[2022/09/01] intellectually stimulating day

There is no better word to describe today other than intellectually stimulating. Partly because I had 3 classes back-to-back after CTS and spent another 2 hours in Conn to do work before hitting the gym.

In my Peace & Justice (PJ) class, we talked about The Milgram Experiment. It is a famous psychological study exploring the willingness of individuals to follow the orders of authorities when those orders conflict with the individual’s own moral judgment. The object of the experiment was designated to be “the teacher” who shocked “the learner” with increasingly high voltage when they gave wrong repeats to the sequence. The learners’ screams and begs were all pre-recorded voices, but “the teacher” did not know that. By putting human cruelty on trail, Milgram aimd to examine whether the acts of genocide in WW II were justified when the defendants said “we were just following orders” in the Nuremberg Trials. He concluded that 65% would obey immoral commands from a person of higher authority. But what was more interesting, pointed out by my professor, is the whole series of experiments replicated in modern time, looking closer into that 65%. Turn out, it’s about the prods and the context. When the prods diverted from being encouraging and asking for a favor to challenge their freedom and choices, a lot more hell no-s happened. Also depending on the setup of the experiment, we saw different percentage of people obeying to unjust authority. I remember in the scenario of dissenting scientists, the percentage dropped all the way to 0% and a person in my class said that she was told to never argue with the other co-leader when presenting in a group because that undermine their power and legitimacy.

Then I turned to my history homework and read the true story behind Columbus’ discovery of America and the Taino. Really my first time ever reading his journal and I was disturbed by the way he described the Taino when they first met; even angrier to know Columbus and his people exploit, took advantage of the Taino, and led to a genocide that wiped out most of the population and their heritage. When I went into YellowDig, an academic Facebook site for our class, I saw people’s answers to professor’s question “Should Columbus be praised as a hero” and I didn’t agree with them. Yet I thought it was interesting that, though we might not share the same opinion, we were able to discuss it together in respectful manners and that is not easy to see in this world full of viewpoints and violence.

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