10 Mad Scientists Who Went Too Far
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10 Mad Scientists Who Went Too Far

A staple trope of popular culture, the mad
scientist is epitomized by a white robe wearing, frazzle haired harbinger of technology misused
and calculations gone awry. But the reality is all too true, and scientists
mad or otherwise ill-informed or ill-intentioned have certainly caused chaos in the annals
of research. In this account, we look at 10 must-know mad
scientists who took their research a little too far, including the Russian serial dog
head transplanter, a Spanish researcher who remote controlled a live bull, and the German
doctor who probed his own heart. 10. Trofim Lysenko We may all know about the so-called “Mad
Monk of Russia” Rasputin and his exploits, but a mad scientist who touted bizarre theories
of agro-science and applied botany led to strange experiments and research implementations
on the nation’s food supply. Born in Ukraine in and educated at the Kiev
Agricultural Institute, Soviet agricultural pseudoscientist Trofim Lysenko held a strong
position as a trusted agricultural advisor to the brutal dictator Joseph Stalin despite
the outrageously unscientific founding principles of his work. Pioneering a technique he called “jarovization,”
subsequently renamed as “vernalization,” Lysenko declared that exposing plants to harsh
conditions could not only “train” them to withstand a Russian winter and that the
adaptations would be passed on to the next generation. Expert analysts later described such claims
as the botanical equivalent to docking the tail of a dog and expecting tailless puppies
to be born. While individual plants could become hardier
through acclimatization, the claims that crops would inherit the traits and curb famine of
course never came to fruition. Lysenko’s beliefs that such traits could
be inherited flew in the face of everything scientific and were sharply countered by scientific
reality when crops failed to respond. In the ill-founded mix of science and politics,
Lysenko was the darling of Joseph Stalin for his pursuit of “socialist genetics” and
crusade against believe in Mendelian genetics, a movement which was termed “Lysenkoism.” Even worse, biologists who supported traditional
biological truth were censored, supressed and in numerous cases executed under the Stalin
regime in what amount to a brutal pogrom against legitimate biologists at the hands of lethally
enforced pseudoscience. 9. William Buckland The ultimate eccentric, William Buckland presents
a textbook case of the mad scientist. Born in Devonshire, England in 1784, Buckland
became the inaugural student of geology at Oxford in 1801 following his receipt of a
scholarship. But it was in the world of biology that his
greatest and most bizarre ambition resided. This British scientist had a very unusual
and obsessive way of expressing his dedication to life sciences: his plan was to attempt
to sample (by eating) every type of animal on Earth. The mad scientist held a passion for learning
and teaching in odd ways, becoming a most non-sequitur lecturer who yelled while brandishing
a hyena skull in close proximity to students’ faces. As a member of the dubious Society for the
Acclimatization of Animals, which sought to promote colonial efforts to populate Britain
with beasts and birds from distant lands, Buckland did what might be normal for a member
of such a society in bringing a laundry list of alien biodiversity to British shores and
keeping reptiles, birds of prey, primates, and a hyena under his personal care. Curious, unafraid, and with bizarre taste,
Buckland tasted as many animals as he could in his lifetime, ranging from the disgusting
and potentially pathogen riddled, such as a bluebottle fly, to the bizarre, including
moles and sea slugs, and the downright cruel, reportedly eating puppy flesh. He became fond of mouse flesh on toast, trying
it on repeated occasions. While focusing on tasting animals, it is rumored
that Buckland got hold of the 140-year-old preserved heart of King Louis XIV of France
and tasted the walls of an Italian cathedral before stating that the so-called blood of
martyrs onsite was actually bat urine. Even worse, Buckland taught his son the “joys”
of zoological sampling, and Buckland junior indeed went on to follow in his father’s
footsteps… or, shall we say, bite marks. 8. Werner Theodor Otto Forssmann An insanely bold medical scientist from Germany,
Berlin-born Werner Forssmann (August 29, 1904-June 1, 1979) is probably the only person who can
truly be said to have put their whole heart into their work… literally. Or rather, he put his work into his heart
when he pioneered heart catheterization, placing a catheter that extended just over 25 inches
through his antecubital vein. Being smooth and slender, the device was able
to be pushed along the inside of the vein once the initial incision had been made. Performing such a pioneering procedure on
his own body was clearly a high risk choice given the awkwardness of self-operation and
chance of suffering a medical emergency in the process, and being unable to get help. Nonetheless, Forssmann proceeded and then
went to the X-ray department, where he obtained a picture of the catheter in his own heart,
located within the right auricle. While dangerous, the result of his work was
effective and led to great recognition. His efforts were interrupted by World War
II when he became a prisoner of war while serving as a Surgeon-Major, held in captivity
until 1945. Having survived both his extreme self-experiment
