Organic Vegtables

I’ve never really been on-board with the whole Organic thing. My understanding was that herbicides, pesticides & fungicides are quite useful for ensuring food reached the retailer without having been eaten or otherwise consumed by another life form, preservatives are handy for stopping food from rotting before it’s eaten, and other additives are good at ensuring the texture and appearance and flavour of food remains as intended. I’ve heard people saying that these additions are terribly bad for you, but I always thought that between them the liver and kidneys of a healthy person are pretty good at filtering out the stuff the human body can’t or isn’t meant to absorb. So I had a little moment of smug satisfaction when a report was published at the start of September claiming there wasn’t actually much evidence that organic food was better for you than non organic.

However I feel a bit hypocritical saying that, since Terry and I recently took another step down the path of becoming an utter parody of the liberal middle-class. We started getting an organic vegetable box delivered.

We were at a local summer fete, which amongst its stalls had a local-ish company who did vegetable boxes. Terry was wildly excited by this, and happily signed up on a 3 for the price of 2 basis to try it out. I was a bit more skeptical, but I had to admit the convenience of having fresh fruit and veg delivered on a weekly basis was quite appealing.

As there are just 2 of us we’d got into the habit of doing an online shop every 3 weeks or so, and the vegetables we bought tended to be chosen on the basis of whether they were on special offer or appeared in our frequently bought list. Even though Terry is a vegetarian, and I am a fairly adventurous cook, we were in a bit of a vegetable rut. It was quite nice to suddenly have different things to cook with.

But after getting a Romanesco Cauliflower for the 3rd time I’ve started remembering how much I disliked Mark Twain’s ‘Cabbage with a college education’ as a kid. I hate wasting food, so I try to find something different to do with it to make it more palatable. But my heart isn’t really in it. For the first time since I was living with my parents I feel I’m being coerced into eating my greens, except that I’m now paying £21.45 a month for the privilege. Since I went to boarding school age 11 I’ve had some measure of autonomy over what I eat almost constantly. I’ve not had a meal I didn’t choose myself, even if from a reasonably limited selection, in nearly 20 years. (Excepting of course going to someone else’s home where my upbringing kicks in and eat what’s put in front of me out of politeness – unless I think it might actually kill me.)

There’s something very grown-up about having a box of Organic Fruit and Vegetables delivered every week. So it feel quite odd that this more than anything else I’ve experienced before makes me feel like an 8 year old again.

Outcasts!

A Christian who was demoted in his job for a comment he wrote on Facebook about gay marriage has won a breach of contract action against his employers.

Whilst I personally abhor the sentiments I’m inclined to agree with the ruling in that a person should be able to express their own opinion to their own social circle, and that you shouldn’t be able to demote someone from their job for doing so. As I discussed in one of my very first posts earlier this year, the tension between wanting freedom of speech, and wanting to stop people from saying offensive stuff is complex and perhaps inherently un-resolvable.

But in his statement following the ruling the individual in question asked the following question:

“Does the Prime Minister want to create a society where people like me, people who believe in traditional marriage, are treated as outcasts?”

So that would be as opposed to the society where people are treated as outcasts because they are gay and want to get married? You’re ok with that are you?

One of the things by which I am constantly confounded is the naked hypocrisy of this kind of position. How can someone seriously expect to say that they want to right to infringe the rights of others?

I made this point briefly in a post a couple of weeks ago.

I remember how at primary school when someone had done something bad to someone else the teacher would normally employ the “how would you like it if someone did that to you?” line of questioning, and it was broadly effective. Occasionally you would get a stubborn little twerp who would defiantly say “I’d be ok with it!” as if this was somehow a clever answer and the teacher would say “Oh. Right then. Carry on spitting in Jonny’s hair.” But for the most part this would result in a contrite 7 year old mumbling “I wouldn’t like it Miss” and then whispering their apology without making eye-contact. Granted they probably didn’t mean it, but then my recollection of social dynamics at that age was that if you were a boy you’d be back playing football together in the playground by lunchtime, and if you were a girl you would have changed who your best friend was 19 times by lunchtime and have forgotten who you were meant to hate anyway.

Clearly the chap whose won his case recognises that being an outcast is a Bad Thing, and is aghast at the notion of being outcast from society himself. So does he think that preventing 2 people who love each other, who happen to be of the same sex, from getting married doesn’t constitute being treated as outcasts? Or is he happy that it does constitute being treated as an outcast, but that doesn’t matter because their feelings aren’t worthy of being considered.

