University | 11:57 am | October 31, 2011 | By Sophia Roberts

Milgram experiment featured on Discovery

In the famous Milgram experiment, the experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T) to deliver electric shocks of increasing strength to the learner (L) when the learner answers questions incorrectly.
In the famous Milgram experiment, the experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T) to deliver electric shocks of increasing strength to the learner (L) when the learner answers questions incorrectly. Photo by Wikimedia Commons .

Why do good people do bad things?

In 1961, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram set out to answer this question, and found that the answer is essentially because they’re told to. Milgram demonstrated that while under the direction of a coercive authoritative figure, the vast majority of subjects were willing to put aside their own moral reservations and administer nearly lethal electrical shocks to another person.

Fifty years later, a recreation of Milgram’s famous experiment will be featured on tonight’s episode of the Discovery Channel’s Curiosity, and will be hosted by the director of Cabin Fever and Hostel, Eli Roth.

Roth, who is also known for his gruesome portrayal of “The Bear Jew” in Inglorious Basterds, administered the Milgram experiment himself, and in doing so indirectly addressed an age-old question. Who is more terrifying: A Yale professor, or any product of Quentin Tarantino’s chin and/or mind?

“What was most disturbing to find out was that it was exactly the same,” Roth told Fox News about his experiment. “Most people would still shock someone to death if an authoritative figure tells them to do so. The tension of sitting there watching people continually shock people at greater and greater voltages, hearing the other person scream and knowing they are in pain or have a heart condition, and watching them keep going, was one of the scariest things.”

Roth continued his exploration into evil by publicly genotyping himself for “ the evil gene.” No word yet as to whether Roth collected genetic samples using a cotton swab or baseball bat.

Curiosity airs Sundays on Discovery at 9 p.m.

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