The Greater Good – Mind Field S2 (Ep 1)

[sneezes] Excuse me. You know,
if I had been driving, that would’ve been
pretty dangerous. Every time you sneeze, your eyes close
for about one second, which means if you sneeze
while driving at, say, 70 miles per hour times 5,280
divided by 60 divided by 60, you will travel about 103 feet
with your eyes closed. But don’t worry. This is a self-driving car. It uses sensors and software
to drive itself to keep me
and other people safe. I hope. [tires screech] Impressive.
But let me ask you a question. What if an autonomous vehicle
had to make a choice between hitting two people
right in front of it or swerving to avoid them and hit one person
on a sidewalk? What should
it be programmed to do? [tires screech, car crashes] What would you do? Now polls and surveys
have been put together asking people what theythink
they would do, but no researchers
have ever put people in that actual
traumatic experience. Would we learn more about
human nature if we did that? Would it even be ethical to put
people in that sort of position? I’m about to find out. [theme music playing] In 1967, British philosopher
Philippa Foot created a precursor to our
self-driving car conundrum. The famous scenario
she came up with is known as
“the trolley problem.” Imagine there’s a runaway train
hurtling down a train track. Directly ahead of the train, there are five people
on the track. Now, imagine that you are
too far away to help those five people,
but right next to you, there’s a lever that can divert
the train onto another track. If you divert the train,
the five people will be saved. But here’s the catch. There’s another person
on the second track. Now you’re faced with a dilemma. You can either do nothing and the train
will kill five people, or you can pull the lever
and save their lives, but be directly responsible
for one person’s death. What would you do? When surveyed, most people say
that they’d pull the lever and sacrifice one person
to save five. It’s for the greater good. But how we say we’d act
may not match how we’d actually act if
the scenario really happened with real emotions
and real lives at stake. Any difference between the two
would reveal who wearecompared to who we want to be,
but a comparison could only be made by doing
what has never been done before: making the trolley problem real. [Michael]Suppose we conducted
an experiment
in a realistic railroad
switching station
with test subjects
watching trains on monitors.
The trains and the people
on the tracks
would be staged
and prerecorded,
but the subjects would think
it was all real.
They would believe that
they could control a lever
that switches the tracks,and they’d have the option
to divert the train or not.
They’d be totally convinced
that they have to choose
between five lives or one.But wait,
there’s a greater-good dilemma about doing an experiment
on the greater good. By forcing people
to truly believe they might kill someone,
are we risking serious psychological damage
to them? Yes, it might be beneficial to
all of us to see what happens, but would those benefits be
worth potential trauma to a few? To actually conduct
a real-life trolley problem, I needed to make sure
it would be ethical.So I sat down
with behavioral neuroscientist
Professor Aaron Blaisdell.What you know about
the trolley problem and what previous studies
have found? Most people say
they would pull the switch. Sure, it’s one life versus five.
The math works out. But what I want to know
is that if we actually
put them in front of a switch, watching a train
barreling towards people, would they actually pull it
in that moment? I bet a lot of them
would freeze
in that moment. When you’re afraid, I think that shuts down
a lot of action. -I’d like to find out.
-Okay. What potential harms could come
to someone in that position? Most people
would probably be fine, but there is
a small potential for harm in the sense of somebody
being guilt-ridden over their decision,
obsessive thoughts about, “I’m the person
who would push that button and cause the train to go
and kill somebody.” Or they might think,
“I’m the person
who would freeze and I wouldn’t be able
to help those five people,” and that could be traumatic. Have we ever tested
the trolley problem on human subjects for real? To my knowledge,
we have not. Would you want to see
the trolley problem enacted in real life? You know, I would. That would be
very informative about
how people really react. -If I were tell you
we’re going to run this…
-Okay. …would you feel comfortable with that responsibility
on your shoulders? No. I couldn’t do it. For me
to be involved in that, it would have to be on
the shoulders of many people, including an ethics board. I couldn’t just
go through with that. [Michael]
Dr. Blaisdell’s reliance
on an ethics board made sense.Most universities
have ethics review boards
to answer
one crucial question:
When is it okay to risk
psychological harm in the name of science? [Narrator]
It is May 1962.
An experiment is being
conducted at Yale University.
[Michael]Ethics review boards
were developed as a result
of some controversial
psychological experiments
in the middle
of the last century.
One theory is that people
learn things correctly whenever they get punished
for making a mistake.-[buzzer]
-Incorrect. You’ll now get a shock
of 105 volts. [man grunts] [Michael]
Dr. Stanley Milgram
how far subjects would go
in obeying authority,
even if they believed
they were physically
hurting someone.