and WWII, Dr. Forssmann obtained the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1956. He was previously awarded the Leibniz Medal
of the German Academy of Sciences in 1954 and received honorary Professorship at the
National University of Cordoba, Argentina in 1961. 7. Vladimir Demikhov It might seem that there is a correlation
between madness on the part of scientists and unfettered accomplishments in certain
areas. A researcher of dubious ethics and bizarre
intent, Vladimir Demikhov was born in 1916 in Russia, nevertheless becoming known as
a paradigm-changing heart transplant pioneer as well as a truly obsessive “mad” scientist
who made short-lived two-headed dogs. Demikhov invented the first cardiac assist
device at age 21 in the year 1937, going on to complete the first coronary bypass, auxiliary
heart transplant and heart and lung transplant. Yet, his reputation for live-saving innovation
in medicine was sullied by bizarre experiments centering on transplanting dog’s heads onto
other dogs, creating two headed dogs. Obsessive about this specific experiment,
Demikhov did this procedure a shocking 20 times. While his work was deemed unethical by a Soviet
Ministry of Health review committee, who ordered him to cease the head transplants, he continued
on with his brutal experiments. Miraculously and grotesquely, the doubled-headed
canines lived for some time, but all died within less than one month following the transplants. While some people are known for being cruel
to humans but kind to animals, the reverse is true in the case of Demikhov, who not only
contributed to innovation that would save human lives through great innovation, but
protected those who would otherwise be condemned to execution at great personal risk. In the course of WWII, he told superiors that
self-inflicted wounds were legitimate battle injuries, sparing Soviet soldiers the death
penalty for desertion. 6. Jose Delgado Possibly the most Spanish way to become known
as a mad scientist would be to conduct mind control experiments on a fighting bull. Spanish “mad scientist” Jose Delgado (August
8, 1915-September 15, 2011) did exactly that in 1963 when he carried out bizarre experiments
including one involving the animal central in the controversial tradition of Spanish
bullfighting. A graduate of the University of Madrid, Delgado
worked at Yale University with electrode implants that were intended to modify animal behavior
through radio frequencies. Implanting the device in a bull, he was able
to halt a charge by the angry beast with his device. Not limited to experiments with primates and
the “remote controlled bull,” Delgado sought to develop mind control methods that
would work on human subjects. Being less limited by ethical restrictions
in Spain compared to the United States, Delgado’s work progressed to include a broad range of
experiments, ranging from electrical implants and stimulation to outright mind control. By implanting “brain chips” Delgado was
able to trigger, manipulate, direct, and stop a variety of human and animal behaviors. Delgado pursued work on mind control methods
as a way to reduce aggression and saw ways to fight tyranny through limitation of conflict. In one case, a female monkey in a compound
of his research subjects learned to press a lever, delivering aggression-supressing
shocks to a monkey known as a bully. While much of Delgado’s work matches or
surpasses modern work, the degree to which much of it was published only in Spanish has
limited the use and understanding of his work in the scientific community. 5. Stubbins Ffirth While a mad scientist who attempts to test
and prove the efficacy of cures on themselves is understandable, one researcher took being
a guinea pig to a whole new level of crazy. Stubbins Ffirth (1784-1820) was an American
doctor in training at the University of Pennsylvania with a dedication to investigating Yellow
Fever, which had killed around 10 percent of Philadelphia’s population. Observing a wintertime reduction in Yellow
Fever deaths, Ffirth developed a theory that Yellow Fever was not a disease which could
be caught through infection, but was an affliction stemming from heat and stress. Not content with uncertainty and unwilling
to wait, he decided to test his beloved hypothesis that Yellow Fever could not be caught by infection. And to do so, he went to shockingly extreme
lengths to show that he could not be infected by exposure to Yellow Fever, firmly establishing
his work as mad and himself as a crazy scientist. After a series of animal experiments, it was
time to expose himself to Yellow Fever. Firstly, he cut himself on the arms and dribbled
contaminated vomit from Yellow Fever patients onto the wounds. He placed vomit in his eyes, cooked the vomit
and ate it as a pill. After failing to get sick, Ffirth tried other
contaminated bodily byproducts and still did not fall ill. Eventually, further research showed that Yellow
Fever is contagious; it just requires direct blood transmission through a mosquito bite
to be passed on. With that fact being true, Ffirth did not
die of Yellow Fever despite the rigors of his research. 4. Robert G. Heath Pleasure and pain may be closely related,
and the desire to measure both factors in human experience has led to some disturbing
and bizarre experiments in this tempting area of investigation for the mad scientist. American psychiatrist Robert G. Heath was
a blatantly unethical “mad scientist” who engaged in experiments that controlled
peoples’ experience of pleasure and pain through receptor stimulation by electrode. His qualifications were impressive, having
degrees in psychology and neurology and being the founder of the Tulane University department
