Pushed to the Edge (spoiler alert)

If you haven’t watched Pushed to the Edge I strongly recommend you do before reading this. It’s available on YouTube and the Channel 4 website.

Wow, did you see that. I don’t think very highly of the self-control, moral standards, and freethinking ability of the average person and we all know that “normal” people can and do kill innocent people but to see it on film and in a situation where the 4 participants weren’t surrounded by death and killing thus already partially numb to it was really something. Moreover they did it to an innocent member of their own tribe, i.e, an innocent person that walked, talked, and dressed like them. I mention this because if you selected people from a hypothetical group A who were for whatever reason extremely prejudiced towards people from group B and persuaded “normal” people from group A to kill innocent people from group B it wouldn’t be as shocking, no less shameful and morally wrong, but definitely not as shocking.

“If it was me and I was asked to push an innocent person off the edge of a building I’d never do it.”. Well maybe however I assure you that many people would and this worthwhile experiment of questionable ethics eerily demonstrates that. Now would most people really behave in such an abhorrent way as the show claimed probably just to console their 3 homicidal participants? While I believed before and still believe after watching this that a disturbingly large portion of the population could not only be persuaded to but would on their own indirectly and/or directly kill an innocent person, perhaps many, provided it significantly benefited them and they could be absolutely certain they’d get away with it without ever being suspected of any wrongdoing, I still think that in this particular situation saying most people would have pushed that dummy off the roof after being briefly conditioned to do so might be a bit of a stretch.

Although they did get 3 out of 4 people to make the push these weren’t 4 people randomly selected off the street, they were 4 weak minded people that the show’s producers selected based upon a few key characteristics. The first one they showed us in the sit-stand test and I’m not sure what other parts of the selection process such as interviews and questionnaires they used to weed out any potential trouble makers, i.e., anyone who was fairly intelligent and strong minded. Back to the “If it was me” thought, I had it too and I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t have pushed the guy off the roof because I would’ve never gotten past the sit-stand test in the beginning. I’d never stand up and sit down repeatedly without not only knowing of but also agreeing with the reason behind it. Being a freethinker, not a contrarian, I’d be sure to ask the people why they were repeatedly standing up and sitting down in order to see if there was something to it that I didn’t understand and if there was and I thought it made sense I would join them, but not before I asked and understood why.

Even if I did somehow pass the sit-stand test I would’ve never passed the “Here, stick these vegetarian friendly flags into the sausages so we can deceive all the people who have made the noble decision not to eat other animals” test. That in itself had me shaking my head in disgust moreover it was right in the beginning so there’s no excuse for any of the 4 like “Derren Brown is too much of a manipulative genius and the guy he paired me with was too good and persuasive of an actor and as a result I was so socially compliant a few minutes in that my personal behavior was out of my control.”. Even if you think vegetarians are sissy wimps and you personally have no qualms about eating the flesh of other animals who because of you lived extremely miserable lives I would hope you still understand why deceiving others like this is so terribly wrong. Although I think people who identify as Muslim or Jewish to not eat pigs under any circumstance but to eat cows, which are more environmentally harmful to raise, like they’re going out of style is ridiculous like most of religion is I’d never seek to deceive such superstitious people by sticking kosher and halal friendly flags in pork sausages.

I hope you also would’ve failed the sit-stand test, vegetarian deception test, and even if you did pass these tests, shame on you, and were allowed to move on in the selection and filming process I sincerely hope that you wouldn’t have pushed an innocent human off the edge of a tall building, not in order to save a burning school full of children, but to save yourself an inconvenient appearance in court explaining how you are an idiot and perhaps a little jail time. Hats off to Derren Brown and the team that worked with him designing and setting up that experiment. This experiment highlights the importance of strengthening our minds and ability to think so we aren’t so easily persuaded by others particularly when what they’re trying to persuade us to do/believe is blatantly wrong or false. To the 3 homicidal participants I say don’t feel bad about being, essentially, murderers and instead learn from the experience and help others do the same, however on your Tinder profiles make sure you note that you tried to kill an innocent person by pushing them off the edge of a building and that the only reason you failed is because the camera crew switched the actual person with a lifelike dummy while your back was turned because any potential partners should know this.