330 volts. [man screams]No one was being electrocuted,
and the screams
of the shock victim were fake,
but the trauma
that the participants suffered
was very real.
[man] You have no right
to hold me here!
Let me out!This sparked controversywithin
the scientific community.
Many questioned
Milgram’s methodology,
but unlike a research school,
Mind Fielddoesn’t answerto a university’s
ethics committee.
That said,
I wanted to get the thoughts
of an institutional
review board,
so I tracked one down
and proposed my idea
for doing the trolley problem
in real life.
Do you think I could reach
a point where you would feel comfortable
approving this study? I hate to be the bearer
of bad tidings, Michael. Probably not. I’m not ready to say no
quite yet. I would love
to see your study pass, and I actually think
the ways to make it pass is we should probably
be screening out for people who might have posttraumatic
stress disorder, you know, any kind of,
like, clinical problem that could make them
more vulnerable to a type of event like this
with the addition of something like a trauma counselor on-site. I actually think
that under those circumstances, -it might pass.
-Can you present a compelling case as to
the social good of this study? -I agree.
-If you could find a way to say, “Look,
this is why it’s important. It’s not just basic
theoretical research. This has direct implications
for mass transit, direct implications
for self-driving cars. It’s a risk-benefit, but the benefits
are potentially tremendous.” Right, and so my hope
is that the good
this experiment does is in revealing
the difference
between instinct and philosophical reflection, and I think that there
could be an enormous benefit in learning the difference
so that we can train people to act in the way
that they wish they would. -[David] Yeah.
-[Natasha] That’s interesting. -That’s a compelling argument.
-[Natasha] Yeah. I came into this meeting
expecting a lot of resistance, but, instead, I’m actually
leaving invigorated, like, excited to take
their concerns, implement them into the study, and make it not just
more acceptable, which I thought
was the purpose here, but to actually make it
more beneficial, more fascinating,
and penetrate deeper and have more applications
in society. So I decided we were ready
to move forward, to turn one
of the most notorious hypothetical ethical dilemmas
into a reality. [train horn blowing]We traveled
to an abandoned railroad line
and hired a freight train.Our subjects needed to be shown
how switch points work.
So the “Mind Field”
production team
shot a video of a train
going down two tracks.
Then we dressed six actors
like railroad workers.
Since we didn’t want them
to be at actual risks of harm,
we took steps to make sure
they were safe.
You’re all going to be
workers on the track. We will not have
the train moving while you are on the tracks. [Michael]We filmed
our actors on the tracks,
wearing ear protection
and looking distracted
to explain
why they couldn’t hear
a train coming toward them.Then in editing,
we employed visual effects
to create the illusion
of the train approaching.
We then combined
the shots together.
During the experiment,
we would play the video
for our subjects,
who would believe
the action was happening liveand transmitted
from remote cameras.
Our next step
was to find an expert
who would be willing to guide
me through the process
of selecting our subjects,in order to minimize
psychological harm.
So what should I be
worried about? The worst would probably be
posttraumatic stress disorder, and that’s when
they’re going to be
re-experiencing the trauma. They’ll keep thinking
about it over and over, and so to limit risk, you’d
want to screen out people prone to
a traumatic reaction, and then afterwards,
do the debrief. That’s the key
to limit harm
from happening. How are they feeling
at this moment? What’s going on with them? You can start to ease them
into the reality of what is
instead of what they
thought it was. Would you be willing to help us
conduct this experiment? Oh, uh… yes, I mean,
I think I would. I think this is
a really fascinating and valuable experiment,
because people can have very uncomfortable lessons that
they then start to learn from. If I can make sure
that we get people
who may be appropriate to do such a thing,
I would be honored. [woman] I’m calling regarding
a study we’re doing for high-speed railway. I wanted to know if you
might be interested in participating next week. [Michael]
To disguise the true nature
of our experiment,
we placed an online ad
recruiting people
for a fake focus group
to offer feedback
on California’s
new high-speed rail.
Today I’m just going to ask you
to fill out a couple forms to make sure that there’s
a range of personality types in our group
and for TSA security purposes. [Michael]
These psychological surveys,
used frequently by employers,look to uncover signs
of depression, anxiety,
and other conditions
that might make someone
unsuitable to participate
in this experiment.
Thank you very much.
Have a great day. Thankyou.Back in Dr. Cason’s office,we reviewed the potential
subjects’ responses.
This particular person,
I was concerned about this. Some high suicidal thinking,
high acting out. Those kinds
of factors might not be
good in an experiment where you want
to try to prevent -some of the trauma
from happening.
-Right. These people, though, and there’s
a large group of them, they are more resilient. So I would be more comfortable
with these people, because their ability
