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20 JUNE 2013

The Stanford Prison Experiment

"Welcome to the Stanford Prison Experiment web site, which features an extensive slide show and information about this classic psychology experiment, including parallels with the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University.

How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two–week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please join me on a slide tour describing this experiment and uncovering what it tells us about the nature of human nature."

(Philip G. Zimbardo)

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TAGS

1971Abu Ghraib Prisonauthoritybrutalitycommand responsibility • Cool Hand Luke (1967) • dehumanisationdeindividuationdignitydisciplineethics • guard • guilthuman experimentationhuman naturehuman subjectshuman willhumiliationimprisonmentmoral dignitymoral dilemmamoralitynature of morality • Philip Zimbardo • powerpower corruptsprisonprisonerpsychology • research experiment • research study • self-controlsimulation studysocial experimentssocial responsibility • Stanford Prison Experiment • suffering injustice

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 FEBRUARY 2009

The Significance of the Frontier in American History

"American social development has been continually beginning over again on the frontier. This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character. The true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic Coast, it is the Great West. Even the slavery struggle, which is made so exclusive an object of attention by writers like Professor von Holst, occupies its important place in American history because of its relation to westward expansion.

In this advance, the frontier is the outer edge of the wave –– the meeting point between savagery and civilization. Much has been written about the frontier from the point of view of border warfare and the chase, but as a field for the serious study of the economist and the historian it has been neglected.

What is the frontier? It is not the European frontier –– a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about it is that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer margin of the 'settled area' of the census reports. This paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems which arise in connection with it.

In the settlement of America we have to observe how European life entered the continent, and how America modified and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Our early history is the study of European germs developing in an American environment. Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors.

Now, the frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails."
(Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893)

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TAGS

1893 • Americanization • becoming • Cherokee • civilization • colonisationconflictdemocracydivine destinydivine providence • expansion • expansionism • Frederick Jackson Turner • frontierfrontier mythideologyIndigenousIroquoisliminalmanifest destinymoral dignityNative Americans • personal enfranchisement • political ideologyprovidenceromantic sublimesettlementterritoryThe WestWesternwilderness

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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