of psychiatry and neurology at New Orleans. Seeking to study mental function, Dr. Heath
implanted electrodes into subjects’ brains, sometimes leaving them in for months at a
time. His most disturbing and ill-founded human
experiments included giving a woman a 30-minute orgasm through electrical stimulation and
attempting in 1970 to change the orientation of a gay man who had been arrested for marijuana
possession through exposure to a female prostitute. In this especially notorious work that undoubtedly
contributed to his being seen as a “Strangelovian” person, Dr. Heath combined pleasure center-triggering
through electrode implants with arranged sexual activity with a “lady of the evening”
who was hired for the experiment and paid $50 for her part in the “research.” Given the nature of his activities and receipt
of US government funding, Dr. Heath has been suspected of having been involved in the illegal
CIA MK-ULTRA research program on mind control. 3. Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov We all know the tired movie cliché of the
ape-man, but one out-on-a-limb researcher from the Soviet Union was willing to go to
great lengths to try and make the concept a reality. Soviet mad scientist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov
was a fan of conservation, captive breeding, and zoology, pursuing a wide range of activities
relating to biological diversity investigation. He was also an unethical and highly determined
researcher who held the express goal of crossing a human being with a Chimpanzee. Unbounded by ethical considerations, Ivanov
was originally willing to try to inseminate an unknowing human female with Chimpanzee
sperm. However, Ivanov realized that he would need
consenting volunteers. He sought government backing for work to create
the hybrid. Once he actually got to work on trying to
make the hybrid, Ivanov began by first trying to inseminate female chimpanzees with human
sperm in the hopes of getting them pregnant with the hybrid baby. When these attempts did not pan out, he then
attempted to organize experiments to do the reverse, impregnating human women with Chimpanzee
semen. However, before he could arrange participants
and plan the project, the obsessed researcher was arrested and exiled to what has now become
Kazakhstan. Apart from Ivanov’s ill-fated and unethical
human hybridization efforts, he succeeded in creating other animal hybrids. These inter-special creations included a horse-zebra
cross, mixed species rodent offspring, and a bison-cow cross. 2. Harry Harlow Skirting the ethical bounds of science in
a bid to advance research is something that a researcher might do secretively. But one mad scientist who ruined the lives
of many monkeys through questionable and cruel research was oddly cold and unabashed in his
description of his work. American psychologist Harry Harlow was known
for bizarre experiments on monkeys that combined less than scientific research questions with
brutal and ethically fraught methods of investigation. A researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
Harlow placed juvenile monkeys in isolation chambers for 1-to-2 years at a time away from
their mothers. Harlow compared the psychology and behavior
of those raised with a real mother with those having only a cloth doll. Widely criticized for his brutal experiments,
he was also criticized for the theoretical basis of his work in seeking to study the
importance of “love” in primate development due to the unscientific nature of the term
“love.” Bold in his cruel terminology, his way of
talking had a sadistic ring to it. After all, he was known to openly refer to
his device for artificial primate insemination as a “rape rack” and the isolation chamber
in which baby monkeys were placed as the “Pit of Despair,” terms which did not seem to
bother him. Not surprisingly, Harlow’s work caused significant
psychological and physical distress, leading monkeys to engage in self-mutilating behaviors
even after removal from the “pit.” 1. Giovanni Aldini Many Italian superstitions involve fears of
the dead coming back to Earth and have led to the creation of elaborate rituals to prevent
such occurrences. And those intent on preventing the return
of the dead or otherwise undead would not have been too happy to meet a man who appeared
to do just that, albeit by “scientific” means. Italian mad scientist Giovanni Aldini was
a notorious yet officially awarded and decorated Bologna-born physicist known for his bizarre
and gruesome electrical experiments on corpses. Working not only with dead animals but human
remains in ghastly tests with an electrical probe, Aldini “activated” corpses and
caused them to appear to return to life, being animated in different parts depending on where
shocks were applied. The experiments where he electrified human
bodies were often carried out in public view, being something of a showman. Among his exploits were his public 1803 tests
on the body of an Englishman, who had been executed on charges of murder, at the Royal
College of Surgeons in London. Although his work was gruesome, there were
many serious efforts inherent in his work. He strongly believed in the benefits of electrical
shock therapy, from which he reported many improvements in patient condition. He was made a Knight of the Iron Crown by
the Austrian Emperor for his pioneering research efforts and achievements. In the modern era, the legacy from his efforts
is represented by practices and achievements in the form of deep brain stimulation, used
to address certain motor function and behavior-based disorders.

