It seems to me that the experiment was purported to study the effects that would result from making one group superior and one group inferior. By randomly dividing men who were basically the same in demographics, it should be possible to see if it was the condition of inferiority or superiority, and not some other factor like race or social status, that caused the changes in behavior by both groups.
I’m not a psychologist or psychology student. My field is American literature. However, at the university where I teach, we serve on committees for other’s students, which means that I have learned a lot about how psychological experiments work when they meet APA standards. If done properly and replicated, this kind of study could have an impact on how we might explain the history of many other types of power discrepancies, in such situations as slavery, perceptions of the poor, beliefs about people of different religions, beliefs about the status of women, ideas about the concept of racial harmony in general, etc. Along with other studies, these conclusions could help develop methods for moving beyond the places we are currently stuck, but only if we realize where we get stuck and why. However, if this study doesn’t offer accurate results, then it’s useless, and our society needs to move on from it very quickly. No more wasting time and energy.
I am very aware of this experiment, and its goals seem clear. I can’t enter into a discussion about the validity of the results, since I don’t know anything about this controversy, other than what I’m reading here. I thank you all for explaining.