Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The DNA made me do it!

Well again I'm following the herd LOL and now I can officially blame it ALL on my DNA.

Thanks to JY Biscuit I have once again caved and involved myself in yet another personality test which you can view here. The results don't surprise me one bit. Every time I take one of these tests, the results are always the same.

On the flip side of things, I am extremely tired. I finally finished reading the section of my text titled "Obedience to Authority" which discussed among other things, the Milgram Experiment which was basically an experiment of social psychology. The experiment measured the willingness of participants to obey instructions requiring them to do something that would conflict with their conscience, in this case, inflicting harm in the form of volts of electricity on another person who did not answer questions truthfully or in a timely manner. The study involved actors portraying the "learners" (aka victims) who were not actually being shocked or tortured, and their "teachers" (aka the individuals inflicting the pain), who had absolutely no knowledge that the learners weren't being harmed. These "teachers" were your average, law abiding people. They had to be this way in order for the experiment to play out. It had to be proven that average, law abiding people could in fact go against their conscience and perform heinous acts in the quest to obey authority.

The trial of Adolph Eichmann was a year prior to the experiments and Milgram's conclusions led to his theory that perhaps those involved in torture and murder in the Holocaust weren't evil at all but just following orders. As you can guess, many folks just didn't like that. And of course his theories were countered by others in the field. There was in fact a big difference in the two situations which led to the idea that perhaps maybe it's not what kind of person one is that is causing them to inflict the pain, but the situation that surrounds them.

I mean we all know people who are otherwise relatively normal and easygoing who have engaged in pathetic and abnormal behavior and we tell ourselves how unusual it was for them to act in such a manner considering it's just not like them. In fact, I myself did just that very thing. When I was part of a small group of friends, or people I thought were my friends, I did in fact, go with the group and was mean to some other folks. It was against my conscience and my personality but I did it anyway, because belonging to the group made me feel secure and like I belonged. We were like a mob sometimes, getting out of control. Was it obedience to authority? Nobody told me to act that way. Or was it the need to be a part of a group, the need to conform? Once I realized my behavior was not at all like the "real me", I stopped it, distanced myself permanently from the so-called friends (they couldn't have been friends if they thought that behavior was acceptable in the first place) and since that time I have been my old self.

It is a bit frightening that decent, good people could possibly go against their conscience to do anything that would harm others.

Anyway, I had to read the text and then consider some discussion questions. I wrote the questions down and it took me an hour to ponder the answers.

And now I'm beginning to panic because I have the topic of my research but I can't narrow down my thesis. I need to write about an ethical issue in my career or major. Well my major is History and there are so many topics out there I could touch on. I particularly like the subject is rewriting of American history for the sake of political correctness, and I hope that this one will outshine the rather awesome paper I wrote two semesters ago on "Eminent Domain" . Now I am not sure if I want to do a general overview and cite some examples or pick a specific situation and focus on that. I

Some of my thesis possibilities include:

Movies: Oliver Stone's JFK: Most folks who saw this movie came away with a new sense of urgency in finding out what really happened behind the assassination. I know that it fascinated me to the point where I read volumes and have much information stored at my house in regards to the event. The problem is that careful scrutinization of the movie shows that Stone took a lot of liberties in distorting the truth for the sake of making a movie which entertained, which was in fact his priority.

Holiday PC: Washington and Lincoln's birthdays lumped into one because they were white, Columbus Day protests, and the forcing of states to adopt MLK birthday as a national holiday. For the sake of PC, the contributions by men of certain races cannot be officially recognized.

Public school textbooks: rewriting the texts to downplay American contributions to history and focusing more on the tolerance of things like say---Islam.

The Eradication of Civil War History in the South: we all know that in the south, monuments to Civil War heroes are being torn down, schools and municipal buildings are being renamed, and the confederate flag is being banned in all forms.

and finally while it's not "American History" which is what I want to focus on, a law professor acquaintance of mine brought this up this morning and I find it fascinating...the whole PC issue regarding the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the flap last year with the Smithsonian, I have to check into that more, but our discussion of it had me very interested.

There are so many things that could be covered. I want to narrow it down to just one. So if like one of these or you have any suggestions now is the time. This damn thing is due end of April. This happens every time I write a research paper, I have so many thoughts and ideas, I can't narrow down my focus.

As my mother would say.... OY VEY!!!


  1. I remember studying that experiment in college (I minored in psych). I thought it was fascinating and really showed what people will do when they follow blindly. As a Marine Officer, we always have to be on the lookout for this because we have such delineated levels of authority and those above us are normally of the very strong-personality type. And we often respect their accomplishments and positions.

    So we always have to evaluate if what we do, even if ordered, is the right thing and balance that with obeying orders. We have to have the backbone to question orders if they aren't right despite the source.

    I also remember a great experiemnt where a school teacher made half the kids wear a blue big and the others red. Then she built up one group and tore down another. Then she switched it.

    Years later she redid the experiment but with adults.

    I just rememebr she was such a hardcore bitch when she turned in on. She should/could/might have been a former Drill Instructor.

  2. My goodness I was thinking about these same things the other day.

    Do you know that my 2nd grader didnt study ONE thing about the presidents last week in school?
    But due tomorrow is a re-creation of an invention by a black inventor.

    There is something wrong here.

    Some may say that for so many years we have been taught WHITE american history that we dont need to focus on it but there are kids entering school every year as blank slates!
    Why can't it be a balance?

    And the confederate thing?
    They want to take down a statue of a confederate soldier in Greenville NC.
    Why is this statue offensive?
    Most confederate soldiers were not slave owners!
    Hell, they were one step above being slaves themselves. They were poor dirt farmers mainly.
    So why should we not honor our ancestors?
    I wouldnt object to a statue of a slave to honor the contribution slaves made to the South.

    The saddest part is that most young African Americans couldnt care less.
    They are so far gone into the world of 50 cent and all that....

  3. I think the textbook thing bugs me the most. Especially being the mother of a child who is very naive and believes everything he hears or reads, and is very concrete. How can Mom disagree with a textbook? It's in print for gosh sakes, it must be true!

    Thesis talk makes me sweat, LOL! I was lucky enough to have my Master's thesis topic handed to me by a professor, or I would have been just like you.