Interestingly the comment he’d made on Facebook which sparked the issue in the first place was that marriage between 2 people of the same sex was “an equality too far.” So you can include Gay people a bit, but they have to stay Outcast to some extent. Otherwise I suppose they would be like normal people, and you can’t have that!

I think my husband is an awesome actor

It’s Terry’s birthday today and to celebrate it he’s written a rather personal and painful blog post. When he was a teenager he had a small role in a televised BBC production of Macbeth. His post today recounts how he felt when he saw one of the director’s notes suggesting that Terry’s performance needed work.

I’ve never seen this performance myself so I can’t judge whether this was fair criticism from an industry professional or the half arsed scribbling of a jaded individual who was bored with producing drama destined for the artistic graveyard which is GCSE Bitesize.

However I have seen Terry act a fair amount. We met through the UEA Drama Society and hooked up after Terry persuaded me to audition for the production of Royal Hunt of the Sun, in which he already had a part. The majority of the cast was in place when they had some drop outs. And so they did another round of auditions to get the requisite number of players, during which I and a couple of others were accepted into the cast.

They had been workshopping bits of the play for nearly a month, but without the roles having been cast. So they were a close knit group. They knew the material, they knew each other but they didn’t yet know who would be the star and who would be 4th spear carrier from the left, so there were no egos at play. It was an inspired approach which would contribute to the success of one of the most awesome productions I would ever get to be in.

I was terrified. I was new to the play, new to everyone else, and at this point still in my 1st term of university so pretty new to all that as well. But I needn’t have worried. They were the loveliest most welcoming group you could imagine. And boy could they act! Drama was one of my great passions at school, and I felt that I wasn’t bad as an actress myself. Not fabulous, but I enjoyed inhabiting another character, exploring vocal and physical ways of expression, and as had been most important at school, I learned lines fast and could be relied upon to show up to rehearsal on time. But some of these guys ran rings round me. They had such presence, such commitment to what they were portraying. Chief amongst them – a tall, skinny, long-haired chap called Terry.

When we had first met at a DramaSoc mixer event in my first few weeks at uni I was actually seeing someone else. That relationship was ill-fated from the start, but meant that I was not looking for a boyfriend the first time Terry and I set eyes on each other. By the time I got into the Royal Hunt cast that previous relationship had fizzled out, but I was then going through a spiky phase thinking relationships were dumb and I was going to stay single for a while. So as Terry and I got to know each other during rehersals I wasn’t hoping it would turn into something more. I was just happy I had made a new friend and got to see him regularly as rehearsals went on. This would have been around early December 2000.

I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. I wasn’t looking to fall in love and love happily ever after. I wasn’t even thinking about men that way. But Terry was just so admirable, and I think a large portion of that was due to his acting ability. His command of speech and poise on stage was beyond anything I had seen up close before. He breathed the character from his very bones, utterly convincing and defying anyone to look at anyone or anything else.

We hung out a bit after rehearsals and it didn’t take me long to realise that here was someone I could relate to. He was intelligent, kind, funny and he seemed to like me too. By the end of January 2001 Terry and I had become a couple, and have been together ever since. But as anyone who knows me is aware – I don’t belive in soul mates or fate or destiny. Relationships fail or succeed on a number of different factors including blind luck. If Terry hadn’t been such an awesome actor, I might not have been attracted to him right at the start, when the biochemicals of the brain so capriciously latch on to a particular characteristic. So nearly 12 years later and counting I am very happy that he was.

The role of an MP

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m pretty left wing. I have difficulty imagining any scenario where I would vote Tory. I’d be prepared to have an informed debate on issues of political and economic small-c conservatism, such as limits on government oversight and taxation. But the modern day right wing seem inextricably linked to social conservatism: whose allowed to sleep with whom, what women should be allowed to do with their own bodies etc. And I can’t see myself voluntarily endorsing a bid for power from anyone who genuinely doesn’t see a problem with that.

But maybe I’m doing voting wrong. I have a friend who happily voted for his Conservative MP because she had been so useful to him regarding the errant behaviour of a utility company. He had asked for help from the person duly elected to represent him and his fellow constituents, who was tasked with championing their causes and facilitating their engagement in society, and she had come through. Fair enough I thought. My friend had found someone he felt he could trust and faced with a list of names come the next election he decided to put his faith in the safe pair of hands that he already knew.

