While science has the power to improve our lives and cure diseases, it can also be used to torture, murder, and brainwash. Scientists, who are given the high level of trust sometimes, prove to be the people in the world who should be least trusted. Human experimentation and research ethics have evolved over time; doctors and scientists have been conducting some of the most abhorrent and disturbing experiments on human subjects. The subjects of human experimentation have been prisoners, slaves, or even family members. In some notable cases, doctors have performed experiments on themselves, known as self-experimentation, when they have been unwilling to risk the lives of others.
Here is a list of the 12 most evil and unethical experiments ever carried out on humans in the name of science.
12. The Monster Study
In 1939, Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor at the University of Iowa conducted a stuttering experiment on 22 orphan children in Davenport, Iowa. After dividing the children into two groups, group A was given the positive speech therapy, praising the fluency of their speech while group B was given the negative speech therapy, belittling the children for every speech imperfection and telling them they were stutterers.
As a result, many of the normal speaking orphan children in group B who received negative therapy in the experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some retained speech problems during the course of their life. This whole study was termed as the ‘monster study’ by some of Johnson’s peers who were horrified that he would experiment on orphan children to prove a theory.
11. The Aversion Project
In 1969, during South Africa’s detestable Apartheid era, thousands of homosexuals were handed over to the care of Dr. Aubrey Levin, an army colonel, and psychologist who claimed to ‘cure homosexuals’. Not only did Levin morbidly torture gay men, he used electroconvulsive aversion therapy to “reorientate” his patients. Electrodes were strapped to a patient’s upper arm with wires running to a dial calibrated from 1 to 10. Homosexual men were shown pictures of a naked man and encouraged to fantasize, at which point the patient was subjected to severe shocks.
10. Hepatitis in Mentally Disabled Children
In the 1950s, Willowbrook State School, a New York state-run institution for mentally handicapped children, experienced an outbreak of hepatitis. Dr. Saul Krugman was called upon to investigate the cases at the school and develop a vaccine to curb the outbreak. However, the experiment required extensive human trial; in short, it meant deliberately infecting children with the disease. Though Krugman’s study was controversial from the start, the protest was eventually silenced by the permission letters obtained from each child’s parents. The parents agreed for it because the experiment was the only way to get children treated in the overcrowded institution.
9. Infected Mosquitos in Towns
In 1956 and 1957, the United States Army conducted a number of biological warfare experiments on the cities of Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida. In one such experiment, millions of infected mosquitos were released into the two cities, in order to see if the insects could spread yellow fever and dengue fever. Not surprisingly, hundreds of researchers contracted illnesses that included fevers, respiratory problems, stillbirths, encephalitis, and typhoid. In order to photograph the results of their experiments, Army researchers pretended to be public health workers. Several people died as a result of the research.
8. Experiments on Newborns
In the 1960s, researchers at the University of California began an experiment to study changes in blood pressure and blood flow. Bafflingly, the researchers used 113 newborn babies ranging in age from one hour to three days old as test subjects. In one experiment, a catheter was inserted through the umbilical arteries and into the aorta. The newborn’s feet were then immersed in ice-cold water to test aortic pressure. In another experiment, up to 50 newborns were individually strapped onto a circumcision board, and then tilted so that their blood rushed to their head and their blood pressure could be monitored.
7. Bone, Muscle & Nerve Transplantation by Nazis
To, apparently, aid the German forces in WW2, Nazi scientists experimented with bones, muscles, and nerves transplantation. Body parts and organs were removed from the subjects without the application of anesthesia, thus inflicting unbearable pain and agony to the subject. Also, young men and boys were subjected to head injury experiments where their heads were deliberately smashed over a period of time.
6. Nazi Conjoined Twins Experiment: Sewing Twins Together
Nazis, apart from massacring an entire race, they also conducted some of the most horrifying human experiments in history. Their Twin Experiment is beyond nightmarish. Dr. Josef Mengele performed brutal experiments on over 1,500 sets of imprisoned twins. They were force-fed radioactive material and chemicals were injected in their eyes to see the change. Mengele was so obsessed with conjoined twins that he literally sewed twins together to create man-made conjoined twins. Twins were ripped apart, surgically sewn and kept alive on life support for months in agonizing pain until they eventually died.
5. Mustard Gas Tested on American Military
In 1943, the U.S. Navy exposed its own sailors to mustard gas. Officially, the Navy was testing the effectiveness of new clothing and gas masks against the deadly gas that had proven so terrifying in the First World War The worst of the experiments occurred at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. Seventeen and 18-year old boys were approached after eight weeks of boot camp and asked if they wanted to participate in an experiment that would help shorten the war. Only when the boys reached the Research Laboratory were they told the experiment involved mustard gas. The participants, almost all of whom suffered severe external and internal burns, were ignored by the Navy and, in some cases, threatened with the Espionage Act. In 1991, the reports were finally declassified and taken before Congress.
4. Infecting Wounds Experiments
Another Nazi doing, scientists wanted to analyze how soldiers would react to severe injuries in the battlefield. They first fatally wounded the subjects by shooting and mutilating them, and then infected the wounds with tetanus and gangrene-causing bacteria. The wounds were further worsened by shoving dirt, gunpowder and wood shavings
3. Feeding Radioactive Material to Pregnant Women
Shortly after World War II, the nuclear researchers were fast-paced. One of the most inhuman of them was ‘feeding radioactive edibles to expecting women’ in America. Over 829 pregnant women were given ‘vitamin drinks’ and were told that they would improve the health of the unborn babies. In reality, the drinks contained radioactive iron and the scientists were studying how quickly the radioisotope crossed into the placenta. At least seven of the babies later died from cancers and leukemia, and the women themselves experienced rashes, bruises, anemia, loss of hair and tooth, and cancer.
2. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study
This was the most infamous and inhuman biomedical experiment in U.S. history. In 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service began working with the Tuskegee Institute to track the natural progression of untreated syphilis. Over 600 extremely poor, illiterate and homeless African-Americans were found and hired in Macon County, Alabama. Of the 600 men, only 399 had previously contracted syphilis, and none were told they had a life-threatening disease. Instead, they were told they were receiving free healthcare, meals, and burial insurance in exchange for participating. Even though Penicillin was proven as a cure in 1947, the experiment continued till 1972. In addition, to the original subjects, victims of the study included wives who contracted the disease and children born with congenital syphilis.
1. The Unit 731’s Experiments
From 1937 to 1945, the imperial Japanese Army developed a covert biological and chemical warfare research experiment called Unit 731. Based in the large city of Harbin, Unit 731 was responsible for some of the most atrocious war crimes in history. Chinese and Russian subjects — men, women, children, infants, the elderly, and pregnant women — were subjected to experiments which included the removal of organs from a live body, amputation for the study of blood loss, germ warfare attacks, and weapons testing. Hundreds of Russian and Chinese POWs were forcefully infected with bubonic plague, cholera, and anthrax. Some prisoners even had their stomachs surgically removed and their esophagus reattached to the intestines. In all, over 10,000 humans were brutally murdered. Many of the scientists involved in Unit 731 rose to prominent careers in politics, academia, business, and medicine.