The United States Government has a deeply dark history of experimenting on its own citizens. That sentence alone screams conspiracy theory, but the US government and military really have performed illegal and unethical tests on unsuspecting victims. Often participants didn’t even know what was really going on or were in no position to refuse treatment. Many of the experiments were deadly or left the victims with lifelong health problems. From subjecting sailors to mustard gas in WWII to getting street workers to get their customers jacked up on LSD – this collection of sinister experiments and the reasons behind them will blow your mind.
Did you know the military used San Francisco’s infamous fog to spread chemical warfare agents? And did you know the government poisoned thousands of people during the prohibition era? While most of the experiments were conducted in the 1950s, some experiments took place as recently as 2011. We only recently found out about many of these experiments as the details had been hidden in top secret and classified files. Which really makes you wonder, what experiments are the US government conducting right now that we don’t know about? Read our list to uncover some of the most horrifying experiments the US government has carried out on its own citizens.
15. MENTALLY DISABLED CHILDREN WERE FED INFECTED FECES:
For around 20 years mentally disabled children were infected with viral hepatitis. The research was supposed to help find a vaccine. The children were intentionally infected and their parents weren’t informed. Instead they were told the children were receiving vaccinations. This all went down at the Willowbrook State School, New York. Saul Krugman who conducted the experiments would feed the children the virus, then watch as they vomited, refused to eat and became increasingly ill. Krugman justified his actions by saying the children would have gotten the virus anyway, as the school regularly experienced outbreaks of hepatitis. Maurice Hillman, one of America’s most celebrated vaccinologists described the tests as “the most unethical medical experiments ever performed on children in the United States”.
14. THE CIA USED PROJECT MK-ULTRA TO CONTROL MINDS
Back in the 50s the American Government was getting up to some seriously sketchy stuff at the expense of its citizens. The most extensive series of experiments went under the codename MK-ULTRA – a CIA project crammed full of illegal activity. And they all had one purpose, to weaken minds and explore the world of mind control. Described by Edward Kennedy as an “extensive” testing and experimentation program, MK-ULTRA inflicted suffering on unwitting citizens “at all social levels” – this also included testing on terminal cancer patients. The most common experiment was to dose people up on LSD – without any medical supervision. Test subjects were ill for days, some hospitalized and some, sadly, were given lethal doses. One test subject, an 8 year old girl, was given LSD for 2 years, electroshock treatment and sensory deprivation. It erased her entire memory leaving her with the brain similar to that of a newborn baby.
13. US GOVERNMENT USED AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN EXPERIMENTS – WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE
Recently released classified documents show that the US Government used African-Americans in experiments – without their knowledge. From the days of slavery to today, their treatment at the hands of US doctors is horrifying. As well as doctors probing the brains of children, African-Americans were thrown into hot pits – to find a cure for sunstroke, and hot pokers were pressed into their legs – to determine how thick their skin was. Harriet Washington, an African-American author, researched the experiments and found that doctors did these horrific tests because they believed “blacks didn’t experience pain”. Experiments of varying kinds continued well into the 90s, even though the National Research Act was passed to protect participants.
12. THE US MILITARY SPREAD DEADLY CHEMICALS IN FOG
Anyone who’s spent time in San Francisco will be familiar with its famous creeping fog. Covering the city in a dense cloud, it makes for some spectacular images. But it also helped the US military conduct a simulated germ warfare attack on 800,000 people. The tests began in 1950, when the US military sprayed vast quantities of Serratia marcescens and Bacillus globigii into the fog advancing towards San Francisco. They thought the airborne agents were harmless, but it’s thought that one person died and others were hospitalized. It marked the beginning of 20 years of germ warfare testing across the USA. Bacteria was released in the New York subway, over an airport and major highways. The bacteria Serratia marcescens has been connected with several health crises in the Bay Area in the years since the tests were carried out.
11. STREET WORKERS LURED VICTIMS TO CIA SAFE HOUSES FOR EXPERIMENTS
Any situation that sees prostitutes luring people in to get jacked up on a series of drugs sounds more like a sketchy night out, rather than a covert CIA op. Call it Operation Midnight Climax and it sounds increasingly lurid. But beyond the seedy underworld of prostitution and drugs, there was something more sinister happening. Once tempted back to the safe houses, unwitting victims were dosed up on LSD, or other mind-altering substances. They also got to fool around with the street workers – while the creepy CIA dudes watched. No-one knows just how many people were targeted but in a hearing connected to MK-ULTRA experiments Sen. Edward Kennedy said, “There are perhaps any number of Americans who are walking around today on the East Coast or West Coast who were given drugs, with all the kinds of physical and psychological damage that can be caused.”
10. THE US NAVY TESTED MUSTARD GAS TESTS ON ITS OWN SAILORS
17 year old sailor Russell O’Berry spent just a few weeks at boot camp before being gassed by his own military. Shut into a small hut, he put on a gas mask and waited. He didn’t see the yellow cloud of mustard gas fill the hut, but he felt it. The areas around his right eye, buttocks and genitals began to burn. As the tests went on O’Berry developed huge painful blisters and a horrendous cough as the mustard gas burnt his lungs. Just one of many, many servicemen who were ‘coerced’ into the gas chambers. Their suffering and ongoing ill-health was for nothing, mustard gas was used just once during the war – by accident.
9. A PRISON DOCTOR IMPLANTED ANIMAL T*STICLES INTO SAN QUENTIN INMATES
For four decades Dr. Leo Stanley conducted a series of harrowing experiments on prisoners. Acting as the chief surgeon at San Quentin prison, Dr Stanley believed his tests would reduce criminal behaviour and stop the criminal population from reproducing. Seeing his inmates as ‘unfit parents’ he set about swapping testicles between prisoners, implanting testicles from animals and generally doing disgusting things with mens’ scrotums. Using the surgically removed cojones from pigs, goats and sheep obviously didn’t go so well and the prisoners’ bodies rejected the foreign material. When this happened Dr Stanley simply removed them, pureed them and injected them into the inmate’s skin instead.
