Surprise, surprise- governments don’t always have their citizens’ best interests at heart. Politicians and heads of state love to take to their podiums and address towns, cities, and nations, telling them how much they’re valued by those assigned to protect and serve them, but the fact of the matter is, that’s just not always the case. In fact, it’s not even always the case in the good old U.S. of A., where one would expect the government to treat its citizens properly.
But the history of the United States is riddled with black smudges that prove its government has used its people as experiments and not as human beings. It’s incredible — and not in a good way — how American citizens have been devalued throughout history. Soldiers already put their lives on the line to protect our country, but to know that our government was purposefully exposing them to radiation just to see how humans responded is unbelievable, isn’t it? Prisoners may not be on the top of society’s totem pole, but to treat them as less than human for bizarre surgical experiments is unthinkable. Or how about trying to fathom that our government used street walkers to lure unsuspecting Johns to hotel rooms in order for researchers to inject them, without consent, with various psychedelic drugs- just to see how the human body reacts while watching them through a two-way mirror. Sounds more like the plot of a movie than reality, doesn’t it?
All of these circumstances were real and frightening for the human beings being treated like cattle, and the ripple effects of these experiments on American citizens are still felt to this day.
15. Strange Implants Below The Belt
Dr. Leo Stanley served as San Quentin prison’s chief surgeon for almost forty years. During that time he used hundreds of prisoners in a number of bizarre experiments, including testicular implants.
Dr. Stanley claimed that he was trying to figure out a way to help the elderly, reduce criminal behaviors, and sterilize those who were “unfit to be parents.” The good doctor did this by taking the testicles of executed inmates and placing them inside the living. He would do the same with the testicles of rams, goats, and boars. Not surprisingly, the prisoners’ bodies would reject the implants and then “Dr. Doom” would remove them, puree them to a toothpaste consistency, and then inject them into the prisoner’s abdomen. Yes, you read that right. What he was trying to truly accomplish we’ll never know, but in the history books it still says that Dr. Stanley was trying to help people- by torturing prisoners.
14. The Monster Study
In 1939, University of Iowa speech pathologists wanted to prove that stuttering was something that was a learned behavior in children. To prove their point, they used a number of Ohio orphans in a study where they were split into two groups; some of the kids were given positive affirmation while others were not. Those in the latter group (all of whom did not have a stuttering problem), were also told that they would develop speech problems in the future. For some, even when they were speaking properly, they were told they weren’t saying words and sentences correctly and shouldn’t open their mouths until they spoke better. Remember, this was done to little kids- on purpose! Some children became so anxious and withdrawn that they wouldn’t speak at all. In 2007, the surviving children sued the university and received a $925,000 settlement. We think they should have gotten more.
13. Project MKUltra
One of the most popularly known human experiments by the U.S. government on its own citizens is that of Project MKUltra. Beginning in the 1950s, both American and Canadian adult and children were illegally experimented on so that governments could learn how to use and develop drugs for torture and interrogation. Project MKUltra focused on mind control by using drugs, sexual abuse, and hypnosis. Of those who were experimented on, many didn’t give consent. In the end, many people were left with irreversible psychological problems, brain damage, and others even died. The project was designed by the CIA (of course) and has been the focal point of various movies and television shows. While the original program has dissolved, there are many who believe it still exists under a different name with only a handful of people who know of its existence.
12. Spraying Chemicals Over Cities
The United States government, aided by the CIA and Navy, has allegedly simulated biological warfare attacks on various cities around the country in order to see how everything would play out in the end. In 1950, the Navy sprayed San Francisco with Serratia marcescens, a bacterial pathogen which was supposed to be harmless. Instead, a number of people developed pneumonia and one person died. This was perhaps not quite what the Navy intended but still awful.
In 1955, the CIA allegedly caused a whooping cough epidemic in Tampa Bay, Florida. Twelve people lost their lives from exposure to the disease. Many people claim that the CIA wasn’t responsible and the spreading of whooping cough that year was the doing of the Church of Scientology, but that’s just another conspiracy theory that removes responsibility from the government.
11. Effects Of Atomic Bomb Tests
During the Manhattan Project, 18 people were injected with plutonium. This was well before bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the United States government wanted to know the long term effects on the human body. Project Oak Ridge in Tennessee was another incident- this time soldiers were used as guinea pigs and micrograms of plutonium were injected into their systems. They did it again with three other people at a Chicago hospital, and some of those being experimented on were said to have been unwilling participants, including a pregnant women. A town was built around the plutonium and uranium enrichment plant in Oak Ridge to house 30,000 workers and was known as the secret atomic city in Tennessee. Who knows what else might have happened there?
10. The Pellagra Incident
When there is a lack of vitamin B-13 in the human diet, a person will develop pellagra. Symptoms include sensitivity to sunlight, lesions on the skin, and death. As the 20th century arrived, there was an influx of people who were diagnosed with pellagra and millions lost their lives. So many people suffered from it that special hospitals were set up, as we see above. Scientists blamed it on a toxin found in corn and their explanation was widely accepted. But in 1915 the American government actually funded projects that used African American citizens suffering from pellagra as subjects and researchers soon learned that corn had nothing to do with the condition. While physicians knew what caused pellagra, it would be another 20 years before the information was released to the public because the majority of people dying from the condition were in black communities. That seems both unbelieveable to us now and also pretty much par for the course- terrible.
