Throughout history there are many examples of humans conducting experiments on other humans. Over the years human experimentation has greatly advanced the knowledge of human physiology and psychology, leading to better treatments for ailments both physical and mental as well as a better overall understanding of the human constitution. Despite all of the good which human experimentation has done for the human race there have been times when experimenters have taken human experimentation past the bounds of morality. This unethical human experimentation is most often caused when the experimenters are, in some way, able to justify their experiments.
What is Unethical Experimentation?
Unethical human experimentation can be defined as experimentation on a human subject in which either the subject is an unwilling participant and/or the subject of the experiment is subjected to unnecessary pain or discomfort be it physical, mental or emotional.
Historical instances of unethical human experimentation:
Although many of the most horrific examples of unethical human experimentation have occurred during times of war, unethical human experimentation has also occurred during times of peace.
Some of the earliest recorded instances of unethical human experimentation occurred in the 1700’s when doctors tested vaccines on their slaves, often without informing them of the dangers involved. Edward Jenner who was a pioneer in inoculation against smallpox and has been called the “Father of Immunology”, tested smallpox vaccines on neighboring children and even his own son. In his most famous experiment he injected an eight year old boy with pus scraped from the blisters of a milkmaid infected with cowpox and then later on two different occasions, to test if the boy had truly been inoculated, Jenner injected him with small pox.
In modern times unethical human experimentation is even more prevalent.
In 1939 an experiment now known as the “Monster Study” was conducted on 22 orphaned children by Wendell Johnson, a very influential speech pathologist at the University of Iowa. In this experiment the orphaned children were divided up into two separate groups. One group was given positive speech therapy, in which they were praised for their fluency. The other group was given negative speech therapy. They were belittled for every speech imperfection and told that they were stutterers. Many of the normal speaking children who were subjected to the negative speech therapy experienced negative psychological effects and some developed lasting speech impediments.
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment was an experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 197. In this experiment, the investigators recruited 399 African American share croppers infected with syphilis. Their purpose was to study the effects of the untreated disease. In 1932 the standard treatments for syphilis were toxic and it was questionable whether or not they...