The Most Unethical US Government Experiments On Humans

At times, the American government has been caught conducting inhumane experiments on humans without their consent and/or knowledge. Many even involved the participation of medical professionals, who ironically became hypocrites to their Hippocratic Oath.

Many of these stories sound like conspiracy theories, but sadly, they all really happened. Some are so awful, you'll be left asking yourself, did the US government really infect its own citizens with syphilis and not tell them? Did other government agencies test nuclear weapons, resulting in radiation fallout on multiple innocent Pacific islands? And did top US officials condone the research of corrupt doctors who were allegedly torturing research subjects? Click through the list below to learn more.


  • An American Oncologist Infected Puerto Ricans With Cancer
    Photo: National Institutes of Health / US Army / Wikipedia / Fair Use

    An American Oncologist Infected Puerto Ricans With Cancer

    In the early 1930s, Dr. Cornelius P. Rhoads, an oncologist, was sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute to conduct experiments in Puerto Rico. He infected citizens with cancer cells, presumably to study the effects. Thirteen of them didn't survive. Even more striking is the doctor's lack of compassion

    They [Puerto Ricans] are beyond doubt the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere. It makes you sick to inhabit the same island with them. They are even lower than Italians.

    It's not clear how someone of Rhoads's caliber was appointed to the US Atomic Energy Commission to study the effects of radiation - but it happened all the same. In the 1970s, the American Association for Cancer Research even created the annual Cornelius Rhoads award to recognize exemplary cancer researchers. In 2003, however, the program ceased.

  • The Pentagon Treated Black Cancer Patients With Extreme Radiation

    From 1960 to 1971, the US Department of Defense performed a series of irradiation experiments on nonconsenting, Black cancer patients of low socioeconomic status. Radiologist Dr. Eugene Saenger and colleagues simply told the patients they were receiving treatments that might be of benefit; no informed consent forms were involved.

    Some 88 patients were exposed to enough ionizing radiation in one hour to equal 20,000 medical X-rays. Most soon suffered from nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal pain, appetite loss, and cognitive issues. Purportedly up to 25% of patients succumbed to radiation poisoning.

  • Operation Midnight Climax Was Even More Than What It Sounds Like

    Here's a government experiment that, when you Google it, has completely different image results from its web results. Operation Midnight Climax involved safe houses in San Francisco, built to study LSD's effects on unaware individuals. The CIA enlisted the help of prostitutes to lure men to the houses, where the ladies slipped them LSD so agents could study the drug's effects via two-way mirrors and hidden microphones. 

    Furthermore, it's alleged that those who ran the so-called “CIA carnal operations” enjoyed their assignment perhaps a bit more than they should have. According to George White, a high-ranking member of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics: “I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun!”

  • Radioactive Fallout Contaminated Unsuspecting Pacific Territories
    Photo: US Army Photographic Signal Corps / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Radioactive Fallout Contaminated Unsuspecting Pacific Territories

    After unleashing nuclear explosives on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US embarked on numerous thermonuclear bomb tests in the Pacific Ocean in response to increased Soviet bomb activity. They were intended to be a secret affair. However, this secret wasn't well kept.

    Detonated March 1, 1954, over Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Castle Bravo was the largest nuclear explosion the US ever set off. What officials didn't expect was for the fallout to inadvertently get blown upwind onto nearby residents of other islands, many of whom went on to suffer thyroid atrophy, several types of cancers, radiation sickness, miscarriages, stillbirths, and deformed infants. 

    This created Project 4.1, a study to examine the effects of radiation fallout on humans. Essentially, it was the latest in a long string of studies where humans act as guinea pigs without giving consent,, and a project remembered by the US as a way to gather data that would otherwise be unobtainable. The American moral standard that history best remembers is that even though the radiation fallout on the Marshall Islands was an accident, it might as well have been intended.