by Conor Friedersdorf
A reader writes:
Milgram's Obedience to Authority is the most important book I've ever read. It made me understand just how deeply irrational we humans are. Reading that book was like seeing the human spirit carefully dissected on a table with all the bits labeled.We like to think that we act mostly in ways that we choose, for reasons that we understand and could explain. Milgram proves, conclusively, that we mostly don't. We've got easy-to-reach controls, and in a straightforward and relentless series of experiments he demonstrates their operation. After reading that book, a lot of apparently crazy things start making a terrible, tragic sort of sense.