Top 10 Things That Are Surprisingly Good For You

Top 10 Things That Are Surprisingly Good For You

Are you sick of being told what to eat, drink, and do? Then this is your lucky day! Here are ten things that people tell you are bad but actually have healthy aspects to them. In future when someone whines at you – you can point them in the direction of this list and have the last laugh! So onwards, the ten things that are healthier thank you think.


Ice Cream


Ice-cream is a low GI (glycemic-index) food. This means that it is a slow sugar release food that keeps you satisfied for a longer period of time than a high GI food. For that reason, you are less likely to binge after eating ice-cream. 75 grams of Ben and Jerry’s Cookies and Cream ice-cream contains only 114 calories compared to a slice of cheesecake with 511 calories. Furthermore, ice-cream is made of milk which contains many essential nutrients and vitamins. 1 cup of milk contains up to 30% of a man’s daily recommended intake. Other nutrients in ice-cream are biotin, iodine, potassium, selenium, vitamins a, b12, D, and K. Studies show a possible link between milk consumption and a lowered risk of arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, colorectal cancer.

Interesting Fact: In the 5th century BC, the ancient Greeks sold snow cones made with fruit and honey in the markets of Athens.




Throw away the rubber globes! Dirt is back in vogue! Remember the days where kids played in dirt, food was served with bare hands, and straws didn’t come in individual wrappers? It turns out – they were healthier days than our modern sterile ones! Early childhood exposure to bacteria, viruses, and parasites has been found to give a massive boost to our immune systems, making us less likely to get sick when we do come in to contact with various bugs. Research has found that children with a dog in the home are less likely to suffer allergies, and regular social interaction can reduce the risk of leukemia by up to 30%. Those are statistics not to ignore – so throw away the anti-bacterial cleaners and get dirty!

Interesting Fact: There are as many as 10 times more bacterial cells in the human body than human cells! The vast majority of these are harmless.




Stress is universally considered a bad thing – in some cases people have successfully won lawsuits against companies for work-related stress. But, what most people don’t know is that a little stress goes a long way to making us healthier. In short doses, stress can help boost the body’s immune system. In the first stage of stress (the “alarm” stage – often known as the “fight or flight” response) the body produces cortisol – a stress fighting hormone which has many benefits to the body. Stress can give a feeling of fulfillment – when this is the case it is called “eustress” as opposed to “distress”.

Interesting Fact: The term “stress” and the mental properties of it was not known before the 1950s. Until that time it referred simply to hardship or coercion.




Not only is coffee tasty, it is a mild stimulant with many medical uses. Caffeine contains a muscle relaxant that is very beneficial to people with bronchial problems – it can alleviate the symptoms of asthma. Additionally, caffeine releases certain fatty acids in to the blood stream that become a useful source of fuel for muscles. It even seems that the only serious side-effect to too much caffeine is a small amount of body-weight loss – a danger if you are anorexic. Caffeine should be avoided by people with fecal incontinence as it loosens the anal and sphincter muscles.

Interesting Fact: Caffeine can be toxic to animals, in particular dogs, horses, and parrots. It also has a much more significant effect on spiders than humans.


Red Wine


Red wine contains a group of chemicals called polyphenols (once called Vitamin P) which have been found to be very beneficial for health. They reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Wine has also been found to be an effective anti-bacterial agent against strains of Streptococcus (found most often in the human mouth) which can help reduce infections. Some wine varieties have extra health benefits; Cabernet Sauvignon appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition to the benefits already listed, wine is chock full of antioxidants which play a huge role in the health of the human body. The wines found to have the greatest benefits are found in the South of France and the Sardinia region of Italy.

Interesting Fact: Wine originated in the regions of Israel, Georgia, and Iran, around 6000 BC.




