Family Court and Stanley Milgram

Anyone who has read this or similar blogs would be very justified in asking, “If family court has such bad consequences for both individuals and society, why do so many highly educated people work in the system and support its decisions?

In reply, let me give a personal perspective. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in the 1970’s, considered the top public university in the world during that era. I majored in psychology and had many excellent professors (most notably Dr. Stephan Chorover, a visiting M.I.T. prof in physiological psychology, who recently passed away). In all my psychology classes, however, the name Stanley Milgram was never mentioned. Although Milgram’s experiments began in 1961, he was considered controversial until well into the 1970’s.
Milgram was Jewish and his 1961 experiment came on the heels of the trial of Adolph Eichman, the soon to be convicted Nazi war criminal. Much of the world became obsessed with the question, “How could the most advanced and educated nation (Germany in the 1930’s) produce people who would willingly go along with such horror?”
I have included a link to Wikipedia’s excellent summary of his experiments and various replications around the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

What Milgram and his successors found was that the vast majority of subjects, generally 60-70%, would administer what they believed to be lethal levels of electric shocks to people merely for giving wrong answers.
The first experiments were done at Yale University, which presumably had more highly-educated and conscientious subjects than the population at large.
I’ll let you draw your own parallels to family court by citing Milgram’s own 1974 conclusions on his various experiments:

“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs and without any hostility on their part, can become agents in a terribly destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources to resist authority.”

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