Volunteers are invited to a scientific laboratory under the pretence of participating in a study about the effects of punishment on learning. They are instructed by an experimenter to administer an electric shock of increasing intensity to a 'learner' every time he makes a mistake. How many, if any, would go right up the scale to 450 Volts?
The implications of Stanley Milgram's extraordinary findings are devastating. From the Holocaust to Vietnam's My Lai massacre, from Bosnia to Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, Obedience to Authority goes some way towards explaining how ordinary people can commit the most horrific of crimes if placed under the influence of a malevolent authority.