As a result of recent research into chocolate and health, it appears to be something of a panacea (cure-all) – coupled with the great taste and mood enhancing properties, it might be seen as a wonder drug! Cocoa or dark chocolate improves the overall health of the circulatory system, it stimulates the brain, prevents coughs, prevents diarrhea, and may even be an anti-cancer agent. Like coffee, chocolate is toxic to many animals. A BBC study indicates that melting chocolate in your mouth increases brain activity and the heart rate more intensely than passionate kissing, with the effect lasting four times longer after the activity ends. Eating regular small quantities of chocolate reduces cholesterol and the chances of a heart attack. Sign me up for some of that medication!

Interesting Fact: Chocolate has been used as a drink since at least 1100 – 1400 BC.




Cannabis is said to be beneficial for over 250 conditions. For this reason it is legal on prescription in a number of Western countries. Cannabis is believed to help with arthritis, asthma, depression, glaucoma, and pain. It is also reported to be a good treatment for constipation. Cannabis is also useful in dealing with the sideeffects of treatments for cancer, AIDS, and hepatitis. Cannabis has been used medicinally for over 3,000 years! Strangely, the cultivation and use of cannabis is outlawed in most countries.

Interesting Fact: Evidence of the use of cannabis as a non-medicinal drug exists as charred seeds found in Romania dating back to the 3rd millenium BC.




The moderate consumption of beer has been associated with the lowered risk of head disease, stroke, and mental decline. In addition, brewers yeast (used in the production of beer) contains many nutrients that are carried through to the final drink: magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, and B vitamins. For this reason, beer is sometimes referred to as “liquid bread”. In 2005 a Japanese study found that low-alcohol beer may contain strong anti-cancer properties. Contrary to popular belief, a “beer belly” or “beer gut” is not produced by the beer, but rather overeating and lack of exercise.

Interesting Fact: Beer is one of the oldest beverages – dating back to the 6th millennium BC.




Often referred to as “Smoker’s Paradoxes”, there are a number of therapeutic uses of nicotine or smoking. For example, smokers are less likely to need surgery to provide extra blood to their heart after an angioplasty, the risk of ulcerative colitis is reduced, and it even interferes with the development of Kaposi’s sarcoma (a type of cancer of the lymphatic endothelium). Perhaps most surprisingly, is that there are connections to smoking and a reduction in allergic asthma. There is also a large body of evidence to suggest that smokers have a dramatically reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Nicotine is currently being investigated as a treatment for ADHD, and Schizophrenia.

Interesting Fact: Tobacco smoking has been a practice of humans since at least 5000 BC.




Amidst the loud angry cries against pornography, a few serious scientific studies have been performed on the subject. It seems that men and women who view pornography, have improved sex lives, better sexual knowledge, and an overall better quality of life. Surprisingly, one study found that the more that pornography is viewed, the greater the improvements. In an extensive study performed in Australia, the majority of married respondents stated that they believed that pornography has had a positive effect on their marriage. While clearly not always linked to pornography, studies have found that men who had fewer orgasms were twice as likely to die of any cause as those having two or more orgasms a week.

Interesting Fact: Pornography (and the anti-pornography movement) as it is understood today is a concept of the Victorian era (19th century) which was extremely moralistic. Sexual imagery was not taboo before that time.

1. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with non-smoking by Carol Thompson
2. Impact of Smoking on Clinical and Angiographic Restenosis After Percutaneous Coronary by Cohen, David J.; Michel Doucet, Donald E. Cutlip, Kalon K.L. Ho, Jeffrey J. Popma, Richard E. Kuntz
3. Smoking Cuts Risk of Cancer by United Press International
4. Caffeine: Perspectives from Recent Research by P.B. Dews
5. Using spider-web patterns to determine toxicity by R. Noever, J. Cronise, and R. A. Relwani
6. From psychological stress to the emotions: a history of changing outlooks by R. S. Lazarus
7. Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive function in women. by Stampfer MJ, Kang JH, Chen J, Cherry R, Grodstein F.
8. Beer as liquid bread: Overlapping science by Bamforth, C. W
9. A dynamic partnership: celebrating our gut flora by C. L. Sears
10. Dairy’s Role in Managing Blood Pressure by the National Dairy Council
11. Ice Cream – What’s in a Scoop? by Pat Kendall
12. The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age by Richard Rudgely
13. Medical Use of Cannabis in California by Dale Gieringer
14. Dark Chocolate Could Help Hearts by Emma Ross
15. Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain by Marjorie Ingall
16. Chocolate better than kissing by BBC News
17. Polyphenols and disease risk in epidemiologic studies by Arts, I.C. and P.C. Hollman
18. Antibacterial Activity of Red and White Wine against Oral Streptococci by Daglia, M.; A. Papetti, P. Grisoli, C. Aceti, C. Dacarro, and G. Gazzani
19. Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine Reduces The Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease by ScienceDaily
20. From red wine to polyphenols and back: A journey through the history of the French Paradox by D. W. de Lange
21. Now that’s what you call a real vintage: professor unearths 8,000-year-old wine by David Keys
22. Vice or Virtue? The Pros of Pornography by Matthew Hutson
23. Study concludes porn can be good for you by Nick Grimm
24. Sex and Death, Are They Related? by the British Medical Journal