100 thoughts on “10 Mad Scientists Who Went Too Far

  1. You say Aldini's experiments on CORPSES was both cruel and bizarre…? Bizarre, maybe, cruel though? I do not believe you can inflict cruelty upon the dead. The dead feel nothing. No matter how much you mutilate a corpse, it does not feel. Therefore you cannot inflict cruelty upon them.

  2. Why is it cruel to eat puppies but not any other animal? Taking the life and consuming any animal is cruel, no matter what that animal is

  3. This jackass acts smart, yet says animals and humans as if that's the true way to say it….technically humans are part of the aaanimal kingdom… Therefore he should wild animal's or something, cause otherwise its like saying. Animals and dogs…see how dumb it sounds? Animals and cats, animals and monkey's, animals and horses, animals and humans. Lol

  4. I wonder how much of the United states $700+billion military budget goes into questionable scientific research🤔

  5. This guy is a great speaker, but has a strange habit of mispronouncing words. I've heard people call MKUltra M-K-Ultra, but never "Mackultra". In another one, he said divisive as "devesive".

  6. Ok so, i can understand collecting human semen to inject into a female ape but how do you inseminate a Human Female with Ape sperm?

  7. What happened to the mad scientist who did the research on the Tuskegee male population or that don’t count

  8. The guy who ate H.pylori to show that stomach ulcers were caused by said bacteria and could be cured with antibiotics.

  9. The weak should fear the strong.

    Through science and invention our chains may be broken.

    Fear of the unknown seeks only to censor greatness.

    I’ll show them. I’ll show them all…

  10. Nr. 1 could actually well have been what inspired Mary Shelly to writing "Frankenstein". Aldini being a showman with his electrical reanimation, and Shelly being part of an inquirering and curious group of people she could easily have heard about Aldini, even attended one of his show when she wrote her story in 1817.

  11. Regarding Harlow, he was responsible for bringing attention to the infant’s need for maternal contact. Remember that, at the same time, the celebrated B. F. Skinner was marketing the Air Crib, which was a human infant isolation chamber suggested as a scientific advance for caring for all infants. It’s ridiculous that you can pull this information out of historical context and hold early research to the standards of what we know now.

  12. Dr. Jose Delgado,–the remote control of bull–is every dictators dream come true. I bet he had support from General Franco.

  13. Thomas Midgley Jr. was an American mechanical and chemical engineer. He played a major role in developing leaded gasoline and some of the first chlorofluorocarbons, better known by its brand name Freon; both products were later banned due to concerns about their impact on human health and the environment. Wikipedia  He drank Tetraethel lead to prove it was harmless after workers in his factory became sick physically and died,denying the obvious.  He eventually contracted polio and strangled to death in a machine he had built to help him get out of bed.  He qualifies.