8. AMERICAN SCIENTISTS INJECTED PEOPLE WITH PLUTONIUM AND URANIUM
With global war putting pressure on the US, in 1942 the government created the Manhattan Engineer District. Their goal? To produce an atomic weapon. With the US already fully aware of the dangers of radium, medical staff were put in charge of protecting the workers. What they didn’t understand were the effects plutonium, uranium, and polonium had on the human body. So they began injecting reasonably healthy patients in hospitals and military medical facilities with plutonium and uranium. The first man to be injected, Ebb Cade, was injected, had 15 teeth removed and arm and leg bone removed before he fled the hospital – no doubt concerned with the procedures as he’d only been admitted with broken bones from a car crash. He later died of heart failure.
7. PRISONERS AT STATEVILLE PENITENTIARY WERE INFECTED WITH MALARIA
Another war-time problem and another round of illegal experimentation to find a solution. This time the problem was malaria – around 65% of American soldiers drafted to the South Pacific were contracting the disease. With their forces weakened, the government and military knew a solution was essential to winning the war. So 400 prisoners were intentionally infected with malaria and then given un-proven anti-malaria drugs to see if they worked. Prisoners volunteered for the trials in return for time being taken off their sentences – what they didn’t sign up for was dying of a fatal heart attack caused by some of the very drugs that were supposed to cure them.
6. CRIMINALS WERE ALLOWED TO BUY GUNS FOR A VERY SPECIFIC REASON AND IT DIDN’T END WELL
A whole different kind of experiment this one, but still as illegal, unethical and dare we say, downright foolish? From 2009 to 2011 US criminals were allowed to illegally purchase weapons. Why? Well the brainiacs at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives hoped to follow the criminals, and their newly purchased guns, straight to the kingpins of the Mexican drug cartels. Only problem was, the weapons started showing up in Texas – instead of Mexico. Oh, and the guns also started showing up as the murder weapon in a number of high profile killings. When a U.S. Border Patrol agent wound up dead, Operation Fast and Furious was terminated for good.
5. AMERICAN CANCER PATIENTS WERE ILLEGALLY TREATED WITH EXTREME RADIATION
During the 60s African-American cancer patients were given high levels of radiation – without their consent. Doctors told the patients they were being treated for their cancer, but then forged the consent documents outlining the horrendous doses of radiation they were being subjected to. One doctor, Robert Stone, began efforts to cover up his unethical practices by only making a record of patient’s initials – so they’d never be able to trace their treatment and records. During the cold war radiation experiments expanded and included releasing radioactive elements over US cities, feeding radioactive chemicals to mentally disabled children and injecting babies with radioactive chemicals.
4. DOCTORS SUBJECTED ORPHANS TO PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE TO CURE STUTTERING
Previously healthy children at the Iowa soldiers and Sailors Orphans’ Home were subjected to a period of psychological abuse that would later become the focus of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. A doctor looking to cure speech problems wanted to induce a stutter in a child – in order to cure it. He sent a nurse to talk to a group of 22 orphans in what became known as the ‘Monster Study’. The orphans were sectioned into groups. Stutterers and non-stutterers. The orphans without speech problems were told their speech was not normal and they must correct it immediately. As time went on all the children’s schoolwork suffered, they began to become less talkative and displayed the mannerisms associated with stuttering. Three surviving orphans from the home are now suing the State and University of Iowa.
3. A CREEPY PRISON DOCTOR EXPERIMENTED ON ‘ACRES OF SKIN” AT HOLMESBURG PRISON
When a research-hungry doctor first walked through the gates of Holmesburg Prison he told a reporter: “All I saw before me were acres of skin.” Creepy, huh? It was the beginning of a 20 year series of painful experiments. Dr. Albert M. Kligman partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to use the prisoners’ bodies to test a range of products, including eye drops, detergents, toothpaste, deodorant, skin creams and shampoo. Which all seems fairly tame, until you learn of the frequent painful procedures that went alongside the external testing. Constant biopsies were taken and many prisoners suffered painful reactions to the products put on their skin.
2. THE US GOVERNMENT INTENTIONALLY POISONED ALCOHOL – KILLING 10,000 CITIZENS
When the US Government added poison to alcohol during the prohibition era it genuinely hoped people would stop drinking. Except, everyone likes to party, so it turned out to be a major fail. Industrial alcohol – the kind bootleggers were stealing to make their much loved moonshine, was poisoned and people quickly started dying. Newspapers picked up the story and splashed it across headlines, but still the people drank. Instead of doing something sensible like say, quitting putting poison in alcohol, the government carried on and over the years 10,000 citizens died. Thousands more were made ill by the tainted drinks, but the experiment never did stop the American thirst for alcohol.
1. DOCTORS INTENTIONALLY BLISTERED CHILDREN’S SKIN
In 1953 an article in a medical journal detailed some horrific research carried out on children. 41 youngsters, aged 8 – 14, had skin on their abdomens blistered with cantharide – a toxic substance which, if ingested, can be lethal in even small doses. There’s some evidence to say Cantharide – derived from ‘blister beetles’ – is also an aphrodisiac, but as the substance irritates your whole digestive system, it’s probably not worth the risk. The research was done purely to see how much the substance irritated children’s skin. The suffering didn’t stop when the research was finished. People caring for the children cut the blistered skin off with scissors before ‘cleaning’ the area with peroxide – which can further damage tissue and skin.