Michael Huemer – The Psychology of Authority – PorcFest X

Michael Huemer – The Psychology of Authority – PorcFest X

Evidence from psychology and history teaches two main lessons about authority: (a) that human beings have a variety of strong, pro-authority biases, and (b) that socially recognized authority is an extremely dangerous phenomenon.

To illustrate a point in his talk, Mr. Huemer plays a 1 minute 35 second excerpt from a BBC Horizon broadcast, ‘How Violent Are You?’ which originally aired in 2009.


Michael Huemer is tenured professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and a rising star in the liberty movement. He has authored three books that are well-regarded among leading libertarian intellectuals: Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (2001), Ethical Intuitionism (2005), and The Problem of Political Authority (2013). At Colorado, Prof. Huemer teaches courses in ethics, social philosophy, logic, epistemology, philosophy of science, and metaphysics. He received his BA from UC Berkeley in 1992 and PhD in philosophy from Rutgers University in 1998.

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July 31, 2013 / 36 Comments / by / in
  • Loved his book, not just the message but mostly how clearly and honestly it was written. Wished more books were written that well, then maybe we would have less disagreement among intellectuals!

  • The video won't play. It says it is over an hour but each time I start it, it times out and goes to zero.. ?

  • I checked the file before I uploaded it. So, I'm going to say it's a problem with YouTube. I will check on it later. Sorry for the trouble.

  • same with me – and when I try to access it from teh playlist it just skips over to the next video

  • Youtube's doing the same thing to me but if you change the video quality it'll work.

  • What if problem is form During data transmission, make the file unstable. Because this data kind of big so maybe their data transmission during working that possible to be?

    I compare with whenever I upload my vdo even YouTube said done but VDO skip still and just 3.45min VDO until it's work may up to 15min

  • I might have to buy this book. He explianed not just the how of evil but gives logical reasons for why as well.

  • David Friedman asking a question= Awesome

  • 14:15 😀

  • 44:10 Wow. I'm lost for words.

  • It's the best book defending libertarianism I have read. I highly recommend it. His chapter on "The Psychology of Authority" was indeed very interesting, even after watching this video two days before reading it. Buy the book–you will be glad you did.

  • Please buy his book.
    The experiment requires that you buy his book.
    It is absolutely essential that you buy his book.
    You have no other choice, you must buy it.

    But seriously, Huemer's "The Problem of Political Authority" is fantastic. It's the only book defending libertarianism that I've read that I expect I'll read again. To see a list of some of the other books I've read on libertarianism, see here:


  • Watch the movie COMPLIANCE…you'll be amazed

  • We just watched it the other day. Good movie. Doesn't say much for parenting in this country if many people would grow up thinking doing those things is OK.

  • Someone ought to make a viral video with the content of this video / Ch. 6 of Huemer's book. It's incredibly interesting and important.

    See it's relation to slavery:


  • how do you go from questioning authority, to anarcho-capitalsim making sense?

  • Haha, fucking surprise David Friedman at around 50:00

  • In the social proof experiment I would have picked answer A despite what 19 other people in the room said. Does this explain why I have no friends?

  • Deschooling Ourselves
    Deschooling Ourselves

  • When asked about the origin of our tendency to obey authority, Michael alluded to an evolutionary basis. Not arguing against that, but wanted to add that we are born into and raised under the authority of our parents and for most people it is only natural that they continue to live under authority and accept it as normal.
    The truth is that we should grow up and run our own lives, but most people are simply scared inside to make that transition. This effect is seen everyday in prisoners that are released after 20 years and do not want to leave the prisons they are accustomed to.

  • +ChangeTip 3 apples from the tree

  • Wonder if there was any thought about connecting our acceptance of authority with the concept of emergent behavior in non-self-aware organisms and even chemistry and physics in nature. Those who study emergent behavior note the "rule" which causes the meta (complex) behavior is a psychology of "following" nearest neighbors in a "flock".

  • Would these people call the police if a band of about 30 strong young men came in and started punching and kicking everyone?

  • His presentations never fail to interest and inform me!

  • Lose the "uuummmmm" 

  • I was primed by my parents from birth to fear and obey authority through physical (slapping, spanking, whipping) and mental abuse (neglecting, manipulating, confining). My journey has gone from, and now encompasses, world peace to inner peace. I "snapped to" when my daughter heard my voice coming out of her mouth when disciplining my granddaughter. She, too, felt like a monster and was horrified by her own reflection. Ouch!

  • I heard larkin rose in there asking a question. You the man larkin!

  • yeah but the nazi society was a democratic one. except hitler wasn't elected, but his party was.

  • 49:58, 1:14:09 David Friedman! 1:03:55 Larken Rose!

  • Thumbs up, Dr. Huemer! For a philosopher, you have a fine grasp on psychology. My own university path was through philosophy, psychology, and sociology, with psychology being the main thrust.

  • confirmation bias

  • The ist experiment is called "there's shit in the game"

  • 1:09:40 self domestication.

  • State authority can be legitimate if it is restricted to the powers that the people rightfully had before the formation of the state.

  • Early Christians would rather have died than cowtowed to political authority, and now presidents put their hand on the bible as if they're not violating the principles of the bible in taking that oath and the actions expected of them

  • i want shiny badge with #420

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