Powerful government can lead to some really bad things, especially in the name of the common good. In the last article, I talked about the horrors of the Tuskegee Experiment. Unfortunately, our history of experimenting on people doesn’t stop there. Let’s take a quick look back at the history of the US government’s shady experiments.

  • In 1915, inmates were put on extreme rations to prove a government doctor’s theory that the disease “pellagra” was caused by a dietary deficiency. The inmates were left starved and covered in red lesions, but at least they were offered pardons for their participation.
  • In 1942, a federally funded study began injecting an experimental flu vaccine in patients at a state insane asylum in Michigan. The patients were then exposed to flu several months later. This would all be well and fine, except that the patients had no idea what was being done to them.
  • In 1957, federal researchers sprayed the Asian Flu virus in the noses of 23 prison inmates in Maryland to compare their reactions to those of 32 virus-exposed inmates who had been given a new vaccine.
  • In the 1950s, the Ohio state prison system allowed researchers to inject over 100 inmates with live cancer cells. The study was designed to examine “the natural killing off process of the human body.” But that’s not what the inmates were told. They were told they faced “no grave danger.”
  • In the early 1960s, researchers injected cancer cells into nineteen debilitated patients at a Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in Brooklyn to see if their bodies would reject them. The patients were simply not told they were being shot up with cancer cells—they were too old to care anyway.
  • Also in the 1950s, government researchers attempted to infect two dozen prison inmates with gonorrhea. The bacteria was pumped directly into the urinary tract to see if the inmates would react differently than contracting it the normal way. If you need further clarification, ask Jeffy.
  • In 1958, children at the now famous Willowbrook State School for Children, were intentionally given hepatitis to see if it could be cured by a new form of protection.  They did send out a nice permission note though.“We are studying the possibility of preventing epidemics of hepatitis on a new principle. Virus is introduced and gamma globulin given later to some, so that either no attack or only a mild attack of hepatitis is expected to follow.”  It’s interesting to note that the Willowbrook was chosen as the location for the study solely because so many children already had hepatitis from the poor living conditions there.
  • In the early 1920s, a physician at San Quentin prison in California implanted testicles from rams, goats, boars, and recently deceased convicts into inmates to “revitalize them.” I guess he was going for an early version of Viagra.

But that would never happen today. Right?

  • From 2004 through the Obama administration, subjects at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine were exposed to very high levels of toxic air pollutants while participating in an experiment by the EPA. The EPA failed to warn their test subjects about just how lethal the doses were.

Now it could be argued that these experiments were done for the common good. They were all conceived and executed with good intentions of garnering a better understanding of how the human body works.  Helping people was the end goal of these experiments. But we all know good intentions pave the road to hell—and that’s exactly what happened here. When government retains too much control over anything—basic humanity is always sacrificed for the overall good of “progress.”

Except I really don’t think goat balls helped further any progress or helped any human. Ever. Unless, you’re into that sort of thing. Ask Jeffy.