I always enjoy doing this right after I've checked my emails.

Like most people, every now and then my mind is shattered by something or other. The film I've posted at the bottom of this entry is the most recent example of a mind bomb that has recently knocked me for six. It may not have quite the same impact on you given that I've been searching for that particular story for quite some time now. It's a documentary about the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment carried out in the 60's by the US millitary. Condemned as unethical and largely discredited by the mainstream as a useless exercise the whole story is, to me, fascinating and tells us a lot about human nature.

The premise is simple; the participants were told they'd be taking part in an experiemnt to better determine how human beings reacted to imprisonment. Some of them would be guards and the others prisoners. Their roles would be determined by the flip of a coin.

They were not allowed to use physical force but anything else they did was fair game and considered to be part of the experiment.

The whole thing was to be filmed on cameras put inside the makeshift prison.

6 days in and the whole thing had to be stopped.

This film tells you why.

I'm still absorbing what I see as the implications of the experiment. It was a seminal event in Western history and has even been suggested as an early pre-cursor to the Big Brother TV programme.

To me it shows how people adopt a role in life which suggested to us by others. However I'm trying not to react to it too much here because I've not really totally digested it yet. It's powerful. There's no doubt about that. Don't watch it at work.

I was yabbering away to my mate James Piekos about it today as we confirmed his intention to turn up and witness my forthcoming stand-up comedy attempts this Monday. As I spoke to him on my hands free kit I nipped into my flat, got a yoghurt and then popped back to my car which I'd parked in someone else's parking space for a second as there was another car blocking mine off. I found the following note stuck under my windscreen wiper:

Oh dear! I clearly annoyed #69 there. I wanted to put a reply on their car saying "sorry" but unfortunately have no idea which one it is. I like the little exclamation mark they've added though. It offsets the "Please" with which the note starts. Start off polite, end it firm. Actually the bad punctuation of this note could leave you to think it was one which was being addressed to the people at number 69. It should read; "Please do not park in our parking space! No 69". That said they didn't have long to write it. I can only have been 4 minutes or so. I'd have loved to have heard the conversation which accompanied it. Perhaps people park in their space all the time and they'd already got the pen and paper ready just in case.

I can't prove it but I do suspect that in their territorially inspired rage they were also the people who knocked my wing mirror a bit. Serves me right for my cheek.


The Stanford Prison Experiment:

Direct link.


Neil Porter said…
Good job they weren't allowed to physically hurt each other or I'm guessing they'd have stopped it day 2 or so... crazy. This reminds me of the Milgram experiment.

Anyway, great find.

Also thanks for the tip on 90s comedian. Bought it and watched it last night. Good stuff. Also liked the included interview. I didn't realise there was so much fuss over The Jerry Springer thing he did. I guess that's because I'm out of the loop living in France now.

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