  14. 1 Edison electrocuted elephants to death. For Reasons.
    2 Tesla started to claim he built multiple doomsday devices like earthquake machines and laser cannons.
    3 Not sure who to credit for this but, there is an experiment out there where a bunch of chimps were put into a cage with their young. Then the floor was heated up. The chimps would lift their young to keep them off the increasingly hot floor. Until it became so hot that the mother chimps put their young on the floor and stood on them. For Science!
    4 Probably the same Ahole, but another chimp experiment placed a group of chimps in a cage. Food was then placed in the cage but whenever any chimp got near the food, all of the chimps would be sprayed by very cold water from a fire hose. This went on for some time and the chimps learned not to get near the food. Then they let an entirely new group of chimps into the cage with the first group. The new chimps would start to go near the food and the first group would beat the crap out of them to avoid getting sprayed with the water again. I guess this was to figure out a new way to get fat people to lose weight or something.
    5 The guy that is currently putting chips on roaches and he can steer them with a remote control. It actually works too. It is all part of a brilliant plan to get the health department to shut down all vegan restaurants.

  15. Did he just say McUltra? Like McDonald’s? It’s M-K-Ultra. I know they’ve referred to it in other videos.

    Also, is it just me, or are there more ads in TopTenz videos than others?

  16. Where do you get the idea that there's ethics in medical experimentation in the United States? they do worse than two headed dogs they experiment on humans they pick up in the street and do terrible things it's just kept under wraps an animal experimentation Roscommon and horrible

  17. You have to start somewhere. Medicine, technology and our understandig of all things on Earth and space doesn't come from nowhere. A mad scientist had to do the first step. Some theories are working and others don't, that't how it is. Humans will always be curious and try out things

  18. that guy with the monkey babys reminds me of the experiment that was done on human babys, they where only fed and cleaned, no talking or affection of any kind. if i remember correctly, many died despite beeing physical cared for and the ones that survived where psychicly damaged beyond repair.
    i think it was done here in austria at the time of the habsburg empire, but i dont realy remember.

  19. The Trump Conspiracy ad in your video is just wrong. Please don t sell out to lies. Some will think the ad is true.
    I do love your videos otherwise.

  20. Eminent surgeon Joseph Lister was determined that syphilis and ghonnorea were the same disease, and in an effort to prove his hypothesis, had sex with a diseased prostitute. He succeeded in infecting himself but it was later proven that the poor woman had both diseases.

  21. Just wait until you get that direct neuro-link to your brains. Sorry Elon Musk and companies supporting him, I'll pass on the the direct link to my brain.

  22. 8:43 ¨…the degree to which much of it was published only in spanish has limited the use and understanding of his
    work in the scientific community¨.

    Couldn't they hire a translator for that? or use google translate? I really can't grasp why is that a problem nowaday.

  23. Lysenko was promoting a form of the Lamarckian theory of evolution, which had a substantial following in the 19th century, before it was displaced by Darwinism. But he Lysenko did it in the 20th century, when legitimate scientists knew better. The fact that Stalin ordered Russian farms to follow Lysenko’s ideas probably contributed to mass starvation.

  24. Simon.. Love your stuff but your new way of giving up 3 of your precious 10 leaves me a little fraught..you have your adverts…(spoiler}

  25. 2. as cruel as it was… didn't he give us insight into why our youth is "self cutting"? .. A missing element in modern "family units"?

  26. Bc his work was mostly written in spanish it hasnt been used as much? When did we lose the ability tontranslate spanish? #6

  27. No mention of Josef Mengele, the horrible "doctor" who experimented on the Holocaust victims. He is the mother of all "mad scientists."

  28. No Mengdala. The guy’s literally a Nazi mad scientist who made Jewish chimeras. How much more insane do you have to be to get on this list

  29. That guy who experimented on dogs? Yeah, I really don't like that guy. His burial site should be turned into a dog park, with a fire hydrant as a marker for his grave.

  30. @14:30 That maybe, but applying electric shock saved countless lives by using defibrillators and maintaining lives using pacemakers. Got to start somewhere.

  31. Trofim Lysenko sounds like a Lamarckian evolutionist which is an idea which predates Darwin.

    Stalin was into Lamarckism so it's not surprising he'd like this guy.

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