20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

Once upon a time, some doctors performed terrible surgical procedures even if a person had the symptoms of an ordinary runny nose. Back in the day, they used very rudimentary instruments, and patients did not even have the opportunity to receive anesthesia (it did not even exist).

Over time, medicine has evolved, but cruel experiments on people were still carried out. As part of this article, we offer a look at several terrible scientific works, in the course of which a huge number of people suffered. Of course, these studies have revealed much important information about the human body, but was it worth it?

Let’s start with the most famous experiments and end with a story that shows the degree of danger of the decisions that sometimes unscrupulous scientists and doctors make.

1. Nikola Tesla’s death ray

Nikola Tesla was a famous Serbian inventor who was once considered a mad scientist. After all, truly unimaginable ideas popped into his head.

For example, he wanted to create a so-called “death ray”, which could shoot down planes from a distance of 320 kilometers. In theory, if any country got hold of such technology, it could become invincible and even conquer the whole world.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

On the right is the design that was supposed to generate the killer beam.

Nikola Tesla proposed such technology to the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and Yugoslavia, but no country took his idea seriously. As it turned out, this rejection was to the benefit of humanity: had the technology been created, it would have caused the death of a huge number of people.

2. Syphilis research in the United States

Syphilis is an infectious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, internal organs, and even the nervous system. The disease can “dormant” in the human body for decades, only to resurface later.

From 1932 to 1972, nearly 400 beggar farmers with syphilis agreed to take part in an experiment in exchange for free treatment. As early as 1947, scientists learned that syphilis could be treated with penicillin. But this fact was carefully hidden from the farmers, because the researchers wanted to see what would happen to them if there was no treatment. It wasn’t just the farmers who suffered because of this atrocious decision. They managed to infect their family members and relatives.

3. The horrors of “Unit 731”

World War II was a time in which horrific events took place in almost every corner of our planet.

Especially horrific experiments were conducted by Japanese soldiers on Chinese prisoners of war. The inhumane experiments were organized by the Japanese Unit 731, which operated for a full 12 years. As part of the experiments, they were able to cut off the limbs of prisoners and thus provoke the development of terrible diseases. They also deliberately infected people with the plague.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

Members of Unit 731.

But what do you think became of the organizers of these inhumane acts? They were forgiven in exchange for the results of their scientific work.

4. Experiments of Friedrich II

Friedrich II was the Holy Roman Emperor of the Germanic Nation. He was one of the most important men of the Middle Ages and, unfortunately, was very fond of science. He ordered his subjects to perform terrible experiments on people in order to “see how the soul leaves the body” and to learn the answers to other questions that interested him.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

One day he decided that if two newborn children were isolated from society, they would begin to speak the very first language in the world – the “language of God”. Of course, the experiment failed because the isolated babies simply died.

5. The Gender reassignment experiment

One day an American psychologist, John Money, was approached by the Reimer family. Their eight-month-old son Bruce was unsuccessfully circumcised and accidentally damaged his genitals.

The doctor offered the family a very unusual solution to this problem – to change the baby’s sex. Little Bruce was named Brenda and fed hormone pills. He (or she) was raised as a girl and “Brenda” was unaware for a long time that she was born a boy.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

John Money as a child and as an adult.

As a teenager, the boy began a journey of rehabilitation and eventually married and became a father of three children. But when the story became known to the world, his wife left him and he fell into a severe depression. Eventually he just took his own life.

6. Nazi medical Experiments

Nazi scientists led by Josef Mengele conducted horrific, inhumane experiments at Auschwitz to prove the racial superiority of Aryans. The inquisitors of the Third Reich has not stopped at anything: they cut off people’s limbs and fed them experimental drugs.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

One of the concentration camps of the Third Reich.

Thousands of prisoners died during his horrific experiments. In addition, Mengele used prisoners to test the effects of poisonous substances and infectious diseases on humans, as well as other inhumane experiments.

7. Gynecological experiments on slaves

James Marion Sims is often called the father of modern gynecology. Sims conducted his brutal medical experiments on slaves in an attempt to find a cure for vaginal fistula. This caused the women terrible pain, especially since the researcher performed the operations without anesthesia.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

Sims believed that the experiments were “not painful enough”, so anesthesia was not required, in his opinion. But we should not forget, however, that medicine at that time was taking its first pathetic steps in the application of anesthesia.

8. Two-headed dogs

Russian scientist Vladimir Demikhov, the founder of transplantology, was obsessed with transplantation. He conducted most of his experiments on animals (such as heart transplants and lung transplants).

In 1954, he decided to go even further and transplanted a dog’s head, shoulders and front legs into the neck of another dog. Both heads were active and conscious for several days until the double-headed dog died.

Demichov repeated the experiment several times. The longest surviving double-headed dog survived for about a month. It was one of the craziest scientific experiments.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

It is interesting to note that the great Dr. Christian Barnard, who was the first to transplant a heart from a human to a human, considered Demikhov his teacher all his life (he periodically visited Demikhov in his laboratory).

9. Milgram’s experiments

In 1961, renowned Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram began an unusual experiment. He called it “Submission” and the essence of it was to investigate people’s behavior in stressful situations, and to find out how and why millions of people participated in the Holocaust.

In the experiments, each pair was divided into a teacher and a student, But one of them was an actor, so only one was a real test subject. Each time the actor answered a question incorrectly, the test subject pressed a button to administer an electric shock.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

At first, almost all of the test subjects wanted to stop the experiment. But when ordered to do so, the subjects continued to press the button. When the subjects found out about the reality of the experiment later, many said they were traumatized for life after realizing they were capable of such violent behavior.

