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Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre…
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Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments (2007. Auflage)

von Boese (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
6102238,883 (3.53)16
Have you ever wondered if a severed head retains consciousness long enough to see what happened to it? Or whether your dog would run to fetch help, if you fell down a disused mineshaft? And what would happen if you were to give an elephant the largest ever single dose of LSD? The chances are that someone, somewhere has conducted a scientific experiment to find out:- If left to their own devices, would babies instinctively choose a well-balanced diet? - Discover the secret of how to sleep on planes- Which really tastes better in a blind tasting - Coke or Pepsi?… (mehr)
Mitglied:Kalira
Titel:Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments
Autoren:Boese (Autor)
Info:Mariner Books (2007), Edition: First Edition, 290 pages
Sammlungen:Gelesen, aber nicht im Besitz
Bewertung:****1/2
Tags:science, nonfiction, reviewed

Werk-Informationen

Elefanten auf LSD: und andere verrückte Experimente von Alex Boese

  1. 20
    Von Menschen und Ratten: Die berühmten Experimente der Psychologie von Lauren Slater (dtw42)
    dtw42: More detail on the psychological experiments of Skinner, Milgram, Festinger, and others.
  2. 00
    Schöne neue Welt von Aldous Huxley (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: Some of the weird real life experiments in Elephants on Acid are similar to the science in Brave New World.
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I found this book fascinating - occasionally discomfiting or even downright horrifying - but always interesting.

I wasn't sure of the contents when I picked it up, but was happy to find that it is full of specific accounts - complete with references - of experiments or studies. That each began with a short blurb written as a dramatisation or memory of the events in question was an excellent touch.

The layout, of grouped experiments in a chapter with a single theme, was easy to focus on and more enjoyable than if it had been more of a random jump from topic to topic - it also meant that often there were references, mentions, and influences shared between the accounts.

There are pictures included, and some of them - like the experiments they are there to illustrate - are humourous, or disquieting, or horrible. I appreciated the inclusion, though, even in the case of the horrible - it helps to get an idea of the scope of the experiment solid in my head.

There were a handful of experiments included here that I have come across, either by mention, or, in a couple of cases, in a more in-depth discussion than here, but that only served to make me enjoy it more - it is always nice to get multiple accounts of such things, and it was hardly as though there was much repetition present. (And I have quite eclectic reading and researching habits, in any case.)

If you enjoy odd science - much historical science, of course, though there was a nice blend of relatively recent with the older accounts - and don't mind that it occasionally takes you to worrying places, I recommend you give this book a try. It's quite thought-provoking - though they aren't always happy thoughts, and might not be suitably happy conversation for everyone.

Alex Boese has an engaging writing style, and the feeling that he is fascinated and engaged with the subject himself definitely comes across. (I was also relieved to read, in his introduction, that there is no mention of the Nazi experiments in the book; he had no intention to include them, he says, because he had no intention to make the book a catalog of atrocities, not to mention that they were not actual scientific research, but torture disguised as science.)

As well, I appreciated that he acknowledged there was no desire to trivialise or ridicule science or even the - often very odd - people who created, led, and, of course, published these experiments.

I'll close with a quote from the author's own introduction:
'The researchers who appear in the following pages-even the scariest and most eccentric ones-all share one virtue. They all looked at the world around them, and instead of taking what they saw for granted, they asked questions.'


Hear hear, I say. ( )
  Kalira | May 15, 2024 |
A very interesting survey of some questionable experiments. Sadly, the elephant on acid one turns out to be upsetting. A warning to animal lovers out there, many of the experiments do involve animals and are somewhat graphic ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
Fascinating roundup of some of the stranger experiments carried out in the name of science. Some of them are familiar (like the Stanford Prison Experiment) and others are much more obscure. All of them are accurately and accessibly described. Good stuff. ( )
  hierogrammate | Jan 31, 2022 |
Fascinating roundup of some of the stranger experiments carried out in the name of science. Some of them are familiar (like the Stanford Prison Experiment) and others are much more obscure. All of them are accurately and accessibly described. Good stuff.
  hierogrammate | Jan 31, 2022 |
Boese presents a catalogue of truely bizarre experiments, giving a short essay on each and collecting them into themed chapters. The book is intended to be humourous and it is, in places, but the technique used for the jokes hardly varies throughout and if read in just a few sessions, becomes repetative and palls. Some of that humour is also, in my view, in poor taste; jokes about dogs that have been repeatedly shocked with electricity don't make me laugh.

This leads directly to the other problem with the book; most of the experiments described aren't merely weird, they are ethically questionable (or just plain inexcusably sick-minded) or display incompetance or stupidity on the part of the investigator(s). (As an aside it is amazing how many over extrapolate their conclusions.)

Boese sometimes acknowledges this and addresses the matter, but in many cases blithely describes the whole thing without commenting on the ethical issues - maybe he isn't as sensitive as I am to these matters. Ethics matter in most of these experiments because they are all either surgical or psychological in nature. I can see why investigators in these fields must now put proposals to an ethics comittee - a goodly number of these experiments would not take place if put forward today.

Writing a supposedly fluffy piece of "look at what they did and laugh" journalism about such unpleasant matters makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm also unlikely to ever volunteer to take part in any psychological experiment - but then, will I even be asked? I could have unwittingly taken part in several, already.

I remind myself that this book concentrates examples of bad practice and most researchers would not wish to be associated with the people discussed and I don't suggest you avoid this book. Read it, instead, to learn how far some will go in the pursuit of knowledge. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
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Have you ever wondered if a severed head retains consciousness long enough to see what happened to it? Or whether your dog would run to fetch help, if you fell down a disused mineshaft? And what would happen if you were to give an elephant the largest ever single dose of LSD? The chances are that someone, somewhere has conducted a scientific experiment to find out:- If left to their own devices, would babies instinctively choose a well-balanced diet? - Discover the secret of how to sleep on planes- Which really tastes better in a blind tasting - Coke or Pepsi?

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