Jamie Frater

Jamie is the founder of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and cooking. He is fascinated with all things morbid and bizarre.

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Top 30 Spots for Bacteria in the Home

Top 30 Spots for Bacteria in the Home

This list is from statistics published by the Center for Disease Control. In order to compile the list, researchers visited 35 U.S. homes, swabbing for bacteria in 32 locations in each home. Once you have read this list – if you feel the urge to clean, the FDA recommends 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water for home disinfecting. Get scrubbing!


Make your spring cleaning easy and natural with Healthful Home Mold and Bacteria Cleaner at!

1 – 10

1. Toilet bowl: 3.2 million bacteria/square inch
2. Kitchen drain: 567,845 bacteria/square inch
3. Sponge or counter-wiping cloth: 134,630 bacteria/square inch
4. Bathtub, near drain: 119,468 bacteria/square inch
5. Kitchen sink, near drain: 17,964 bacteria/square inch
6. Kitchen faucet handle: 13,227 bacteria/square inch
7. Bathroom faucet handle: 6,267 bacteria/square inch
8. Bathroom sink, near drain: 2,733 bacteria/square inch
9. Pet food dish, inside rim: 2,110 bacteria/square inch
10. Kitchen floor, in front of sink: 830 bacteria/square inch

Keep your hands in good condition with Playtex Gloves at!

11 – 20

11. Toilet floor, in front of toilet: 764 bacteria/square inch
12. Kitchen countertop: 488 bacteria/square inch
13. Bathroom countertop: 452 bacteria/square inch
14. Garbage bin: 411 bacteria/square inch
15. Dish towel: 408 bacteria/square inch
16. Toy: 345 bacteria/square inch
17. Kitchen tabletop: 344 bacteria/square inch
18. Home office phone or refrigerator door: 319 bacteria/square inch
19. Toilet seat: 295 bacteria/square inch
20. Bathroom light switch: 217 bacteria/square inch

136 Germs

21 – 30

21. Microwave buttons: 214 bacteria/square inch
22. Kitchen chopping board: 194 bacteria/square inch
23. Child-training potty: 191 bacteria/square inch
24. Infant changing mat and infant high chair: 190 bacteria/square inch
25. Kitchen phone: 133 bacteria/square inch
26. Bathroom door’s inside handle: 121 bacteria/square inch
27. Toilet’s flush handle: 83 bacteria/square inch
28. TV remote control: 70 bacteria/square inch
29. Home office computer keyboard: 64 bacteria/square inch
30. Home office computer mouse: 50 bacteria/square inch

I guess I will start eating dinner on the computer mouse instead of the tabletop from now on!

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Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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Top 10 Bizarre Pre-Psychology Theories

Top 10 Bizarre Pre-Psychology Theories

Even in an era where we have stringent research standards, billion-dollar endowments at high-powered universities, and a scientist’s choice of brain scan equipment, we’re still constantly surprised by the human brain’s complexity and ability to adapt. So you can imagine how confusing human thought and behavior would have looked before the field of psychology even existed. One day, history will laugh at what we think we currently know about psychology; today, let’s laugh (or cry) at these 10 bizarre pre-psychological theories.

