Brit Derren Brown to test four sociology (?) theories on TV

If you search for YouTube videos of the famous Milgram Experiment, you’ll run into an interesting recreation on the BBC hosted by Derren Brown (see part one of three here). When I’ve showed this to students, they tend to ask why a TV performer gets to perform this experiment but no university IRB would likely allow this. I don’t know the answer to this. But, Brown is back with a new show where he is going to test four more sociological theories:

His new show, The Experiment, will see Brown trying out four sociological theories on unsuspecting citizens.

The performer said: “Three of them are relatively dark, looking into the darker side of human behaviour, and one of them is rather positive and jolly. The first one is called The Assassin.”…

He explained: “It’s whether or not it’s possible to hypnotise somebody to kill, to carry out an assassination. This is based on the testimonies given by political assassins who say they were brainwashed by the CIA.”

Some of the theories have their origins in academia, while some of them are developed by Brown himself. Which is even more concerning.

So perhaps this isn’t terribly sociological and is more entertainment/conspiracy theory. What would it take to get an American host to replicate some famous or intriguing sociological experiments on TV? What about things like the Ultimatum Game and how the results can differ across groups and cultures? Instead, we are stuck with weaker shows like What Would You Do. A show that could demonstrate that sociological studies are both intriguing and beneficial for society could go a long way toward boosting the image of the discipline.

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