27 years ago (1971) Phillip Zimbardo was a professor at Stanford. He did an experiment. He put an ad in a paper and out of 70 vulonteers he chose the 24 that seemed most sane and stable. These were arbitrarily divided into guards and prisoners. Cells were set up in the basement of a school building.
The "prisoners" were arrested by the police in front of their neighbors, handcuffed, taken downtown and booked, and then blindfolded and brought to the "prison." They were identified only by numbers on their "uniforms."
Zimbardo was the "prison warden." He gave the guiards only two instructions. "Maintain law and order," and "no violence." The first thing the "guards" did was make rules. Within a day the "prisoners" in one of the cells rebelled. The "guards" used CO2 fire extinguishers on them. They shouted in "prisoners'" faces, woke them in the middle of the night and made them do pushups, made them profess to love each other. They got bored and "played" with the prisoners. Each day yesterday's sadisms were boring and new ones were invented.
Prisoner 8612 was hysterical within 36 hours and was released. By the fifth day four more prisoners had broken down and were released. They were desperate and depressed. At no time did "prisoners" stand up for themselves. The whole thing was stopped after six days because it was getting out of hand.
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