10Restrained Happiness


Photo credit: Anon

Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi was a master physician around AD 1000 who also dipped his toes into philosophy and the study of happiness.

Al-Razi believed that the spirit was preoccupied with death, which naturally caused distress in the mind. To alleviate this distress, al-Razi believed that the individual must convince the spirit that good things happen at death, rather than bad. In order to do so, the individual must spend much of their time studying scripture instead of indulging in food or drink.

Current models of mindfulness, however, believe in living in the moment and not intentionally overindulging. Happiness exists within a variety of lifestyle choices. You can be equally joyous while studying the scriptures or while spending more nights than not at the bar. Additionally, having honest conversations about death with the dying is important, even if these conversations are not always rosy.



Going all the way to ancient Greece, this is one of the oldest pre-psychological traditions. Hysteria was a medical condition that served as a catch-all for disruptive behavior in European civilizations and didn’t really disappear from the discourse until the past 100 years or so. Of course, it affected men and women differently. The male version described symptoms similar to today’s post-traumatic stress disorder and was diagnosed much less frequently.

The female variants of hysteria were faintness, irritability, loss of appetite, nervousness, sexual desire, and “a tendency to cause trouble.” The Greeks believed this unfortunate mental state was caused by a physical ailment known as “wandering womb,” which is as ridiculous and unscientific as it sounds.

According to Hippocrates, the womb was drawn to pleasant scents and disgusted by foul ones. When the womb found its regular location’s smell to be distasteful, it would wander to other places in the body. When this unusual myth was dispelled, sexual frustration became a clear underlying source, and skilled physicians began offering private masturbation sessions for women in Europe — many of whom knew nothing about their own genitals. Eventually, the awkwardness of this practice caught up with the physicians and led to the 18th-century invention of sex toys.



Photo credit: Wellcome Images

The word “mesmerism” comes from Austrian physician Franz Mesmer, who believed in an invisible magnetic fluid in humans and animals. When the magnetic field reached an imbalance, Mesmer believed, it caused hysteria. To treat the hysteria, Mesmer used a technique (creatively titled mesmerism) which involved putting magnets up to his patients’ bodies. His technique caused them to fall into a trance-like stupor that apparently healed them upon awakening. The practice garnered a bit of a following in Europe and the United States, including famous names like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and French queen Marie Antoinette.

Unfortunately for Mesmer, when the French government’s experts (one being Benjamin Franklin, a resident of Paris at the time) assessed his method, it concluded that the words Mesmer had used during his magnetic treatment were playing on the patients’ suggestibility and causing the stupor. The magnets were thrown out, but the intriguing debate between suggestibility and psychical powers was born, leading to the creation of hypnosis and its cousin, stage hypnosis.

7Demonic Possession


Another phenomenon that still appears in the minds of some today, demonic possession explained many modern mental disorders to our ancestors. With no real comprehension of neurology or abnormal psychology, outside forces causing unexplained behavior probably seemed to be the most obvious answer.

Bipolar disorder can cause alternating periods of depression and mania, day-long bursts of energy with little to no sleeping, spontaneous decision making, and an interruption of routine. A manic episode like this would have certainly mystified our ancestors and caused a ritualistic “casting out” of a demon. Schizophrenia could also be attributed to demonic possession. The presence of voices in one’s head could easily be attributed to other beings inside the mind. Many more psychological disorders could fall into this category, like psychosis and dissociative identity disorder.

In the mainstream lexicon, demons haunt or plague us figuratively, not literally. In this way, their general perception hasn’t changed much. Our demons are still difficulties that take time and energy to deal with, but now we cast them out through medicine and therapy, not Holy Water or isolation.



Phrenology was developed around 1800 by Franz Gall, who had a novel idea: What if your brain was the source of your intelligence and your personality? And what if you could tell someone’s intelligence and behavioral pattern by measuring the shape of their head and studying the bumps and fissures on it? Phrenology contributions can be separated into three distinct categories — the true, the false, and the other.