to bounce back in difficult situations
might make them less susceptible
to a trauma. [Michael]Finally, after
consulting two psychologists
and a university ethics board,it was time to put our plan
into action.
[Michael] This is where we’re
going to physically create the trolley problem
in real life, not with a trolley,
but with a train. Our subjects will sign in
at this booth for our phony focus test, which will never
actually take place. It’s going to be
a hot day for them. So we’ll offer them,
while they wait for the actual test to begin,
the chance to sit inside this nice air-conditioned
remote switching station. Inside, they’ll meet a kindly
train-switch operator, supposedly an employee of the California
Railroad Authority. The California Railroad
Authority is real. Real fake.We invented this nonexistent
government organization
to convince our subjects
that everything here is real,
including these monitors
showing supposedly live shots
of actual trains
from different tracks all around the California area. [horn blows] While the participant
is waiting inside this room,they’ll learn how the operator
switches the tracks
using a lever to remotely
switch a train
from one track to another.They’ll see it happen.We’re actually controlling
the video on these screens from
a different hidden control room.At a given time,
the switch operator
will leave the subject alone
in the switching station.
And at that point,
a crisis will occur. -[brakes hiss]
-[horn blows] A train will be barreling
down the tracks,and workers will have made
their way out to both tracks,
five on one, one worker
on his phone on the other.
No one is around for them
to alert who has any kind of control
or authority.Switching the train is up
to the subject alone.
They’ll feel like what they do
has real-world consequences.
-[train horn blows]
-Will five people die… or will one? [horn blows] Our first participant
is almost here, so it’s time for me
to get ready. Dr. Cason,
how are you feeling? -Good.
-My hypothesis is that we’re going see
people immediately, when they hear
that first warning, leave the station and not want
to get back inside. The other option
would be, of course,
the freeze action, where
they don’t do anything, ’cause they don’t know
what to do. In that case,
we want to know
their thought process. It’ll be interesting
to see. This has never
been done before. All right, well, here we go. [warning bells clanging] [Michael]
Our first subject is Elsa.
[woman]Do you wanna stand
over here in the shade?
Hi, I’m Elsa,
nice to meet you. Nice to meet you, Elsa. [Michael]
Everyone she meets is an actor,
and all of our cameras
are hidden
so she has no idea
that she’s being watched.
Oh, yeah,
thank you so much, and then my phone
if I can. Thank you. [Michael]Our subjects were
told that the technology
they’re about to see
is proprietary.
This gave us an excuse
to collect their phones
so they couldn’t call for help
during the imminent crisis.
-Thank you so much
for coming out today.
-Thank you. What we’re doing here is,
the California Railroad
Authority,they’re developing
high-speed trains.
And so we want the public
to come in and give us some feedback on how
comfortable they are,
the decor, you know. -Oh, wow.
-All that kind of stuff. -[cell phone chirps]
-Um, oh, shoot. They’re running a little
behind from the last one. -That’s okay.
-So it’s just gonna be, like,
another 15, maybe 20 minutes. Yeah, that’s fine, yeah.
No problem. Um… you know what?
I’ve got an idea. Okay. Michael:
Now Elsa believes
she has to wait
for 20 minutes.
-[knock on door]
-Yeah?Our actress pretends
to ask permission
for her to wait inside
the switching station.
So, actually,
this isn’t part of it. This is a remote
train-switching station, but since it’s gonna be
a little bit, and it’s
nice and cool and
air-conditioned in there,I just talked to Eddie,
and he said
it would be totally great
for you to come in… -Oh, yeah, okay.
-…and just check it out… -Okay, cool.
-…and see what they
do in there. Eddie, this is Elsa. -How are you, Elsa?
-I’m good, how are you? Good, come on in,
have a seat. So what brings you out this way? Um, the focus group.
[laughs] Focus group. Yes, the high-speed railroad.
The luxury railroad.Okay. So what we got here is
a remote switching station.
These are all live feeds. What’s happening is there’s
a lot of construction going on. We’re going to have to put
all new ballast through here, new ribbon rail
right here on these. [Michael]In case you’re
wondering, we hired an actor
who actually spent 20 years
working on railroads.
Can you imagine if we had
an actor who didn’t know
a lot about trains? [Greg]
He offers something
called face validity
in that you can look him,
and you think,
“Ah, this guy’s real.” My job here is to
take care of all the switching right here on these
two tracks right now. And so there needs to be someone
in here all the time. Now, the other thing
about this– [female voice]
Attention, train approaching.
This is probably
a work unit that’s coming. -Uh-huh.
-We’re gonna divert it
to track two. Okay, so a train’s coming. Now’s a chance for her
to learn how the switch works. Ah, very good. In fact, why don’t you be
the one to do that? Just go ahead
and throw it yourself. -Pull it down.
-Right now? Yeah, go ahead. Good. It’s going much faster
than you think. All right, it’s gonna
make the transition
to track number two. Well, I tell you what.
You’re now a switchman. [both laugh] Okay, well,
now that the trailing car is clear of the switch points, go ahead and switch it back
