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Jessica Jones And The Very Real Power Of Suggestion

The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Netflix original series Jessica Jones, pits it’s super powered detective heroine against the super villain Zebediah Killgrave, better known to comic fans as the Purple Man. Despite his less-than-intimidating name, Purple Man has a very formidable ability: he can make people do whatever he asks.


Using these powers, Killgrave has committed crimes ranging from theft, to bank robbery, to over-throwing whole countries. And even a few that are too despicable for us to mention here.

Comic writers have explained this ability in different ways over the years, including super pheromones and telepathy. But there’s one possible explanation which is frighteningly real: the Power of Suggestion. To put it another way, sometimes all Killgrave has to do to make people obey him is ask the right way.

Now, if you’ve ever gotten into a fight with a teacher or parent because you wouldn’t do something they wanted you to, you might think this sounds more far-fetched than the super pheromones. But scientists would disagree with you, especially this one: Stanley Milgram.

Milgram performed one of the most famous experiments on human obedience of all time, and is the subject of Magnolia Picture’s feature: The Experimenter.


What Milgram was trying to find out was how much you could get a person to do, just by asking. In his experiment, he asked regular people to press buttons on a console. The buttons were connected to another person in an adjoining room, who unbeknownst to the test subject was actually an actor working with Milgram. Whenever the buttons were pressed, the actor would pretend to get an electric shock, scream in pain and beg the test subject to stop. Milgram however, asked the subjects to continue pressing the buttons. No matter how much they thought they were hurting the other person, they kept pressing the buttons as long as Milgram asked them to. Some even kept going after they thought they had killed the other person. The test subjects were offered no reward for following the instructions, and there was no penalty if they didn’t follow them. Their only motivation to listen to Milgram was that he was a scientist and he said “please”. Maybe it really is a magic word…



Although Milgram’s experiment is controversial, his finding remain popular and some have used them to answer questions such as “why do people join cults?” and “why do people follow dictators?”. And they definitely make Killgrave and his abilities seem that much scarier.

So the next time someone wants you to do something, think hard about who’s asking before you say “yes”.

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The Governments of Star Wars: How to Achieve Power and Authority


Star Wars mostly shows how cool lightsaber fights can be. However, it also shows how difficult it is for anyone, Jedi or Sith, to create a workable government on a large scale. Turns out that running a nation with hundreds of planets and billions of people, aliens, and robots, all with their own languages, values, and agendas, is pretty hard. This is especially true if you don’t have the two main ingredients of government: power and authority.


Power is the answer to the question: “What can a government do?” In the Old Republic, the answer to this question was “Almost nothing.” In the Empire, the answer was “Almost everything, including blowing up a planet.”

Authority is the answer to the question: “Why does a government exist?” In the Old Republic, there were tons of answers to this question, including tradition, the legitimization of royalty, religion, and defense against the Dark Side. In the Empire, the only answer was the wrath of their evil agenda and the imposing force of Darth Vader.

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The Old Republic had authority but no power. The Empire had power but no authority. Both fell apart predictably in the movies. With no power to actually do anything, the Old Republic fell apart as soon as they faced a serious government problem. With no reason to rule, the Empire was destroyed as soon as they lost military power, much like other fallen empires in our own history.

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Will the Rebel Alliance do any better in the upcoming episodes or will the First Order rise to become even more powerful than the Empire? What authority do General Leia and Han Solo have to rebuild a government and deal with all the problems of an entire galaxy? I think the real question here is whether a galactic government is even possible, or even necessary.

Watch the video below for a breakdown of power and authority in the Star Wars galaxy and how it compares to governments in our world’s history.