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HOW TO TURN A LIVING PERSON IN A PUMPKIN
I really like old experimental works, because they are much easier to popularize than modern ones. This is due to two circumstances. First, every year molecular genetic research methods are becoming simpler and cheaper, and therefore the work of a professional biologist today is 90% reduced to polymerase chain reaction and sequencing, blotting and enzyme immunoassay, mass spectrometry and gel electrophoresis. All this is terribly interesting, but it requires lengthy explanations before describing each experiment - or, even worse, it forces you to leave the technique behind the brackets. Secondly, with each passing year, the ethical commissions of universities increasingly demand the natural sciences, which require written informed consent from each experimental Drosophila and double-blind, placebo-controlled study of any substance that the subject may have the misfortune to encounter during his stay on the faculty, whether liquid soap in the toilet or tea bag in the laboratory kitchen. I exaggerate, of course, but not too much. A great many studies of the 20th century, which have enriched experimental psychology, today would never have been allowed by ethical commissions, and people would know much less about themselves. The most obvious examples of such research are the Milgram experiment, first conducted in 1963, the Stanford prison experiment in 1971, and the unofficial “Third Wave” experiment in 1967. All of them are widely known and repeatedly described in popular literature, including in Russian, so I’ll only briefly remind you of what was said.
Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, told subjects that he was investigating the effects of pain on learning. They had to control how the other participant in the experiment (in fact, the decoy duck) memorizes pairs of words, and punish him with a discharge of electric current, gradually increasing the voltage, every time he was wrong. Both Milgram and his colleagues were confident that most people would refuse to participate in the experiment as soon as the student said that he was in real pain. But no. It was enough for a solid experimenter in a white coat to say that it was necessary to continue, and over 60% of the subjects, suffering and suffering, brought the voltage to 450 volts, the very end of the scale.
In the Stanford Prison Experiment, subjects were completely randomly divided into guards and prisoners. They were not given any instructions, other than a ban on physical violence, and were placed in the basement of the university, depicting a prison. The guards themselves chose their uniforms, the prisoners were dressed in ugly robes. On the first day, everything was calm; on the second day, a riot broke out among the prisoners, suppressed by the guards without any involvement of the experimenters. The guards enthusiastically remained to work overtime, inventing new and new methods of psychological suppression and humiliation of prisoners. The victims, in turn, quickly lost any idea of cooperation and self-esteem and were able to think only about how to avoid punishment. The experiment was terminated on the sixth day (instead of the planned two weeks), when Christina Maslach, one of Stanford psychologists, visited the prison to interview participants, and was horrified by the conditions in which prisoners were held - for example, at the initiative of the guards they were now taken to the toilet only all together, in single file. In addition, at this time, scientists have completely watched the recordings from the cameras
observations and found that the guards especially cruelly mocked the prisoners at night - they believed that at this time, psychologists do not look after them.
The Third Wave experiment was conducted by California history teacher Ron Jones. During the lecture about Nazi Germany, the students asked him how such a thing was possible.
How could ordinary German inhabitants — teachers, doctors, railway workers, and so on — ignore or even justify the mass extermination of Jews? Why did the German people allow it? Ron promised to explain. The next week began with the fact that instead of presenting new material, he began to teach students to sit at the desk properly and told them about the importance of discipline. On the second day, the class who liked the game was already sitting right, and Ron told them about the power of community. He ordered his students to chant slogans in chorus and taught them a special gesture - the greeting of the Third Wave. On Wednesday, Ron talked about the power of action. Students were issued membership cards and ordered to conduct campaign work and identify dissenters. On Thursday, members of the Third Wave proudly learned that they were participating in a nationwide political movement. On Friday, all the participants of the movement and sympathizers, already 200 people, dressed in white shirts, gathered in the assembly hall and chanted there the slogans of the Third Wave, waiting for a television program about the opening of hundreds of branches of the movement throughout the country. But the transfer was not. And then Ron made a speech. He said that there is no movement. The students thought they were favorites, but in fact they were simply used. They feel superior to those who do not belong to the Third Wave, but Ron can show what the future holds for them. And he turned on the projector with the newsreel of the Third Reich - from a military parade to concentration camps. Then Ron turned on the light. The students silently rose from their seats and dispersed. The most diligent member of the Third Wave, who had volunteered to be Ron's bodyguard for the last three days, wept bitterly.
These violent experiments demonstrate how strongly external conditions can influence a person’s behavior and emotions. But the chain does not end there. A person's emotions, in turn, affect his physical condition. And this fact is also devoted to several excellent experiments that could still be approved by the ethical commissions in the good old days, but almost certainly would not have been resolved today - if only out of concern for lawsuits from the subjects. For example, in 1991, psychologists from Carnegie Mellon University specifically infected several hundred people with viruses that cause respiratory infections. The value of the experiment was that all 420 study participants were carefully ranked by the level of stress they experienced during the last year, and by the number of negative epithets (uncontrollability, unpredictability, insufficiency, anger, sadness, uncertainty, etc.) used by the subjects for descriptions of yourself and your life. The results were predictable, but no less important: in the group with low stress levels, 74% of people became infected with the virus, judging by the results of laboratory tests, but only in 27% this led to a clinically severe cold with a runny nose and sneezing. The group with a high level of stress, in the same way having received a solution of viruses in the form of nose drops, was infected by 90%, and 47% became ill.
By the way, the cold is not accidentally associated with the cold. Yes, of course, it is caused by viruses (not just one, but many different ones), but the likelihood that the infection will take root in the body increases in cold weather. This is due to the fact that hypothermia can be considered as a kind of stress factor. In practice, this means that it leads to a narrowing of peripheral blood vessels, including in the respiratory tract mucosa. This in turn prevents the immune cells from stopping the invasion in a timely manner - there are simply not enough of them at the right time in the right place. In addition, stress, in principle, a bad effect on the immune system - and this is not the only harmful effect that they have on our health.
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HOW TO TURN A LIVING PERSON IN A PUMPKIN
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