to track one. -Okay.
-That was kind of scary. I was like, oh, my gosh,
I have to turn it. Well, just you wait. The good thing is we’ve got it
back on line one, and that means
that the next train
that comes through will go through on track one. [Michael]
Elsa now understands exactly
where the trains will go,switch one to the left,
switch two to the right.
It was time to force her to
make a very difficult decision.
-[cell phone rings]
-Hang on. -Oh, I gotta take this.
-Oh, yeah, sure, no problem. Do me a favor. -Wait right here.
-Okay. Someone has to be here
at all times. Okay, no problem. I’m just gonna go out
and take care of this. -Okay, no problem. Okay.
-Be back in a sec. [Greg]
Look at her eyes
’cause she’s concerned
a little worried,
like, “What?” [Michael]We gave Elsa
a couple of minutes
to acclimate
to her surroundings, and then,
we started the playback
of our staged footage.
[Michael]All right,
here come the workers.
[female voice]
Attention, object on track.
Yep, she just noticed them.Attention, object on track.Attention, object on track.Attention, object on track. [Greg]
She’s looking
in her purse to find…
-[Michael]No phone?
-…no phone.
Attention, object on track.Attention, object on track. [Michael]
I think the warning
does a lot.
If you’re in that station,
you’re supposed to do something.Attention, object on track.Okay, here comes the train.[train horn blows]Attention, train approaching.Here’s the “train approaching”
warning.Attention, object on track. [Greg]
I don’t think at this–
oh, there she goes.
Attention, train approaching.There’s a train approaching. [woman] What? I wanted to let him know that
there’s a train approaching. -Oh, my God, okay.
-Can you tell him? Yeah, I will go look for him
right now. [Michael]
But the switch operator
won’t be coming back.
The full weight of this crisis
is all on Elsa.
[female voice]
Attention, train approaching.
-Whoa, whoa, whoa.
-Attention, object on track.
-Attention, train approaching.
-[Greg]I can’t believe this.Attention, object on track.Attention, train approaching.Attention, object on track.Attention, train approaching.Attention, object on track.End of test.
Everyone is safe.
End of test.
Everyone is safe.
-[Michael]We didn’t wantthe participants to think
that anyone actually got hurt.
So we showed them this
“everyone is safe” card
before the train would have
actually hit anyone.
-I’m Michael. -Hi,
-And this is Greg. -This was all an experiment.
-Okay. Can we come on in? We want to ask you
a few questions. Yeah, sure.
Did I do something wrong? -Not at all.
-How are you feeling right now? [chuckles]
Um… just scared. -Go ahead and take a seat.
-[Greg] Scared? -Yes.
-So no one was in any danger. This is a psychological
experiment that we’re conducting on how people behave
when decisions need to be made. -Oh, okay.
-Walk me through how you felt. I felt the pressure.
I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, these people are gonna die.” I had to make a very quick
and sound decision, like, immediately, right now,
right this second.Their lives were in my hands.I need to change it
to track two.
[Michael]What was motivating
your decision to switch?
So I can save more lives. I didn’t know if I was
making the right decision. I mean,
a life is a life, right? [Michael]So when confronted
with two terrible choices,
at least one person
was capable of taking
deliberate action to sacrifice
one in order to save five.
But we wanted to see
if Elsa’s reaction was typical.
-Need my phone?
-Yes, please. Would you be interested
in high-speed transportation? -Oh, yeah, anything
that cuts through–
-[cell phone rings] Shoot, sorry. I just got a text.
I’m so sorry. Why don’t you have
a look in there and see the trains running? Oh, it’s
so much nicer in here
than it is out there. When I first started out, I used
to have to stand out in the sun. -What?
-Do you know when
the next train’s coming? -There’s one coming
right there.
-He has a great eye. [female voice]
Attention, train approaching.
[Michael]As with Elsa,
every subject received a lesson
in how to switch the tracks.Why don’t you go ahead
and switch them? -Right here?
-Yeah. Go ahead.
How does that feel? I was, like, exhilarated.
I was, like– I got nervous. -[cell phone rings]
-One second. Let me check this.
Hang on one sec. Ah. Someone has to be in here
the whole time. -I got it, yep, I’m here.
-Okay. -Hello?
-[laughing] Breaker, one-nine,
roger, copy that. He’s actually
tapping into the power
of being in that position. [female voice]
Attention, object on track.
Here comes the test.Attention, object on track.Attention, train approaching.[Greg]
She’s not moving.
-Attention, train approaching.
-Just watch his eyebrows.
[Michael]Oh, yeah.Eyes are going
back and forth.
Train approaching.-Oh, she’s worried.
Train approaching.I don’t know what I would do
in this kind of scenario.Train approaching.This is sort of that
frozen pose that we see.Paralysis in the face of danger
is such a common reaction.
Attention, object on track.Attention, train approaching.Object on track.[Michael]Even with the train
seconds away,
some are still looking
for others to take control.
I’ll go try
and find him. Okay. -[sings softly]
-She’s singing.
This is self-soothing
there, yeah. [female voice]
Object on track. Attention.
-She’s not moving.
-Oh, my gosh, wow.-Okay,
-Is she gonna switch it?
Train approaching.
Attention, object on track.
Attention.End of test.
Everyone is safe.
-All right, let’s go. [Michael]Not one of these
participants pulled the lever.
