You awake strapped to a chair, the room is dark – your nostrils flare away from the stinging smell of alcohol; all of a sudden, the pale blue lights flicker on. Men covered in white stand behind a screen, glaring through it at you. You sit there, hours stretch into days, days into weeks, weeks into months – at this point your brain is mush. The screen flickers dark before a man armed to the teeth enters the room – with the prod of a steel rod he yells “Nah, next subject!” Are you an extra in SAW VII, no – you are an experiment.
Experimentation on living organisms has long been a shadowed topic. Some of it is published in a manner of “Hey! Look what we found out!” But some of it is only written in envelopes labelled “CLASSIFIED.” Some of it sources screams through an underground military bunker, some of it will make your skin crawl.
Because of its classification, it’s almost taboo to talk about. In the early days of medicine, human experimentation seemed like the only route to take to get your elixir into people’s hands – rats were too small, apes too expensive. There seemed no other way, no ethical way. There were no different levels of trials; it went straight from the mad scientist, from the syringe to the human. And I’ve not even begun to talk about the psychological tests.
Here we list the 20 most horrifying human experiments your government is shielding from you.
20. Milgram Obedience Experiment
In an effort to better prove his own theory, that people are preprogrammed to obey an authority’s orders, Yale Professor Stanley Milgram separated two subjects into two classes. The test involved a ‘teacher’ and a learner; it would be unknown to the ‘Teacher’ that the ‘Learner’ was actually just an actor. The ‘Teacher’ asked the ‘Learner’ a series of questions; each time the ‘Learner’ got a question wrong, the ‘Teacher’ would go on to submit them to increasingly higher voltages of electric shock, the final levels of voltage were beyond 400 volts, a lethal dosage. The horror doesn’t lie in the damage, or the pain, but rather the results. Every one of Milgram’s ‘Teacher’ subjects ended up submitting the ‘Learner’ to the lethal dose of voltage without concern.
19. Nazi Mustard Gas Experiment
Like every good list, let’s begin with two of the worst creations ever: The National Socialist party and mustard gas. These experiments were conducted so discreetly that it was a mystery to some German soldiers. Performed on the unconsented Jewish prisoners of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp – the subjects would suffer from severe chemical burns, boils and rashes, which would appear around 24 hours after the test. The worst part about these experiments is that at the time of the tests mustard gas had already seen combat in WW1. It was widely known how it affected the skin. The inhumane Nazis still submitted the weakened subjects to it in a bid to find a cure or remedy.
18. The Monster Study
Nowadays many believe stuttering to be caused by developmental factors, some abnormality that stops or suppresses the parts of the brain responsible for speech, but that theory has only come around recently. In 1939, Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor Jacobs, Johnson’s graduate student, subjected 22 orphaned children to psychological experimentation in the form of interruption. It might not sound so chilling yet, until you hear how they did it. Mary would scream over the kids, often asking them questions before doing so; she’d shout abuse at them as they try and answer her questions, all in conquest to see if they’d develop a stammer. They did, many developed more than a stammer like anxiety, loss of self confidence. One particular orphan girl, Mary Korlaske, fell mute and never recovered. Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor Jacobs, after being successful in their cruel objective, announced to the children it was all a sham, subjecting before-healthy children to lives of anxiety and speech impediments.
17. Infected Mosquitoes Released In U.S
In 1956, Bio-Chemical warfare loomed too close to home for some Government officials, some bright mind came up with the idea of releasing millions upon millions of Yellow-Fever-Infected Mozzies into parts of Florida and Georgia. Bearing in mind that mosquitoes kill roughly 725,000 humans a year, making it the deadliest animal in the world – they are solely responsible for the spread of Malaria, Dog Heartworm and Dengue – all deadly diseases. The release of the beasts falls just short of a horror movie. Both the states of Florida and Georgia saw a huge increase in respiratory diseases, fevers, and, most chilling of all, stillborn children. The same government officials that released the mosquitoes were there after the swarm, in costume to treat it. Yes, the experiment was done to test the long term effects that Yellow Fever unleashes.
