We watched a movie entitled “The Experimenter”, based on a true story of social behavioral experiments conducted in 1961, by psychiatrist Dr. Stanley Milgram. The movie was OK, if you are interested in mind games or psychology, but I found an aspect in the background that was startling. Dr. Milgram devised a test to see how far people would go when given instructions by an authority figure. It involved one person, the teacher, giving negative feedback to another, the student, via electric shocks for each wrong answer. There weren’t any real shocks, but the teachers were led to believe they were and the voltage increased with each successive wrong answer until the student requested that they wanted to quit and eventually fell silent from the pain. The result was that almost every Teacher kept giving the shocks, even when the student begged with screams of pain for them to stop. Each teacher became uncomfortable and concerned, but they were reassured by the observing test official that no permanent damage would result, he accepted the responsibility, the teacher had agreed to follow through and must complete the test. After it was over each participant was shown that no shocks were actually given and it had only been a test of whether they would comply with authority or follow their own sense of right and responsibility.
The results were compiled in a book and it illustrated a serious flaw in humanity – susceptibility of being deceived into harming others. The year 1961 was just a few years after the holocaust, and the same time the Nazi general Eichmann was captured and tried in Israel for war crimes. This experiment validated how so many ordinary Germans were led by Hitler’s Third Reich to kill millions of innocent people. Dr. Milgram taught and conducted his experiments at Harvard University. When his report was published the Harvard hierarchy objected to his methods, tests, and results. They attempted to discredit his findings and refused to grant him tenure, so he left. His work was eventually acknowledged as ground breaking and became a topic in every beginning psychology class.
What startled me was Harvard’s response. They represent the epitome of higher education, the school of the ruling class, and the cathedral of humanistic liberalism. They could not abide a study that proved an inherent flaw of evil in mankind. Moreover, they sought with great fervor to cause Dr. Milgram to withdraw his findings. Rather than accept the very carefully controlled scientific approach and unbiased result, Harvard followed its liberal bias.
The experiment revealed a human weakness, that we will cause great harm to others if we relinquish our responsibility to another who accepts authority. Of course, that is never an excuse or justification for our actions. The actions of Harvard revealed that humanistic liberalism will reject proven scientific fact in favor of its bias and political agenda. To the extent humans are found to be flawed, humanistic faith is equally flawed. Moreover, the teaching of the Bible is shown true and the need of a Savior/Redeemer/Sovereign God is essential.