Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Power of Authority

In the post war years the Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram set up experiments that were to lead to an understanding of how individuals could be driven to hurt other people when authorised to do so. Their shocking observations were that about 60 to 65% of us would cause pain to others, despite our better judgment, if encouraged to do so by an authority figure.

Authority is essential for leadership and leadership is an essential ingredient of Interactive Democracy. But in the ID system the gravitas of government or the amplitude of media opinion leaders are somewhat balanced by individual experts who can genuinely claim to know the subject that is up for consideration. Their authority comes not from holding office over all things but through close attention to one.

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