Scientists (like business people and other leaders) can be sick and disturbed individuals who don’t care much about the people they use. There’s a good reason for that. Most people are gullible and spineless when told what to do in a convincing and assertive manner. Hence it’s a match made in heaven and you wouldn’t believe what volunteers and test subjects are willing to do in the name of science (and small amounts of money). Another thing to note is that people are followers. Place them in a group and even if someone’s life is in danger, they will do nothing if no one else does anything first.
Currently there are laws in most countries protecting citizens from themselves and from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous scientists. Unfortunately there are still cases of people getting hurt in experiments because not everything can be foreseen in life and in reality, not even scientists are able to foresee every angle. Not to pick on scientists, but the same logic applies to other authority figures like the police, your boss, the church and political leaders. As will be demonstrated in each experiment here, people will do the strangest things if told to do so, and if their fellow citizens follow along. No one wants to be different or be considered dumb, and everyone wants to be accepted by a given group of people.
Every last human on earth is smart and capable of logically deducing what is right and what is wrong. In one sense it is fortunate for the world that most of use do not use this skill and just do what we are told. There would be no law and order otherwise. On the other hand we can’t progress either, if each one of us is scared to think for ourselves because we are afraid of what the rest of the world, or our friends or our co-workers, think. It’s all a part of the great balancing act that gives us our list of mad scientists who actually got people to cooperate with them.
15. Prisoners Asked To Have Their Testicles Bombarded With Radiation
Between 1963 and 1973, dozens of inmates in the Pacific Northwest (USA) volunteered their testicles for radiation testing. Of course prison is rough, and these prisoners did get some money and early parole in exchange, but is prison really rough enough to tolerate this? The University of Washington conducted the experiments on behalf of the US Government, zapping enough radiation to develop 2,400 chest X-rays at 10 minute intervals. In the end, the experiments proved to be more damaging than initially thought, and the inmates won a $2.4 million settlement back in 2000. Didn’t the inmates or the researchers ever see the footage of what happened two to three decades earlier in Japan when the A-Bomb fell?
14. The Homosexual That Wanted To Be Converted
In 1954, at McGill University in Montreal, Canada an experiment was conducted to determine where the pleasure point responsible for sexual arousal was located. The researchers demonstrated their discovery by inserting wires into a rat’s brain. The rat eventually figured out it could pleasure itself by pressing a lever. The rat would press this lever around 2000 times an hour, or once every 2 seconds.
Fast forward to 1970, where someone at Tulane University wanted to use this same experiment to transform a homosexual male into a heterosexual male. The test subject who volunteered was known as B-19. After three hours, B-19 got to a point where he would press the lever up to 500 times an hour, thus stimulating himself about once every 10 seconds. After the three hour period was over, the researcher brought in a willing female participant (a paid prostitute). Within the hour B-19 did the deed with her. According to the researcher (Robert Heath), B-19 returned to his life as a homosexual prostitute, while maintaining an affair with a married woman. For Robert, this proved that someone could be converted. Heath, however, never tried this again and neither did anyone else.
13. Multiple Women Actually Volunteered To Get It On With An Ape
Sci-fi and comic book movies are rampant with storylines of creating the perfect soldier, combining man with machine or animal. The Soviets actually took this stuff seriously and were renowned for such experimentation. In 1927, Dr. Il’ya Ivanov traveled to Africa to pursue his dream of interbreeding man and ape. He could not fully disclose his experiments to his colleagues, because of the unpleasant consequences that would have arisen. As such, his experiments went nowhere. So he returned to the motherland, with an Orangutan named Tarzan, hoping he would have more freedom to do his research. There he found a few women willing to give birth to Tarzan’s baby. In other words they were willing to be inseminated with an Orangutan’s sperm. Tarzan died before the women could do anything so the experiment ended.
12. Someone Decided To Stand In Front Of A Raging And Charging Bull
The 60s were great for science fiction experiments. This experiment was about implanting microchips in someone’s brain to control their behavior. In 1963, Yale researcher Jose Delgado was so confident in his breakthrough, that he stood inside a bullring in Cordova, Spain, armed with nothing but a remote control as a raging bull charged towards him. The bull had a chip implanted in his head. When the bull was only a few feet away, it appeared that Delgado, standing still and doing nothing, was going to be gored, trampled or worse. However the researcher pressed a button on the remote and the large, angry bull stopped immediately, then walked away rather calmly. This type of research went away for awhile, but seems to be making a comeback.