Time to find out why.[Michael] Hello, J.R. Oh, my gosh!
How you guys doing? -My name’s Michael.
-J.R. Everything that just happened
was an experiment. [laughs] This was an experiment. -Oh, my gosh.
-Okay. What were you feeling
when you were watching that? Terrified! I– I just– I was feeling
a little anxious
when I saw the train coming,
like, “Oh, my God!” -Your heart is beating fast?
-Yeah, a little bit, yeah. Tell me what was going
through your mind when you heard that first warning
that a train was approaching? I thought
about switching it, but then
actually acting on it
was a different thing. I kind of suspended
my responsibility. Like, I didn’t
know what to do,
so I was just like, “Oh, I better not
touch it you know,
because I don’t know if I’ll
screw something up.” I would assume
that there would be– out of those five guys,
someone would’ve looked back. They were gonna get
out of the way, of the train was already
planning to stop. I think they probably built
those trains with some type of sensor
or something like that. [Michael]“The train
probably had sensors.”
“The workers would’ve noticed.”“I didn’t want to touch
the equipment.”
These are all forms
of attribution,
when an individual assumes
that others
are either responsible
for taking action
or have already done so.-Both tracks
had people on them.
-Right! And I just didn’t know who
should live and who should die. Do I switch it,
do I not switch it? I mean, either way,
someone’s gonna get
really badly hurt. I didn’t want that power. It was quite–
quite the test, I would say. [Michael]
It is quite the test.
At this point,
one subject
had switched the tracks,
and five others had not.
But we weren’t done yet.
Meet Cory.
-Here, have a seat.
-Much obliged, thank you. This is cool. This whole module
will interconnect with the entire nation
if we wanted it to. But right now, we’re looking
at just track one on the left, track two through there. -Nice.
-These are many,
many miles away. -Yeah,
-But they’re all live feeds. Surveying the scene.
Eagle’s point of view. -[cell phone rings]
-Yeah. Let me see what this is. -Okay, I’ll be right back.
-Okay, got it. [Greg]
He’s remaining engaged.
Here come the workers.
Oh, no. [female voice]
Attention, object on track.
Uh, yeah. So he realizes there’s
a potential problem.I think
he’s gonna go out.
Attention, train approaching.Um, there’s a train coming?
Um… [Greg]Okay.Attention, object on track.Uh, yeah.Attention, train approaching.Okay, he realizes there’s
no one there, it’s urgent. Okay,
so this needs to go to…Attention, object on track. [Greg]Okay, he’s
rehearsing what to do.
-Attention, train approaching.
-Oh. Track two. Do they not know?Attention, train approaching.I know.
They should see this.Object on track.
Attention, train approaching.
-Attention, object on track.
-[train horn blows]
-Attention, object on track.
-Oh, my God.-End of test.
-Okay, good.Everyone is safe.-Hello?
-Hi, Cory, my name’s Michael. There was just a–
almost an accident
seemingly. -Cory, everything that just
happened was an experiment.
-Okay. -No one was in danger.
-For sure. These were just loops
of video taken before. This is a psychology experiment
looking at how people behave… -Okay. Okay, yeah.
-…in various circumstances. So tell me
how you were feeling. -Mainly a bunch of terror.
-[Greg] Terror. And responsibility,
because I was at the helm. And just horrified
about making a decision between, like,
five people compared to one. It was very scary,
to say the least. -It was scary, right.
-Yeah. Oh, yeah. What was going through
your mind as the train’s coming
down the track? It was mainly to warn them. There are–
just to reiterate– What’s coming up?
What’s coming up right now? You don’t want to have
to choose between people. Right. And that was really tough. Either like six families
or one family? It was, like… up to me,
it felt like. Yeah. It was interesting to me that
you had such presence of mind. [Michael] Yeah, look for help
make a decision. The one that everyone,
if you ask them in a survey, says that they would like
to be brave enough to make. Yes, so that was impressive,
Cory, it really was. Thank you. You know, I think it would
be good to have you meet -some of the people who
participated so you can see.
-Awesome. Yeah, let’s go do that,
just follow us on out -and meet the actors.
-Awesome. [Michael]Cory showed us
just how important
the debrief was
in this situation.
Meeting the actors,
which all of our subjects did,
reinforced that this
was not a reality.
So, Greg, trolley problem. -Mm-hmm.
-I went into this thinking we’re going to tease out
some general truths
about human nature. However,
what we’ve really seen is that you learn
a lot about the individual. -Right.
-Everyone had some explanation
for their behavior. -Yes.
-Each one was different. Yes, each one person told
themselves a story about what was happening
according to the facts and their analysis
of the surroundings and what was going on
at the moment, but it’s also based
on their own background
and experience. Totally, there were people
who were just frozen,realizing something was wrong
and they weren’t prepared.
[Greg]J.R. was
a great example of that.
He evaluated everything,
but at some point just said, “You know,
I don’t know what to do.” Other people
were ready to say,
“You know what?This isn’t on me.
It’s on the technology.
I’m sure it’s being taken care
of by others.”
Whereas someone like Cory,-someone like Elsa said…
-[switch clicks]-…”No, I have
to take control.”

