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Human Nature and predictable frauds

HUMAN NATURE AND THE NEED FOR
A TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONSUMER'S BILL OF RIGHTS

So far, not one CPUC employee has been willing to publicly acknowledge the "RSA" phone number has the last five digits of "25093." The FBI won't do it. Congresswoman Tauscher won't do it. Congressman McNerney won't do it. And Senator Boxer won't do it either.

The problem is human nature.

Deregulation and normal human behavior have led to corporate fraud and corruption. America needs a Telecommunications Consumers Bill of Rights to prevent the types of problems that occur as a result of normal human behavior.

Dr. Nancy A. Piotrowski, is a UC Berkeley professor, and a noted authority in psychology. Dr. Piotrowski told me the behavior of the phone company employees and the CPUC employees could be explained by classic examples of well known cases of social psychology experiments — in other words, human nature.

The behavior of the phone companies, Government employees, and elected officials was predictable, and can be explained by processes similar to what occurred in these classic examples:

  1. The Stanford Prison Experiment — people in positions of power, without oversight, will abuse their power.

  2. The Stanley Milgram Experiment — people tend to blindly obey authority, even when it means hurting innocent people (this experiment was done to investigate how Hitler could turn an entire nation into killing innocent people).

  3. The Asche Experiment — people in groups tend to behave the same as the "group," and anybody within the group, who disagrees with the group, is often viewed negatively; thus groups exert pressure which encourages conformity. Fortuneatly, President Obama, seems to understand this problem, and, in his words, he has chosen an administration that he hopes will avoid the "group think" mentality that has caused problems in other administrations.

  4. The bystander effect, and the diffusion of social responsibility. People are aware of a problem but expect others to get involved or take care of the problem, causing individual inaction, or lack of initiative.

PEOPLE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY, WITHOUT OVERSIGHT,
TEND TO ABUSE THEIR POWER

The Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted by Dr. Zimbardo, randomly assigned students to play prisoners or guards. It should be noted that the students involved in the experiment had been pre-screened to make sure they were normal and healthy. The role of playing prisoner or guard was done with a flip of the coin.

The behavior of the guards, who were in positions of power, became abusive within 36 hours. The experiment, which was suppose to go on for two weeks, had to be cut short after 6 days.

The lesson from the Stanford Prison Experiment was that people in positions of power, without supervision or oversight, will abuse their power.

The synopsis of the Stanford Prison Experiment is that the abuses to authority are not necessarily related to personality, but are more related to the context and the role people are in, as well as the authority they are under.

The behavior of the high-level phone company officials who violated laws is due to a lack of oversight, and normal human behavior. Just as the Stanford Prison Experiment had predicted.

It should be noted that according to the State Bar, Stephanie Krapf, the Attorney who stated the above phone number has the last five digits of "85093," went to Stanford University. As an Officer of the Court (and with no apparent oversight), she abused her power, just as the Stanford Prison Experiment predicted.

PEOPLE TEND TO OBEY AUTHORITY, EVEN IF IT MEANS HARMING INNOCENT PEOPLE

Another example of human behavior, related to abuses that are not necessarily related to personality, but the authority they are under, is an experiment by Stanley Milgram.

The Stanley Milgram experiment showed that most people obey authority, even if it means harming others. In the Stanley Milgram experiment, people who responded to a newspaper ad for a memory experiment were ordered to electro-shock "humans" who failed the memory test.

Men in white coats ordered the newly hired employees to shock the "subjects" in the other room, with only audio feed-back, in which the employees could hear the sounds of pain from the "subjects." The "humans" in the experiment were actors, who were not actually shocked.

Initially, the psychologists expected about 1% of the people to comply with the orders to shock humans to the point of causing death, and those people would be labeled psychopaths. As it turned out, 65% of the people continued to shock the "subjects" when ordered to do so, even when they feared the "humans" could die from the shocks.

The synopsis of the experiment is that most people tend to blindly follow orders when instructed to do so by authority, even when it will resort in pain on innocent people — it's human nature.

Another important fact learned in the Stanley Milgram experiment is that being ordered to hurt innocent people caused the "employees" great stress. This means that the people at the phone companies who are ordered to violate laws, are unnecessarily placed under far more stress than people who are ordered to follow the law. It is quite likely, that Stephanie Krapf, the Attorney who said the above phone number was not mine, was simply following the orders of her supervisor, and she felt powerless to tell the truth.

GROUP MENTALITY

The Asche experiment consisted of having several straight lines of different lengths on a piece of paper and getting a group of "actors" to claim the shortest line was the longest. Eventually, most of the "non-actors" agreed with the "actors," and stated the shortest line was the longest.

The Asche experiment proved that people who are in groups, tend to think and behave like the group. Group mentality, peer pressure, and group dynamics can cause individuals to "agree" with a decision or action, even when the individuals know the group is wrong — it is easier for most individuals to agree with a group than disagree. Those individuals who do not agree with the group are viewed as anti-social or outcasts.

