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Weirdest Scientific Experiments That You Won't Believe People Actually Got Funding For

Updated September 21, 2018 2.5k votes 456 voters 25.5k views15 items

List RulesVote up the strangest scientific projects.

Researchers across the world seek the answers to every question known to man, from "How can we possibly cure the ravaging foe called cancer?" to "Precisely how far can penguins launch their poop?" It's easy to grasp the aim of the former, but you'd understandably have a more difficult time explaining the point of the latter. Yet that is just one of many weird scientific experiments in human history that somehow received funding.

While that's a more innocuous example of empiricism, there are, of course, real instances of what one might reasonably call "mad science." Even the US government has engaged in such experimentation on humans (often under the purview of equally weird government agencies). And mad science is no less inexplicable/unforgivable when it's done to animals.

Here are examples of weird scientific experiments that run the gamut, but they all have one thing in common: they're incredibly strange, yet someone gave them the okay (and the funding).

  • 1

    Stockholm University Conducted A Study That Proves Chickens Don't Like Ugly People

    Dr. Stefano Ghirlanda of Stockholm University's experiment rests on the understanding that when a chicken pecks a photograph of a person, they do so because they find said person attractive. Chickens seem to be largely heterosexual as determined by step one of the process. Individual chickens were first shown a picture of a human male and one of a human female. The hens usually pecked the men, while the cocks pecked the women. Then the chickens were presented with seven different images of people, the same images college students were given to rate 0-10 in terms of attractiveness.

    Roughly 98% of the time, the chickens pecked the most attractive person in accordance with the students' ratings.

    Is this weird?
  • 2

    Dr. Robert E. Cornish Brought Dogs Back To Life In The '30s Using Seesaw Technology

    Video: YouTube

    Dr. Robert E. Cornish was a University of California-Berkeley grad who wished to master death. He unsuccessfully attempted this with humans, so he tried with dogs. He actually did see success there. On two occasions, he managed to bring dogs back to life that had just been killed via nitrogen gas suffocation. After the dogs were dead, Cornish fixed the dogs to a seesaw and began lifting them up and down to circulate blood flow while injecting them with anti-coagulants and epinephrine. The dogs returned to life and went on living.

    After his dog success, Cornish wanted to try his method on a human once again. A death row inmate named Thomas McMonigle offered his body for experimentation post-execution, but the state of California wouldn't allow it, fearing the murderer would be immune to further prosecution if returned to life via the double jeopardy clause

    Is this weird?
  • 3

    Penn State Scientists Studied Turkey Sexuality By Seducing Males With Parts Of A Female

    Stimulate Eliciting Sexual Behavior” was the title of the study done by Dr. Martin Schein and Dr. Edward Hale of Penn State University on turkeys' mating preferences. They wanted to determine whether or not male turkeys are ready to procreate, even if their object of desire is just the severed head of a female. The scientists wanted to see precisely what got a tom turkey's engine revved, so they started with a completely intact (but dead and stuffed) female turkey, then tried removing various parts and documenting the males' level of interest. Apparently, male turkeys are less inclined to mate with a headless female's body than the opposite, as they were more interested in copulating with the severed head.

    The scientists concluded it was the neck that was the deciding factor. While trying the same experiement with chickens, they found the exact opposite was true: they prefer headless bodies as sexual partners.

    Is this weird?
  • 4

    Science Taught Us Rats Prefer Jazz Over Beethoven, But Only If They're On Cocaine

    If rats are going to be subjected to music, they prefer Beethoven over jazz. Albany Medical College made these findings in the course of their research, but they further discovered they could change those rats' preferences.

    If rats were injected with cocaine, they suddenly enjoyed Davis's jazzy number, "Four." Even after the cocaine was out of their system, those injected with it preferred that song going forward over "Für Elise." 

    Is this weird?