, what inflicting torture does to "our troops," and what torture is doing to America.