The human brain provides endless fascination.
Which is why doctors and scientists continue to perform experiments to study how it works.
On both lab animals and human beings.
These experiments often provide remarkable, sometimes unsettling results.
Giving us new insight to the way we think, decisions we make, and how we function in life.
Even if the practice of many of them is highly questionable from an ethical standpoint.
"What are some psychology experiments with interesting results?"
Nature Vs. Nurture
"White rats and black rats were raised separately without seeing each other."
"When a black rat was placed in the white rats cage, the other rats ostracized him."
"When white and black rats are raised together and a new black rat is placed in a cage, the white rats accept him."
"So basically rats are racist, unless raised to accept differences."- Ginger_Underlord
The Dangers Of Preconceived Notions
"The self-fulfilling prophecy studies are very important to social psychology and their findings have many real world applications."
"Basically they brought together a group of kids and formed a class with a real teacher."
"They gave the kids a test for overall academic skill at the start of the course, but didn't really use the scores."
"Instead they told the teachers that a few students, picked at random, were very brilliant and scores very highly."
"They then observed the class for a long period of time and noticed that the teachers gave the kids they thought were brilliant much more attention."
"At the end of the study the kids took the test again, and they found that the kids who were randomly named brilliant at the start actually scores higher than the rest of the class."
"The kids, again, at the start didn't score any different from the rest of the class, but through the self fulfilling prophecy they became the best in their class."
"This obviously has tons of application in the world and especially education."- ehbacon23
Fascinating, But Was It Worth It?
:The monster experiment!"
"Although it is horrible how they left the children with mental health issues at the end, this experiment gave very good insight to how to parent a child."
"On this experiment, they took groups of orphaned children and separated them into 3 groups."
"One was the control, the second was told they has a lisp and were doing bad, and the third was told that their speech was perfect."
"As the experiment went on, group 2 began developing lisps after being berated constantly."
"They became shy and reserved."
"They were scared to speak because they didn't want to get in trouble because of their poor speaking skills."
"Group 3, however, had the opposite happen."
"They talked better, they were more willing to improve."
"They were encouraged to keep speaking and told that their speech was amazing and perfect."
"By the end of the experiment, they had one group with no change, one group with now mentally ill children with a speech impediment, and one group with great speaking skills."
"It truly shows that encouraging children is the way to go and that verbal abuse can be just as, if not more, harmful as physical abuse."- Buniny
Can You Ever Tell If They're Faking It?
"The Rosenhan Experiment."
"13 people feigned mental illnesses to get into mental hospitals and all were admitted with different diagnoses."
"They then assumed their normal personalities but to be released they all had to admit that they were mentally ill."
"There was a second part where a hospital challenged Rosenhan to send multiple fake patients to the hospital and they would rate their patients on a scale of whether they think they were faking."
"They identified many possible fakers, but Rosenhan in fact hadn’t sent anyone."- mhssotr13
Some People Don't Know How Lucky They Are
"The Monopoly Study by Paul Piff."
"He basically brought two strangers into the lab together and had them play a game of Monopoly together."
"He randomly assigned one participant to start the game with twice as much money than the other and that participant also got to roll both dice to get around the board."
"I.e., the other participant started with half the money and could only roll one dice."
"At the end of the game when he asked the participants who started with more money why he won the game, they would chock it up to their excellent strategy and gamesmanship rather than the fact that they had started the game with way more resources."
"It says a lot about how we deal with being born into a privileged state."- respectfullydissent
Dangers Of Playing God
"The Three Christs of Ypsilanti."
"Psychologist forces three people who believe that they are Jesus Christ to live together."
"It does not go well."
"The psychologist, Milton Rokeach, had heard of a case where two women who believed that they were Mary, mother of Christ, were forced to live together and one of them broke free from their delusion."
"So he figured, three Christs...what would happen."
"They were angry at each other."
"Often had physical fights."
"They eventually started getting along by avoiding the topic."
"He would ask them about the others and each would say that the others were crazy."
"That they, of course, were the real Jesus."
"Some unethical stuff."
"Interesting though."- hateboresme
Experimenting like this on animals and human beings is always bound to have serious repercussions, and is always ethically questionable.
Even so, it's still hard not to notice how several of these experiments do, indeed, shed light on ongoing problems with our society today.
Leading us to wonder if it might ever lead to the necessary change?
Have you ever wanted to figure something out so desperately for the good of others, but realize that in order to find the answer you would have to skirt moral, human ethics to incredible degrees?
Welcome to the world of being a scientist. You are always hungry for more information, but have to realize there is a line that you cannot cross when experimenting, especially with human test subjects.
But that doesn't stop 'em from dreaming.
Here were some of those answers.
Psychopath Through The AgesGiphy
I want to take DNA from infamous serial killers like Dahmer or Albert Fish or the like, clone them, then have the baby raised in a normal, supportive, loving family.
I'd study the kids all through adulthood to see how much is nurture and how much is nature.
There's a guy who did a TED Talk, found out by accident that he has the brain of a serial killer (brain scan). Talked about the character qualities he has that fit the bill, family history and all that.
