I comme Icare on TV this evening. I like a scene in particular, so much so I made a paper for a class I attended about 10 years ago. The scene was about a scientific experiment in which the ‘game’ consisted in proving that a student learns better if punishments are inflicted. People were recruited via an ad: earn 6$ and take part in a scientific experiment. 2 persons for the experiment: one teacher, one learner. A series of combinations to remember: blue… sky, violent… wind, yello… lemon, etc. The teacher would speak out each combination then proceed.Every time the learner would make a mistake the teacher had the obligation to inflict an electrical shock: 15V, then 30, 45 and so on.
– main character: Do you really believe this can ‘help’ to learn?
– Professor (head of research unit and director of this particular program): the memory of the learner is really not what we’re studying here.
Learner makes a few mistakes so voltage keeps increasing to a point where the learner starts to scream. The teacher is in sweat and starts questionning the doctor next to him; is it worth continuing? he’s in really bad shape…, to which the other one invariably replies you must proceed the experiment, I fully take responsibility for everything that might happen here.
– main character: Why does he go on if he knows it does arm to the other one?
– Professor: this is precisely what we’re here to study: The exact moment at which the ‘teacher’ will refuse to go on.
135, 150,… here and there you see the ‘teacher’ faith in the experiment declining. At one moment he even tries to mime and help the other candidate.
– Professor: Look! he’s trying to evacuate the guilt by helping the other one.
165,… 180. Scream !!
– Main character, standing up: YOU CAN NOT GO ON LIKE THAT. EVEN IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE!
– Professor: Care to follow me in my office please? – later – There is no electrical connection between the teacher’s panel and the ‘learner’. Which is the reason why the real subject of our experiment HAS to be the teacher. The learner is one of ours. We must admit, he’s a very good actor.
– main character: But why does the teacher does what he does?
– Professor: This university, the scene, the scientific approach, us with our lab coats, everything tells him he’s right to do the job. By continuing in inflicting increasing voltage he justifies everything he’s done before. What about you? Why did you stop at 180?…
– main character: smile, pitiless experiment… How many did inflict the maximum (450V)?
– Professor: 63%…
Great movie. Good picture of how fragile our democracies are.