Scientists Reveal What Experiments They'd Like To Conduct If They Had No Morals

Several users suggested they'd like to experiment with the effects of isolation. Image credit: Joe Prachatree/, illuseyourusername/Reddit

In days gone by, scientists (and people calling themselves scientists) have conducted experiments that push at the edges of what is and isn't morally acceptable, while others have moved well beyond that line.

It's much better now, but that doesn't mean that people don't still have ideas for experiments they would like to know the results of if only they didn't have to worry about such things as "morals" or looking like some sort of grotesque modern-day Dr Frankenstein.

Over on Reddit, scientists have been answering the question "What is something you desperately want to experiment with, but will make you look like a mad scientist?". Below are a few of our favorites. We'll jump in if anything needs elaborating.

Cloning serial killers 

"I want to take DNA from infamous serial killers like Dahmer or Albert Fish or the like, clone them, then have the baby raised in a normal, supportive, loving family," RecalcitrantJerk said. "I’d study the kids all through adulthood to see how much is nurture and how much is nature."

While nobody has gone so far as cloning a human to test out the whole "nature vs nurture" debate, in the 1960s child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr Peter Neubauer, in a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health, took an unknown number of sets of twins and triplets and separated them across different families. A man who became involved in the study alleged that the placement families were selected on the grounds of differing socioeconomic status. The twins and triplets were unaware of their siblings, though some of them found out through chance, as documented in the Sundance-wining documentary Three Identical Strangers

Dissolving history

"I experiment on ancient coins," Philieselphy wrote. "Museums are generally against me doing a full compositional analysis as that would involve me dissolving the whole coin in acid. But it sure would tell us a lot more than not."

Giving skittles to people with serious but treatable conditions

One physician wanted to see how effective the placebo effect really is, by giving people with treatable conditions Skittles instead of lifesaving medication.


Doing the book/film Room for real, but worse


Though nobody has done this as a scientific experiment (because yikes) there are examples of people who have been raised in extremes of neglect, isolation, and deprivation that there's not much we could learn from such a grim experiment that we don't already know. 

Following the death of his mother and father, one boy was reportedly kept for years in a chicken coop by his grandfather, before being tied to a bed for two decades. After being rescued, he improved and even laughs, but never developed language.

Somebody get these scientists CRISPR ASAP


They forgot the Journey 2: The Mysterious Island reference.

Some would argue this is the regular Olympics


The only thing worse here than the question is the answer

(Also, just go watch The Blue Lagoon)


One for medical ethics fans


Do not let this person near a lab

(Did The Island of Dr Moreau teach us nothing?)


And finally, one that would kind of be interesting to see


Wait, that also sounds familiar...

In summary, though, maybe ethics boards are a good thing after all.

 This Week in IFLScience

Receive our biggest science stories to your inbox weekly!


If you liked this story, you'll love these

This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By continuing to use our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.