16. Agent Orange Experiments
In 1967, Agent Orange was used by the U.S army during its objectives in Vietnam. Little was known about the herbicide aside from that it caused burns and rashes to those that came into contact with it. Dr. Albert Kilman thought it would be a great idea to inject the main ingredient of Agent Orange, dioxin, into U.S prisoner test subjects. So, he got the government and some big companies to watch over him whilst he tested it. But Dr. Kilman knew they wouldn’t watch too closely; Kilman injected over 400 times the amount he was authorized to, causing the skin of the subjects to peel off and form “acres of skin”. Dr. Kilman is quoted as saying “It was like a farmer seeing a fertile field for the first time”.
15. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments
In an experiment spanning 40 years, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments were a true case of horror and deception. Researchers injected 400 men, strictly African-American men, with Syphilis in order to better understand the infection. Strangely, at the same time, 400 African-American men started telling their friends they were being treated for a “Bad Blood” infection; Yes, the two “infections” were linked, they were both in fact the same thing. The researchers involved with the Syphilis Experiments were telling their subjects that they had this “Bad Blood” disease, incurable, untreatable and horrific. The reason these researchers shielded the word “syphilis” from the subjects was because by the time of the experiments there was already a cure for Syphilis. The researchers told their subjects they had a made up disease so they couldn’t cure it themselves.
14. US Plutonium and Uranium Experiments
The Manhattan Project has forever been praised and slandered for its result – the Atomic Bomb, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II. Little do people know that this project correlated perfectly with a secret government experiment to test the effects of plutonium on unconsenting subjects. Supervised by a Harold Hodge – the experiment took 18 patients. The patients weren’t informed. They had no idea who these researchers were and what they were injecting into them. They would be worrying about their own problems, their own health risks. All 18 subjects were dead within 20 years of the experiment. Meanwhile, Dr. William Sweet was happily being funded by the same project to conduct tests on human subjects involving uranium. He only wanted one thing in exchange for the tests, the tissue of his dead subjects to conduct more and more tests.
13. Project MKULTRA
Perhaps one of the most infamous experiments in U.S history – Project MKULTRA. It was designed to develop drugs and methods of torture and interrogation. Otherwise known as the ‘Mind Control Project’, MKULTRA sought out $10,000,000 to develop the program to completion. One drug that saw particular use in the project was LSD, a psychedelic drug known for its psychological effects. Under MKULTRA, several CIA agents, military personnel and government employees suspected of working with the USSR during the Cold War were given LSD repeatedly with a promise that the dose would stop when more information was given, without their secrets being revealed, the “trips” would continue. This particular operation caused long-term problems and several deaths.
12. The Aversion Experiments
During the Apartheid era in South Africa, a time where racial and sexual segregation was at a peak, Dr. Aubrey Levin generated the Aversion Project which was a bid to ‘avert’ and change the sexual orientation of military personnel. As soon as he began gathering other researchers he was informed about how his ambitions will breach human rights and ethics. He didn’t care; he replied with lies and deception, saying how his patients were “volunteers”. Levin’s efforts were to ‘advance’ the Apartheid Military. He believed that with homosexual soldiers, their army would never be victorious. So he set out to “cure” homosexuality. Levin’s master plan was very primitive, it went like this: he’d wire up the subject before screening them pictures of black and white naked men, then he’d show the subject a coloured image of a woman – if this didn’t source arousal in the subject then they’d be shocked.
When the experiments inevitably failed, Levin turned to a darker form of enforcing his ideas to operate. Levin recruited his researchers and began performing non-consensual sex change operations on failed subjects. After the operation he’d give them new birth records, a new name, and cast them out – away from their family and country.
11. Unit 731
War crimes are a delicate subject, a subject no government will ever admit to profusely. World War II saw many war crimes, perhaps the most dastardly were in the Pacific, more specifically Lab Unit 731, a top secret research lab where the worst of the worst human experiments were performed. Japanese Commander Shiro Ishii stands proudly at the head of these experiments. Because there were so many, we can’t decide which one to discuss, so we’ll discuss the entire Lab. Some subjects had limbs amputated and sewn onto different body parts, hands where your feet should be, patients were subjected to Gangrene through the freezing of body parts, pregnant women underwent vivisection to better understand how they reacted. If there was ever anywhere in the world where horror lived, it was in Lab Unit 731.
