Since the beginning of time man has harboured a desire to make advancements in the name of science. Not only that, man is quite at ease with making such advancements at any cost even unethical ones. This does not mean that mad scientists across the globe are carrying out experiments on rats in a cage they are quite at ease carrying out experiments on you.
Sounds alarming, doesn’t it? So that you can be completely prepared for any unethical experiments that may be run on you here is a list of real life unethical experiments that have been carried out in the good name of science.
5 – Oklahoma City Sonic Boom Test
The Oklahoma City Sonic Boom Test was a U.S government experiment that took place without the public’s knowledge. It was designed to test how much noise the population of the city could and would tolerate before they began to have serious psychological problems.
While this was not the first experiment of its kind, the U.S government has been known to deliberately fly aeroplanes over populated areas on several occasions, this was the very first time that a government conducted a long term experiment and went about measuring the sociological and economic impact.
As part of the experiment the government even set up a fake complaint hotline so that the population of the city could call and leave a detailed description of how they were affected by the constant planes flying overhead. Naturally nothing would be done about the constant air traffic and in the end the experiment lasted for a very loud and annoying 6 months.
4 – Robbers Cave Experiments
With thanks to the fact that information is more readily available than ever most people are aware of what is known as the Stanford Prison experiment. For those of you who are not familiar with this horrific experiment it involved university students who were placed in one of two conflicting groups in order to replicated the conditions inside a real life prison. The effects of the experiment were considered so bad that it was abruptly halted and stopped several weeks before it was supposed to end.
While the Stanford Prison experiment and how awful it was is now well known not many people are aware that the very same experiment was actually carried out using twelve year old kids. The only difference was that the twelve year old kids had no idea that they involved in any kind of experiment. If that does not sound bad enough the experiment was actually performed THREE TIMES!!!!!!
A woman by the name of Carolyn Wood Sherif led a small group of scientist who gathered together several 11 and 12 year old boys and took them on a summer camping trip. Only the summer camping trip was actually a cover for the experiment that was about to take place and no one was told about this. The scientists separated the boys into two groups making sure that they broke apart any friendships that the boys had previously developed. Once all of the boys were on the campgrounds the scientists began to encourage the boys to call each other names, pull pranks and generally bully the opposing group. This may sound horrendous but the scientists also included team building exercises in the experiment. One such experiment involved cutting off the water supply to the campsite and letting the children figure out how they could avoid dying of thirst.
During the first and second experiments the boys rebelled against the scientists, probably realising that they were all clinically insane. Like most scientific studies of this nature the results of the first and second experiment were not originally published. Sherif originally only published and publicized the results from the third experiment in which the boys resolved their conflicts at the end of the camp. This of course allowed the scientists to declare the experiment a huge success in the field of conflict resolution.
There was never any effort made to monitor the boys over the long term after they had finished the summer camping trips to see if any lasting psychological damage had occurred from a long summer of being taunted, called names and bullied.
3 – Monster Study
When it comes to scientific studies that make you cringe when you learn about them the ‘monster study’ is one that stands head and shoulders above most others.
The very purpose of the monster study was to completely destroy the self-confidence of eleven children in the cruel hope that psychologists could discover why stuttering occurs. Even if this cruel experiment had been deemed successful it would have gained nothing other than abstract knowledge. It is fair enough to say that no one is actually interested in making more people stutter yet that is exactly what Lowa speech professor Wendell Johnson set out to do in this experiment.
Johnson picked out orphans, obviously because no parent was going to allow their child to be involved in this experiment, and over a period of six months constantly belittled everything they did. He went about pointing out every single tiny imperfection in the child’s pronunciation and every tiny spelling mistake. This was all done so that he could prove his theory that stuttering was a learned behaviour.
By the end of the experiment none of the children involved had developed a stutter but several of them remained traumatized for life. Depression and loss of self-esteem were the most common problems that were suffered among the 11 children who had been forced to participate in the study.
At least in the end the university sent all of the 11 children a letter of apology many years after they had been sued for ever allowing the study. The study did little to prove anything about speech flaws but generated plenty of long-term psychological trauma.
2 – Little Albert
John B. Watson was a scientist who set out to prove it was possible to condition a child into becoming irrationally afraid of something. It is not entirely clear as to why he needed to prove this but apparently it was vitally important to the advancement of science and psychology.
To prove his theory Watson used an eleven month old baby (known as Little Albert) and showed him a rat, a rabbit and a few other fluffy things that the child seemed to enjoy. This proved that initially Little Albert had no fear of any of the objects. After this Little Albert was shown the same animals time and time again only this time whenever he reached out to touch the animals a very loud noise was played in the background to startle the child. This was repeated over and over until Albert became scared of anything that was white and fluffy. This included blankets, beards and even Santa Claus.
Once Watson had proven it was possible to create an irrational fear of things in small children and made Little Albert terrified of the world around him he was sent home with his parents. No effort was made to monitor the child once he was sent home nor was any attempt made to erase the conditioning that had taken place. For a long time no one knew what happened to the child and many people believed that he ended up committing suicide. In recent years the identity of the child was discovered and it turns out that upon leaving the experiment the child grew sick and died at the age of 6 years.
1 – MK- Ultra
The CIA is well known for its famous experiments with mind altering drugs during the 1950’s and 1960’s. This period was marked by a heightened paranoia of soviet spies infiltrating American society.
In the name of homeland security and national security the CIA decided they would test LSD on a group of unsuspecting U.S citizens.
The first batch of experiments that the CIA carried out was to inject their own agents with acid, mescaline and LSD to see if they would reveal secret information. This is sort of like torturing everyone on your own team to see if they will crack under pressure.
Not happy with just testing drugs on agents the CIA moved on to testing drugs on the general population of the United States. This was done by setting up nightclubs and paying attractive looking women to slip drugs into men’s drinks. The CIA even used brothels to test their drugs because they knew that men who were at the brothel would be far too embarrassed to report what had occurred.
Unfortunately for all involved the CIA destroyed most of the documents relating to these experiments in the 1970’s so there is little in the way of hard evidence which could be used to prosecute the CIA or provide us with anything of use that may have been learned.