True: Gall theorized that the brain was the organ of the mind. He was right about this and paved the way for neuroscience today. Gall pontificated about different regions of the brain being responsible for different personality traits, just another key facet of neuroscience.

False: You can actually determine someone’s intelligence or personality from looking at their head or measuring it. Some phrenologists used phrenology to “prove” the superiority of white, European males over others, and some still use this argument today. Essentially, Gall had the right theory and the wrong execution, and he picked up some of the wrong followers (like Nazis) along the way.

Other: Giving phrenology as a personal service is a taxable source of income in Michigan. Does Michigan know its racial demographic, and how many of their residents would have been hurt by this in a past life? Actually, if you’re in the para-psychological crew, you probably believe they really were hurt by it, because they had a past life.

5Lie Detection


A search engine query for “how to tell when someone is lying” brings up millions of results. Many of them offer basic analysis on noticing the obvious psychological signs of lying. Before the Internet, humans had to find ways to weed out the liars from the truth-tellers using their own style.

In ancient times, cultures around the world used ordeals to determine the veracity of accused liars. In India, an accused liar would be subject to the weight ordeal. In this trial, they were weighed, a judge would deliver an exhortation to the counterweight, and the liar was then weighed again. If the accused was lighter than before, they were honest. If not, they were dishonest. Most other ordeals were more gruesome. In Europe, an accused liar was resigned to the hot iron ordeal, where the potential falsifier stuck their tongue on a hot iron nine times. If they weren’t burned then they had told the truth. If their tongue did burn, they would be executed. When ordeals proved ineffective around the 17th century, societies moved to a more humane technique . . . torture.

Torture ranged from gory contraptions used in Medieval times to the enhanced interrogation employed as recently as the mid-2000s by the CIA. Fortunately for human rights, torture is ineffective for detecting lies, with a high number of false positives and unreliable information in general.

The 20th century brought along truth serums and the polygraph test. Truth serum (a drug administered to a subject with the intention of causing them to provide information they would not otherwise offer) certainly loosens the tongue, much like alcohol, but is still considered unreliable. The polygraph, on the other hand, measures one’s blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and other physiological measures to determine whether someone is lying. Sadly, it also is not too reliable as some people, like sociopaths, may not show any physiological change regardless of what they are saying. Others take countermeasures, like pricking themselves with a needle at random points during the test to skew the data.

Finally, the scientific community realized that greater understanding of the neurological processes behind lying must exist before lie detection can be an objective process. Essentially, until voice stress analysis research is finalized, you’re best off just trying to determine if the story you’re being told makes sense or not.



Graphologists study quirks and styles in handwriting to determine the writer’s psychological profile, personality traits, and mood at the time. Graphologists advertise their work as the ideal way to recruit candidates to jobs, tell personality compatibility, or even decide if you’re working in the right career. It’s all the rage in Europe at the moment, and it’s just about to turn the corner in the United States. If this all sounds too good to be true, well, it is.

Dazzi and Pendrabissi performed a study in which 101 college students provided an autobiographical writing sample to two graphologists. The students also provided personality information using the most common measure in psychology, the Big 5 Personality Traits. Using their written text, the graphologists created personality profiles for the students. Not only did they not match the Big 5 test results, but they didn’t even match each other. This type of study has been repeated over and over, and consistently produces no correlation between handwriting and personality.

3Dream Interpretation

Joseph Interprets Dream

This pre-psychological theory remains popular today in lieu of a universally accepted theory as to the real meaning of dreams. Beginning with metaphorical interpretation of symbols, it occurs often in the Bible. An early documented example was from the kingdom of Babylon, whose peaceful regime foreshadowed the tranquil nature of its modern location (the border between Iraq and Syria).

The Bible’s book of Daniel provides excellent anecdotes about Babylonian dream culture. It mentions that wizards, magicians, and astrologers could be hired for dream interpretation. Daniel, however, won the favor of the king after he deciphered that the freakish creature made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, clay, and mud in his dream had actually symbolized Babylon and several other future kingdoms.