10. Irradiated Cancer ‘Treatment’ Experiment
Hope is sometimes the deadliest disease. During the Cold War, the U.S Government had just one question that kept them awake at night – how far can we push the human body in the face of radiation. It turned out a professor in radiology at Cincinnati University felt he was fit enough to take on the challenge of figuring that question out. He pulled together 88 cancer-infected patients, ranging from 9 through to 84, by contacting them about a ‘treatment’ for their terminal disease. Of course, these desperate men, women and children jumped at the chance of a cure, anything to help make them feel better. What they didn’t know is that the ‘treatment’ involved submitting the patients to radiation levels similar to the workers that died in the Chernobyl Disaster – fatal doses of radiation. what closely followed was projectile vomiting, severe stomach pain and a thick brain fog. A report released a few years after the experiments stated that around 25% of the 88 men were killed as a direct result of the trials.
9. The Nazi Twins Experiment
Of all the doctors and researchers on here, none of them will make you shudder like the infamous Dr. Mengele. A Nazi scientist, his obsession with twins was nightmarish. As a Jewish prisoner, you’d arrive at the concentration camp, bound and gagged. Here is where Dr. Mengele would pluck you and your twin from the group and isolate you in the experimentation labs; rooms built for dissection, gassing, you name it. He’d often compliment the subjects on their looks and attributes before snapping photos of the horrified twins over extended periods of time. He’d force the unyielding prisoners into positions to stay static for hours; for example the story of two Hungarian Twins who held their arms above their heads for a full day so Mengele could properly photograph their underarm hair. Day after day his experiments would get worse, samples taken from vital organs, gases pumped into lungs, hairs plucked from the body. This cruel, cruel man’s lust for the unthinkable was real. At the end, when he finished his experiments, he would inject the twins in the heart with chloroform, killing them instantly. This is how Josef Mengele got the nickname – The Angel Of Death.
8. Project ARTICHOKE
During research spanning the 40’s and 50’s, the U.S government began subjecting both U.S and foreign patients to ‘truth serums’ with the objective of either preventing U.S agents from giving information or pulling the information from interrogated enemies of the state. In truth, these serums were just a concoction of psychedelics and mild sickness treatments. The mixtures were chosen to be injected into patients through several projects: Project Chatter, Project Bluebird, and Project Artichoke. Project ARTICHOKE used a mixture of techniques, most predominantly a blend of hallucinogenic drug use along with complete isolation. Subjects who left the experiment reported extensive brain fog and amnesia.
7. Nazi Freeze Experiments
In the midst of the horrific years of the Holocaust, many experiments were carried out by faceless Nazi soldiers, one of which we’ve already listed. The Nazi concentration camps, specifically Dachau Concentration Camp, were approached by the German Air Force with a question: how much could the human body withstand the low pressure, cold environments these German pilots will be put in. The Camps then had an excuse to torture and test on uncontested prisoners. Prisoners were tossed into a cast iron, low-pressure chamber, where the conditions of high altitude flights could be recreated (up to 68,000 ft). Once thrown in, the test would begin. The pressure steadily decreasing to the fatal point, as the air is sucked from the chamber, the blood pressure of the subjects shot through the roof. Many prisoners of Dachau were killed in this method, all to aid the Nazi’s attempt at victory.
6. Project 4.1
March 1st, 1951 – thousands of military personnel stand guard as the Castle Bravo nuclear test commences in the North Pacific Ocean, or more specifically, Bikini Atoll. The bomb detonates, the onlookers go wild. It’s all in sequence; everyone except for the oblivious inhabitants of the Marshall Islands. To them March 1st 1951 was the beginning of a nightmare. The deadly fallout moved sporadically differently to how the U.S military had intended, engulfing many inhabited islands. The U.S government, entirely knowing of their mistake, decided to sit back and watch how the now suffering inhabitants reacted to the nuclear test. Obviously, they reacted terribly. Initially there was nothing, just insignificance, but after a few days the Marshallese reported hair loss, skin lesions, light radiation sickness. But the long-term effects were monstrous. In the early 1980’s, 91% of the inhabitants were diagnosed with various blood disorders, leukemia, all because of that one Castle Bravo test.