11. The Ape And The Child
History tells us of many instances where children were raised by animals. In such cases the humans acted like the animals when they returned to civilization. Winthrop Kellogg once wondered if the opposite was true. Would an animal raised by humans become more human? Everyone knows the answer to that one. You can’t take an animal out of the wild. But the scientist was not so sure and used his own child to prove his theory. So Kellogg brought a seven month old chimpanzee into his house and raised it alongside his 10 month old son, Donald.
They were both treated the same way, using the same learning tools, eating together and playing together. After nine months it turned out that the chimp did not learn how to talk or do anything human for that matter. The child also did not learn how to talk, imitating the chimp’s sounds and barks instead. In other words the chimp did not imitate the human, but the child imitated the chimp. Luckily for the child, the experiment ended and it recovered. The chimpanzee on the other hand died a year and a half later when it was sent to a research facility with other chimpanzees.
10. Voulez-Vous Couchez Avec Moi Ce Soir?
It’s the name of a song from the late 70s literally translated as: do you want to sleep with me tonight? It was also in this era that Russell Clark of the University of Florida wanted to find out if the line really worked. He convinced his attractive female and male students to walk around campus asking this question, in English, to other campus kids. The results were what one would expect. Three-quarters of men said yes to the pretty girl, while none of the women said yes to the attractive man. In fact, most women asked the man to leave them alone. Although this experiment seemed trivial at the time, it was one of the first to demonstrate that men and women behave differently on certain matters.
9. Shock The Puppy
Speaking of how men and women behave differently, no one could have guessed the results of this demented experiment. In 1963, Stanley Milgram demonstrated how easily people could be manipulated, even to the point of killing another man. His experiment will be shown later on. A few years later Charles Sheridan and Richard King could not believe the results of the 1963 experiment, which really showed that even a normal human will not disobey an authority figure or scientist, even if it means killing someone. So Sheridan and King recreated a similar experiment where 26 willing participants were asked to shock a puppy. The cute little animal had to stand left or right depending on the positioning of a certain light. The participants were told to shock the puppy each time it moved to the wrong side. The shock level increased by 15 volts each time the puppy got the wrong answer. Of course over time the puppy would be writhing in pain and the participants would see this. Of the 26 participants, 20 increased the shock level right up to the maximum level because they were told to do so. Half of the 26 participants were men, and half were women. All six participants who refused to harm the puppy were men, while all thirteen women kept pushing that shock button.
8. Prisoners Need Loving Too
Philip Zimbardo was curious about why prisons are such violent places. Could it be the sadistic minds of its inhabitants? Or could it be due to their environment and treatment? The psychologist at Stanford University then created a mock prison. He recruited volunteers with no criminal record, with no history of violence and who passed every psychological test. He randomly sent half to jail cells to act as prisoners, and half became security guards.
It took only one night for the prisoners to stage a revolt. The security guards cracked down hard using methods such as random strip-searches, curtailed bathroom privileges, verbal abuse, sleep deprivation, and the withholding of food to curtail the revolt. A few hours later one prisoner dropped out of the experiment. Six days later, four more prisoners dropped out due to the stress. The actual police had to come in to quell the remaining prisoners at which time the experiment ended. It took six days for the clean cut kids to become sadistic guards, and when the experiment ended the guards were very disappointed, complaining profusely because they enjoyed the newfound power that they were given. On the flip side, all of the prisoners ended up seriously depressed.
7. The Bystander Effect
Ever notice that no one wants to stand out from the crowd? Apparently this is true even if someone’s life is in danger. In 1968, John Darley and Bibb Latane conducted a study at Columbia University proving this theory. Volunteers were asked to fill out a survey. In the room next door others were filling out a similar survey when harmless black smoke filled their room. Those people witnessing the smoke in the other room did not do anything. When the experiment was redone with only one witness, that witness went and got help right away. The experiment was redone, this time with an actor pretending to have a seizure. Once again, participants in a group did nothing, but when the group consisted of only one participant, that participant immediately tried to get help. Though not a mad experiment, it is still spooky. People will always follow a leader or a respected professional, no matter what the stakes.