9. Holmesburg Program
For over 20 years from the 1950s to the 1970s, University of Pennsylvania professor Albert Kligman performed horrific experiments on 320 Holmesburg Prison inmates. The famous Dow Chemical Company, Johnson & Johnson, and the U.S. Army, paid Klingman to rub and inject Agent Orange onto the prisoners. Experiments in the beginning didn’t yield acceptable results, so he increased the dosage to 468 times what Dow told him to use. That’s 468 times more of a toxin they all knew was already bad! Soon, inmates’ skin developed boils and lesions. People also were reported to have been diagnosed with lupus and various psychological problems. The U.S. government used Agent Orange as a method of biological warfare and generations of people have been born with deformities ever since it was first used.
8. Slave Experiments
J. Marion Sims is considered to be the father of modern gynecology, but that title doesn’t come without its controversies. Between 1845 and 1849, Sims performed a number of experiments on female slaves who had vesico-vaginal fistulas, a tear between their vagina and their bladder. The women were in deep pain but not enough for Sims to give them anesthesia before surgery; we guess because they were “just” slaves. These women didn’t have any human rights and their bodies didn’t belong to themselves, so some of them would be subject to up to 30 operations. The doctor’s advocates still say that these women would have done anything to be cured anyway and would have anticipated their treatments, but considering Dr. Sims’ only subjects were poor black slaves doesn’t say much for that argument.
7. Infected People With STDs
It wasn’t until 2010 that the U.S. government admitted that back in the 1940s, it purposefully infected Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases. Researchers used street walkers to infect inmates, soldiers, and asylum patients, but later infected people directly through exposure and injection. Even orphaned children were used as patients, and nearly all who were infected with STDs had been so without their consent. Many received little to no treatment at all.
The overall project was supposed to help researchers learn how to prevent and treat STDs such as gonorrhea, chancroid, and syphilis. The Public Health Service, the National Institute of Health, the World Health Organization’s Pan American Health Organization, and the Guatemalan government all signed off on these experiments.
6. Cancer Patients Treated With Extreme Radiation
Lower income African American cancer patients were subject to full body radiation treatments between 1960 to 1971 . This was done without their consent and they were told that they were undergoing treatment to help cure their illness. One doctor, Robert Stone, knew that what he was doing was wrong so on paper he referred to his patients by their initials so that they couldn’t connect themselves with the experiment. The Nazis did the same thing.
Consent forms were forged before patients received high levels of radiation so powerful that it caused vomiting and unbearable pain. The practice continued during the Cold War when poor citizens, including children, were given radioactive food. The government also inserted radium rods into people’s noses, injected pregnant women, and sprayed chemicals over towns in the United States and Canada.
5. Radiation On Pacific Islanders
The United States did several thermonuclear bomb tests in the Pacific (before bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki) in what were supposed to be secret experiments. After World War II, over the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1954, “Castle Bravo” was detonated. Researchers didn’t factor in that the explosion would be carried upwind and people who lived on islands nearby would inevitably be affected. The radiation caused birth defects and illnesses that were passed down through generations, including cancer. Later, Project 4.1 was developed, where people were once again studied to determine the result of radiation fallout. The experiments were conducted on unsuspecting citizens who never gave their consent, and many of the Pacific Islanders saw that they, along with family members including children and grandchildren, developed thyroid cancer.
4. Monster Doctor Granted Immunity
Dr. Shiro Ishii is considered to be one of the scariest physicians to have ever performed surgery. He was the head of Japan’s Unit 731, a biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. During the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, Dr. Ishii performed tens of thousands of disturbing experiments on human subjects, usually prisoners.
The doctor liked to perform operations without giving anesthesia to his patients — surgeries that didn’t have any purpose. Dr. Ishii’s surgeries were just so he could get a good look inside the body of a live person. He would at times force abortions on pregnant women and would cause others to be subject to extreme conditions and temperatures for academic purposes. In 1945 the project was dissolved and Dr. Ishii had all of his remaining patients executed. He was arrested but General Douglas MacArthur gave the doctor immunity in the U.S. That is, as long as he gave the American government all of his germ warfare data. Wasn’t that nice of us?
3. Mustard Gas On Soldiers
During the second World War, the U.S. government performed secret mustard gas tests on soldiers. While they were called volunteers, it was clear that many of the men involved were either ordered to participate or didn’t know about their involvement at all. The Department of War didn’t officially call the projects “experiments,” so technically they could carry them out without consent from those involved.
There were many tests where people were experimented on by race to determine whether or not the results would be discriminatory. No one truly knows how many soldiers were tested but there were plenty of veterans who suffered from breathing problems and various cancers due to their exposure. Those that were aware that they were being tested on never believed that their government was directly responsible for their sickness.
2. Operation Midnight Climax
In San Francisco, New York, and Marin County, CA, the CIA operated safe houses where they would have prostitutes take their clients. Unfortunately for the “Johns”, they didn’t realize that these “women of the night” were being paid by the CIA. Soon the unsuspecting individuals were given, against their will, a number of drugs. There was a two way mirror in the room where the men would then be watched to see how they physically and psychologically responded to the mind-altering drugs. Some people were subject to hypnotism and others to electroshock therapy. Then there were those who were given psychedelic drugs and told to engage in sexual activity while they were watched. Researchers developed techniques in surveillance and sexual blackmail through Operation Midnight Climax that sound like a voyeur’s dream and a John’s worst nightmare.
1. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
The Tuskegee Institute and the Public Health Service began experiments with syphilis from 1932 to 1972. During the Great Depression, 600 African American men in the rural area of Macon County, Alabama, were told that they were being treated for “bad blood.” Nearly 400 of them had syphilis before they joined the study while the remaining men were infected with it. None of the men were told of their diagnosis and even after penicillin was developed and used as treatment for syphilis, the study continued and the men weren’t given treatment. For participating in the experiment, the men were given free meals, free medical care (!?!), and the cost of their burials were paid for. That doesn’t seem like quite a fair trade, and it wasn’t until 1997 that President Clinton issued a formal apology.