The disturbing implications of the Milligram experiment.

How the influence of authority can hack your brain.

Niall Leah
7 min readDec 1, 2022


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The man tied to a chair is screaming.

He’s screaming because of the powerful electric shocks intermittently passing through his body. Watching him convulse and shake, you feel your heart pounding in your chest.

Although free from electric shocks yourself, the color has drained from your face, and you feel like you’re going the throw up. You’re digging your nails so deeply into your hand as you clench your fist that a steady stream of blood is dripping onto the ground.

Through the fog and shock overtaking your mind, you laugh nervously, remembering that the man told you just an hour ago. Didn’t he say he had a weak heart?

Why won’t somebody stop this?

As the man’s eyes implore you for aid, you silently pray that it will all be over soon. He should be fine so long as nobody presses the electric shock button again. The problem is… the person who keeps pushing the button is you.

You glance nervously at the third man in the room. He is wearing a crisp white lab coat and spectacles. He looks at you emotionless and then nods. Your heart sinks: It’s time to deliver another shock. Your finger drifts hesitantly toward the shock button.

Will you press it?

The outcome of a controversial experiment suggests that despite being a perfectly rational, ethical, and good human being…You probably would.

The Milligram experiment:

This experiment searched for an answer to an important question with far-reaching implications for mankind.

The Nuremberg trials had been in full swing just a few decades earlier. Countless unspeakable atrocities had been committed. WWII had seen terrible systematic violence and murder inflicted upon millions of innocent victims. It pushed the human imagination for calculated cruelty.

Those facing the gallows for enacting the vile wishes of the Nazi regime hid behind one defense over any other. It’s a cliché justification you have heard before.



Niall Leah

An ex-pat from the UK living in Chengdu, China. I satisfy my endless curiosity about the incredible journey of humanity by reading, traveling, and writing.