In ancient China, dreams were considered an evaluation of reality and identity. One famous story is of Chuang Chou, who dreamed of flying around as a butterfly but found himself to be human when he awoke. Did Chuang dream of being a butterfly or did a butterfly dream of being Chuang? The Chinese thought of dreams less as an identification of symbolism and more as a philosophical exploration.

Later, Freud came into the discourse and followed the theme of symbolism. In his book The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud outlined the many ways dreams served as wish-fulfillment fantasies distorted through mental operations irrelevant to modern dream analysis. Essentially, we dream of what we want, and we have nightmares about our failures to receive our wishes.

Today, scientists believe in several theories for dreaming, including memory consolidation, problem solving, and random brain activity. However, most people still subscribe to the Freudian theory. Studies have shown that Americans are just as likely to skip a flight if they dream of a plane crash the night before as they are if a plane has recently crashed on their specific route.

2Racist Eugenics


The concept of eugenics was first recorded by Plato in The Republic with the idea of selectively breeding a “guardian” or elite class in Greece. Greece was homogeneous at the time and had little to do with race, and everything to do with moral character and intelligence. The term eugenics was coined by Francis Galton, who wrote the book Hereditary Genius. Galton postulated that talent is hereditary, and societies should stop wasting time protecting the untalented (the poor) and instead focus on facilitating a greater “race” of people. Speaking of race, his introduction to his amended edition of Genius notes that, ideally, society would be best served if a new race had sprung up that was superior over “the modern European,” the way “the modern European” was to the “negro.”

Soon after, the United States became interested in eugenics, leading to over 64,000 forced sterilizations of the poor, disabled, and “feeble-minded” in the early 1900s, especially in California. This horror show even helped inspire Adolf Hitler in his mass genocide of non-Aryans. Even after the Holocaust, forced sterilization continued to exist within the legal bounds of some American states, and it’s beginning to make a comeback. As artificial insemination and surrogate mothers renew the cycle of trait selection, some worry about how it could create a gap between the rich and poor.



One of the most prominent modern parapsychology labs, the Rhine Research Center, attempts to explain everything science cannot. This sounds interesting and potentially insightful until you remember that, long ago, psychology decided to study concepts that exist, not ones that consistently fail validity and reliability testing. Parapsychology covers a litany of paranormal phenomena, but focuses mostly on telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis.

Parapsychology peaked in popularity in the late 1800s, when many prominent educators and intellectuals joined the Society for Psychical Research in London. The field quickly lost its popularity when a torrent of the Society’s claims didn’t hold up to rigorous scientific examination. In 1884, Charles Richet performed a clairvoyance experiment in which he sealed playing cards in envelopes and had the subject guess their identity. The subject was highly successful, but when asked to replicate the feat in front of a group of scientists, his score fell to a chance-level equivalent.

+Conversion Therapy

Gay couple enjoying summer

A current pseudo-psychological theory is Conversion Therapy — the treatment of gay, lesbian, or otherwise not straight people. It is illegal in California but still practiced widely across the United States (mostly by family therapists who belong to The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy).

The therapy presupposes that homosexuality is a mental disorder that causes a lack of character or morality, a stance not supported by the DSM-5, the APA, or any other health organization. The preferred outcome of the therapy is for the patient to “come out” as heterosexual. The efforts to convert the patient are done either via therapies or by ministries, and the views opposing homosexuality are generally either cultural or religious in nature.

Conversion therapy is opposed by all major medical organizations. It is considered harmful to the individual and to society. It tells the confused client that their beliefs are a mental disorder, or against a higher cultural or religious power. The APA shows anecdotal evidence of growing self-hatred through these camps, as well as a lower threshold for noticing surrounding prejudice. While the idea of moral fortitude (or lack thereof) causing a “disease” like homosexuality is surely pre-psychological, the misguided therapy itself uses some tenants of modern psychological treatment.

Connor is an incoming graduate student in sports psychology and mental health counseling at Boston University. He is also a long-suffering fan of the Seattle Supersonics. Follow his page on research-based life tips on Twitter or on Facebook.