I don’t see a list of names. I just see the political parties and make my choice based on their national manifestos. I’ve always seen MPs as representatives of their party, not their constituency. I’ve always though that the majority of the time they are told how to vote by the whips. At this point I will freely admit that everything I know about the whip system is from the first series of House of Cards and The Project. So I’m happy to be corrected on this point. But whether or not my grasp of parliamentary democracy is correct the point still stands that I’ve always cast my vote according to the general principles for which the party stands, and how well they have stuck to said principles whilst in either government or opposition. I’ve never really looked at the individuals standing in an election.

But then I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never faced a situation where I felt asking my MP for help was necessary. So I feel sympathetic towards the abandoned souls of Mid Bedfordshire who have been saddled with Nadine Dorries as an MP. And I rather enjoyed listening to her hapless parliamentary assistant getting ripped to shreds on the JVC programme a few days ago. I’d feel sorry for him, but he did sound like a bit of a smarmy git.

Sodding off to spend a month playing silly-buggers in an Australian Jungle on ITV (sorry, raising the profile of issues you really care about – like what other women can do with their own bodies – see above re social conservatism) whilst parliment is in session shows a callous disregard for the responsibilities of being an MP, however you define it. So I’m not complaining that she has been suspended. However I could do with a bit of clarification as to the exact reason behind it. Has she been suspended because she isn’t helping her constituents in Mid-Bedfordshire, or is it because she’s not helping the Conservative’s win votes in the House of Commons?

Over half way!

It’s the 16th of November. No it isn’t, it’s the 12th of November, but I’m writing this in advance and queuing it up to publish on 16th November. So from your point of view, it’s the 16th November. Which means I am over half-way through NaBloPoMo.

So the challenge of NaBloPoMo is to write a blog a day. But I can’t always do that, and WordPress has this handy tool whereby I can write stuff and set it to publish later. That’s not cheating right? That’s acceptable smart time management. I thrash out a few posts when I have time and then go back to real life for a few days. When I started this I had 2 posts pretty much ready to go. It turned out Terry had 16, and a few more half written and abandoned ones from years ago. Was he cheating? Or just way savvier than me?

He seems quite insistent that I am cheating by not tweeting or facebooking each time I post. If I tree falls in a forest and no one hears, does it make a sound? Well, yes, as is obvious to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of physics. But I think his argument is that if I blog without telling anyone, and that blog goes unread by anyone except me, (and him if I asked him to proof it) then this is not in the spirit of NaBloPoMo. So for the latter part of this challenge the training wheels are coming off. I will not only blog, but I will tell people I am doing so. People with eyes and brains and terrifying opinions.

Doing this has been really hard as it is, and I’m still pretty freaked out by the notion of putting my ideas ‘out there’. In the digital world everything is forever. I’ve written some reasonably controversial stuff over the past 2 weeks. What if years down the line my views on personal finance or being pro-choice come back to haunt me? Of course if I had a scrap of integrity and courage I’d stand by them anyway, but I am amongst other things a first-rate coward.

But then again, maybe someone will read what I’ve written and take comfort, inspiration or just entertainment from it, and feel better knowing that someone else has fictional conversations with their non-existent progeny, or thinks making savoury ice cream is perfectly acceptable behaviour.

People are stupid part 1

It strikes me that I haven’t written anything really worthy of the title Misanthropic Musings recently. And as I have 30 posts to churn out this month, I’m going devote a few of them to rantings about stuff which really annoys me.

I had a colleague when I worked for a hire car firm in Newbury who was constantly bemused by the notion that our customers were not familiar with our internal processes. On on occasion a customer rang up wanting to know why his car hadn’t been collected from his house several hours after he’d told us to end the rental. My colleague explained to him that it could take up to 24 hours for cars to be collected following the end of the rental period, hung up the phone, then started ranting about how stupid he’d been. I disagreed. From what I could see, the customer had no way of knowing that it could take up to 24 hours for his car to be picked up. It wasn’t written in our terms and conditions and he hadn’t been told when he ended the rental. Furthermore, given that his car had been delivered to him in within a 4 hour window, there was nothing inherently illogical in his assuming it would be collected within a similar time frame.

My colleague was unable to grasp why he would have jumped to such a conclusion. She understood why cars might not get collected straight away, but she didn’t appear to understand why the customer might not.