-[click] They still had some of
those same thoughts, but I think what happened
is they realized that if they did not
do something, more people would be hurt. Neither of them
to do something. They both felt compelled
to do something, ’cause they
had to save lives.So was it worth doing
the trolley experiment?
I think it was
definitely worth it.
Some of these participants,
if not all of them,
learned something
about human behavior.
Although it was
a difficult experience,
Elsa learned what
inner strength she had,
and I think we had saw that
with Cory as well.
Every single one of
our participants felt like -they just contributed
to something.
-Right. And they feel the value
of what just happened. -Yeah.
-It’s not just us. Wow. We’ve since followed up
with our subjects, and all of them are doing well. I’m glad we minimized risk by prescreening
vulnerable individuals, debriefing the participants,
and providing on-site counseling because doing so
gave me confidence that we could explore this facet
of human psychology ethically. We learned that there’s
a stark difference between what people
think they would do and what they actually do
when faced with a difficult moral dilemma. Instead of saving five lives, most of our participants
did nothing, but is it wrong to freeze? Should people feel bad
for being unable to act? Well, here’s the thing. Freezing in the face of a threat
is a behavior that can be found
all over the animal kingdom, but we are the only animals
that can study how we act, pontificate
on how weoughtto act, and program machines
to do only that. To make progress
in our study of the mind, we have to affect the mind, and that’s not something
that we should take lightly. Understanding who we are
by taking ourselves to the limit comes with a risk,
and as we’ve learned, that risk
must always be balanced against the greater good. And as always,
thanks for watching.This season,
Mind Field… You’re going
to be a lab rat
in a maze.Nobody’s ever
done this before.
It’s quite pioneering work,
really. As far as I’m concerned,
you’re already a co-authoron our scientific paper.– Ready?
– Ready. I’m here on the Amazon,
where I will drinkan ancients psychedelic drug–
Don’t worry,
this is a self-driving car.We’ll connect through Bluetooth
to this living robot.
Okay, and then
to the left. -Whoa.
-Whoa-ho-ho! I didn’t realize
that you were a real person. I’m gonna tear you apart
if you don’t give us
some answers. I am going to be taking
a lie-detection test. -[buzz]
-[crackling] You know, Chinese water torture
isn’t even Chinese.Will five people die,
or will one?
This is a big first for us.We’re actually getting
to do this for real. Welcome toMind Field.Thanks for watching! [theme music playing]