6. Nurses Can Be Set To Kill
This is another one of those experiments indicating that people will do what they are told. This involved nurses who were willing participants. 22 nurses were told to administer a dangerous dose of a particular medication to a patient, full well knowing that the dosage would kill the patient, and full well knowing that the injection was unnecessary. The needle contained a placebo, but the nurses did not know that. Of the 22 nurses, only one objected and refused to do the job. The other 21 were willing to administer the needle even though they were 100% certain that the patient would die. Once again they did this only because they were told to do so by their doctor. The experiment was conducted in 1966 by Charles Hofling.
5. People Volunteered To Have Their Faces Pecked By Chickens
This is an example of why sometimes, University Professors just have too much time on their hands. In 2004, the Zoology Institute at Stockholm University in Sweden set out to prove that chickens prefer beautiful people. Several volunteers were asked to put their face in front of a chicken, thus allowing the chicken to peck their face. This can seriously hurt. Chickens are not nice and those beaks are hard. Apparently chickens tended to peck at faces that humans would consider beautiful. So beautiful people beware, it’s not just people, but animals are more likely to chase you, too.
4. Some Of Us Will Eat Poison If Given Enough Money
All of us can thank Harvey Wiley for exposing the toxic chemicals found in our food, and for implementing better guidelines for food producers. However, we should also thank some very brave, perhaps dumb participants who must have definitely been in need of money. Back in 1903, the Department of Agriculture employee wanted to prove that the preservatives and dyes of the day were dangerous. He found 12 young men who were told exactly what he was trying to prove. They were given healthy meals mixed in with meals containing a high level of these preservatives. Harvey was proven right, as all of the men got extremely sick. No volunteer died but they did experience lasting health issues. Our current food laws though, changed and became what they are today.
3. Black Lives Apparently Did Not Matter In Tuskegee, Alabama
In Tuskegee, Alabama, understanding Syphilis was important as long as your test subjects were Black. Between 1932 and 1972, 399 African Americans who had contracted Syphilis were observed to see the effects of the disease and were never administered the medication necessary to cure them. All of the test subjects were volunteers, they were just mislead. The subjects were informed that they had ”Bad Blood”, and that they needed immediate treatment, which they were given. The treatments though, were useless placebos and of the 399 patients only 74 survived with many infecting their wives and their unborn children. In the end all researchers wanted to know was whether patients were better off not being treated as opposed to being treated with the toxic remedies available at that time. Needless to say, this study changed the laws on protecting patients in clinical studies.
2. The Psychological Gender Reassignment
In 1965, Canadian David Peter Reimer was born male. At the age of 7 months a circumcision went terribly wrong and as a result his manhood was destroyed. John Money, a psychologist, strongly believed that gender was learned and acquired. Hence he convinced the boy’s parents to raise and treat him like a female so that the boy would receive sexual maturation as a girl. The shrink believed that the child would be better off this way. The child however grew up teased and depressed. As an adult he shot himself in the head and died.
1. Someone Proved That Most Of Us Would Kill Innocent People If Told To Do So
This experiment was previously mentioned in this article. It demonstrated to what end people will just do what they are told when instructed by an authority figure or a respected scientist. In 1963, Stanley Ingram of Yale University conducted his famous obedience experiment. Volunteers signed on for an experiment that they believed was about studying the effect of punishment on learning. When they arrived at the lab the researcher told them that they had to murder an innocent person. All volunteers initially protested but when Stanley firmly stated that ”the experiment requires that you do it”, they all did it.
In another room, an actor would attempt to memorize a series of word pairs. The volunteers could hear the actor but could not see him. When the volunteers would read out the word pairs, they would give the actor an electric shock if he got it wrong. There was really no shock given to the actor, but the volunteers did not know this. The voltage increased with each wrong answer until at about 150 volts, the actor screamed in pain and demanded to be let out. Confused, the volunteers turned around and asked the researcher what they should do. He always calmly replied, “The experiment requires that you continue.”
To Milgram’s surprise, even though volunteers could plainly hear the agony of the actor through the walls of the lab, two-thirds of them continued to press the shock button all the way up to the end of scale, 450 volts. At that level the actor would pretend to be silent, hence dead.