Question Of The Week: Unleash Your Unethical Experiments


Scientists don’t have it easy – unlike practitioners of alternative medicine, psychics, faith-healers, anti-vaccination lobbyists and general dangerous crackpots, they have a burden weighing them down at all times – ethics. To test on animals, you have to prove there’s no ethical barrier to carrying out your plans; throw in the notion of human trials and you multiply that ethical rigour even further. And it’s a pain, I can imagine.

I mean, if I wanted to market a new drug, or test out a new psychotherapeutic treatment (which I don’t, by the way, being in no professional position to do either of those things), I’d have to make sure it wasn’t going to harm anyone. Yawn. No wonder homeopaths, chiropractors, ear-candlers and reflexologists are ten-a-penny – take away these concerns of ethics, morality and actually having to prove what you intend to do is beneficial, and suddenly you’re in business.

So, with that in mind, this week’s question of the week to you guys is: If we removed all restrictions on ethics and morals, what experiment would you run? Would you try and breed a man with a monkey? Or try and engineer a race of superhumans? Let your maniacal side run free!

Many thanks to Colonel Molerat for the question.

  1. #1 by alexandre van de sande on September 22, 2009 - 21:12

    I would put a bunch of toddlers in a big desert island and provide them with food and safety but no cultural learning. Then after they were adults I would not even provide them with food, just allow them to fish and find fruit. Then I would watch them develop over multiple generations. Not to feed back that noble savage myth but to see how much are we dependent on culture.

    I would guess, that contrary to most expectations the resulting “technology” would be more similar to apes with sticks than a anything equating a pacific islander. They would take many generations even before maybe inventing the very concept of fishing and tent building..

  2. #2 by Colonel Molerat on September 22, 2009 - 23:30

    Hmm. I’m rather stuck on my reply to this. Most of my ideas revolved around rearing people without social contact, or in sensory deprivation, but obviously Alexandre van de Sande has beaten me to it (as well as providing the perfect location for television rights – a Lord of the Flies-style desert island).

    I fear that without ethical limitations, most of my ‘experiments’ would devolve into Braniac-style, utterly pointless but spectacular stunts, such as “What would happened if you opened an airlock full of kittens into space?”, or “How many cows would it take to skeletonise a piranha in two minutes?”

    I would like to perhaps offer some suggestions to the desert-island-children theme though. How about knocking them out and sewing cats to half the children and dogs to the other half, before returning them back to the island. Would the cats and dogs natural animosity dictate group dynamics among the children?
    Or how about sewing a number of large birds to each child, thus giving them rudimentary flying abilities.

    It’s a rather forced way of creating hybrid species, but it will work for now, and may require a standard of scientific practical expertise within my grasp.

    Inspired, of course by Vladimir Demikhov and Robert J White.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Demikhov
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_J._White

  3. #3 by Danny on September 23, 2009 - 22:20

    Sharks with Freeeekin Laser beams on their heads!

    But anyway if it wasnt for that ethics things, I would make a big push for stem cell theropy! then maybe experiment with some gene replacement, making a fishman! a man with Gills, then a real Batman, maybe a swedish milk maid with cow’s udders to produce milk on demand!

    then i would use my super army to take over the world!

  4. #4 by Michael on September 25, 2009 - 19:51

    I would like to genetically engineer students with Semtex. Each student would have a secret code of which only I would know. Any stupid response would end with me whispering the code and one of the idiot’s body parts would fly off due to the small contained charge. Then I would extend the practice to other lower order bottom feeders – like bankers and estate agents. Their code would be available for purchase from my e-bay site. And as for politicians, well you can see where I am coming from. I do like the sewing of dogs and birds to children though- hats off to the Colonel. I would also like a clone from which I could harvest the body-parts I needed to keep me alive until I am at least 200 year old. Oh and badgers with laser eyes-much more useful than sharks- one could have a badger army with Semtex bats as their air support.

  5. #5 by Andy on September 28, 2009 - 10:08

    I think I’d like to try a social experiment.

    How about the banning of all religious (defined as worship and following of a supernatural being or beliefs) practice for an entire year.

    Then we could measure some of the actual effect of religion on society, good or bad.

    I suppose that we’d have to make religion compulsory for the following year though.

    While we’re at it, in the same year that we ban religion, everybody does what I tell them to measure the effect of my ego on society. Although I doubt I’d be able to make it round absolutely everyone I could probably issue edicts from my hollowed out volcano.

    Ok, I think that’s enough now.

  6. #6 by Andy on September 28, 2009 - 16:04

    @michael

    I mean it’s none of my business but your student and bankers proposal doesn’t seem to be an actual experiment.

    Whilst I accept that in your line of work, murderous maniacal planning of ever more sophisticated ways to dismember students is vital for maintaining work/life balance, I suggest that we add differing amounts of semtex to each student. That way a log can be kept of the effects and the “experiment” masquerade can be held up to scrutiny.

    I am understanding the scientific method properly aren’t I?

(will not be published)