The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Obedience, Authority, and Us

The film, The Stanford Prison Experiment, addresses issues of morality, empathy, and ethics. All subjects raised in the previous reflection. Here are three videos that parallel Professor Moore’s post, and reveal key studies that you will most certainly cover in your Psychology courses:

Milgram Obedience Studies:

Stanford Prison Experiment:

The Bystander Effect: 



3 thoughts on “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Obedience, Authority, and Us

  1. The cartoon is a perfect commentary on how we choose to experience the pain or distress of others. Do we have to experience drowning in order to empathize with a drowning person, or move to action? But this is an extreme example. What are some of the less dramatic events that we call for actions of conscience that we choose to ignore?


    1. People seem to have trouble when it comes to the pain and distress of others. It is harder for one to feel sympathy for someone who is struggling and help if one only has their own interests in mind. However, people should learn to feel for others and place themselves in the scenario of the other person. One does not necessarily have to “drown in order to empathize with a drowning person”. Enduring the same pain is not the only way to feel empathy. Empathy is also the ability to understand the feelings of another. If people can merely try to find ways to relate to another person or imagine what he or she is going through, then they can empathize with them. When there is a sense of empathy, the person will be inclined to take action, and they should do so. A less extreme example than drowning is bullying. Bullying is an event that calls for serious action and is often overlooked. Because bullying may not be as dramatic as drowning, people are even more likely to stand around and look. Bullying is an issue that needs to be stopped. When we observe bullying we must take action, help those being bullied, and reprimand the bullies. We as a society cannot afford to simply be observers and let the pain and distress of others continue.


  2. I have read and seen several videos about the Milgram Obedience studies, and I find it fascinating how one can continue to abuse a person under certain circumstances. The Novel, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy” by Lani Guinier paints the image of events that call for action, but people choose to ignore. The issue of the SAT tests being administered to all students of different socioeconomic statuses when not all people can afford preparation is absurd to me. The capitalistic society of America gives the top 2% the benefit of the doubt, and i find that unfair, however Americans choose to ignore this.


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