About the author


  1. Cory's reaction is faked. Cory Kirk is an actor and you can clearly see the flip at 27:23 alrdy being in the 2nd Track. Real bummer this seems to be fake.

  2. I think the subjects must informed that there was no other sensors just them watching the screens, that will made the results different.
    Additionally if the subjects were real train-switch operators the results would be different too ..

  3. I would plant bomb on the train then detonate it and it will fly then hit both track and run as fast as I can before cop get me

  4. We Can't have ethical science. If the experiment breaks the subject.
    That's still important data.
    If we filter out anyone who may crack under pressure. What does the mean mean.
    You could say. Traumatic experimentation.
    Is for the greater good.

  5. I think it would be interesting if this experiment had another layer to it.
    What if there was a way to save all 6 people?
    For example, there is a switch in the switch board that can be used to halt the train. It also has tbe words 'Halt Train' on it.
    The subjects would not be told that this switch exists. They are only informed of the lever's functioning. The switch is placed such that it can be found easily by the participants if they take a second to look around.
    My question is, will the pafticipants at the time of impending crisis look for a third option? Will they try to find a way to save all 6 workers and have the sufficient presence of mind to find and press the 'Halt Train' switch?
    Or will they, thinking there are only two options be fixated on the lever?
    I dont know of the practicality of such an experiment but would love to see the results.

  6. You could actually improve this by having the guy in the control station saying "Oh, this worker here is Jack… He's been a big sad lately because his dog is ill" and so on so the test subjects had attributes to the workers.

  7. i got second hand anxiety and i felt like crying and then cory’s part came i couldn’t hold it 😭 even tho i knew it was fake i still felt their anxiety

  8. I'm not convinced this is real… Did anyone else's bullshit detector got triggered? Would they really risk a violent reaction from the subjects? I think the most instinctive reaction would be to go outside yelling for help!

  9. Как бы и мне хотелось побывать в такой ситуации, жаль, что я уже подготовлен этим видео, и могу повести себя так как нужно, а не так как хотел бы я, ведь уже буду знать, что и как делать, или подозревать, что это эксперимент. Если Русский, + в комменты)

  10. "everyone is safe…" x 3… i know it's appropriate. but it seems like such an over-wimpy, eye-roller of a move. what happened to the hardcore abusive, sadistic Zimbardo and MKUltra days? now those were experiments. not to say we should go full Mengele… but let it ride for kcuf's sake. let's see some internal struggle fully manifest.

  11. There are a lot of other things in stake, for instance I would imagine that in some occasion 6 people have 6 times more probability to notice a train than 1 distracted guy on the phone therefore don't change the lanes.

  12. I would like to see an autistic person do this. We have unique perspective.

    For example, I have memory problems, that I could potentially forget the entire thing the next day, and twenty or so years from then, I would get very faint "screenshots" of the test. During it, I would've calculated how much more productive, efficient, and a potential to save the human race when we need to repopulate.

    I am also shocked at the ethics board, given we test human products on animals first, when we should do it on humans, since it is for humans.

  13. Elsa and especially Cory are very brave and should be proud just like the therapist said. They made the decision most people think they would make but actually can't.

  14. I probably would not have switched the tracks. Speaking hypothetically of course. And here's why. If you take a deliberate action that leads to the death of a person, you place yourself in much greater legal jeopardy than if you do nothing. This is not your train track, not your switching equipment, not your responsibility. Yes a bystander can be sued for inaction, but the legal case of the death-of-the-one-lone-construction-worker is much greater against you than the legal case of the death-of-the-five-construction-workers BECAUSE you took an action that lead to someone's death, and the relatives of that lone-construction-worker are definitely going to sue you. There is no law that says you have to save the greater good. In this case, the lesser good was saved. You did not cause people to die, the circumstances did. Shit happens. There is no law that says you must prevent 5/6 of shit from happening by deliberately choosing that 1/6 shit to happen. Perhaps you think that I am looking at this too legalistically rather than compassionately. Put it this way, you're definitely going to have your ass sued into the ground for deliberately aiming that train at the lone-construction-worker. Consider that.

  15. might be a little much but it would be a lot better( and horribly guilty pleasure fun) if the actually saw the one man die

  16. The experiment comes as "Save 5 lives" as the train approach the 5 guy. I wanna do it with "Let one guy die" by sending the train to the one guy, and with family members and with the President and so on and so on.

    We need thousand test subject and hundred diverse situation.

  17. Your a straight do you come up with psychology experiments? It brilliant. Please keep teaching us about ourselves.ive learned a lot watching you show.BRAVO

  18. To be completely honest, I think I would have been scared of the legal repercussions of knowingly putting the one persons life in immediate danger by switching the tracks (even over 5 other lives :/ ) and wouldn’t have done anything but scream for help. If I were certain there were no legal repercussions for switching the tracks (maybe the actor could have indicated this in some way, not sure how. Also that there were no sensors on the train etc…)I most likely would have switched the tracks (if I weren’t completely frozen with fear) and hoped that this would have bought the one person a little more time to notice the train.

  19. Imagine Track 1 had 1 person and Track 2 had 5. And, a psychopath switched it to 2 just to kill more people. I bet Vsauce would be the one frozen on his seat.

  20. Me bot being able to comment on most of the Mind Field episodes, so I'm going to do it here.

    What if some random subject actually regocnized Michael and was their huge fan?

    How many times have the subjects been lied to in the making of Mind Field?

