The Stanford prison experiments. Basically, 24 Stanford psychology students were selected to play either a prisoner or a prison guard. The people took their roles much more seriously than expected, and in very short time and the experiment had to be shut down. It is still a highly controversial experiment.
The 1961 Milgram Experiment, run by Yale Psychologist Stanley Milgram, is another controversial experiment. Milgram measured the willingness of participants to administer electric shocks to others if the participants were instructed to do so by an authority figure. No electric shocks were actually given, but the participants didn’t know that. The experiment found that many people would obey authority despite their personal objections.
Infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele performed horrific experiments on human subjects. Mengele’s experiments earned him the nickname, “the angel of death”. After the war he evaded capture for 34 years and died in South America.
The MKULTRA project, performed by the CIA in the 1950s and 60s, used human test subjects. LSD was administered to people – volunteers and otherwise – in CIA mind-control experiments that also included sensory deprivation, hypnosis and verbal or sexual abuse. These were very covert experiments; in 1973, CIA director Richard Helms tried to destroy all of the records. The project ultimately came to light in 1977.
Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, volunteered for the studies (this is covered towards the beginning of Tom Wolfe’s Electric Koolaid Acid Test).
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