Monday, June 18, 2018

Good news: Stanford Prison Experiment was a lie.

This one is long overdue. The Stanford Prison Experiment so beloved by Ivory Tower Psychologists since it was done in 1971, was a lie. It was bullshit.

But it is no longer just a question of Zimbardo's word against theirs. This past April, a French academic and filmmaker named Thibault Le Texier published Histoire d'un Mensonge [History of a Lie], plumbing newly-released documents from Zimbardo's archives at Stanford University to tell a dramatically different story of the experiment.

The essential thrust of the experiment was to show that anyone made a prison guard would spontaneously begin abusing the prisoners and treating them with increasing cruelty. Particularly if you coached the guards that they should be dickheads.
Once the simulation got underway, Jaffe explicitly corrected guards who weren't acting tough enough, fostering exactly the pathological behavior that Zimbardo would later claim had arisen organically.
"The guards have to know that every guard is going to be what we call a tough guard," Jaffe told one such guard [skip to 8:35]. "[H]opefully what will come out of this study is some very serious recommendations for reform… so that we can get on the media and into the press with it, and say 'Now look at what this is really about.' … [T]ry and react as you picture the pigs reacting."

There's a lot more in that vein, but just that one piece of coaching takes the thing out of the realm of "experiment" and into "performance art."

So no, if you put a normal human being in a position of power over a prisoner, they do not automagically become literally Hitler. The guy just plain lied. And yes, psychology is packed full of appalling horseshit like the Stanford Prison Experiment. Whammin's Studies etc. is of course much worse. SJWs really are cwazy cwackers.

The Phantom

Update: Welcome Instapunditeers!


Alyric said...

Thanks for the link - that's a study that gets cited a lot, and I haven't heard a peep about this anywhere else.

It's big news, so of course - to paraphrase Iowahawk - they're covering it with a pillow, until it stops moving.

It doesn't surprise me at all that it was a bullshit scam to try to 'force prison reforms'.

Mike Anderson said...

Great "rest of the story" follow-up on that odious Experiment. In my statistical methods course I use the SPE as an example of how modern researchers abuse the requirement for informed consent. The follow-up just hammers the point home. Well spotted!

Bill Peschel said...

Reminds me of the Kitty Genovese killing, which the New York Times promoted as an example of uncaring humanity. The reality was very different.

It's as if they deliberately lied to promote their horrible vision of humanity.