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Description de l’éditeur
The creator of the famous "Obedience Experiments," carried out at Yale in the 1960s, and originator of the "six degrees of separation" concept, Stanley Milgram was one of the most innovative scientists of our time. In this sparkling biography-the first in-depth portrait of Milgram-Thomas Blass captures the colorful personality and pioneering work of a social psychologist who profoundly altered the way we think about human nature. Born in the Bronx in 1933, Stanley Milgram was the son of Eastern European Jews, and his powerful Obedience Experiments had obvious intellectual roots in the Holocaust. The experiments, which confirmed that "normal" people would readily inflict pain on innocent victims at the behest of an authority figure, generated a firestorm of public interest and outrage-proving, as they did, that moral beliefs were far more malleable than previously thought. But Milgram also explored other aspects of social psychology, from information overload to television violence to the notion that we live in a small world. Although he died suddenly at the height of his career, his work continues to shape the way we live and think today. Blass offers a brilliant portrait of an eccentric visionary scientist who revealed the hidden workings of our very social world.
Social psychologist Stanley Milgram achieved a precocious fame in the early 1960s with his controversial "obedience experiments": subjects posing as "teachers" willingly gave what they believed were powerful electric shocks to innocent "learners" simply because a man in a lab coat told them to. For better and worse, as Blass shows in this unsatisfyingly superficial portrait, the experiments overshadowed the rest of Milgram's career; his pioneering research on the "six degrees of separation" in social networks and studies in urban psychology never achieved the same clat. As Blass shows, the simultaneous revulsion and fascination the obedience research elicited probably cost Milgram tenure at Harvard a loss that this superachiever may never have gotten over and other professional honors. So the downward arc of Milgram's life (ending with his premature death at 51 in 1984) leaves Blass with a tough narrative task, which he doesn't negotiate well. Blass, a social psychologist and the leading authority on Milgram, does a workmanlike job of describing Milgram's research and its significance, but he neglects the man's interior life almost entirely. Milgram's family life is depicted episodically, his relations with wife and children unexplored, and Blass mentions Milgram's use of cocaine and other drugs almost as an aside before returning hurriedly to more pleasant matters. Milgram's genius and wit are apparent, but the dark side of a man described by his own brother as arrogant and by Blass himself as dictatorial and mercurial is never explored. Readers are left wondering who this man really was who devised the most fascinating, disturbing and devilish social psychology experiment in history.