There are plenty of groups who protest testing on animals, but there is nothing as heinous as forced, unknown medical testing on humans. This list presents ten situations in which humans were chosen as test subjects for medical experiments, either without their consent or in some cases without proper knowledge of what was taking place.
10. Stanford Prison Experiment
In 1971, psychologist Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues set out to create an experiment that looked at the impact of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. Zimbardo, a former classmate of Stanley Milgram (who is best-known for his famous obedience experiment), was interested in expanding upon Milgram’s research. He wanted to further investigate the the impact of situational variables on human behavior.
The question the researchers asked was how would the participants react when placed in a simulated prison environment. “Suppose you had only kids who were normally healthy, psychologically and physically, and they knew they would be going into a prison-like environment and that some of their civil rights would be sacrificed. Would those good people, put in that bad, evil place—would their goodness triumph?”
A mock prison was created and volunteers were asked to live in it for a while. However, the guards soon went out of control and their behavior became sadistic and vicious while the prisoners developed severe emotional problems. Even the researchers themselves began to lose sight of the reality of the situation. Zimbardo, who acted as the prison warden, overlooked the abusive behavior of the prison guards until one graduate student voiced objections.
9. Speech Therapy
The Monster Study, as it was known, was a stuttering experiment on 22 orphan children in Davenport, Iowa, in 1939 conducted by Wendell Johnson at the University of Iowa. Johnson chose one of his graduate students, Mary Tudor, to conduct the experiment and he supervised her research. After placing the children in control and experimental groups, Tudor gave positive speech therapy to half of the children, praising the fluency of their speech, and negative speech therapy to the other half, belittling the children for every speech imperfection and telling them they were stutterers.
Many of the normal speaking orphan children who received negative therapy in the experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some retained speech problems during the course of their life. Dubbed “The Monster Study” by some of Johnson’s peers who were horrified that he would experiment on orphan children to prove a theory, the experiment was kept hidden for fear Johnson’s reputation would be tarnished in the wake of human experiments conducted by the Nazis during World War II. The University of Iowa publicly apologized for the Monster Study in 2001.
8. The Marshall Islands Experiment
Marshall Islands residents were forcefully exposed to radioactive substances in 1954. Over the years, several results were seen- women went through miscarriages, stunted growth was noticed in children and some developed thyroid cancer.
7. The CIA Experiment
Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human experimentation program, run by the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continued at least through the late 1960s, and used U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects.
The published evidence indicates that Project MKULTRA involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate individual mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.
6. Cures For Homosexuality
From 1969 to 1987, psychiatrists of the South African Defence Force were implicated in serious abuses, stemming from attempts to cure homosexual conscripts.6 The South African Defence Force regarded homosexuality as subversive, and severe penalties were prescribed, although attitudes were often inconsistent.
During this period, the South African military forced it’s white gay and lesbian members to undergo various ‘cures’ for their orientation, including mandatory sex change operations. Many were given electric shocks and subjected to chemical castration. The aim was to ‘remove homosexuality’ from the army.
5. North Korean Experiments
Human experimentation was described by several North Korean defectors, including former prisoner Lee Soon Ok, former prison guards Kwon Hyok and Ahn Myung Chul, and others. This testimony was corroborated by documents brought from Camp 22 in North Korea. In Lee’s testimony to the US Senate and in her prison memoir Eyes of the Tailless Animals she recounted witnessing two instances of lethal human experimentation. An episode of the BBC television programme This World detailed some of the allegations. The claims have been described as “plausible” by a senior US official.
The reports of North Korean human experimentation describe suffocation of prisoners in gas chambers, testing deadly chemical weapons, surgery without anesthesia, and damaging the brains of people to use them for target practice.
4. Soviet Poison Experiments
The Poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services, also known as Laboratory 1, Laboratory 12 and “The Chamber”, was a covert poison research and development facility of the Soviet secret police agencies. The Soviets tested a number of deadly poisons on prisoners from the Gulag (“enemies of the people”), including mustard gas, ricin, digitoxin and many others. The goal of the experiments was to find a tasteless, odorless chemical that could not be detected post mortem. Candidate poisons were given to the victims, with a meal or drink, as “medication”.
A preparation with the desired properties called C-2 was developed. According to witness testimonies, the victim changed physically, became shorter, weakened quickly, became calm and silent and died within fifteen minutes. Mairanovsky brought to the laboratory people of varied physical condition and ages in order to have a more complete picture about the action of each poison.
In addition to human experimentation, Mairanovsky personally executed people with poisons, under the supervision of Pavel Sudoplatov.
3. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study
The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male was a clinical study, conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama, in which 399 (plus 201 control group without syphilis) poor — and mostly illiterate — African American sharecroppers were denied treatment for Syphilis.
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment (also known as the Tuskegee syphilis study or Public Health Service syphilis study) was a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama, by the U.S. Public Health Service, to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis. The Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, began the study in 1932. Investigators enrolled in the study 399 impoverished African-American sharecroppers from Macon County, Ala., infected with syphilis.
For participating in the study, the men were given free medical exams, free meals and free burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the men were told they were being treated for “bad blood,” a local term used to describe several illnesses, including syphilis, anemia and fatigue. The 40-year study was controversial for reasons related to ethical standards, primarily because researchers failed to treat patients appropriately after the 1940s validation of penicillin as an effective cure for the disease.
Revelation of study failures led to major changes in U.S. law and regulation on the protection of participants in clinical studies. Now studies require informed consent (with exceptions possible for U.S. Federal agencies which can be kept secret by Executive Order), communication of diagnosis, and accurate reporting of test results.
2. Unit 731
Unit 731, also known as the Auschwitz of the East, 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 (1937–1945) and World War II. This hidden house of horrors was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel. It was officially known as the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army, set up under the authority of the Kempeitai military police.
Living people were vivisected; limbs of prisoners were removed and stitched onto different parts of their bodies while the others were frozen and then thawed. Some prisoners were injected with different diseases and then studied.
1. Nazi Experiments
Nazi Experiments were carried out at Auschwitz wherein inmates were the subjects of the research. Josef Mengele is forever etched in history as the most evil character of our times. His experiments focused on twins and tried to change their eye colors by injecting a wide variety of harmful chemicals into their eyes. Many other horrors were unleashed by the Nazis on prisoners, many under the guise of research and experimentation, but all with a complete lack of ethics and a brutal approach.