Bizarre Experiments: The Milgram Experiment

When it comes to horrifying, strange or surprising experiments, medical ones usually take the cake. World War II itself is enough evidence of that. However, psychology has its fair share of surprising experiments with questionable ethics. One of these is Stanley Milgram's experiments regarding authority, which he conducted at Yale in 1961. While not as frightening as the Stanford Prison Experiment on the surface, I think you will find that it only takes a little thought to see how the results of the research was equally appalling.

The experiment began with Milgram seeking out 500 men between the ages of 20 and 50 in the New Haven, Connecticut area. When the subjects arrived for their sessions, they would see one other "subject" that was actually what we would call a confederate. This means there really was only one subject per session. The other participant was working with Milgram, who was also present as the authority figure in these experiments.

The subject was given the role of "teacher" and led to believe this was an arbitrary assignment, but really all subjects were teachers and all confederates played the role of "student." The student was kept in a room separate from the teacher, who could hear the student, but not see him. The teacher was told that the student was attached to a device that would zap him when the teacher told it to. Milgram even demonstrated this with a small electric shock to the subject. However, there really was no current going to the student during the session.

The entire experiment took the guise of a test. The teacher would ask the student a question. If the student got it wrong, the teacher would zap him. The kicker is that he would also have to turn up the machine every time, so every subsequent wrong answer was more painful, or so he thought. As the test progressed, the student would begin to complain saying things like, "I don't want to do this anymore." and expressing pain. What is interesting is that 65% of the subjects continued the experiment until the machine was at maximum power with just a little gentle coaxing from Milgram. In other words, their hands did not need to be forced. Milgram merely had to state that it was part of the experiment and to continue and the majority of the subjects did as they were told.

Milgram's experiment is easily duplicated and has been a number of times. Different variables have been thrown in to see just how pervasive this behavior is. Apparently, certain things, such as conducting the experiment outside of the school, showing another subject dissenting and being able to see the student, made the subjects less likely to follow through. The moral of the story, kids, is that saying no to an authority figure that wants you to do something immoral is not only okay, but it will also make it more likely for others to dissent. Furthermore, just because you cannot see a person does not mean you are not hurting him. Imagine what the world would be like if more of us learned this lesson, as the subjects of Milgram's experiment did.

The Most Brutal Female Pirate in History: Jeanne de Clisson

Jeanne de Clisson was a French pirate whose career spent pillaging the English Channel was largely an act of revenge. Turning against her own country, she sought French ships for the pleasure of killing the men on board. While this was helpful for the British, that was not her goal. She was just bent on making the king and his aristocrats pay.

Jeanne de Clisson was born sometime around 1300 and married just 12 years later to a man 7 years her senior. The marriage lasted more than a decade and produced two children, but her husband died when she was in her twenties. A few years later, she married Olivier II de Clisson, which was the first step to her infamy. The two appear to have been in love and had five children together. They lived a comfortable life, thanks to de Clisson's wealth, until the man was tried for treason, found guilty and hanged.

After her husband was beheaded, Jeanne de Clisson went what we might call a little bit crazy. She sold her husband's land and even prostituted herself to wealthy men, allegedly. When she had enough money, she bought three ships, which were painted black and outfitted with red sails. She was a truly frightening figure in her rage.

Jeanne, also known as the "Lioness of Brittany," sought only French ships, killing all but a few on board, so they could tell her tale in France. When she captured the ship of an aristocrat, she beheaded the man with an ax and tossed the body overboard. Then, in 1356, she was done with her revenge. She moved to England, married Sir Walter Bentley and then died three years later.