Mad Scientists: Disturbing Human Experiments

Science experiments are about discovery, innovation, and ingenuity. A noble cause, right? Well, not exactly.

In theory, the scientific method is designed to coax humans towards the next stage of our evolution. But in the past, a few not-so-friendly scientists have co-opted the scientific method to further their nefarious means. To be fair, not all of the scientists involved in the following article are morally bankrupt. Some of them were just the product of their era.

Today on Filthy Rich, we explore some of the most interesting and disturbing human experiments in the history of the scientific method. Think Stranger Things. Think Wolverine. And, be thankful that the government has rules in place to protect against the following disturbing experiments now.

Henrietta Lacks

This one is more bizarre than disturbing. Henrietta Lacks was a poor tobacco farmer who went in for a routine biopsy as part of her treatment for cervical cancer. Unbeknownst to her, doctors took a sample of both the healthy and unhealthy cells. Henrietta died, but the cells taken from her on that fateful day in 1951 still live on.

Scientist George Otto cultured those cells in an attempt to clone them for use in scientific experiments. These HeLa cells were immortalized and are still being used in medical research, from helping develop the polio vaccine to AIDS research. It truly is a fascinating story that deserves much more than 100 words. For an easily digestible version, check out this Radio Lab podcast.

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Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment began innocently enough. The experiment set out to get to the bottom of the prisoner/guard relationship and the concept of perceived power. The professor in charge randomly divided 24 male volunteer students in to prisoners and guards, and assigned them their posts in a mock prison in the basement of a building on Stanford’s campus. It didn’t take long for things to get dark.

The randomly selected guards began abusing the randomly selected inmates and the inmates accepted it as par for the course, often abusing each other when told to. After a mere six days, the experiment got nixed.

Project QKHILLTOP

Ah, the CIA. They seem like a fun bunch, don’t they?

In 1954, the CIA began what would eventually be known as Project QKHILLTOP, a program designed to unlock the secrets of Chinese brainwashing techniques. By compiling all of the available information on drugs, torture, hypnosis, humiliation, and other not-so-nice tactics, neurological scientist Dr. Wolff set to improve the American’s methods of interrogation. Whether he was successful or not is unknown since the details are classified.

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