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EP PODCASTSXML

October 5, 2007

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Milgram World

Milgram experiment set-upIn the 18th century elites predominated among the politically active. So it was natural for the founding fathers to worry mainly about faction while blissfully overlooking fanaticism or the problems of followership. Given the 20th century experience with authoritarian rule one wonders, however, whether contemporary government structures or ideas about democracy suffice. Clearly, for exactly the wrong reasons, the Cheney-Bush administration thinks not. We really must get into the details of who's doing what to us (and why) if we wish to avoid terminal difficulties. For that I turn to a pioneer in the study of authoritarianism, Dr. Bob Altemeyer, who frames the problem in an accessible way — please see his recent e-book (PDF) — yet communicates a most vexing, profound message: a small, energetic, organized minority that's impervious to reason will always do harm to everybody else. Given the influence to match their ambition they will wreck the planet. It's a critically important insight. The question (for which I don't have an answer) should be what to do about them. Total runtime here of an hour and forty two minutes. Please think carefully about this one and redistribute widely.

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Comments


A pertinent example:

http://abcnews.go.com/Video/player?id=3686127

(Click the link at bottom of page to "Shocking Fast Food Surveillance Video")

Co-incidentally posted on the same day

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3035

...well, I see a connection.


Paul Krugman: Laughing at the poor

Movement conservatives don't care about the less fortunate

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07279/823245-35.stm

...also fits right in


Oh wow! Just when I though that I would have to be thinking up solutions to prise people away from the consumer culture from scratch, along comes Bob with some perfect material to help me.

I'm writing a book about our environmental future (www.amatterofscale.com) which will have plenty of solutions and food for thought to help people make solutions for themselves. Bob, your book has been a great help.

Keith


What I found very interesting was Bob explaining the influence of exposure to many different ideas, cultures, and mores has on right-wing authoritarianism — it definitely fits in with the conservative/evangelical Christian movement's strict control of their children — you go to this school, you can't go see that movie, we don't associate with those kinds of people. At the sub-conscious level it perpetuates the breed. The stories that are told are that Our Culture Is Under Attack, Our Values Are Being Trampled, etc. It all fits into the Strict Father model of politics, as well.

Kurt


I scored 146 on the authoritarian scale and I highly recommend reading Bob's book.

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