Humans have been experimenting since the days that we first made fire, and it has served us well. Over the ages the sum total of our knowledge has continued to expand and we have learned all kinds of amazing things about the world we live in. However, some of the things we have learned have only been possible because someone first did something absolutely crazy, and some things we know weren’t even that necessary, but they decided they just had to find out what would happen. In this article, we discuss some of the craziest experiments ever performed on human beings (and, in one case, a human’s best friend). Be warned, some of these are rather disturbing.
10. A Russian Scientist Once Tried To Create A “Humanzee” – Human/Monkey Hybrid
A Russian scientist named Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov, back in the early 1900s, had an idea that he thought was absolutely brilliant. He wanted to see if he could make a hybrid being between a human and a chimpanzee, or a “humanzee” if you will. At first he started by rounding up 13 female chimpanzees and repeatedly injecting them with human sperm. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the world and common sense and reason, his experiments failed and none of them became pregnant. Frustrated with his luck, he decided that he needed to try it the other way round, and got some male chimpanzees and started asking for female volunteers.
His plan now was to get a human female injected with chimpanzee sperm, and he believed he would need at least five women to get his experiment going. At this point people were starting to think his idea was not so great, and he struggled to get funding or volunteers. In no time, he was actually sent off to work as a low grade veterinarian in complete disgrace and died a couple years later. There are some rumors that one woman was at least injected with the male chimpanzee sperm, although there is nothing to suggest that it ever amounted to anything. However, even the rumor that a woman was simply injected once was proven to be totally baseless – he never got to attempt the second half of his insane idea.
9. Many People Don’t Realize That What Pavlov Did To His Dogs Was Horrendously Cruel
Pavlov is known for his experiments with dogs and bells where he taught them to salivate at the ringing of a bell by associating it with food. Many people think of this as a breakthrough in psychology, but there is way more to the story. The truth is that Pavlov was never that interested in psychology, but actually the physical aspects of the experiment. He did not even agree with most of the conclusions that people drew from his work in terms of psychology, and actually used buzzers and electric shocks as stimuli. He also wasn’t really concerned with teaching dogs to salivate when they heard a noise; rather, his main goal originally was to learn about digestions and the chemical properties of saliva and the way food breaks down as it goes down your digestive system.
Pavlov’s experiments were actually horrendously cruel and would never pass an ethics board anywhere in the world today, but they won him a Nobel Prize in Physiology in the early 1900s. He would actually practice something called “sham feeding” where he would create an opening in the dog’s throat called a fistula, so that no matter how much the dog ate, it would never reach the stomach. He made holes progressively lower down on different dogs to study how the digestive tract worked while they were still alive. It should be no surprise the dogs are salivating in the hope of food, because they were never allowed to have it reach their stomach. Pavlov’s experiment was a horror show, but most psychology classes conveniently leave those facts out, because it would simply be too disturbing.
8. Scientists Once Studied If People Were Conscious Or Thinking Shortly After Being Guillotined
The guillotine was a marvelous new contraption to execute people quickly and relatively humanely. In fact, when you think about it, while it looks barbaric, the guillotine was quite a quick death even compared to some methods today such as lethal injection or the electric chair. Because it was actually something the French hoped would be a fairly humane option, they were actually concerned when an executioner slapped the cheeks of someone who had just been decapitated and they blushed. Of course, we know that this is a fairly explainable phenomenon that has nothing to do with consciousness, but this got the people at the time thinking.
They started testing the heads of those who were decapitated shortly after death, trying to discover if they showed any signs of awareness, or would respond to any visual stimuli. Experiments suggested that some might be able to blink for a short while afterward, but it was hard to say what activity, if any, was actually voluntary, and how long, if at all, the brain was still alive. Modern scientists can only speculate on the issue because experimenting for real would be very unethical and require executions, but they tend to believe that if someone had any awareness or consciousness after decapitation, that it would only last for a very short while before they died – people simply cannot survive for more than seconds with their brain not attached to their spine any longer.
