Plus ça change…
The results are even more disturbing now than they were in the 1960s but after years of "War on Terror", 24, justification of massive torture, dehumanization of entire categories of people, and recent and ongoing genocides, it is not hard to see how ordinary people find it relatively easy to engage in that kind of behavior.
I would argue that any task provided with rationalization would work, not just "in aid of science". There is now a strong corpous of journalistic accounts of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay that reveals the dynamics at work which allow people to become torturers and butchers.
It would be interesting to be able to examine whether the rationalization change as one goes up the chain of command (and not incidentally, the social stratification ladder… the grunts do the dirty work and have to find justification akin to "I was following orders" or "they were shooting at us" where "they" can become pretty much anyone in the country whereas the justifications up the ladder are promulgated differently thanks to distance).
In any event, it is still disturbing and it is a Pandora’s Box, once open, there is no putting all that !@#$ back in it.