10 Beautiful Flowers That Kill In Horrifying Ways

Flowers are nature’s way of tricking insects into helping plants have sex, and as a side effect, humans have something to make their gardens look prettier. There are about 350,000 species of flowering plant, and most of them are innocent souls. But a heaping handful of them are vicious killers with zero remorse.

10Kalmia Latifolia


Photo credit: Arx Fortis/Wikimedia

Kalmia latifolia, more commonly known as mountain laurel, produces delicate pink and white flowers in the late spring. It’s the state flower of both Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and it grows just about everywhere in the eastern United States. It’s gorgeous, but underneath that dainty exterior beats the heart of a murderer.

The two main toxins in Kalmia latifolia are andromedotoxin and arbutin, but it’s the first one that you need to worry about. Andromedotoxin simultaneously causes part of the heart to beat quickly and part to beat dangerously slowly. In healthy people, the heart has a natural gate that blocks half of the electrical pulses coming to the organ. The toxin induces Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, which disrupts that gate, letting all the pulses reach your heart. The result? Sudden cardiac death.

But that only happens with large doses. In smaller doses, you can expect to start with a lot of vomiting, after which every hole in your head will leak its fluids down your face. About an hour later, your breathing will slow down, you’ll lose the ability to use your muscles, and you’ll slip into a coma and die.

The terrifying part is that you don’t have to eat the flowers—honey from bees that have visited Kalmia latifolia contains all the toxic properties of the flower itself. The Greeks called it “mad honey,” and they used it to defeat Xenophon of Athens in 400 B.C.

9Jacobaea Vulgaris


Photo credit: Francis C. Franklin

Ragwort, a common wildflower in the UK, is an important part of the local ecosystem. Almost 80 insects get food from the plant, and at least 30 of those feed on ragwort exclusively. Because of that, the flowers hold particular interest for conservation societies. That’s good news for the bugs but bad news for everybody else. The World Health Organization has confirmed the presence of at least eight toxic alkaloids in ragwort, and it may have at least 10 more on top of that.

The problem is that unlike most poisons, which quickly leave the system, the alkaloids in ragwort build up in the liver over time. The accumulating toxins result in liver cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver slowly folds in on itself as healthy cells degenerate into an unresponsive mass of scar tissue. The liver’s a resilient organ and will continue operating like normal until up to 75 percent of it’s been destroyed, but by the time symptoms start appearing, the damage is irreversible.

Symptoms include loss of coordination, blindness, stabbing abdominal pains, and yellow eyes from bile pigment that fills the eye’s surface membrane. Unfortunately, this is another toxin that makes its way into honey, as well as into milk from goats who eat ragwort. As a final slap on the face, when farmers try to remove ragwort from their fields, the toxins can seep right into the skin of their hands.


Found on nearly every mountain in the Northern Hemisphere, Veratrum species put out gorgeous spiral clusters of white, heart-shaped flowers. The plant is commonly grown for ornamental purposes because even the leaves look pretty, and in the wild, it’s commonly confused with garlic. But pretty or not, every piece of this plant, from the roots to the pistils, is lethally toxic.

The first symptom of Veratrum poisoning is violent stomach cramping, which usually starts about 30 minutes after ingestion. As the toxins absorb into the bloodstream, they make a beeline for the sodium ion channels. Sodium ion channels act like gates to allow sodium to flow through nerves, triggering an action. For example, the opening of sodium ion channels in muscle cells starts the process that leads to a muscle contraction.

When Veratrum toxins hit the sodium ion channels, they open the floodgates, forcing the channels to fire continuously. The body doesn’t know what to do with this, so the heart begins to alternately slow and speed up. Muscles all over the body convulse. Eventually, the toxin either causes a heart attack or a coma. It’s believed that this is the poison that killed Alexander the Great.



Photo credit: Stan Shebs

The gorgeous perennial Zantedeschia has been introduced to every continent but Antarctica and is a staple in ornamental gardens. It’s often called a calla lily, even though it’s not even remotely related to lilies and doesn’t look anything like one. The bright, tube-shaped flowers can be a variety of colors.

