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Human beings are known to be the cleverest group of mammals on the earth. We are gregarious by nature and like to live in groups. We further tend to form subdivisions in these groups, for example families, communities, work groups, scientists, and business groups. We all feel the need to belong to a group. Whenever people have the same thought or belief, they will join together and form a group. People have different beliefs, and this is the reason why there are many different groups. In each of the different groups, there is always a thing that forces people not to change their own beliefs and not to get along with others. It is called antagonistic psychology. It fights against authority. Nevertheless, throughout our youth, we obey people in any position of authority, such as parents, teachers, doctors, and other ¡®grown-ups¡¯. Such obedience leads to the order of the human society. In fact, obedience to authority is necessary and exists everywhere in the human society, for example, in laboratories, in schools, at hospitals and between police officers and the public.


A famous experiment on the psychological study-obedience to authority-was conducted by Stanley Milgram in 16. It proved that obedience is the nature of human beings and the necessity of it for the human society to function well is very fundamental. It is just like to the human being¡¯s need of feeding. In the after-researched report ¡°The Perils of Obedience¡±, ¡°Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to,¡± stated Milgram(Page 17). Although this is one of the highly unethical experiments, the study did show some surprising results. Milgram¡¯s brief experiment design was that subjects, who were from a variety of backgrounds, were recruited to attend a study of memory and learning. Half of them were the teachers, the others the learners. Each teacher was told to shock a learner if he or she missed a question. The inside goal of the study was to statistically prove if people would shock an absolute stranger with a maximum of 450 volts just because they had been told to or suggested to. Of course, the shocks were not real and the learners were ordered to pretend they were being shocked. Psychiatrists predicted that only those totally amoral teachers would proceed to the end of experiment. Very surprisingly, the result turned out that psychiatrists¡¯ prediction was not accurate two thirds of the teachers administered the shock up to the end of the experiment. The majority followed the instructions from Milgram, even if they unsuspiciously thought the shocks were deadly hurt.


In education, school generally has authority over its students. Teachers in kindergartens, who always play the role of a leader or controller maintaining the order of a class, are considered as authority. Teachers have to look after kindergartners on the site after parents passed the custody of their children to the schools. Any naughty behavior in any regular class will lead to a punishment from the teachers. Kindergartners will obey what teachers say at any time if they do not want to receive any punishment. College students also do what kindergartners do and obey schools¡¯ policy, for instance, in every college, parking lots for students with a semester parking permit are designated far away from the main campus while some parking lots which are close to the main campus are only for those who buy a daily parking permit. All students have to obey the parking policy, and park their cars at the designated location. Otherwise, the violator will be issued a ticket, and there is no exception because when the students buy a parking permit, they have already agreed on the parking policy, and they have to the policy.


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Obedience to authority does not only exist in education system, but also at hospitals. People hardly suspect the doctors¡¯ diagnosis and prescription. Nurses do not refuse to comply with the prescriptions from doctors, even if they may feel the prescriptions are unsafe. Obviously, the obedience to authority is quite absolute at hospitals; none would like to violate or break the rule. Patients cannot diagnosis their illness without any theoretically medical education background, and although nurses have been somewhat educated, they would rather obey than refuse. The reason is that ¡°a person comes to himself/herself as the instrument for carrying out another person¡¯s wishes, and he/she therefore no longer regards himself/herself as responsible for his/her actions.¡±(Milgram; Page 6). Hence, nurses consider that they are not responsible for their actions because they are just carrying out doctors¡¯ instructions. Then, the nurses just follow and obey instructions, and the patients do the same. The act of obedience will not do any harm to those who obey. In life and death situation, people have to obey doctors, even if they do not want to or even if they do not agree with the doctors. Therefore, they think it is no good not to conform.


Other than schools and hospitals, obedience to authority apparently exists in the transactions between police officers and the members of public. The interesting phenomenon, which every driver very often comes across, is that the freeway traffic will be in very good order and every driver is very polite, when a police officer is present. Nobody dares to speed in the presence of a police officer because nobody wants to get a ticket. People who buy radar detectors may want to disobey the traffic law. Actually, the real intention of buying a radar detector is to help the disobedient to obey. Imagine that when one drives over the speed limit on a freeway, and all in a sudden, a radar detector on your car starts to beep. Is releasing the gas pedal the first reaction? It must be the case. When the beeping starts, it is natural for you to reduce your speed if you do not want a ticket. In this situation, the police officers are regarded as an authority.


Like Brooks said, ¡°There is a fundamental order to the universe, and it works. If you play by its rules and defer to its requirements, you will lead a pretty fantastic life,¡± (Brooks; Page 74) every class of society has some sort of hierarchy in which some individuals hold authority over the others. Teachers have authority over their students; doctors have authority over nurses; police officers have authority over the members of public. Everyone obeys and follows the rules with no doubt. For a stable community to maintain stability, people have to obey to authority. None of human beings could conceive of a society with a good order in the absence of a rule to obey to authority.





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