How much money would it take for you to volunteer for a wild and crazy experiment? Would you consider doing it for the good of humanity? For hundreds of years experiments have been done on both animals and humans to find cures for diseases, increase our knowledge of a subject and to better humanity. But how far does an experiment have to go before it is considered too far? Just when you thought there was a proverbial line people wouldn’t cross, these crazy experiments that people have volunteered for will make you think twice about the mental health of the volunteers. From willingly being infected with a disease to volunteering to take a one-way trip to another planet, these six experiments truly push the limits.
1. The Human Challenge
Walter Reed’s "human challenge model” has been in operation for the past 20 years; essentially it is an experiment where volunteers willingly get bitten by a malaria-infected mosquito. According to the Washington Post, Jesse Bolton was one of the volunteers a few years ago who offered up his body to a mosquito “the size of a quarter with legs”. Over 100 volunteers have participated in the last 20 years, trading in their daily lives for two weeks of fever, tiredness and other signs of malaria. In return, they get treatments, a stay in the hospital for two weeks and a crisp $100 bill. The ultimate goal, of course, is finding a vaccine that works against this terrible disease that kills people all over the world.
2. Operation Crossroads
It was the year of 1946 when the US Navy launched Operation Crossroads, a pair of nuclear weapons tests that included detonating an atomic weapon over a vast armada of ships in the Pacific Ocean. The goal was to understand how a fleet would fare in the event of a nuclear conflict. Obviously the ships couldn’t be loaded with humans, so instead they were packed with livestock including mice, goats, pigs and rats.
That didn’t stop people from volunteering, though. The Navy actually received 40 letters from people who volunteered for this experiment according to the book “Electrified Sheep: Glass-eating Scientists, Nuking the Moon, and More ...” by Alex Boes. Most of the volunteers were suicidal and thought it would be a cool way to die and others were geriatrics who weren’t expecting to live much longer anyways. There was even an inmate from San Quentin’s death row. Needless to say, the experiment turned down all human volunteers, for obvious reasons.
3. Freeze and Revive
According to the Chicago Tribune archives, in 1935 Dr. Ralph Willard claimed he had perfected a technique to freeze humans solid and then bring them back to life. He didn’t say how long the people would be frozen for; quoting that it may be days, months or even years. Willard even went so far as to tell the media that he had done the experiment on a monkey, who was revived after five days of being frozen solid.
One would have thought it would be hard to find a volunteer for this unknown procedure, but it wasn’t long before 35-year-old Hollywood screenwriter Stephen Simkhovitch stepped forward wanting to help humanity. It turns out that Simkhovitch was suicidal, proved by his death a mere four years later and Willard was actually a fraud. Luckily the California health authorities stepped in and prevented this experiment from happening.
4. The Marijuana Study
The year was 1972 and C.G. (Bill) Miles, a British psychologist working in Toronto conducted, Project E206, a marijuana study that involved 20 women. The women volunteered for the study, understanding that they were participating in a marijuana experiment that promised a monetary value at the end. The women were divided into two groups; one group were required to smoke increasing doses of marijuana each night while the other half did not. Both groups were allowed to purchase as many mild joints as they wanted, though.
This experiment was part of a series of provincially funded experiments designed to answer one of the country’s most pressing questions, when then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau entertained the idea of legalizing marijuana, according to the Waterloo Record. How marijuana affected people’s ability to function and work. For 98 days, the women were put to work making belts, living in locked separate wards of the hospital and being forced to smoke the potent marijuana. What happened according to John Kagel, now a professor of applied microeconomics at Ohio State University was that the study showed that these women were perfectly rational and still worked hard, despite smoking the marijuana.
5. Children and Hepatitis
According to the celebrated vaccinologist Maurice Hilleman, "the Willowbrook studies were the most unethical medical experiments ever performed in children in the United States." So what exactly were these unethical experiments? Willowbrook State School was a state-supported institution for children with intellectual disabilities who in the 1950’s were struggling with outbreaks of hepatitis. Dr. Krugman was sent to the school to investigate the cause of the hepatitis and instead created a horrible experiment, hoping to create a vaccine for the virus.
His experiment consisted of giving hepatitis to healthy children who were at the hospital. Krugman sat back and observed as the children’s eyes turned yellow, livers grew larger and suffered from awful vomiting. Krugman justified this experiment by proposing that the children admitted to the hospital would get the disease one way or another. The worst fact about this case though is the voluntary involvement of parents, who either gave written permission to Krugman or sent their children the school knowing that they would be infected.
6. Mars One
In recent years, it appears that humans are willing to try anything and are in fact competing with each other for this next experiment. According to the website of Mars One, they are a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Based out of the Netherlands, this company introduced their idea to the public in 2012, calling for volunteers to take a one-way trip to Mars in 2020, no return ticket included. These humans would be the first to establish a colony on the red planet and the number of applicants was in the thousands. Applicants were asked to fill out an application form, send in a motivational letter, video and resume. Mars One has faced harsh criticism for its plans but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to narrow down the application pool and it hasn’t deterred any candidates either. Suicide or a contribution to science that’s up to you to decide.
See Also: 5 Crazy Geniuses That Changed The World
It seems that humans have been volunteering their minds and bodies for experiments for a very long time, and as shown by the recent Mars One experiment, it shows no sign of slowing down. The question we must ask ourselves is just how desperate we are to obtain more knowledge and is it really worth killing someone.