Forty years ago, a supposedly routine experiment had gone awry over the course of the study. Are we still ignoring the lessons learned from the Stanford Prison Experiment?
By: Ringo Bones
In August 2011, the notorious Stanford Prison Experiment "silently" celebrated its 40th Anniversary. And yet it seems that the lessons supposedly learned fro the experiment seems to be ignored these days, not just by the scientific community, but also by the society-at-large as well. The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal is a case-in-point.
Back around August 1971, the seemingly routine academic study to explore human behavior in a "penal setting" slowly started to go awry as the experiment went on. The subjects playing the role of the prisoners eventually adopted a submissive stance while the subjects playing the role of the prison guards eventually became more authoritarian and tyrannical. Shades of the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal that eventually got the media's attention back in April 2004?
Even though 40 years had passed, the Stanford Prison Experiment had been oft cited as a prime example of "bad science" and has since established legal precedents on the controls when conducting such experiments in behavioral psychology. In this day and age, the Stanford Prison Experiment style study will never be allowed without the since established controls. And yet the Bush Administration seemingly has done something similar in prosecuting their "War on Terror" in the form of Extraordinary Renditions and Enhanced Interrogation.