7. Japan’s Unit 731 Was Notorious For Performing Vivisections On Experimentation Subjects
When most people think of atrocities in World War II, they tend to think of the Germans and the Holocaust. You might also hear them point out evil things the United States did, or even Russia, but Japan is rarely mentioned. This is probably because they are staunch allies of ours today, but during WW2 they were a dangerous enemy that gave us incredible trouble. They were known for marching our soldiers to death and hosting brutal prison camps. But what many people don’t realize is that they also took territory well into China, and their worst deeds were done to helpless civilians.
They had a place called Unit 731, where cruel experiments were performed on prisoners of war and many civilians from captured territory that were rounded up for the purpose. There were many cruel and evil experiments done at Unit 731, but one of their favorites was doing something called vivisections on humans. This is an extraordinarily cruel thing to do even to an animal, but they did it to reportedly hundreds if not thousands of people. For those who aren’t aware, a vivisection can be more easily described as a “live dissection,” in this case of a human being. They would cut people up and start examining and taking out organs while they were still alive – and because the world can sometimes be a cruel and evil place, this was done without anesthetic.
6. Josef Mengele Tried To Sew Twins Together To Create Functioning Siamese Twins
Josef Mengele is well known for being the evil Nazi doctor responsible for trying to create perfect Aryans, doing all kinds of creepy medical things to people without their consent, and also for a very bizarre fixation and obsession with twins. Some people even believe that his obsession with twins has had consequences that last to this day.
There is a village in Brazil where there are an incredibly high number of twins, making the village an anomaly. Genetic scientists found that there was a common gene found in most of the women in the village that caused them to be more likely to have twins, and that inbreeding had made it worse over time – these were also all German immigrants. This has led many to speculate that somehow these immigrants had a connection to Mengele. However, it wouldn’t necessarily be a direct connection, or mean he found a way to make more twins. It is possible that many immigrants who were fleeing his experiments and had a common bond gravitated toward living in the same village.
However, this is only the lighter side of what he did with twins. Some of his most insane ideas were to see if he could take two normal, healthy twins, and turn them into functioning Siamese (conjoined) twins. He would sew them together, and try to make their blood vessels properly sync together. None of the children experimented on this way lived more than a few days, but Mengele continued on with his brutal experiments undeterred.
5. The Man Who Tried To Raise His Child As A Bilingual English And Klingon Speaker
A father in the United States not long ago told the newspapers his ludicrous story of trying to teach his son to speak Klingon as he grew up, as a social experiment. Now, this may sound incredibly irresponsible of him, but his wife and everyone else he was around were still speaking to him in English, and he was learning to read English in school. He wanted to see what would happen if a child tried to learn a fictional language alongside English naturally as he grew up. The experiment was a resounding failure.
The child seemed to pick it up okay, as children are able to do with language at a young age, but he was always biased towards English. His father had conditioned him to answer in Klingon when spoken to in Klingon, but he never chose to use it otherwise. Realizing that this maybe wasn’t a good idea, he abandoned the experiment when his son was still relatively young. He reported that his son knows Klingon still, but never speaks it, and they don’t really talk about the experiment at all. He was trying to see if it would have any real effects psychologically, as different languages can create different ways of thinking, but instead it seems the language just never fully took hold. It may be that fictional languages are simply far too limited.
4. A Doctor Drank Down Infected Broth For An Experiment, When All Other Options Failed Him
A physician and Nobel Prize winner named Barry Marshall was having an issue back in the 1980s. He needed to prove to his colleagues that stomach ulcers were caused not by stress, but by bacteria. His appeals to his colleagues’ senses were not working, and the experiment wouldn’t work properly on mice or other rodents in this case, so only humans would do the trick. The problem was, for ethical and approval reasons, he couldn’t conduct human trials to test the bacteria in people’s guts. After a lot of thought, he came to one insane conclusion – he had to ingest the bacteria (Helicobacter Pyolori) himself.