This reminded me vividly of a psychological test conducted on young children. I don’t know a lot about child brains, but I gather that a fairly critical point in their cognitive development comes when they become aware of ‘other minds’. That is, they grasp the concept that other people have their own views and memories of events.

The elegant test consists of taking the child into a room and showing them a closed smarties tube. The child is asked what they think is in the tube. The child replies, “Smarties” which is of course an entirely logical answer given the information they have at the time. The tube is opened, and it is revealed that the tube does not contain smarties, but instead contains a pencil. The tube is resealed, and the child’s parent is bought into the room. The child is then asked to predict what their parent will say when asked the question “What is in the tube?” Up to a certain age, the child will answer that their parent will think that a pencil is in the tube. The child has processed the information that the pencil is in fact in the tube, but is not able to grasp that someone else who is not privy to that information will be guessing according to what the child first thought before the pencil was revealed. The point at which the child answers that their parent will guess Smarties are in the tube is the watershed moment when the child can comprehend the concept of ‘Other minds.’

At that moment my colleague, raging away at the insolence of this customer, seemed like a toddler who is unable to grasp that a separate person who is not in possession as the same facts that they are, will come to a logical but incorrect conclusion. In the context of the test it seems like a very obvious thing for a mature adult to be able to wrap their mind around. But I see evidence that adults can forget this simple but powerful concept of ‘other minds’ all the time.

My quantum children

Terry and I decided a long time ago that we were never going to have children. We have many, many reasons for this. Some we have in common, some we don’t. One of mine, which I don’t think Terry shares, is that I could never come up with a satisfactory answer to the grumpy teenager’s wail “I didn’t ask to be born.” Now I’m sure this is usually said in a spirit of hormonal, rather than existential angst. Nonetheless they’re quite right. They didn’t ask to be born. Someone else made that decision for them. They were dragged into existence at the whim of another person.

For the record I understand that human souls do not hang around in a quantum state of existence waiting for the determination that will actualise them. Unborn children are not able to contribute to a discussion as to whether they should be granted existance. To say “I didn’t ask to be born” is in some ways meaningless since there is no way it could be otherwise. You can’t ask someone if they want to be born. So it is a rather impotent complaint.

Each October Terry and 1 have been together both as a married and unmarried couple for x years and 9 months. A few weeks ago it was 11 years and 9 months since we got together. I realised that if I had become pregnant then, our child would have been 11 years old. That was the age I was when I left home to go to boarding school. Perhaps in that alternate universe, we would have made the same decision and we would be just starting to get our adult lives back to ourselves. Or maybe we would be facing empty nest syndrome and we would realise we had only stayed together for the sake of providing stable formative years.

But that is alternate-universe-Terry-and-Liz’s problem. The other day I saw on Facebook that another old schoolfriend had just give birth. I’m happy for her. But each time I see another peer has joined the ranks of parenthood I wonder if their children will ever cry out in a fit of pique that they didn’t ask to be born. And across the void dividing the universes I hear my own non existant child make that complaint and I think, “No you didn’t. And so I made sure you never would.”

Endless Ocean 2

I posted a while back about how much I enjoyed Portal. One of the things I loved most about it was the lack of pressure. Taking the relaxed approach to gaming a step further I have recently been playing Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep. Don’t let the subtitle put you off though, this is as laid back an adventure as you can get.

I remember at university attempting to play the 60s Mod version of Grand Theft Auto on the PC. As I have mentioned before, my hand-eye coordination and general motor skills are really quite poor. I struggled to control the car, and had tremendous difficulty negotiating corners, let alone avoiding obstacles. A friend laughingly suggested I might get on better with a driving game with no road, no pavements, no pedestrians or really any difference in terrain at all. There should just be a big expanse of space and I could spin around in it to my heart’s content.

Endless Ocean is like playing that driving game set in a giant fish tank. There is an environment which your avatar inhabits, but you move so slowly that it’s almost impossible to have any problems moving where you want to. The game basically consists of swimming around in diving gear, encountering different kinds of marine life. In a bid to introduce a small amount of peril, there are certain points where great white sharks come and attach you. I say attack – they swish you with their tails, and a small amount of extra oxygen is depleted from your tank. At any point you can return to your boat and then start a new dive which means you get to carry on exploring with a fresh tank of oxygen which is good for 10-20 minutes of swimming depending on the depth, temperature of the water and your ‘diving level’.

