Re: [evol-psych] Chilly Research Climate
- What I've heard from ZImbardo is that in retrospect the young men in the Prison Experiment felt it was a positive experience, from which they learned a great deal, although at the time they participated, they were quite distressed. I've heard that those who participated in Milgram's original experiment remained very distressed about it.�I think that the results of both of these studies make people uncomfortable because they reveal disturbing behavioral tendencies that fly in in the face of Humanism and some other movements in psychology. I do not find much support for the notion of a stable human personality, but rather for a temperament and a number of behavior and thought patterns that vary by our rank and circumstance - what the�Prison Experiment shows us. As for the application and truth of Milgram, just number the genocides of the past 200 years or so- aboriginal Americans, Armenia, Eastern Europe, East Timor, Cambodia,�Guatamala, Rwanda - these are not even all of them. These things would not happen if people did not "obey orders" because they are "right."�Nancy MelucciLong Beach City CollegeLong Beach CA
- You ask interesting questions. One of the problems is that as we have moved
the ethics model from medicine, where the relevent ethical issues concern
medical risk and injury vs. physical benefit, the debates have become
watered down so that often what we are dealing with are choices between
inflicting momentary discomfort and/or chancing quite hypothetical and
(often) far-fetched possibilities of harm vs. the benefit of increasing
knowledge, often quite abstract. In such a contest avoiding the former will
There is talk about having some sort of training required for those who
serve on ethics committees, and at most research universities in the US there
are offices concerned with the ethical aspects of research, often largely
staffed by lawyers . There is something oxy-moronic in the the idea of
bureaucratically employed and trained ethicists. Diogenes would weep.
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> On Sat, 30 Aug 2003 02:31 am, Paul Okami wrote:
> > Irwin "doubt's" whether Milgram and Zimbardo's experiments would pass
> > IRB today. This is surely an understatement. Milgram is one of the
> > reasons IRBs exist today. Neither of these experiments would ever be
> > approved by any IRB today, full stop. And yet we have learned a
> > great deal from them, and they have stimulated much theoretical work
> > in human psychology.
> I have a horrible feeling that the answer will be "No of course not, it
> would be unethical", but has anyone asked the subjects of Milgram and
> Zimbardo's experiments what they felt about taking part? Were they
> harmed in any way? Permanent or temporary harm? After the event, did
> they learn anything about themselves that was more valuable than what
> they lost?
> Or in other words, do they regret that they took place in the
> I must admit, there is very little guaranteed to make my blood boil as
> fast as hearing self-proclaimed ethical guardians pontificate -- their
> ethics are almost never in line with mine, usually ultra-conservative,
> timid, short-sighted and paternalistic. (I should stress I am not
> talking about ethics committees as such, as I am not a practicing
> scientist, but about those expert Nay-sayers so often interviewed in
> the popular press.)
> Steven D'Aprano
> "I think not," said Descartes, and promptly disappeared.
- On Sun, 31 Aug 2003, Fredric Weizmann wrote:
> There is something oxy-moronic in the the idea of bureaucraticallyI have met just two formally trained, MA level bio-ethicists. One
> employed and trained ethicists. Diogenes would weep.
was doing PR for a major drug co. and the other, as far as I could
ascertain, was running borderline legal, bio-tech market scams.
I am sure these people must do other things, but I am curious as
- On Sun, 31 Aug 2003, Paul Okami wrote:
> The follow up paper on Milgram reported that 84 percent of theparticipants were glad to have participated, 15 percent were neutral,
> and 1.3 percent expressed negative feelings. 80% believed that thistype of research should be carried out, and 74% said they had learned
> something of personal importance from their participation.Don't recall this paper, Paul. From what I recall of Baumrind's,
however, it was quite negative about self-reports of effects
> What I've heard from ZImbardo is that in retrospect the young men in theOne thing that this discussion seem to ignore is that most people tend
> Prison Experiment felt it was a positive experience, from which they learned a
> great deal, although at the time they participated, they were quite distressed.
> I've heard that those who participated in Milgram's original experiment
> remained very distressed about it.
to avoid admitting that they have done something that they shouldn't,
in any sense. Thus most people will tend to avoid admitting distress
from something that they did willfully. If the distress is mild, I
would guess that there will be random relation between those that
report distress and those that actually experience. Other wuestions,
like framimng the question, the weather etc will have larger effect on
- On Sunday 31 August 2003 18:01, Paul Okami wrote:
> What is important is not how many peopleAre you sure about that? I think this opinion puts you on a slippery
> were "distressed" by having participated in Milgram's experiments,
> but whether their number, and the magnitude of their distress,
> outweighs the benefits of the research.
slope. How much suffering of a few are you willing to trade for the
benefit of the many? I, for one, don't want others to decide how much
distress I ought to endure for some greater good.
- All research includes risk/benefit analysis. There would be no research of
any kind without it. IRB forms include detailed description of possible
risks, as well as purpose of the research and potential benefits. This
information also appears on informed consent forms.
However, this has degenerated into a simple risk evaluation, and potential
benefits are not taken seriously.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Schuerig" <michael@...>
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 2:32 AM
Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Chilly Research Climate
> On Sunday 31 August 2003 18:01, Paul Okami wrote:
> > What is important is not how many people
> > were "distressed" by having participated in Milgram's experiments,
> > but whether their number, and the magnitude of their distress,
> > outweighs the benefits of the research.
> Are you sure about that? I think this opinion puts you on a slippery
> slope. How much suffering of a few are you willing to trade for the
> benefit of the many? I, for one, don't want others to decide how much
> distress I ought to endure for some greater good.
> Michael Schuerig
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Paul Okami" <
> All research includes risk/benefit analysis. There would be no research ofI probably got the links below from this list so I apologise if this is
> any kind without it. IRB forms include detailed description of possible
> risks, as well as purpose of the research and potential benefits. This
> information also appears on informed consent forms.
> However, this has degenerated into a simple risk evaluation, and potential
> benefits are not taken seriously.
repitition but the articles are certainly apposite to this discussion,
taking the principles involved to a broader scale. They relate to a
conference in London arranged by spiked, an internet magazine, which
took place at the Royal Institution (spiked seemed keen to mention
that). There are more articles in the relevant section, all listed at -
- SCIENCE, RISK AND THE PRICE OF PRECAUTION
by Sandy Starr
The scientific community imagines what society would have lost, had the
'precautionary principle' governed science in the past.
- CHALLENGING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE
by Helene Guldberg
How has society come to be governed by the maxim 'better safe than
- WHO WANTS TO LIVE UNDER A SYSTEM OF ORGANISED PARANOIA?
by Mick Hume
The principle of safety first has become the major barrier to social
If you are looking for some new ways of thinking about psychological science, I encourage you to check out my article on the theoretical unification of psychology. (If you are interested and� can't obtain a copy, let me know and I will send you one).
The Tree of Knowledge System and the Theoretical Unification of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania
An outline for the theoretical unification of psychology is offered. A new epistemological system is used to provide a unique vantage point to examine how psychological science exists in relationship to the other sciences. This new view suggests that psychology can be thought of as existing between the central insights of B. F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud. Specifically, Skinner's fundamental insight is merged with cognitive neuroscience to understand how mind emerges out of life. This conception is then joined with Freud's fundamental insight to understand the evolutionary changes in mind that gave rise to human culture. By linking life to mind from the bottom and mind to culture from the top, psychology is effectively boxed in between biology and the social sciences.
Review of General Psychology, 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, 150–182, ©2003 American Psychological Association