He put a strain of the bacteria from an infected patient into a broth and drank it all down. Before long, he came down with the symptoms he expected, and took a culture from his own stomach, so that he could prove his theory. In the end, he won a Nobel Prize for making himself incredibly sick on purpose in order to prove how a specific ailment was occurring. And keep in mind, this wasn’t a guy trying to disprove the theory – he firmly believed he would get horribly sick from drinking it, and he did so because he believed it would help save lives.
3. The Little Albert Experiments Were Horrifically Unethical And Would Be Illegal Today
The little Albert experiments were a series of experiments done on a little toddler named Albert, who was unfortunate enough to be alive back in the infancy of psychology in the United States, when ethics basically didn’t exist and you could perform whatever evil experiment came leaping to the forefront of your black and demented heart. One psychologist back in the day had heard of the Pavlov experiment, but decided that he wanted to use it on humans with his own twist – he wanted to see if he could use noise associations to make children fear things. Instead of salivating, he wanted a terrified child who had an aversion to the stimuli.
So he would allow the little boy to play with toys, like stuffed animals of little dogs and stuff like that, or Santa. And then he would come up behind the little toddler and make really loud scary noises and horribly frighten the little guy. This was repeated over and over to see if the associations took hold – and they seemed to. The kid, at least for some time, was afraid of things like Santa, and certain animals and such. While his life wasn’t well documented or known afterward, it is said that he was afraid of dogs for the remainder of his life. The psychologist involved bullied a toddler repeatedly, and traumatized him for life, essentially just to prove that he could indeed do those two things.
2. The United States Sprayed The Bacteria Serratia Marcescens Over Multiple Major Cities
The United States government has been accused of some crazy things like chemtrails, but the only reason conspiracy theorists believe that stuff is because the government has done some pretty crazy and similar things in the past and kept it secret for decades. From the early ’50s to the late ’60s, almost two decades, the United States military tested biological warfare on their own citizens with a bacterium called Serratia Marcescens. The idea was to see if a biological attack from an enemy could spread quickly, and the first city tested was San Francisco. The test was considered a success, because they learned that the city was indeed susceptible, but it had deadly consequences.
The government thought the bacteria was safe, but it was not, and people were soon checking into the hospital with a very rare infection. It was studied for years because of the strange outbreak, and the government didn’t even reveal that they had done it until the late ’70s, years after Nixon had nixed all further biological weapons tests on American soil. At least one person died from the attack on San Francisco by our own government, but they kept at it for years. While the government may not have thought the bacteria was harmful, the fact they did the test in the first place was still incredibly irresponsible, and if they had stuck around San Francisco and paid proper attention, they would’ve realized it was a mistake. There was no excuse for continuing to perform such studies for decades, beyond gross negligence and an almost willful ignorance of the potential consequences.
1. Facebook Once Performed A Psychological Experiment On Hundreds Of Thousands Of Their Users
People have forgotten that back in 2012, Facebook, the company that has taken over our lives, tried out an incredibly insane and unethical psychological experiment on their users that should have created way more backlash. They showed a large amount of positive posts to one group and a large amount of negative to another, forcibly altering the news feeds of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea of the experiment was to see if they could toy with their users’ feelings and force them to feel certain emotions when Facebook wanted them to by manipulating what news they saw.
When they were discovered, Facebook’s executives apologized and promised to put in place better procedures to avoid unethical experimentation in the future. And, despite this major breach of trust and privacy, they are still the most powerful social network in the world. While we would like to believe that Facebook has learned their lesson, it can be hard to trust the social network sometimes, as they have always given people pause when it comes to privacy issues, and tend to play fast and loose with the trust of their users around the world. Of course, Facebook would likely defend themselves by saying that they were only trying to find a way to spread positivity, but that doesn’t make the experiment any less unethical or insane.