At its best, science represents the best in humanity: intelligence, curiosity, and the yearning desire to understand the unknown. However, while for the most part science strives to make our world a better place it also shares a long and dark history. There have been numerous cases of scientists testing drugs, diseases, chemicals and weapons on some of the most vulnerable people in society. Here are seven of the most appallingly evil experiments ever carried out in the name of science.
Holmesburg Prison Experiments
Prisoners are one of the most prime candidates for these types of experiments. Such an experiments took place during the mid-1960s by D. Albert Kligman at the Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia. The studies were funded by the US Army, Dow Chemical and Johnson & Johnson, and were designed to test the effect of Agent Orange on humans. When injected with a byproduct of Agent Orange, the prisoners began developing chloracne, which is defined as a skin disease resembling severe acne. The affliction was everywhere, from the face to the groin area, and the subjects of the experiment lived with this condition long after the experiments ended. The doctor behind the experiment, Dr. Kligman, later patented Retin-A, an acne treatment medicine.
Prisoners were again unwilling test subjects during the cold war in a laboratory that was dubbed, “The Chamber.” The Soviet Secret Police conducted experiments on prisoners in the Soviet Gulag. They were trying to develop an ideal chemical weapon that was tasteless and odorless. Prisoners were given doses of mustard gas, digitoxin, ricin and other deadly poisons in their food and drink. This led to the development of the super poison, C-2, which reportedly made victims shorter, weaker and dead in only 15 minutes.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
While this experiment was not actually conducted on prisoners, the purpose of the experiment was to find out the psychological effect on both prisoners and guards. Psychologist Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University created an experiment in which some students would be put in the role of prisoners while others would be the guards. The experiment took place in a makeshift prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The findings of the experiment were rather extreme, with the guards quickly expressing sadistic tendencies and the inmates experiencing psychological torment. Two of the inmates had to be removed early, and the whole project was shut down after a troubled Zimbardo saw what was happening.
The Aversion Project
During the 1970s and 1980s, South African’s apartheid army gave homosexual soldiers forced sex-changes among other tortuous methods of rooting-out homosexuality. Suspected homosexuals would be taken to military psychiatric outposts, where they would be experimented on using shock therapy, hormone treatment, and if all else failed, a forced sex-change. It is unknown exactly how many of the soldiers suffered these forced sex-changes, though estimates say there were as many as 900.
North Korean Experiments
North Korea’s prisoner experimentation is something that mirrors Nazi experimentation during World War II. Their government vehemently denies these allegations, but witnesses claim many atrocities were and are still being committed. One woman tells of an experiment where 50 women were forced to eat poisoned cabbage leaves. If they refused, retaliation would be taken against their families. All 50 died only 20 minutes after ingesting the leaves, all of them vomiting blood and bleeding from the rectum. Former Head of Security, Kwon Hyok, told of a laboratory that was equipped with all types of poisonous experimentation. He also claims that he saw a family being murdered by poisonous gas, and that the parents tried to resuscitate their fallen children before being killed themselves. The continuing reports of human rights abuse are currently being investigated by the United Nations.
Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Under the command of Shiro Ishii terrible crimes were committed. Limbs were amputated and reattached on another body part. People were used as test-dummies for grenades and other weapons. Some were infected with sexually transmitted diseases through rape to study the effects on the body. Diseases were injected under the guise of vaccines. The atrocity list continues. Ishii was unfortunately granted immunity by the American Occupation Authorities, so he never faced a trial for his crimes. He died of throat cancer at 67.
It should come as no surprise that the Nazis made the list of the most notorious experiments in history. The experiments were used to try to find effective ways of treating injured soldiers on the battlefield. Prisoners were forced to sit in ice baths for hours or to sit naked in the cold. These studies were meant to learn ways of warming survivors. There were also many experiments on twins, attempting to show the genetic similarities and differences. They were injected with genetic-altering chemicals and sometimes even sewn together in an attempt to create conjoined twins. Out of the 1,500+ twin subjects of these tests, fewer than 200 survived.
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