When I first stepped onto Khao San Road, the main backpacker drag in Bangkok, I was a little overwhelmed. I had arrived after weeks spent cycling alone in the Thai countryside, winding through rolling hills, beside acres of fields filled with rice and corn, passing by bustling towns and cities without a single tourist.
If we weren't narcissists by clinical standards, I wondered, what were we? People with too many gadgets to think clearly? To feel clearly? People with good intentions, short attention spans and a propensity to do what's best for ourselves? People trying to figure out this mess of a universe one bus ride at a time? Whatever we were, we needed to become something else, more compassionate.
This unilateral focus on the dark side has had the unintended effect of blinding us to one of the most obvious and inspiring features of the experiment: it also showed that hundreds of ordinary people -- though the minority of Milgram's participants -- did in fact have what it takes to stand up for what is right.