The Museum of Hoaxes
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Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Female thieves hide money in their bras, 1950
The Lovely Feejee Mermaid, 1842
BMW's April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
The worms inside your face
Van Gogh's ear exhibited, 1935
Dead Body of Loch Ness Monster Found, 1972
Stotham, Massachusetts: the town that didn't exist, 1920
The most sacred relic: the Holy Foreskin, circa 800 AD
Questions about the Milgram experiment
Gina Perry has authored a new book about Stanley Milgram's famous obedience experiment (Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments) in which she argues that Milgram fudged his data and conclusions. Boing Boing reviews it.


Perry suggests the fudging happened in several ways:
  • First, although Milgram claimed his experiment always followed a set script, Perry reviewed the original audio tapes and found this wasn't the case. Instead, Milgram's experimenter "wheedled and nagged the subjects into turning up the shock dial."
  • Second, she argues that a substantial portion of the experimental subjects saw through Milgram's ruse and realized that they weren't actually shocking someone.
I'll have to read Perry's book to get her full argument, but it was my impression that her allegations aren't exactly new. Milgram's experiment met with a lot of skepticism from other researchers. But other researchers have conducted versions of his experiment and, for the most part, gotten similar results.

For instance, in Elephants on Acid I write about how many people suspected that Milgram's subjects saw through his ruse. Therefore, two researchers conducted a version of the experiment in which subjects were asked to shock a victim (a puppy) — and the puppy actually got shocked! ("Obedience to authority with an authentic victim" - PDF). In other words, they eliminated the ruse. And their results were similar to Milgram's. The majority of their subjects obeyed the command to shock the puppy.

I'm sure Perry must address this, but I don't know how. Looks like another book to add to the pile.
Categories: Psychology, Science
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 12, 2013
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