I haven’t yet played the first Endless Ocean game, but I gather the 2nd game has got a bit more of a structure to it. There is a story of sorts, and lots and lots of side quest action, whether seeking out particular species to photo or spending time playing with the multi-sensor to salvage potentially valuable items from the sea bed. You get points, which can be spent on upgarding equipment and later on changing your avatar’s hairstyle, none of which seem to be misson critical. No grinding away by cutting grass or killing moblins to earn enough rupees to buy magic armour!

One of the things I used to enjoy most in games was fully exploring the field of play, particularly if you got a map which was uncovered square by square as you ventured further into unchartered territory. This game is just the same, so I can dive over and over again in the same area until the map is fully revealed.

Everything about this game is focussed on taking things at your own pace. I would get mildly irritated during my beloved Zelda games when having completed a particular dungeon the dialogue of the non playing characters tried to hurry me onto the next story element. “Hurry up, we have to get to such and such as place before so and so dies!” But I didn’t want to hurry up. I wanted to take some time looking at the surroundings. In Endless Ocean the whole point of the game is to take in the environment. The story mode is there to progress the action, but can be safely ignored until you are satisfied you have exhausted everything else you can do in any particular arena of play.

This is without a doubt the most soothing gaming experience I have ever had, and I love it for that!

How I predicted the Credit Crunch

Yesterday I blogged about my sorrowful experience of working in the retail banking sector. I left through a combination of the realisation that I was really bad at being a cashier and horror at the hard-selling tactics we were expected to employ to meet the banks targets.

Most of the recent coverage of the evils of this approach has focussed on PPI – the extra insurance policy sold with personal loans, supposedly to cover the borrower in the event that their circumstances changed and they were struggling to make repayments. Fortunately I was never really involved in this side, and I’m not really up on all the ins and outs of this particular product. But I was asked to recommend customers for loans based on the activity on their accounts.

I totally get the logic of consolidating lots of high interest debt into one lower interest loan. But it was always very obvious that the bank wanted us to push customers to borrow money whether it would be advantageous to them or not. After work one day I popped to the cash point and saw the following advert on the screen:

“Want it? Why wait? Ask us about our personal loans today!”

I’ve always been interested in personal finance, and my parents instilled in me a tremendous sense of fiscal responsibility. My Mum would frequently say to me “Whatever you have, spend less.” So my answer to the above question, “Why wait?” is usually along the lines of “because that’s the sensible thing to do.”

I appreciate that modern finance doesn’t work the way it used to. Living without any debt at all is tricky, particularly if you went to university which means you will probably have a student loan if nothing else, or you own your home rather than renting, which means you’re likely to have a mortgage for a substantial period of time. But I always tried to live by the general principle that borrowing money should be done after careful consideration of its purpose and an absolutely rigorous repayment plan, taking into account what might happen if circumstances changed. I felt the cash point advert trivialized these aspects of borrowing and encouraged a frivolous attitude to both taking out a loan and spending it.

In the last few weeks that I was working at the bank Terry and I started hunting around for a mortgage. This was the spring of 2003 so 5 years before what would come to be seen as the start of the credit crunch. it turned out that the high street banks were falling over themselves to lend money to a pair of employed graduates. We had carefully budgeted out what we thought we could afford, and were looking at properties priced according to this budget. To our surprise virtually all the representatives of the banks we spoke to tried to get us to borrow more money than we had asked for. We icily informed them that we didn’t intend to spend the rest of our lives paying off our first mortgage, and they backed down.

The day I left the bank I drew the manager aside and told her that their whole attitude to consumer credit was unsustainable. I didn’t know a whole lot about economics, or the housing market. But I had seen that in every bank in town, vulnerable and ill-informed customers were being encouraged to borrow more money than they could reasonably afford to pay back. I know that in reality righteous and indignant speeches rarely come out the way they would in fiction, and I have spent the past 9 years in a haze of l’esprit de l’escalier. I think I said something like “this is going to end badly you know” and stormed out. Then realised I’d forgotten to return my keys and slunk back awkwardly. That’s real life for you.