10. Paracelsus’ Homunculus

The Middle Ages were a terrible time, but it was then that an alchemist, philosopher and physician named Paracelsus lived. He worked mainly in the fields of psychotherapy and toxicology.

Paracelsus is considered the forerunner of modern pharmacology, but his experiments to modern eyes were absolutely crazy. He experimented with creating a tiny baby or homunculus. The doctor believed that real babies are tainted and unclean when they come out of a woman’s body. And he decided to create a living being himself.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

To create a pure homunculus, he suggested putting the sperm in a bottle and burying it in horse manure for 40 days. When the little creature starts to form, you have to feed it blood for another 40 days. It really is one of the craziest scientific experiments ever.

11. UCLA schizophrenia study

Researchers at UCLA University (USA) tested new drugs on schizophrenic patients. The tests promised to stop and return patients to the clinic if their symptoms worsened significantly. But the term “significantly” was apparently very subjective: one patient almost killed his parents, another jumped off the roof of a building.

12. The “Cell” laboratory

A laboratory called “The Cell” was a notorious Soviet research center where experiments using poisons and drugs were conducted on human prisoners sentenced to death.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

One of the powerful poisons was K-2. According to witnesses, after taking K-2 the subject became “smaller, weaker and quieter”. And in 15 minutes he would die. At the same time K-2 was impossible to detect in the body.

13. MK-Ultra project

The purpose of this CIA experiment was to find out if it was possible to turn the control of the human mind into a weapon. To achieve the desired effect, scientists injected the drug LSD into prostitutes. Some of them lost their minds and committed suicide.

14. “Treatment” of gays in South Africa

In the 1970s and 1980s, scientists in South Africa tried to “convert” gay recruits to straightness through castration and other cruel methods. Psychiatrist Aubrey Levin, the head of the experiments, later received a prison sentence for sexual abuse.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

15. Johnson’s orphan experiment

In 1939, Dr. Wendell Johnson conducted an experiment with orphans at the University of Iowa. He divided the orphans into two groups – one group was given positive speech therapy (praising their progress in speech development), and the other group was convinced that they stuttered and spoke poorly. The orphans in the second group had real problems with speech and self-esteem, which carried over into adulthood.

16. Cotton’s “treatment” of the insane

In 1907 Dr. Henry Cotton became head of the mental hospital in Trenton, and he began to work through his theory that the main cause of insanity was a localized infection.

The doctor performed thousands of non-consensual surgeries on patients that were bloody and heartless. People had their teeth, tonsils and internal organs removed, which the doctor believed were the source of the problem. And most surprising of all is the fact that the doctor believed in his theory so much that he tested it on himself and his family.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

Were there any successes in the treatment? In the scientist’s opinion, yes. However, it later turned out that Cotton exaggerated the results of his research, and it was never done again after his death.

17. Radiation research in the Marshall Islands

In 1954, the U.S. military detonated an atomic bomb near the Marshall Islands. The locals were exposed to the radioactive fallout. And the military came up with nothing better than to start researching the effects of radiation on the body, instead of treating people.

The research was called “Project 4.1”. At first the effects of radiation were not so noticeable, but after 7-10 years the locals began to become seriously ill: children were frequently diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and almost one in three residents of the islands suffered from the development of neoplasms.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

As a result, the U.S. Department of the Energy Committee halted the project and criticized the scientists for not helping the victims.

18. Experiments in dousing the body with boiling water

In 1840, Dr. Walter Johnson came up with nothing better than to treat typhoid pneumonia with boiling water.

For many months he tested this technique on slaves. Jones described in great detail how one sick 25-year-old man was stripped, laid on his stomach, and had 19 liters of boiling water poured on his back. After that, the procedure had to be repeated every 4 hours (which, according to the doctor, was supposed to restore capillary circulation).

Jones claimed to have saved many by this method. However, modern scientists do not agree with him. Because of its inhumanity, this method is not used today.

19. Sanger’s radiation experiments

For 12 years, from 1960 to 1972, Eugene Sanger, an American doctor commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense (to understand whether people could survive a nuclear war), conducted a study at Cincinnati General Hospital to study the effects of radiation on people.

Sanger’s victims were hundreds of people, mostly poor African Americans suffering from cancer. Instead of antitumor drugs, these unsuspecting people received radioactive drugs containing high doses of radiation.

Sanger closely monitored their condition, carefully recording his observations. In all, several hundred people were involved in the experiments, 89 of whom died an agonizing death. Remarkably, the doctors were never punished for this monstrous experiment.

20. Treating mental illness with a lobotomy

In 1935, the Portuguese psychiatrist Egas Moniz suggested that mental illnesses were the result of excessive activity of the frontal lobes of the brain. If these lobes were slowed down or partially removed, he believed, the mental illness would disappear.

20 most terrifying scientific experiments in history

Moniz enthusiastically began to dissect his patients’ skulls, removing parts of the frontal lobes or destroying the connections between the parts of the brain. The results were, for the most part, a matter of chance: some of the patients did get better for a while, others got worse, others had psychotic episodes that immediately resumed with the same intensity. Several patients died under the knife.

Eventually, Egas Moniz was shot by one of his patients. Despite the fact that Moniz’s method had no proven effectiveness, in 1949 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his experiments. This case is considered one of the most striking in the history of experimental medicine.

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