Predictably, the California Public Utilities Commission and the phone companies have fallen victim in which entire groups of people blindly follow orders from people in positions of authority. The fact that no one at the phone companies or the CPUC is willing to publicly acknowledge the "RSA" phone number is mine, proves that fact.

Predictably, the CPUC, which is supposed to provide oversight to the phone companies, has bonded with the phone companies and become hostile towards consumers who complain about phone service. It was bound to happen — it's human nature, and the Asche experiment predicted it would happen.

Another example of the CPUC and AT&T becoming "one and the same" is this letter I received from the CPUC. Letter from CPUC, 4/22/09

It should also be noted that many people at the phone companies and the CPUC have one other reason for violating laws, which was not mentioned by the Asche experiment — financial fear. Many people at the phone companies and the CPUC fear losing their jobs for publicly stating that the phone companies are violating laws.

THE BYSTANDER EFFECT

The bystander effect is a psychological phenomenon in which someone is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when other people are present and able to help than when he or she is alone. An example is the Kitty Genovese case. Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death over a period of about thirty minutes, after which it was reported that dozens of alleged "witnesses" failed to help the victim, assuming that someone else would help. This is an example of how diffusion of responsibility leads to social loafing.

To counter the bystander effect when you are a victim, a studied recommendation is to pick a specific person in a group to appeal to for help rather than appealing to the larger group.

In the Formal Complaint, I complained to a specific person (the Judge). This did not work (most likely because the Judge has been corrupted, as predicted by the Asche experiment noted above).

It appears that Commissioner Brown, who was suppose to oversee the Complaint (through a system of checks and balances), assumed that the Judge would follow the law. In a Newspaper article dated 04/15/07, describing CPUC negligence, Mr. Brown acknowledged that the Commissioner's generally "assume that someone else is taking care of these things," -- this is the exact behavior of the bystander effect.

My Application for Rehearing went to four Commissioners, including Carl W. Wood. Not one Commissioner would acknowledge the phone companies violated laws, nor can any of the Commissioner's be linked to having knowledge of the facts of the Complaint. Just like Commissioner Brown, Carl W. Wood was also quoted in the newspaper article as saying Commissioner's generally "assume that someone else is taking care of these things."

Based on the fact that the Commissioners cannot be linked to having knowledge of the facts of the Complaint, while voting unanimously against me, it appears that the Commissioners simply assumed the other Commissioners had knowledge of the facts of the Complaint.

In a nutshell, Dr. Piotrowski told me:

The California Public Utility Commission and the phone companies are not immune to the forces of human nature. The tendency to abuse power, or to blindly follow orders when instructed to do so by authority, even when it will resort in pain on innocent people is sadly, not uncommon.

The behavior of phone company employees demonstrated conformity to policy and/or social pressure.

People who are ordered to violate laws or do things against their conscience also suffer from increased stress

It should also be noted that the "virtues" of loyalty and self-sacrifice, which corporations (and government agencies) value so highly in employees, are the very properties that promote the behavior noted above. Anybody at the phone company, or the Commission, who would publicly acknowledge the "RSA" phone number is mine, would be considered un-loyal, un-sociable, and risk being an outcast.

PROBLEMS WITH CURRENT LAWS, NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR, AND A SOLUTION

Because of the current laws, it appears that the only reason I will be able to prove the phone company used defective phone lines and violated laws will be as a result of photographing internal documents, and getting my Senator, or the President to look at them.

Currently, it is illegal for consumers to protect themselves from phone companies that use defective phone lines. The laws do not give consumers the rights to see test results of their phone lines, or to know what type of repair work took place, without filing a lawsuit. In a lawsuit, the phone companies will lie: the phone company's claim that the above phone number has the last five digits of "85093" proves that fact.

Currently, it is illegal for consumers to protect themselves from phone companies that refuse to put corrections to listings in writing. The laws do not allow consumers to record phone conversations when discussing listing problems. It was only after Pacific Bell provided documentation showing that AT&T changed my listings 24 times that AT&T admitted it refused to put corrections to my listings in writing, but then AT&T blamed me for their mistakes. The CPUC ignored the fact that the phone company violated laws to conceal recurring listing problems. Recordings would have proven that AT&T was at fault, but with the current laws, the recordings would not be legal.

Currently, it is illegal for consumers to protect themselves from being wrongfully accused of threatening employees with bodily harm during phone conversations, because the laws don't allow consumers the right to record phone conversations during disputes about recurring problems. The only way I could have protected myself from the accusation would be through recordings. The RSA phone number, however, does prove that Pacific Bell's documentation claiming I threatened people was fraudulent.

Because consumers can't legally protect themselves, it is human nature for phone companies to violate laws, and blame consumers for the misconduct of the phone company.

Proving the "RSA" phone number in the photograph is mine, proves the need to establish a Telecommunications Consumers' Bill of Rights.

last edited 05/22/09

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