(ORDO NEWS) — When science works the way it should, experiments are well-designed, ethically conducted, and designed to answer important questions. But when science doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, you end up with transplanted testicles, genetically engineered spider goats, and elephants on LSD.
Here is a list of eight of the creepiest scientific experiments that have involved both humans and unwitting guinea pigs from the animal kingdom.
1- Stanley’s Testicle Transplant
You might think that the worst thing about San Quentin Prison is the disgusting food and unwanted attention from your fellow inmates. But if you were a prisoner here from 1910 to 1950, you could be at the mercy of Surgeon General Leo Stanley, a fanatical eugenicist who simultaneously wanted to sterilize cruel prisoners and “rejuvenate” them with fresh sources of testosterone.
At first, Stanley simply transplanted the testicles of young, recently executed prisoners into much older (and often decrepit) men serving life sentences; then, when the supply of human gonads dried up, he crushed the newly separated testicles of goats, pigs, and deer into a paste, which he injected into the prisoners’ abdominal cavity.
Some patients have claimed to feel healthier and more energized after this bizarre “treatment”, but given the lack of rigor of the experiment, it’s not known if science has benefited in the long run. Surprisingly, after retiring from San Quentin, Stanley worked as a doctor on a cruise ship, where he hopefully limited himself to distributing aspirin and antacids.
2- “What do you get when you cross a spider and a goat?”
There is nothing more tiring than collecting silk from spiders. First, spiders tend to be very, very small, so one lab technician would have to milk thousands of spiders to fill one tube.
Secondly, spiders are very territorial, so each of these individuals will have to be kept isolated from all the others, and not cram into one cage. What to do? Well, of course: just insert the spider gene responsible for creating silk into the genome of a more obedient animal, such as a goat.
This is exactly what researchers from the University of Wyoming did in 2010, resulting in a population of female goats that produced silk threads in their mother’s milk. Otherwise, according to the university, goats are perfectly normal, but don’t be surprised if one day you visit Wyoming you see a shaggy Angora goat dangling from the base of a cliff.
3- Stanford Prison Experiment
This is one of the most infamous experiments in history; He even made his own film, released in 2015. In 1971, Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo recruited 24 students, half of whom he designated as “prisoners” and the other half as “guards,” into a makeshift prison in the basement of the psychology building.
Within two days, the “guards” began to demonstrate their power, and the “prisoners” resisted, and then completely rebelled, at some point using their beds to block the door to the basement.
Then the situation really got out of control: the guards responded by forcing the prisoners to sleep naked on concrete, next to buckets of their own excrement, and one prisoner had a complete breakdown, kicking and screaming in uncontrollable rage.
The outcome of this experiment? Normal, sane people can succumb to their dark demons when given “power,” which helps explain everything from Nazi concentration camps to Abu Ghraib prison.
4- Project “Artichoke” and MK-ULTRA
“Can we control a person to such an extent that he will carry out our orders against his will and even contrary to the fundamental laws of nature, such as self-preservation?”. This is a real line from a real CIA memo written in 1952 discussing the idea of using drugs, hypnosis, microbial pathogens, long-term isolation and who knows what else to get information from enemy agents and uncooperative captives.
At the time of this memorandum, Project Artichoke had been in operation for a year, targeting homosexuals, racial minorities and military prisoners. In 1953, Project Artichoke mutated into the much more sinister Project MK-ULTRA, which added LSD to its arsenal of mind-altering drugs. Unfortunately, most of the records of these experiments were destroyed by then-CIA director Richard Helms in 1973, when the Watergate scandal opened up the unfortunate possibility that details about MK-ULTRA would become public.
5- Tuskegee Syphilis Study
Despite its appalling reputation, Tuskegee syphilis research began in 1932 with the best of intentions. That year, the US Health Service entered into a partnership with Tuskegee University, a Negro educational institution, to study and treat African American men infected with the venereal disease syphilis.
The trouble began at the height of the Great Depression, when Tuskegee’s syphilis research lost funding. However, instead of disbanding, the researchers continued to observe (but not treat) their infected test subjects for the next few decades; worse, these test subjects were denied penicillin even after the antibiotic had been proven (in studies done in other countries) to be an effective drug.
A startling violation of scientific and medical ethics, Tuskegee’s syphilis research has been at the root of generational distrust of the American medical establishment among African Americans, and explains why some activists are still convinced that the AIDS virus was specifically designed by the CIA to infect minorities.
6- Pinky and the brain
Sometimes it’s worth wondering if scientists don’t spend half their day standing by water coolers and saying things like, “Maybe we’ll cross a chicken and a pig? No? Okay, how about a raccoon and a maple tree?” In the tradition of the goat spider described above, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center recently made the news by transplanting human glial cells (which insulate and protect neurons) into the brains of mice.
After transplantation, glial cells quickly multiplied and turned into astrocytes – star-shaped cells that strengthen connections between neurons; the difference is that human astrocytes are much larger than mouse astrocytes and provide hundreds of times more connections.
Although the test mice didn’t sit down to read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, they did show improvements in memory and cognition, so much so that rats (which are smarter than mice) are the subject of the next round of research.
7- Killer mosquito attack
You don’t often hear about “entomological warfare” these days, which is the use of swarms of insects to infect, incapacitate, and kill enemy soldiers and non-combatants. In the mid-1950s, however, biting insect battles were serious business, as evidenced by three separate “experiments” conducted by the US Army. During Operation Drop Kick in 1955, 600,000 mosquitoes were dropped from the air into Florida’s black neighborhoods, resulting in dozens of illnesses.
In the same year, Operation Big Buzz spread 300,000 mosquitoes, again in mostly minority areas, and the (undocumented) results also undoubtedly included numerous diseases. Not to be envious of other insects, these experiments were carried out shortly after Operation Big Itch, in which hundreds of thousands of tropical rat fleas were loaded into rockets and dropped at a test site in Utah.
8- “I have a great idea, gang! Let’s give the elephant acid!”
The hallucinogenic drug LSD only broke into the American mainstream in the mid-1960s; prior to that, it had been the subject of intense scientific research. Some of these experiments were intelligent, some were sinister, and some were simply irresponsible. In 1962, a psychiatrist at the Oklahoma City School of Medicine injected a teenage elephant with 297 milligrams of LSD, more than 1,000 times the usual human dose.
For several minutes the unfortunate elephant Tusco swayed, arched, trumpeted loudly, fell to the ground, defecated and experienced an epileptic fit; trying to resuscitate him, the researchers injected a huge dose of a drug used to treat schizophrenia, after which Tusko quickly died. The final paper, published in the respected scientific journal Nature, somehow concluded that LSD “may be useful in elephant control work in Africa.”
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