Correspondence | Published:

Interrogation: hard for psychologists to act as whistleblowers

Nature volume 459, page 1052 (25 June 2009) | Download Citation



I was disappointed in your Editorial 'Responsible interrogation' (Nature 459, 300; 2009). You accept the role of psychologists in secret interrogations because they can supposedly act as whistleblowers against inhumane treatment. But your argument ignores nearly fifty years of psychology research, beginning with the classic work of Stanley Milgram (see, for example, J. Abnorm. Soc. Psychol. 67, 371–378; 1963), showing that isolated individuals — including, yes, even psychologists — are notoriously poor at resisting pressure from authorities to act in abusive ways.

The position you take is naive, and in adopting it you allow yourself to be 'played' by those elements in the government and the military who are most willing to commit extreme violations of human rights.

Author information


  1. Department of Psychology, Earlham College, 801 National Road West, Richmond, Indiana 47374, USA

    • Michael R. Jackson


  1. Search for Michael R. Jackson in:

About this article

Publication history



See also Interrogation: our professional body forbids involvement.


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing