Contd from I
Milgram Study 1974
The notorious Milgrim Study is one of the most well known of psychology experiments. Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist at Yale University, wanted to test obedience to authority. He set up an experiment with “teachers” who were the actual participants, and a “learner,” who was an actor. Both the teacher and the learner were told that the study was about memory and learning.
Both the learner and the teacher received slips that they were told were given to them randomly, when in fact, both had been given slips that read “teacher.” The actor claimed to receive a “learner” slip, so the teacher was deceived. Both were separated into separate rooms and could only hear each other. The teacher read a pair of words, following by four possible answers to the question. If the learner was incorrect with his answer, the teacher was to administer a shock with voltage that increased with every wrong answer. If correct, there would be no shock, and the teacher would advance to the next question.
In reality, no one was being shocked. A tape recorder with pre-recorded screams was hooked up to play each time the teacher administered a shock. When the shocks got to a higher voltage, the actor/learner would bang on the wall and ask the teacher to stop. Eventually all screams and banging would stop and silence would ensue. This was the point when many of the teachers exhibited extreme distress and would ask to stop the experiment. Some questioned the experiment, but many were encouraged to go on and told they would not be responsible for any results.
If at any time the subject indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was told by the experimenter, Please continue. The experiment requires that you continue. It is absolutely essential that you continue. You have no other choice, you must go on. If after all four orders the teacher still wished to stop the experiment, it was ended. Only 14 out of 40 teachers halted the experiment before administering a 450 volt shock, though every participant questioned the experiment, and no teacher firmly refused to stop the shocks before 300 volts.
In 1981, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. wrote that the Milgram Experiment and the later Stanford prison experiment were frightening in their implications about the danger lurking in human nature’s dark side.
The Well of Despair 1960
Dr. Harry Harlow was an unsympathetic person, using terms like the “rape rack” and “iron maiden” in his experiments. He is most well-known for the experiments he conducted on rhesus monkeys concerning social isolation. Dr. Harlow took infant rhesus monkeys who had already bonded with their mothers and placed them in a stainless steel vertical chamber device alone with no contact in order to sever those bonds. They were kept in the chambers for up to one year. Many of these monkeys came out of the chamber psychotic, and many did not recover. Dr. Harlow concluded that even a happy, normal childhood was no defense against depression, while science writer Deborah Blum called these, “common sense results.”
Gene Sackett of the University of Washington in Seattle, one of Harlow’s doctoral students, stated he believes the animal liberation movement in the U.S. was born as a result of Harlow’s experiments. William Mason, one of Harlow’s students, said that Harlow “kept this going to the point where it was clear to many people that the work was really violating ordinary sensibilities, that anybody with respect for life or people would find this offensive. It’s as if he sat down and said, ‘I’m only going to be around another ten years. What I’d like to do, then, is leave a great big mess behind.’ If that was his aim, he did a perfect job.”
David Reimer 1965 – 2004
In 1965, a baby boy was born in Canada named David Reimer. At eight months old, he was brought in for a standard procedure: circumcision. Unfortunately, during the process his penis was burned off. This was due to the physicians using an electrocautery needle instead of a standard scalpel. When the parents visited psychologist John Money, he suggested a simple solution to a very complicated problem: a sex change. His parents were distraught about the situation, but they eventually agreed to the procedure. They didn’t know that the doctor’s true intentions were to prove that nurture, not nature, determined gender identity. For his own selfish gain, he decided to use David as his own private case study.
David, now Brenda, had a constructed vagina and was given hormonal supplements. Dr. Money called the experiment a success, neglecting to report the negative effects of Brenda’s surgery. She acted very much like a stereotypical boy and had conflicting and confusing feelings about an array of topics. Worst of all, her parents did not inform her of the horrific accident as an infant. This caused a devastating tremor through the family. Brenda’s mother was suicidal, her father was alcoholic, and her brother was severely depressed.
Finally, Brenda’s parents gave her the news of her true gender when she was fourteen years old. Brenda decided to become David again, stopped taking estrogen, and had a penis reconstructed. Dr. Money reported no further results beyond insisting that the experiment had been a success, leaving out many details of David’s obvious struggle with gender identity. At the age of 38, David committed suicide.
Note: Please also refer three items (8, 9, and 10) from Evil Human Experiments.