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Compliance with Dr. Aaron Kheriaty
E11 | Forbidden Conversations
Masking. Standing 6 feet apart. Showing vaccine passports whenever you enter a public space. Whether you agree or disagree with such measures, those are just some of the ways we were asked to comply during the pandemic. Pupils of history will recognize that this situation is not unique and that compliance has been used both for good and evil throughout centuries. The psychology of why we agree to go along with things—sometimes ones that don’t logically make sense, or go against our moral reasoning—is fascinating and complex.
The Milgram Obedience Experiment had participants deliver what they believed to be electrical shock to another person on the orders of an authority figure. The Stanford Prison Experiment in the 1970s had participants take on the roles of guards and prisoners and showed how people would mold into whatever expectations came with their social roles. The experiment had to be terminated after only six days after the "guards" had started displaying abusive behavior towards the "prisoners." Group affiliation, size, and power dynamics all play important roles when it comes to compliance and these experiments also revealed how easily people’s behavior can be manipulated—even when they are aware that they are part of a study.
My guest on this episode of FORBIDDEN CONVERSATIONS is Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a physician specializing in psychiatry and author of three books, including most recently, The New Abnormal: The Rise of the Biomedical Security State (2022). He is a Fellow & Director of the Program in Bioethics and American Democracy at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Senior Scholar & Fellow at the Brownstone Institute.
Dr. Kheriaty also serves as Senior Fellow and Director of the Health and Human Flourishing Program at the Zephyr Institute, and Chief of Medical Ethics at The Unity Project. Dr. Kheriaty holds the positions of Scholar at the Paul Ramsey Institute, Fellow at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and serves on the advisory board at the Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy.
Dr. Kheriaty graduated from the University of Notre Dame in philosophy and pre-medical sciences, earned his MD degree from Georgetown University, and completed residency training in psychiatry at the University of California Irvine. For many years he was Professor of Psychiatry at UCI School of Medicine and Director of the Medical Ethics Program at UCI Health, where he chaired the ethics committee. He also chaired the ethics committee at the California Department of State Hospitals for several years.
Dr. Kheriaty has authored books and articles for professional and lay audiences on bioethics, public health, political theory, social science, psychiatry, philosophy, religion, and culture. His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Newsweek, The Federalist, Compact, The New Atlantis, Arc Digital, Public Discourse, City Journal, and First Things. He has conducted print, radio, and television interviews on bioethics topics with The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Fox, NPR, EWTN, and Epoch TV.
On matters of public policy and healthcare he has addressed the United States Senate, the California Medical Association, and has testified before the California Senate Health Committee. Dr. Kheriaty has consulted on Covid related ethical issues during the pandemic for the UC Office of the President, the County of Orange Healthcare Agency, and the California Department of Public Health.
FORBIDDEN CONVERSATIONS is a series that takes on topics that don't always get attention or are more challenging to tackle and seeks to address them through civil discourse and nuanced exploration. To view all episodes so far, visit here. Please subscribe, like and comment. You know, all the YouTube things. Want to listen only? Find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
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Who am I? I’m a writer with an overactive imagination and a random mind. Outside of Substack, you’ll find my work in publications such as Newsweek, WIRED, Variety, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Esquire, Playboy, Mashable, CNN Travel, The Independent, and many others.