No, it’s not a wrestling move. I’m wondering if anyone else has noticed that the collaboration of a portion of the psychology profession with state-sponsored torture during the Bush Jr. years is like the famous Stanley Milgram experiments, except that the psychologists are the ones turning the dials.
It’s an interesting question I suppose, if you put aside the fact that this torture, unlike Milgram’s, was real, whether the guys in the white coats are as susceptible to violating fundamental human rights if those in authority tell them to. And the results of this experiment confirm and extend Milgram’s original findings.
Professional psychologists were brought in to assist the Bush administration’s torture program, and there was apparently no shortage of willing participants. But the American Psychological Association has a code of ethics that would seem to make torture a form of professional misconduct. To address this problem, the APA amended its code in 2002 to say that whenever ethics come into conflict with legally issued instructions, psychologists could just follow orders. The sorry tale is summarized in this important article in the New York Times by James Risen, who has played a large role in uncovering the dark side of the “war on terror”.
A modern Milgram experiment would never pass an institutional review board, but we can now have this natural quasi-experiment with real subjects and real torture.