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Overcoming Blind Obedience: Stanley Milgram Experiment

"Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals." - Charles Duhigg

Blind obedience to authority can manifest in many ways, from blindly following the instructions of a supervisor at work to accepting the status quo without question. This type of obedience can lead to dangerous and destructive actions, as seen in the Milgram experiment. It is crucial that we develop the will and courage to admit when we are wrong and to question the instructions and beliefs that we are given. Another essential part is to realize that many of us have had very little education on the inner workings of our own psychology and how uniformed minds can easily be led into group think and narratives that are based in the shadows of the psyche.

Stanley Milgram

In 1961, Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments that aimed to study the obedience of individuals to authority figures. The results were shocking: participants were willing to administer electric shocks to a "learner" (who was actually an actor) simply because they were told to do so by an authority figure.

The Milgram experiment is a powerful reminder of the dangers of blindly following authority and the importance of critical thinking and self-awareness. By understanding our own psychological biases and tendencies, we can better resist the urge to obey without question and make more informed decisions.


Waking Up

One way to increase self-awareness and develop critical thinking skills is through education. By studying psychology and the social sciences, we can learn about the ways in which our thoughts and actions are influenced by the people and institutions around us. Additionally, learning about history and different cultures can help us to understand the varied ways in which authority is exercised and resisted throughout the world.

Another way to foster self-awareness is through personal development. This can include practices such as meditation and mindfulness, journaling, and therapy. These activities can help us to better understand our own emotions and motivations, and to develop the ability to question and reflect on our own actions and beliefs.

Lastly and maybe most crucially is to develop the ability to admit when we are wrong which requires us to face our "protective" ego. Our ego can lead us to believe that we are always right and to resist admitting when we have made a mistake. However, by recognizing our ego and its influence on our thoughts and actions, we can begin to challenge our own assumptions and beliefs.

Facing our protective ego

Here are some ways in which we can face our ego and admit when we are wrong:

  • Practice humility: Recognize that you are not infallible and that others may have valuable perspectives and insights.

  • Seek out diverse perspectives: Listen to and learn from people who have different experiences and backgrounds than you.

  • Reflect on your own biases: Be aware of the ways in which your own experiences and beliefs may influence your thinking.

  • Be open to feedback: Listen to constructive criticism and take it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

  • Learn from failure: Instead of viewing failure as a negative experience, see it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King Jr.

In conclusion, the ability to admit when we are wrong is crucial for personal growth and development. It is important that we face our ego and to be open to diverse perspectives, feedback, and learning from failure. Self-awareness and critical thinking skills are also essential tools to help us recognize when we are wrong and to make more informed decisions. By developing the will and courage to admit when we are wrong, we can become more self-aware, more resilient and more open to growth and change.

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes." - William James

Here are some resources for learning more about Milgram's experiment, self-awareness, and critical thinking:

  • "Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View" by Stanley Milgram

  • "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman

  • "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg

  • "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl

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