Human beings have always been interested in the world and in themselves, and they have done many different studies to learn and understand more. But some of these trials have gone too far and caused unimaginable pain and suffering to the people who took part in them. Here are 10 of the scariest human trials that will make you shiver.
1. Unit 731
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army’s Unit 731 did a study on biological and chemical weapons. The unit tried out deadly diseases and weapons on thousands of Chinese prisoners and Asian citizens. People were given cholera, anthrax, plague, and other diseases. People were also cut open without anaesthesia, put in pressure tanks, tested for frostbite, given blood transfusions, raped, and made to have babies against their will, among other horrible things. The victims were often called “logs” or “maruta,” and they were burned or buried in large groups. About 250,000 people died because of the unit, and the people who did this were never brought to justice.
2. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was an infamous study done by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972. 600 African American guys from Alabama took part in the study. 399 of them had latent syphilis and 201 of them were healthy. The men were told they were getting free treatment for “bad blood,” but in fact, they were just given fake medicines like aspirin and mineral supplements. Even though penicillin became a treatment for syphilis in the 1940s, the researchers didn’t give it to the study subjects and kept watching how the disease got worse. At least 28 people died as a result of the study, 100 people became disabled, and many of the men’s wives and children got sick.
3. The Monster Study
In 1939, Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor did an experiment in speech therapy called “The Monster Study” at the University of Iowa. In the experiment, 22 orphans who stuttered or spoke regularly were used. The children were split into two groups. One group got positive speech therapy in which their fluency was praised. The other group got negative speech therapy in which their speech was criticized and they were told they stutter. The effect was that the children who got bad therapy ended up with mental health problems, and some of them stuttered for the rest of their lives. The experiment was kept secret because people were afraid of how the public would react. It wasn’t released until 2001.
4. The Stanford Prison Experiment
Philip Zimbardo did an experiment in social psychology at Stanford University in 1971 called the Stanford Prison Experiment. Twenty-four male college students agreed to be put in a fake prison for the experiment. The students were chosen at random to be either guards or prisoners, and they were given rules and parts to play. But the experiment quickly got out of hand as the guards became violent and cruel and the prisoners became submissive and sad. The experiment was meant to last two weeks, but it was stopped after only six days because of concerns about ethics.
5. Project MK-Ultra
From the 1950s to the 1970s, the CIA ran a secret program called Project MK-Ultra. This program was used to try to control people’s minds. The program used drugs (especially LSD), hypnosis, electroshock therapy, sensory deprivation, isolation, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and other methods to control the mental states and functions of people who didn’t know what was going on. Often, prisoners, people with mental illnesses, drug addicts, prostitutes, and even CIA workers and agents were used in the tests. The goal of the operation was to come up with new ways to question, brainwash, spy on, and kill people. Many of the people who took part in the tests were severely hurt mentally or died because of them.
6. The Aversion Project
During the time of apartheid, in the 1970s and 1980s, the South African Defense Force ran a program called the Aversion Project. This was a form of medical torture. For the project, gay soldiers and conscripts were forced to go through chemical castration, electric shock therapy, hormone therapy, and sex-change operations. The goal was to “cure” them of being gay and get them ready for the military. Many of the victims were also abused mentally and forced to do things against their will by their bosses. After getting out of the war, some of them killed themselves or became homeless.
7. The Human Vivisections of Herophilus
Herophilus was a Greek doctor from the third century BC who lived in Alexandria. He is thought to be one of the first people to study anatomy and neuroscience, but he used very cruel and immoral methods. He did experiments on people who were still alive, mostly offenders who had been sentenced to death by the king. He cut open their heads, chests, bellies, and innards while they were still alive and aware. He checked their blood pressure, heart rates, brain activity, nerve function, digestion, and more. He also did tests on pregnant women and their unborn babies. At the time, his results were important, but they were also controversial.
8. Watson’s Little Albert Experiment
In 1920, John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner did an experiment at Johns Hopkins University called “Watson’s Little Albert Experiment.” This was a classical training experiment. In the experiment, a baby called Albert was shown different things, like a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, a dog, a mask, and a newspaper that was on fire. Albert wasn’t afraid of any of these things at first, but after Watson constantly put the white rat together with a loud noise, Albert learned to be afraid of the rat. Watson then showed that Albert’s fear of fuzzy things spread to other things, like the dog, the rabbit, and even Santa Claus’s beard. The experiment was unethical because it was done on a child without his permission or safety, and Albert was never treated for his fear or made less afraid.
9. Milgram Shock Experiments
In the early 1960s, Stanley Milgram did a set of social psychology experiments at Yale University called the Milgram Shock Experiments. People were tested to see how far they would go to follow a person in charge who told them to give an electric shock to another person. The participants were told that they were taking part in a study about learning and memory and that they had to give shocks of growing intensity to a learner, who was actually an actor in another room. As the shocks got stronger, the learner would act like they were in pain and beg for mercy, but the experimenter would tell them to keep going until they hit the maximum voltage of 450 volts. Most of the people who took part (65%) did what the experimenter told them to do and gave what they thought were lethal shocks to a harmless person. The tests showed how easy it is for people to follow orders and how willing they are to hurt others if they are told it is for a good reason.
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10. Experiments in the Revival of Organisms
Experiments in the Revival of Organisms was a 1940 Soviet film that claimed to show how doctors could use artificial blood circulation to bring back to life dead animals. There was a disturbing video in the movie of dog heads that had been cut off but looked alive when they were hooked up to a heart-lung machine. The heads responded to light, sound, and touch, and some of them even ate food. The movie also showed how a dog’s heart could be kept beating outside of its body for hours and how a dog’s body could be brought back to life after 10 minutes of being drained of blood. The film was meant to show how far Soviet science had come and to spread propaganda, but it also raised ethical questions about hurting animals and testing on people.