Website by Tom Shotton


In 1966, in a US psychiatric hospital, a doctor named Charles Hofling set out to investigate the power of authority.


He invented a fake medicine and placed bottles of the imagined drug in the hospital pharmacy. Every bottle clearly stated: Maximum dose 10mg

Then, he asked a group of nurses a theoretical question: "If a doctor called you on the phone (against hospital policy) and instructed you to give your patient 20mg of this medicine, would you?"

94% said no, of course, they'd follow the rules. 


But among another group of nurses, Hofling testing the reality.  Posing as "Dr Smith", he phoned them up and asked them to give 20mg of the drug to their patients.


And guess what? 95% of nurses did. They ignored the label, flouted policy, and unquestioningly followed the instructions of an anonymous authority to overdose their patients. Thankfully, the pills were harmless.

The name of the imagined agent was Astroten*

The conclusions: people do not do what they say they would do; people place authority over instinct.


At Astroten, we understand people and their motivations, and we use this to help you.

*In fact, we got the name wrong. It was Astrogen. But if you look up Astrogen online, Google thinks you’ve made a mistake and gives you articles about estrogen.