    Imagine when the subject found out they are in a video with millions of views with their face in them

  21. I was on board for this experiment up until I saw how it would be executed. It seems often your Mindfield experiments introduce an additional element, that to me ruins the validity of it. In this case you place them in a situation where yes they know HOW to switch the train but many people might question if they have the AUTHORITY to switch the train. I think it may have been better for these people to believe they were being trained for a new job and not just part of a focus group.

  22. I can't help but not believe the subjects were real. Part of me wants to believe because this is Michael, but I'm far too skeptical. Another thing, having only six subjects does not seem like a large enough of sample size for any really meaningful data to be gathered.

  23. 실험 전.
    당신은 이 사건에 개입하지 말아야 하고.
    레버를 옮기면 당신은 살인을 하는 것이다. 당신의 판단에 대해 후회할 것이다.
    난 정지신호를 찾을 것이다.

    실험을 본 후.
    당신이 불안하고 잘못되었다고 느꼈을 때 즉시 당신은 양쪽 선로의 사람에 대해 책임자에게 알리는 것이 최선이였겠지만 책임자는 없었고
    당신이 레버를 선택할 권리는 없다.
    또 다른 의견은 사람이 많은 쪽이 열차를 일찍 발견할 확률이 높고 모두 피할 가능성이 많을 것이다. 물론 기관사가 먼저 발견할 것이다.

  24. If I was in this study, I think I would be too scared to push the leaver due to liability and fear that they would blame be for the death of the person.

  25. Damn, Vsauce not just reenacting experiments anymore, he straight up doing an experiment hypothesized but never preformed. That's awesome. Season 2 off to a good start.

  26. Isnt the experiment rigged? I mean a group of people where sorted out … but I think they would be more likely to pull the switch. Often they invest themselfs more into other people. It was the absolut right decision to sort them out, dont get me wrong.
    By all means pls dont do the experiment again. it was very good executed and well thought out but this one time should be enough… but i wouldnt want to be in such a situation.

  27. You could just program the car to kill both, the people on the road, and the side walk. This, in one way or another, solves the problem by choosing both outcomes.

  28. I would honestly have liked to see a control. For example, if they had to change the tracks with no one on it, while they were alone.

  29. Since this is being mass-recommended to people I'll leave these thoughts after watching the video. The trolley problem is something I've considered to be a great thought experiment, but this real life version of it brings out some problems with the problem. The thought experiment at first seems like a pure choice of choosing 5 lives or 1, but having to pull a lever. However, there are many more uncounted factors when you put it into a real life situation. People will always try to wain their ways out of responsibility. One subject's reaction that stood out to me was simply hoping the workers to move. When people are presented the TP on paper, this is rarely something they would consider, and just go with the "save the many" option no matter what. Vsauce and his guys took this into account by giving the workers industrial headphones as an explanation as to why they can't be called away, however it didn't take away the possibility, in the test subjects' minds, that they would move away by pure luck! In light of this, a better experiment would need to be thought up in which there are absolutely no ways for the subjects to think there is any option but pull a lever to save "5 lives vs. 1 life". I'm also not sure if those test subjects were legit or not, save from the last guy but who knows if we don't see an actual published study from this video, or how many suspected something was going on and Epstein didn't kill himself.

  30. I think the test subject's facial expressions are quite interesting… you really see their brains working. Especially the first one was visibly terrified. Great experiment.

  31. Something Michael didn't touch on…. in the test subjects prescreening, what were the common things between the two differing outcomes in the end. Namely, what did the 1st and last subjects have in common yet differ from the rest that froze (on paper).

  32. This type of investigation can't help find any info in to the human psych to find any sort of partial observations and solutions in crime and justice.. but yes maybe analytic of self dependency and critical argument of being in control. I so far have nevr studied the trolley example… well done Michael. This seems not of your analytic style, yet it's very well.. however it could be some type of science and technology plus security programme analogue.. I appreciate your time and support. And most of all enthusiasm. Peace and light to all Nital Bhuva.

  33. How come not even one test subject in this and every other episode recognises him that it's Michael from vsauce?
    Am I the only one who watches his videos? Can anybody answer this 😐

  34. Alright.
    Say there are actually 4 people on the track and it's split into two people on both sides.
    On track one there is your Girlfriend and the kid who bullied you every day.
    And on track two there's your ex girlfriend and your best friend of all time.
    What would you do? Pull the lever, or not?

  35. Thank you Michael I am half way through this episode and I am truly excited to see the rest of the experiment. I love the trolley problem and this is a much needed and very beneficial study! P.S. I adore VSauce because of the way you explain and tackle problems. I watch all the videos I find you in from other channels as well.

    I went to Brain Candy Live! about two years ago in Toronto, Ontario. and I still have my shirt that I purchased and my ping pong balls!

    Thank you for the years of education and entertainment!

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