Fundamentals #3 – Obedience

Airplane mode, no texts,no calls
Create all week no stress at all
Senior year at college catch me making beats in class
Almost flunked straight out of English, I was late to the exam
I just need that air that’s freshest, homie, I don’t give a damn

It’s the final installment of the tri-trilogy. Thrillogy. It’s thrilling.


“Nazi officers were just following orders.”

A.K.A. – How can we make sure that something as awful as WW2 and the Holocaust never happens again?

I believe Social Psychology, over time and with enough published research, can help humans make a more equitable civilization.

The reasearch on obedience and hierarchy shows that humans have a very hard time resisting authority, especially right in front of us. (The “authority” in front of us can simply be suggested through conditioning where we believe that they have authority”)

As a teacher, I had actually NO CONTROL over the students, in the literal sense. I stood at my door for the start of class. I hoped that students show up. I hoped that they sit down and start trying to work.

If they don’t attend class then it’s marked in the records and maybe there’s repurcussions down the road (delinquency, suspend driver’s license, demand a $$ fine from their parents).

Teachers are not allowed to touch students at all, even by force. Fights on campus are always a grey area. But if there’s a disobedient student, I tell them to go to the principal’s office, I write a referral, and hope they actually do down there.

Public school is based completely on obedience, because it’s based on “soft power”, not “hard power”.

We don’t force students to study with a big stick, and hit them on the knuckles if they don’t work hard.

Elephants are conditioned with a small stick by the trainer as a baby, that they don’t realize how easily they could topple over the feeble human.



In the case of Stanley Milgram’s experiment of 1961, all it took for authority to flex its hierarchy over the unsuspecting human was a white Lab coat, a fancy looking machine that apparently delivered electric shocks to the next room, and a reluctant disposition by the Experimenter when the Subject asks “Shouldn’t we do something about the … ?”

(^ that third point is the Bystander Effect, which is probably my Fundamental #4 of social psychology)

“The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of people would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly.”

People follow orders because it takes extra mental/emotional energy to calculate a situation. “Is this right? Should I say something about it? But they’re a researcher wearing a lab coat and I’m scared to speak up.”

cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance


noun: cognitive dissonance
  1. the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change

“I’m in this research laboratory, a guy in a lab coat is telling me to shock a patient in the next room. I think that’s illegal but I’m afraid to say something about it.”

That internal strife is a form of cognitive dissonance. Telling a researcher that what they’re doing is immoral and illegal is a huge burden that few random strangers would be willing to resist.

So what’s the result? Obedience. You just keep shocking the patient in the other room, because that’s what you’re told to do.

Stanley Milgram, as himself

Social Psychology is grateful for its very raw and piercing research published in the ’60s, before the national board prevented such distressing research to be done on random participants.

This research on obedience is one reason why I’m stubborn. Just because someone has a position of authority doesn’t mean I should trust them. Exactly like just because someone has a lot of money, that they should have more power to make decisions.


It’s not your fault, reader. It’s just the social pressures of obedience that beat you down.



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