If you are involved in some form of this repeated experiment, you would meet another participant whom, you are told, has a heart condition.
You would be introduced to this person briefly, before he or she is is taken into another room, and you can continue to communicate with each other via a PA or computer/speaker system. You are also told that whatever happens, it is not your fault and you will not be held responsible.
Your task would be to administer a test to the other participant, and each time they get an answer wrong you administer an electric shock, and if they get the same question wrong over again, you have the option to increase the strength of the shock, if you want to.
So, assuming you are involved in this experiment and you begin the task. At the beginning, you may hear small yell over the PA when you administer a shock . As time goes on, and if you increase the strength of the shock (which most people do), then you hear the other person ask to leave because of his heart. The yells become louder and eventually screams, and then… dead silence.
You have been told that the shocks that you are delivering could be fatal. Would you deliver a fatal shock? Would you continue to this point?
You may laugh and say, "Of course not", but most people would, and in fact they do. Why?
Psychologists now believe that this is because you are being "told" to, and most importantly, you have been absolved of responsibility by the experimenter.
However, as with most psychology experiments this was a simulation. After all, no-one would want students to have the opportunity to really give shocks to others – particularly others who were ill. The experimenters were trying to isolate the way the mind works, from any really harmful situation.
There was no electric shock, and the entire event was a facade to see what people would do if authority told them to. What it did show was that ordinary people will do terrible things.
As hard as it is to hear, it was not only monsters who persecuted Jews in WWII or gassed them in chambers. Most were ordinary people just doing what they are told. It is tempting to say that we would not do the same, but history has taught us differently.
Most of us would kill or do worse given the right circumstances, often because of the command of authority.
In regards to dealing with authority, Jesus set an example for us that that is hard to follow. He overturned the money changing tables in the Temple. He associated with the destitute and despised. He suffered humiliation and apparent defeat at the hand of his enemies.
Jesus was not held by the authority of man, but solely by the authority of the LORD. What Christ showed was that it does not take a cowardly man to do evil when authority of man compels him to. But it does take a courageous man to stand up against authority.
It is my opinion that the greatest testament that a Christian can provide is to be willing to stand against the world under the authority of Christ. It was the early Christian martyrs and their unwillingness to submit to the Roman Empire that set them apart.
It was the unwillingness of the Christians to be the same that converted the masses and saved their souls. We are set apart to be a part of something bigger, to be under the kingdom and authority of Christ Jesus. So my question to you is this:
Are you doing more of the same, or setting yourself apart for Christ?