I’m not really sure what to say about this episode, other than it was very depressing. Hearing stories about the worst types of humans is not exactly uplifting. I think that the stories about the creator of Zyklon B and the Green River killer were interesting, albeit disturbing, but I don’t quite understand how they relate to the topic of rhetoric and composition?
I do understand the link between research ethics and the Milgram experiment, though. I’d studied the experiment before, and I go back and forth as to how I would respond in that situation. I would like to think that I wouldn’t hurt another person, but I’m honestly not sure I would care in that situation, particularly if I was being paid and had faith in the researchers. Thinking about it is scary, nonetheless.
I am also ambivalent about the morality of the experiment. I understand that being put in that situation might be unsettling and perhaps scarring for a person, but I think that some things cannot be tested properly and confine to APA guidelines. I’m also not entirely sure whether this experiment was necessary; did the researchers really learn anything that they couldn’t have got from other sources? I think that a more clear-cut example of a breach of research ethics might be to explain the actions of Imperialist Japanese Unit 731, which is something that lots of people aren’t aware of.
I think another interesting question that is somewhat related is whether it is ethical to use the findings of unethical experiments in current research. Despite the atrocities committed by the Nazis and Imperialist Japanese in World War II, some of the research that they conducted led to things that could be potentially useful in making people’s lives better or even saving lives. I’m not completely aware of what the official stance on this is, but I think it has something to do with the use of these experiments somehow encouraging further unethical studies.