From a failed basketball design to a psychology experiment that influenced the murderous Unibomber, here are 14 experiments that went wrong.
Humanity as progressed through 200,000 years by learning and adapting, curiously exploring the world and beyond. Many achievements were due to successful experiments, like attaching wheels to things, but not all experiments have worked out. In fact, most attempts at something new haven't worked out the first time. This list, however, goes through 14 experiments that went wrong, and their consequences on the world around them.
For instance, fascinated with stories of animals raising humans, famous breakfast cereal maker and psychologist, Winthrop Kellogg and his wife, decided to raise their newborn, named Donald, with a similarly-aged chimp called Gua. At first, the young chimpanzee developed much faster than Donald in areas like climbing, strength, dexterity, language comprehension and more. But, soon, Gia plateaued, and it became obvious that she would never develop like a human, regardless of how she was treated.
They ended the experiment abruptly and without explanation, and just when things were starting to get interesting. Gia couldn't vocalise human speech, but young Donald had started imitating his chimpanzee sibling. Who knows how much Donald would have learned if mom and pops hadn't pulled the plug and sent Gia packing.
In terms of psychology, Dr Kellogg was still on the safe side of ethics. The Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by the US Navy was a lot more intense, though, with surprising results. It was developed by lead-researcher, Philip Lombardo, to measure the effects of role-playing and social expectations. He suggested that situations and circumstance dictate how a person acts, not their personalities.
24 male volunteers were split into two groups, prison guards or prison inmates, with some, kept on the sidelines as substitutes if the need arose. Each volunteer was to be paid 15 dollars a day for two weeks, but the experiment was called off after just six days and with multiple 'prisoners' already pulled from the fake jail. It was a disaster, with inmates revolting on the second day and guards torturing their captives both mentally and physically.
The most notorious story, however, must be about the Unibomber, an American who posted bombs to victims for over a decade before he was caught. As it turns out, Ted Kazinski was actually highly intelligent, finding himself at university at the tender age of 16 in the late 1950s. He and 21 other students participated in a three-year-long study on the human psyche. After being asked to submit an essay on their world views, they were then interrogated, had their views dismantled and were torn down for their beliefs.
What the students didn't know, was that this was an experiment to test the worthiness of interrogation techniques for the military, and were subjected to bright lights, electrodes and other methods of torture. It's no wonder Kazinski became a murderous hermit.
The video below dives into interesting facts about other experiments too, like Franz Reichelt who unsuccessfully attempted to prove his parachute idea worked by jumping to his death from the top of the Eifel Tower. Then, there was the bubblegum-flavoured broccoli that McDonald's wanted to feed kids. Yuk.
To find out more about these and other unsuccessful attempts at improving things for humanity, check out 14 experiments that went wrong in the video by the wonderful people at Mental Floss below.