5. ‘The Father Of Gynecology’ Experiments
Marion Simms, otherwise known as the ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’ was definitely no saint. His exploitations and abuse of the slavery system to be able to perform his numerous experiments were cunning and sly. He performed his experiments exclusively on women. Successful as they were – it’s the way he went about the surgery that’ll send shivers down your spine. Even though his experiments into childbirth complications on enslaved African-Americans were made after anaesthesia was discovered, he still chose to bypass the numbing agent and go straight to the tests – what a hands on guy. His response to criticism was that he thought that “the experiments weren’t painful enough to garner administering anaesthesia.”
4. Little Albert Experiment
Perhaps the most humane and ethical experiment on this list: the Little Albert Experiment, an experiment that sought out to test the origin of fear. Is it an innate response or is it conditioned as we go through life? John Watson and his student Rosalie Raynor set out to figure just that out by first choosing a subject, a little baby boy named Albert. The test began very innocently, the subjected child was presented with a series of objects and filmed to see his response. Would fear prevail or would he just glare at the object without expression? The objects ranged between cotton balls, excited dogs, and newspapers on fire, but Little Albert’s face stayed expressionless. But that was just the baseline. In the next tests Watson and Raynor had planned to signify each object (the same objects were shown) with a loud bang, an audio stimulus. Each time Albert would touch the rat, the pair of examiners would bang a steel rod with a metal hammer; obviously, when you clang two pieces of steel together next to a baby’s head they freak out a little, and that’s exactly what little Albert did – he’d cry and cry. Albert would then be presented with the rat without the audio stimulus and still he would cry. He was forever afraid of little white, furry things.
3. British Nerve Gas Tests
Huge discoveries were made for the allies after World War II, many technological advances, transport, GPS etc. But, not many know of the weapon discoveries, or more specifically the gas discoveries. The gas Sarin was quickly categorized as a nerve gas and pulled into the British arsenal. Like all weapons, they must be tested. In 1953, a British military base called Porton Down was home to some of the world’s most horrific and inhumane experiments we’ve ever seen. Six subjects were exposed to 300 milligrams of the newly discovered weapon, and all of them had a response: sickness, nausea, dizziness, one of the men even fell into a coma.
2. Puerto Rican Cancer Experiment
Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, the face of TIME magazine, the shaper of chemotherapy, the…Tester of Cancer Cells? In the early 1930’s, Rhoads was spending a lot of time in Puerto Rico. One night his drunken antics lead to him confessing to injecting 8 Puerto Ricans with cancer cells, immediately infecting them with cancer. He starts his letter with anger and hatred toward the people of Puerto Rico, writing how he hopes his experiments contribute to the demise of the country’s population. Behind his experiments lies the largest of all American names, Rockefeller. His ‘examinations’ were sponsored by Rockefeller. His experimentation led to the death of all 8 of his known subjects. To this day it is unknown whether he was trying to find something out, or whether his tests were just murder.
1. The Angel Of Death’s Sewn Children
Josef Mengele has already been featured on this list for his obsessive tests on Jewish twins. This is dedicated to his most sickening, most blood-curdling examination – the sewing of two gypsy girls together. Auschwitz, as you may know, was Hell on Earth, it’s halls and rooms were full of screams. Josef Mengele was the Devil to that Hell; his diabolical, seemingly pointless tests on his subjects would bring even the strongest to heave. Perhaps his worst of all was the exam where he oversaw two gypsy girls snatched from their families and sewn together at the torso. Almost immediately, infection spread through the girls’ hands and feet, where the veins and blood supplies mixed and resected. Mengele is the perfect place to end such a list. His chilling form and senseless, obsessive experiments will surely freak you out.