Could you kill a fish for science?

Opinion of David Bertrand, Professor of Psychology at Vinci High School (1)

About sixty years ago, psychology professor Stanley Milgram developed an experiment that has become a classic. At Yale University in the United States, he asked participants to send electrical shocks to a test subject who had to perform a memory test. The intensity of these beats increased as the student made mistakes. In fact, the participants did not know that it was a performance in which the student did not experience shock. The now famous Milgram experiment, reproduced and confirmed dozens of times, made it possible to demonstrate that under conditions where, on the one hand, the subject does not see the pupil, but can hear his (simulated) complaints, and on the other hand, receives, on the order of the experimenter in the room, about two out of three people will send a terminal shock, potentially lethal, namely 450 volts. Milgram concludes that if two-thirds of people are able to submit to authority and make the other person suffer, it is because they are immersed in a so-called “agent” state, which eliminates the sense of responsibility. This explains why ordinary people, under certain circumstances, can turn into executioners, as they did in Nazi Germany.

Our relationship to science

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