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Friday, February 24, 2012

Murray's Seminar Test

Hello everyone. I don't want to give you my name just in case, but I'm one of the students feeding you information to this blog. I attended Dr. Murray's Friday seminar, being an interested pre-med student. I had no idea that it was going to be this…extraordinary.

He began as any other seminar, introducing his topics and what it was he was working on. It sounded like he was in another world with his amazing claims of being able to practically sedate someone and have them perform tasks asked of them with just a shot. It was nuts, and few of us audience members believed him at first. His biological and neurological explanations were lost on me, though, as they were more complicated than I'd ever heard from a professor.

Then he moved onto the test, which was astounding. Dr. Murray brought forth two of his fellow professors and one of his grad students and took out a dozen or so needles from a locked briefcase. He injected a low dose of what he was calling "Behavior medicine" or "BM" into his graduate student. The student looked the same in general, but when the professor asked him to do odd tasks (ten jumping jacks, write the last equation he saw onto a piece of paper, recite a list of his ten favorite bands) he complied without question and without hesitation. Dr. Murray moved on to a higher dose of BM and gave it to one of his other professors. The professor would blink like he was sleepy, but that was the only indication of a change. Dr. Murray asked him to curse loudly at the audience, tell an embarrassing story, and to let everybody know how much money he made every year. Again, perfect compliance, but with slight hesitation when telling the story (I won't repeat it here for his sake). Finally, the last professor was given the strongest shot of BM. He soon seemed drowsy and had the face of a man who doesn't care about anything. Glossy eyes, not really looking at anything. The professor was asked to punch himself in the face. Not only did he do it, he gave himself a nosebleed and cracked his glasses. Then he went straight back to being glossy eyed, apparently not thinking about the blood staining his white shirt. Right afterward, Dr. Murray gave them all what he said was a BM antidote. They all regained their pre-BM behaviors except with a bloody nose and embarrassed looks.

Dr. Murray asked them to describe what they felt, and it was nuts! They all knew in their head that they didn't want to perform the tasks asked of them. Considering the story and punching in the face, I wouldn't have blamed them. But they all felt an irresistible compulsion to do what was asked, mostly because they trusted Dr. Murray as a professor and colleague.

I spoke with Dr. Murray afterward and asked him about the implications that something like this would have. He told me he had been too focused on his research to give any thought to the matter. I'm really starting to think otherwise. He was acting uncomfortably during out chat and quickly changed the subject after I brought it up. I did a little digging and found out he's got some close ties to university officials and a couple agencies I've never heard of. Seven years ago he was awarded a large government grant, but the specifics aren't public. I'm really not sure what's going on, but it feels…off. I'm still considering that the three guys tested were faking it, but I don't know for sure. I'm thinking about going to his office next week and seeing what's up. I'll let you know the results.

You can call me BM for now.


  1. Annie Barber2/24/12, 6:51 PM

    "His biological and neurological explanations were lost on me..." - BM obviously isn't a very good pre-med student!

  2. Joking in chat, I told BM what you said -

    "[BM]: lol really?
    [BM]: murray wasn't that good at explaining it, and it was a lot of advanced neuroscience that i haven't had yet.
    [BM]: and this fourth year isn't exactly going to be my last, if you know what i mean"