25 Incredibly Disturbing Science Experiments In History

Posted by , Updated on April 20, 2017

Creepy science experiments come in all shapes and sizes. Some psychological experiments are creepy because they tell us something disturbing about ourselves. However, other experiments are creepy because they’re just wrong. Quite often human experiments have been excessively brutal and violent. So be warned, the word “creepy” may be an understatement for some of the experiments on this list. Nonetheless, these are the 25 Incredibly Disturbing Science Experiments In History.


Little Albert

Little AlbertSource: apa.org

In the 1920’s, researchers at John Hopkins introduced furry animals to an infant named Albert. He seemed to be curious and enjoyed playing with them. Then, the researchers conditioned Albert to dislike the animals by loudly striking hammers whenever they appeared. Unfortunately, Little Albert died of unrelated causes when he was only 6. But he never did enjoy furry animals again in his short lifetime.


The Bystander Effect

smokeSource: radiation-bystander.columbia.edu

In the 1960’s, researchers at Columbia University conducted experiments to better understand why a group of people was less likely to help someone in distress than an individual. They placed participants in a room and gradually filled it with smoke. Sure enough, when there was only one person in the room, they reported the smoke almost immediately. When there were more than one…it took a while.

Note: this is because each person assumes that somebody else will do something or that everything is okay because nobody else is doing anything.


Stanford Prison Experiment

Stanford Prison ExperimentSource: prisonexp.org

Another famously unethical experiment, in 1971 Philip Zimbardo performed an experiment where half the participants were guards and the other half were prisoners. After just a few days, the guards had turned into the sadistic abusers and the prisoners had all become depressed.


Unit 731

Unit 731Source: mtholyoke.edu

It has been said before, but “creepy” is a massively insufficient adjective to describe what happened here. Prisoners of war at this covert Japanese research facility were experimented on in unthinkable ways. They were blown up, cut to pieces, frozen, and used to test weapons.


The Milgram Experiment

shockSource: simplypsychology.com

Psychologist Stanley Milgram wanted to know how so many people could have been complicit with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. He conducted experiments where an “official” would instruct participants to administer electric shocks to a person (actor) in another room by pressing a button. The shocks increased in power (as did the screams) until the screams ceased. In fact, had the shocks been real…almost every participant would have killed the actor. And to make it worse, the actors often pleaded for the shocks to stop.

Note: this study is famous for showing that, given the right circumstances, we are all capable of unspeakable atrocities

Photos: Featured Image: Shutterstock, 25-23. pixabay.com (public domain), 22. Jan Bommes via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 21-20. pixabay.com (public domain), 19. Global Panorama via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 18-17.  commons.wikimedia.org (public domain), 16. pixabay (public domain), 15. commons.wikimedia.org (public domain), 14-13. pixabay.com (public domain), 12-11. commons.wikimedia.org (public domain), 10. Achen1997, Harry-harlow, CC BY-SA 4.0, 9-8. pixabay.com (public domain), 7. NJR ZA, SADF-44Parachute-Gecko-001, CC BY-SA 3.0, 6-5. commons.wikimedia.org (public domain), 4. www.publicdomainpictures.net (public domain), 3. Eric E. Castro via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 2. 松岡明芳, Building on the site of the Harbin bioweapon facility of Unit 731 関東軍防疫給水部本部731部隊(石井部隊)日軍第731部隊旧址 PB121180, CC BY-SA 3.0, 1. Tomas Fano via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

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