Top 10 Evil Human Experiments

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[WARNING] This list contains descriptions and images of human experimentation which may cause offense to some readers.

Human experimentation and research ethics evolved over time.

On occasion, the subjects of human experimentation have been prisoners, slaves, or even family members.

In some notable cases, doctors have performed experiments on themselves when they have been unwilling to risk the lives of others. This is known as self-experimentation.

This is a list of the 10 most evil and unethical experiments carried out on humans…

10. Stanford Prison Experiment


The Stanford prison experiment was a psychological study of human responses to captivity and its behavioral effects on both authorities and inmates in prison.

The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by psychologist Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Undergraduate volunteers played the roles of both guards and prisoners living in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations.

One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited “genuine” sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early.

Finally, Zimbardo, alarmed at the increasingly abusive anti-social behavior from his subjects, terminated the entire experiment early.

9. The Monster Study


The Monster Study 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. Project 4.1


Project 4.1 was the designation for a medical study conducted by the United States of those residents of the Marshall Islands exposed to radioactive fallout from the March 1, 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, which had an unexpectedly large yield.

For the first decade after the test, the effects were ambiguous and statistically difficult to correlate to radiation exposure: miscarriages and stillbirths among exposed Rongelap women doubled in the first five years after the accident, but then returned to normal; some developmental difficulties and impaired growth appeared in children, but in no clear-cut pattern. In the decades that followed, though, the effects were undeniable.

Children began to suffer disproportionately from thyroid cancer (due to exposure to radioiodines), and almost a third of those exposed developed neoplasms by 1974.

As a Department of Energy Committee writing on the human radiation experiments wrote,

“It appears to have been almost immediately apparent to the AEC and the Joint Task Force running the Castle series that research on radiation effects could be done in conjunction with the medical treatment of the exposed populations.” The DOE report also concluded that “The dual purpose of what is now a DOE medical program has led to a view by the Marshallese that they were being used as ‘guinea pigs’ in a ‘radiation experiment.”