My dark days in banking

Many years ago during a much darker period in my life I worked for a bank. I was fresh out of university with a 2:1 degree in philosophy and needed work. Terry and I had just moved to Newbury where he was about to embark on the Vodafone Graduate Training scheme. His career was about to take off, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (aside from wanting to share it with Terry.) So I tarted up my rather insubstantial CV, put on a cheap suit and trotted down to the nearest recruitment agency.

As luck would have it, though with hindsight I’m not sure it was lucky at all, the local branch of Nat West was hiring. The fact that I had a degree all but guaranteed me an interview, and so I found myself sitting opposite the deputy branch manager answering insipid ‘competency based’ questions. While at university I’d held down a Saturday job at a jewellers for a year, so I was able to give my examples of “providing excellent customer service” and “paying close attention to detail” with relative ease.

Then came the part of the conversation where I said one of the stupidest things I’ve ever said in my life:

Deputy branch manager: A large part of this role will involve you reviewing customer accounts and suggesting more of the banks products to them. Is that something you think you could do?

Me: (airily) Oh yes! At the jewelers I was tasked with selling insurance policies to go with high value products and I was really good at it, so hitting sales targets is something I’m totally comfortable with.

If a time machine ever gets invented and I have opportunity to use it, I wouldn’t go back to see dinosaurs, or meet Shakespeare or clean up in the dot.com bubble. I would go back to that room on that sunny September morning in 2003 and punch myself repeatedly in the face until I stopped talking. It was true that I had sold crappy insurance policies to customers too stupid to realise what a waste of money they were. It was true that I was actually ok at it, but I hated doing it. I hated manipulating people, I hated implying that this extra expense was critical to their full enjoyment of the product, and I hated that I had to meet a target of selling this thing on 10% of my transactions. Saying I was comfortable with meeting selling targets had as much truth as saying I was comfortable with sticking pins in my eyes.

I suppose I could chalk some of this up to the naivety of a 21-year-old with little experience of the working world. I could also quite legitimately point out that having chosen to do a degree in philosophy, I didn’t have any obvious career options opening up. I needed to get an actual job, and in that instant I convinced myself that I would be ok at selling. I would have no problem silencing the moral qualms, and I would develop great transferable skills and make lots of lovely money.

Unsurprisingly they offered me the job on the spot. I know that sounds arrogant, but I was a smartly presented, well spoken, university educated person who had just professed to enjoying sales, and had produced credible examples of great customer service (that bit was true – I was and still am frickin’ awesome at Customer Service) so of course they gave me the job.

And guess what? The job sucked! The money sucked, the hours sucked, the Nat West/RBS corporate bullshit sucked, but most of all, being forced to sell unsuitable bank products to every customer sucked. The targets were virtually unreachable, even if you were actually quite good at persuading people to take out loans they didn’t need or shouldn’t have, and you had a gaping hole in your psyche where a sense of moral responsibility was meant to go. fortunately my ethical disgust, perhaps indignant at having been silenced during the interview, spent the next 6 and a half months screaming so loudly that I never got close to hitting any of my targets. So I am reasonably sure that no one has ever had to pay out any compensation as a result of my mis-selling anything.

On top of all of this I was also meant to be doing the job of a cashier, at which I was stupendous awful. My mental arithmetic is pretty dreadful at the best of times, and my till was repeatedly either over or under what it was meant to be. I can absolutely see why I was given the job in the first place, but how I kept it remains a mystery to me. When I handed in my notice six months later the manager warmly thanked me for my service and promised that if I ever wanted to return she’d be happy to take me back. All I can surmise from that is that I wasn’t the worst bank employee they’d ever seen, which is really quite depressing.

In the latest bout of complaints over the mis-selling of PPI, a former Nat West employee has written an account of being forced to persuade customers to take out these unsuitable policies. Reading this bought the whole experience flooding back with horrible clarity. I’m grateful I manged to get out when I did, and that I never got high up enough to have to sell the really nasty stuff like PPIs.

The other evening I was chatting to someone about the infamous Milgram experiment concerning the delivery of a lethal electric shock to a stranger on the instruction of an authority figure.
We both agreed that we would like to think in such circumstances that we would be brave enough to refuse, but accepted that statistically this was unlikely. While it might sound like a stretch to put electrocution in the same box as upgrading a bank account, I don’t think it’s totally off the mark to say that some of the same social dynamics are at play. I did things I felt were wrong because my superiors told me to, and I’m not proud of that. But I also think the experience has made me more wary, and accordingly I would hope I’m less likely to get stuck in such situations again.