Saw an interesting social experiment recently whereby they filmed a group in a waiting room. All but one of them were actors. They were all seated in the waiting room, and when a certain chime sounded, all the actors stood up briefly before sitting back down. Eventually the one non-actor, the subject, not aware of what was going on, imitated the crowd. One by one the actors were slowly summoned to the next room until the only one who was left was the subject, who, sure enough, kept standing up to the chime.
Now they introduced a second subject, and when the first subject stood at the chimes, the second subject asked why she is doing that. When she replied, “I don’t know, everyone else was doing it,” the second subject complied and did the same. In this way they brought in many more subjects and found that everyone eventually mimicked the original actors.
I think this is a funny experiment, indicative of the bulk of dipshit humanity who would so willingly follow the crowd, but I think it would be even more interesting to take this to several other levels and will propose my concept to some reality tv programs.
In my experiment I would like to focus on that percentage of people who are less likely to conform, or in the least would seriously question the point of following the crowd. In the experiment I saw, there was a receptionist. I am sure I would have at least asked the receptionist what was the point of standing briefly to each chime, if I felt too shy to ask one of the other participants.
For the experiment to work properly, the reason for the waiting room would have to be something neutral. Not like for a job interview, because the degree of willingness to conform would be influenced by how desperate the subject is in getting a job. So I would propose some moderately useful and free medical examination. This could be provided and also serve as modest remuneration for the subjects’ troubles.
For those who are visibly not such eager conformists, they would be called in to the second stage not in a hasty manner so as not to make the rest think perhaps there is some advantage in not standing. Occasionally, the same or other actors could be brought back into the room to encourage conformity amongst the crowd. I propose that this be tested on at least 200 people, to get a reasonable picture about what percentage of society are conformists and to what degree.
Now, for the “rebels”, they could be asked to step into a certain room with an interview table. Shortly after sitting down, perhaps a massively large and strong looking security guard walks in, with bleached white and perfectly ironed shirt and all semblance of exemplary authority. This would be followed by an interviewer, who might sit down calmly across from the subject, pull out a dossier, begin to make some notes and calmly ask the subject why he had not also stood.
This could be taken in many directions based on the reaction of the subject, so preparations for each contingency would have to be thought through carefully beforehand.
For example, if the subject starts to become agitated and restless, the big security man might say in a deep, authoritative voice, “You need to calm down sir.” Perhaps at some point two heavily armed military personnel might be called in. The security guard might have his hand resting on his tazer while staring intently at the subject.
At one point the subject might say, “I refuse to say another word without the presence of a lawyer.” At which point the interviewer might give a subtle smirk, as in the introductory interview in the film Matrix, make a little note in his dossier and politely excuse himself as he leaves the room, only for this good cop to be replaced by the bad cop, so to speak. A much sterner interviewer who might lean over full force, fingers spread out taught on the table, questioning the subject why he/she had failed to follow the others and not stand up with the chime.
These would have to be good actors and the various possible scenarios carefully thought out in advance. Perhaps with a twist of humour, because the subject might think it is ridiculous. I think it would be interesting to see how quickly the rebels cave in under pressure, and see how far other rebels might be willing to hold out, perhaps make the mood very serious, or serious but increasingly ridiculous, until it might occur to a subject that s/he is on candid camera.
Either way, I think the results could make a very interesting show and I for one would really be curious to see the statistical results. I would guess that 85% of people would willingly follow without asking any questions, but that less than 5% would go as far as making any active resistance and perhaps around 2% or less would hold out hard to the end and not cave in.
Others might simply play it smart and comply just to get out of there quickly, in which case such rebels might be asked by the first interviewer, “I see. In that case, could you please sign this form?” He’d pull out of his dossier some form which would be custom made for their response and ask them for some ridiculous concessions, forcing them to make a decision whether to stand up for their rights or cave in. Prepare a response for every possible reaction to get an idea what percentage of the rebels would be willing to go how far in order to stand up for their fundamental human rights before caving in to the pressure of authority.
Of course, once the traumatic interview is over, the subject could get their free medical test, laugh it off with the security guard and military personnel (who could squirt some water at them from their fake machine guns), and offer them suitable remuneration for the footage. Before entering the waiting room each subject would have to sign a long disclaimer (long and small print enough that they wouldn’t bother reading it) so they couldn’t sue the production company for the trauma they experienced.
I don’t know the legalities behind all this, but end result I believe this could be an interesting show for viewers. Might even help the establishment because those who view it will be more weak against the system now that they know that such a small percentage of the population has any balls.
But if you do produce such a show, please inform me of the results because I am seriously interested, and would love to watch the facial reactions of the rebels!