One of the most intricate and complex mechanisms in this whole world is the human mind. Since the dawn of mankind, humans have laid out hundreds of years in unraveling the mysteries of the human brain, with each one wired in an altogether different way than the ones around it.
In this quest, we have used our brains to explore the nuances of the brain itself with all the bizarre methods possible, but not even thinkable to perform. Let’s dive in!
1. The Milgram Experiment
Inspired by the Nuremberg Trials, which was done on the Nazi officers, Stanley Milgram set up this experiment to analyse that upto which extent can someone go to when it comes to following orders from the authority with a high leverage on them. Even if it means bringing havoc to the ones on whom the orders are being implemented on. Stanley set up 2 rooms, where each one of two partners would sit and communicate verbally. A student and a teacher. The student (an actor) would fake being electrocuted, when the teacher would supply the electricity to give him shock. Why this would happen, you ask? If the student answered something incorrectly, then the teacher had the power to give a shock of as far as 450 V of current to the student as a punishment, which is a dangerous limit. This experiment proved that people would go to highest of extents possible, even if it meant torturing others, if they have to follow orders from an entity of greater power over them.
2. The Robbers Cave Experiment
This experiment was devised by Muzafer Sharef in 1954 to experiment on the notion that members of two rival clans can cooperate together against a common enemy.
He put together two groups of children, and let them get to know each other within the team. The members of one team were not allowed to know the members of the other team before the experiment began.
Initially, the two groups had to compete against each other for prizes and perks. Later on, the stakes were increased. One team was given an unfair advantage by being awarded bonus picnics or was allowed to get ahead in the competition. As a result, the other team began assaulting the privileged team’s tents and often looted their food and items.
In the last stage, Sharef put a forest fire. Initially, both the teams tried to doused it separately, but later on began helping each other in controlling the common enemy at hand – the fire. Though this experiment was ridiculed by many experts and critics that time for being ill-devised.
3. Project MKULTRA
Began in 1953. The subjects were selected such that accountability and risk would be minimised. Convicts, felons, the terminally ill and sex workers. The subjects were administered doses of drugs like LSD, most of the time without them even knowing it. It is speculated that the CIA devised the whole project to research on the effects of certain known, and newly manufactured hallucinogenic drugs to test the probable uses that they can have in hypnosis and rendering the subject impermeable to interrogations.
Very little is known about who was/were responsible to spearhead this project, as all the experiment reports and files were burned in 1977.
4. Jane Elliot Racism Experiment
This is the only experiment in this list which is not executed by a professional psychiatrist. Jane Elliot was a teacher, who took it upon her hands to teach the children in her class a lesson on racism. She declared that the brown-eyed children were superior to the blue-eyed ones.
By lunchtime, there was a noticeable difference in the children’s behaviour. Two groups had formed in the class, one with the brown-eyed, and the other with the blue-eyed. It was established that the blue-eyed children were ‘lazy’, ‘clumsy’, etc. Even the competent blue-eyed children began to perform worse in the class.
The next week this theory was reversed by the teacher. This experiment faced a lot of ridicule by the parents, who said that it was discriminating to ironically, the ‘white children’.
5. The Bystander Effect
Psychologists Bibb Latane and John Darley identified this mass paralysis effect in the 1960’s following the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964. She was stabbed to death outside of her apartment, with 38 neighbours bearing witness to it, with noone lifting a finger or trying to intervene.
They hypothesised that when there is a significant number of people watching something wrong, like an accident, most of the group is highly unlikey to take any action, thinking that ‘someone else’ would do something. The case is opposite when there are only a few people witnessing.
The duo conducted an experiment with an actor pretending to have an epileptic seizure on the street. When there were few onlookers, 85% of the time they responded. But as the number of the witnesses increased, the response rate reduced drastically to 31%