I heard about this on the radio today, a version of the Milgram experiment where the encouraging factors are a studio audience and a game show host.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8573755.stm

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Wow, thanks to both of you for the historical context! I did not know this.
Adriana: Milgram started his experiment shortly after the trial of Adolf Eichmann.

And in a sense, it was the experimental counterpart of Arendt's theory about the 'banality of evil'. I watched the whole show, and the ensuing (heated) debate. It seems quite a few TV personalities felt offended by Nick's reenactment of Milgram's experiment.
I wonder whether atheists would tend to be more inclined to go against the authority figure in these types of experiments. It seems that if you believe your morality is based on following your religion's rules, you might be more inclined to follow the instructions of an authority figure against your better judgment than if you understand your morality to be based on your inherent understanding of right and wrong. It may be wishful thinking, but my hypothesis would be that the percentage of atheists who refuse to deliver a lethal shock would be higher than the percentage of theists.

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