Mindless Humans Essay, Research Paper
Humans have been socially networked with each other since the time they have been created. Civilization was fashioned by humans interacting with one another. With this interaction with others and communal peers, ?social man is a somnambulist? (Asch 61). In other terms, when humans become social, they are really ?sleep walking?, or following the crowd, even though belief in the western world has it that people are ?free? to choose for themselves. This sleepwalking factor then turns individuals into mindless ants. It only occurs because a human is a social animal and with that comes, social pressures and authoritative figures.
Stanley Milgram studied at Harvard University and tested how social humans would react in a certain situation. Milgram tested how certain individuals would respond to inflicting harm onto another person because another figure told them to. He was interested in why regular day people would actually do such horrific things to the victim. In the experiment there was no physical consequence for the individual pushing the button if they said no. People in this situation believed in that the scientist knew what he/she was doing so they assumed that what they were doing was acceptable even though in actuality they believed it was not right. Subjects gave up their free will to choose because a higher authority told them to do so. This is similar to ants in that the majority of ants are worker ants; they obey the authority of the queen and will act out every wish she wants. Even though the ants can think for themselves, they follow the authority.
Originally the theory was that many would stop the experiment being aware that the person that they were shocking is indeed being harmed, but that was proven wrong (Milgram 41). A different scientist who redid this experiment found that 85 percent of his subjects were obedient (Milgram 42). As a result it was evident that individuals will succumb to authoritative figures. Strudler and Warren explain that the subjects acted the way they did because of authority heuristics, which is the reliance on an authority figure (57). In Milgram?s experiment, the scientist was the authority figure in the experiment and the subject trusted his/her judgment because they believed that the scientist knows what he/she is doing. Even though the subject believed they have ?free? will in their choices, the pressures of the authority figure ?forced? the individual into believing that they had no other choice but to continue, or they just trusted the decision of the scientist. Those individuals did believe that they had their own choice to leave when they can but they stilled stay and performed the shock even if they were reluctant. Milgram explains his results: ?for many, obedience is a deeply ingrained behavior tendency, indeed a potent impulse overriding training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct? (39).
Since we were children, we have been trained to be obedient by a reward-punishment type of method. If we were obedient and good then we were rewarded but if we were disobedient then we were punished. This same philosophy is used through all of our lives, such as the case why society has certain laws and when someone breaks them there are punishments for them. Regulations such as this are used to help those who follow those rules and to deter others to be obedient. The key thing about this experiment is that these people are just ordinary regular people but they are ?harming? someone else because some told then to do so. This complex in the human mind about obedience can be so strong that people will kill because their orders were to do it and that is how a soldier is born. The mentality of a soldier or any other worker is to do his/her job as best as they can. If we do our job good and be obedient, then we will be rewarded. As worker ants, humans will follow orders and instructions because we are told so. Nissani believes that ?people cannot be counted on to realize that a seemingly benevolent authority is in fact malevolent ? (53). People will follow instructions even if they are not to our liking. Humans will still do so because we were taught to be obedient.
Solomon Asch attempted to do another experiment on social influences but this time the experiment would be on another type of social pressure. Asch research was to test how a person would react to group pressure upon the minds of the individuals. Subjects were put into a room with six to eight of their peers. After several tests, the subject would then say the wrong answer and agree with the group. In ordinary circumstances, people would normally only make a mistake less than 1 percent of the time but during these experiments the individual would make mistakes about 36.8 percent of the time (Asch 64). There were extremes of course but that meant that on average people would fall into group pressure even though the group might be obviously wrong. The subjects are letting the group decide for them and they are not deciding for themselves. Conformity and unconformity is based on this same principle. Conformists are defined as those who will give up there own free will to follow others and unconformists is defined as those who do not follow others. Both groups are conformist in sense; the unconformists are conformist but just to the type of society that is different than that of the conformist. If the unconformists group together they are in sense conforming. As humans, we live our lives in groups. Not many individuals are happy by themselves for a long time (Lessing 37). Groups are everywhere our lives and we just need to find ways to deal with it but still being able to decide with our own mind. Society must learn that there exist situations where disobedience is tolerable. Fromm suggests, ?if a man can only obey and not disobey, he is a slave? (68). Worker ants are but slaves to the queen. They will gather food, nourish her, and cleanse her because they are nothing but mere slaves. When man always obeys, he has no will of his own and will become only a mechanical creature doing deeds that others order. Disobedience is healthy because when an individual disobeys, they had a thought that what the authority is doing is wrong and I do not want to do it. By doing so, the subject then contemplating their own thoughts instead of just following the authorities thoughts.
There still needs to exist obedience in society though. Without obedience, no one will listen to each other and everyone will act according to their own will. There will be chaos in the world and order would not exist to have a society to exist. If each ant had to fend for them self, then they would not be in any kind of community and their chances for survival will be low compared to if they did exist together.
In the western world, we believe that we are ?free? in the sense that we think for ourselves, we do what we want when we want, and that no one can tell us what to do. In reality though, people do not always make our decisions but other factors contribute to it. Each person has his/her own prejudices, bias, and emotions related to certain decisions that society has placed there. Some individuals will do things that they do not want to because an authority figure tells them to do so, others will agree with something that is wrong because everyone else agrees. In a society that tells everyone has the freedom to choose, people should not then give up this freedom and become mindless ants. Individuals are afraid to think for themselves and the thing that falls asleep in them is their trust of their own judgments. Lessing suggests, ?you must learn to contemplate these rules calmly, dispassionately, disinterestedly, without emotions? (38). To do so would allow us to think for ourselves and not be swayed in any other direction by any other factors. As humans we are naturally social creatures. That is how civilization began, by humans interacting with each other. We need to be able to understand ourselves and trust ourselves so that we can make the decisions for ourselves and not me mindless ants just following the crowd. In the end the main person that is affected by decisions is the one who is making the decision.
Works CitedLessing, Doris. ?Group Minds.? Writing Two Reader. Grafikarts: Santa Barbara. 37-38. 2000
Milgram, Stanley. ?The Perils of Obedience.? Writing Two Reader. Grafikarts: Santa Barbara. 39-50. 2000
Nssani, Moti. ?Review on Stabley Milgram?s Experiments on Obedience.? Writing Two Reader. Grafikarts: Santa Barbara. 51-54. 2000
Strudler, Alan. ?Authority and Excuses.? Writing Two Reader. Grafikarts: Santa Barbara. 55-60. 2000
Asch, Solomon. ?Opinions and Social Pressure.? Writing Two Reader. Grafikarts: Santa Barbara. 61-66. 2000
Fromm, Erich. ?Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem.? Writing Two Reader. Grafikarts: Santa Barbara. 67-71. 2000