Amanda Knox Prosecution & Millgram Experiment

The Millgram experiment may explain why Amanda Knox is now in an Italian jail rather than at home, celebrating Christmas, graduating, getting a job and getting married.


The chief prosecutor in the Amanda Knox case, Giuliano Mignini, said the criticism from the US was “unacceptable”. There have been accusations of unreliable DNA evidence and a coerced confession. But Mr Mignini said: “[The Americans] are saying there’s not enough proof to convict these two kids, but how is it possible to argue that? The evidence was scrutinized by 19 judges.” Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito are already beginning to prepare their appeals against the verdict. The first appeal is expected to start in late 2010. 

The following is from:

 The Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology,  and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.

The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the question: “Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?” In other words, “Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?”

Milgram’s testing revealed that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs.  Milgram summarized the experiment in his 1974 article, “The Perils of Obedience”, writing:

The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ [participants’] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ [participants’] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources

The lead prosecutor has introduced not one, but 19 quasi authority figures.  However, one good fact, one good video is worth 19 million quasi  authority figures.

Another way to express the prosecutor’s tactics the fallacy of an appeal to authority.  From wikipedia:

Argument from authority or appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. The most general structure of this argument is:

Source A says that p.
Source A is authoritative.
Therefore, p is true.

This is a fallacy because the truth or falsity of the claim is not necessarily related to the personal qualities of the claimant, and because the premises can be true, and the conclusion false (an authoritative claim can turn out to be false). It is also known as argumentum ad verecundiam (Latin: argument to respect) or ipse dixit (Latin: he himself said it).

On the other hand, arguments from authority are an important part of informal logic. Since we cannot have expert knowledge of many subjects, we often rely on the judgments of those who do. There is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true. The fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from criticism.

The UtopianStates would send in the A team to rescue Amanda if that billionaire ever helped us…


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