Your Own Personal Ecosystem
I want to do a long term case study on children's Microbiome. It would start with samples of their mothers microbiome, and then when the child is first born get a sample of theirs, compare it, and continue comparing the two samples throughout breast feeding vs. bottle feeding. Also get a detailed comparison of how the microbiome changes after vaccinations, sickness, antibiotics.
I would basically study every single poop this child has, their eating habits, their health conditions, any medications, vaccinations, etc. for years.
But people want privacy, and most wouldn't want to commit to keeping such accurate accounts of their children's food/health/activities, so it's likely that even if I did this study it would be difficult to prove all variables were accounted for. And with all the variability I would need many, many children.
The end goal is to see how our microbiome changes throughout your childhood, and note when you may be more susceptible to things depending on the type of microflora you have. Everyone has a different ratio, so essentially if we can harness the individuals capability of unique flora we could find a whole new way to tackle illnesses and preventatives for sicknesses that would have significantly less side effects than many other medications.
This idea stems from others studying the microbiome, and finding that certain ratios of microflora can cause you to get over illnesses quicker when combined with the right medicine, and also help digestive tracks regulate better. But so far these tests are being done with cancer patients. I think if we're able to see how children are effected it may bring less possibilities of cancer and other illnesses down the road, as well as a faster recovery time.
I'm a physician and I would love to see how far the Placebo Effect really goes.
For those who are not familiar, the Placebo Effect is an unexplained phenomena where people who take medications that aren't real, but they believe are real, have an actual, measurable effect on their illness. People with depression who take sugar pills report feeling happier. People with pain who take sugar pills report a decrease to their pain etc.
I've seen even crazier ones where people think they are having surgery for their bad knee...but the docs just put them under, make an incision on their knee, do nothing, sew them back up and patients report improvement to their bad knee.
So part of me just wants to explore this to its full extent. Can we treat chronic illnesses like arthritis, lupus and bipolar disorder with just placebos? What about viral illness? Can you imagine if someone's HIV viral load decreased while they're eating Skittles thinking its a new miracle drug?
Call Of The Wild
Experiments with social isolation intrigue me. Raise a child with no language and see what happens. No contact. Wild children give us some insights, but also a sample of the kind of trauma this can produce. Completely and undeniably unethical. Incredibly cruel. But sooooo intriguing!!
I want to work on genetically modifying the genes that control our active cones in our eyes. Specifically I want to try to activate a tertiary cone in the eyes of dogs so that they can see infared light just like snakes can.
In simpler terms, we could make rescue dogs that have infared vision to help locate missing people or recover people in natural disasters.
In even simpler terms I want to make heatseeking dogs.
In The Way
I wouldn't say "mad scientist", but medical privacy laws get in the way of a LOT of incredibly useful research. Everything has to be so de-identified and confidential that it makes doing any sort of large-scale statistics nearly impossible. You have to make a ton of assumptions because you can't know many details.
If I had full access to everyone's medical records, we could probably fix a whole lot.
When Mad Lightning Strikes
The typical discovery and clinical testing pipeline of a pharmaceutical looks something like this:
cell culture > rodent models > other animals (primates, rabbits, etc.) > humans
If at any step the drug fails the test (either for toxicity or efficiacy), the potential drug is nixed. And this process of discovery and clinical testing can take up to 10 years at the cost of billions of dollars.
What happens if your model systems can't fully recapitulate the human disease phenotype? So what happens if you've got a drug that might work really well in the human, but we never know, because it gets trashed because there's no response in the mouse model?
Now I completely understand the ethical concerns with testing on human subjects from the get go, but if you asked me to don my mad scientist lab coat and goggles, I'd try to push for earlier testing on human subjects.
Violating The Oath
I'd never do the experiment, but it's hard to overstate how helpful it would be to have large-scale, longitudinal data on how different chemotherapeutic drugs/drug cocktails affect the evolutionary trajectory of tumors.
The problem is that in order to study it, you'd need to:
- Give a large number of people experimental or substandard care, which is highly unethical.
- Perform serial surgeries even when they aren't medically necessary in order to collect tissue samples from the tumors, and since every surgery carries with it some risk this is also highly unethical.
Use the milk from orb spiders (they mix the DNA of orb spiders with goals at UWyoming) to build a better dental filling. They'd hypothetically last exponentially longer, would bond to tooth as an organic substance, and are stronger that Teflon. It would also be minimally invasive as to set the groundwork for more invasive medical applications such as knee replacements. If you fund me I know the orb goat and dental guys.
"Get Hungry When I Smell Roses"—People Share Which Pavlovian Responses They've Been Conditioned With
We all fall slave to the quirks of others and life in general. There are incidents in life that have trained us to react in ways that are out of our control. A certain smell can make us cry, a significant sound can trigger the same bodily rote response, a song can make us hungry... no joke. Much like the teachings of the great manipulator Pavlov and his pooches we too are conditioned in ways we may never even recognize. Sometimes it's an unplanned behavior sparked by the mercy of life other times... people are messing with us.