Zantedeschia species contain calcium oxalate, a chemical that forms needle-like crystals inside internal organs. More than 1,000 types of plants contain calcium oxalate, and Zantedeschia is one of the most dangerous, partly because it’s so widespread. Even a tiny dose of the chemical is enough to cause a person’s throat to swell, usually along with an intense burning feeling.

The more you eat, the worse the symptoms become, until your throat swells so large it squeezes your airways shut. In one incident, a Chinese restaurant accidentally put the flower petals from a toxic plant into their food, putting everyone who ate it in the hospital.

6Colchicum Autumnale


Photo credit: Jan Mehlich

Colchicum autumnale is native to the UK, but it can now be found across most of Europe and New Zealand. One of its common names is “naked lady,” which is a deceptively sexy name for a cold-blooded killer. The only known antidote for Colchicum poisoning is a slow, painful death.

The chemical at work here is colchicine, a poison that kills with methods similar to arsenic, systematically shutting down of all of your body’s vital functions. Mass organ failure, blood clots, and nerve disruptions are just a few of the horrifying symptoms of Colchicum poisoning. Every few days, a new set of symptoms appears as yet another internal system goes belly up.

Death can take anywhere from days to weeks, but when you eat enough, it’s always fatal. And for whatever reason, the flower leaves you conscious to the bitter end, forcing you to live through each excruciating moment. People have compared death from Colchicum to cholera.



Photo credit: Jean François Gaffard

Everybody’s brain is hardwired to accept nicotine through receptors the same shape as nicotine molecules. Despite their name, nicotinic receptors can also bond with other chemicals. One such chemical is cytisine.

In low doses, cytisine isn’t terribly harmful. As a drug, it sometimes helps people quit smoking because of its ability to bond to nicotinic receptors. But in large doses, it’s positively lethal.

Laburnum poisonings have been recorded for centuries and usually involve children who eat either the flowers or the seed casings, which look like pea pods. The cytisine, which is present in every single part of the tree, starts working in minutes. Poisoning starts with intense vomiting followed by streams of foam pouring out of the mouth. After about an hour, the convulsions start.

Normally, convulsions occur intermittently, like ocean waves. But with cytisine poisoning, the convulsing waves are so close together that your muscles permanently contract, which is called a tetanic contraction. It all culminates in a deep coma and death. Fortunately, people don’t usually die from Laburnum poisoning these days as long as they get to the hospital in time.

4Cerbera Odollam


Photo credit: Tau?olunga/Wikimedia

Cerbera odollam probably has the most accurate alternate name in the entire plant kingdom: To Indian locals, it’s known as the “suicide tree.” And its reach goes far beyond suicide—according to a team of researchers who investigated a number of deaths in the southwest region of India, Cerbera odollam is the perfect murder weapon. In a 10-year period, at least 500 deaths were confirmed to be the work of the flower-bearing tree, which kills through a potent glycoside called cerberin.

Cerberin starts working within an hour. After some light stomach pain, you slip into a quiet coma, and your heart politely stops beating. The entire process takes place in about three hours. The chemical is untraceable after the fact, which is why it’s commonly used as a discreet murder weapon. A research team in India believes that up to twice as many people died from Cerbera odollam as they discovered—most likely homicide victims in cases where nobody thought to suspect foul play.

3Sanguinaria Canadensis


Photo credit: Matt Wade

Commonly known as bloodroot, Sanguinaria grows wild in eastern North America. Native Americans used the blood-red roots as an ornamental dye, but they also used it to induce abortions. Enough of it will put you in a coma.

People more recently have taken to using it as a home remedy for skin cancer, with horrible results. Bloodroot contains a chemical called sanguarine, which, in addition to being a dangerous toxin, is an escharotic substance. Escharotics kill tissue and slough it off as a creamy pulp, leaving behind a dark black scar called an eschar. In other words, putting bloodroot on your skin causes your skin cells to kill themselves.

The same thing happens internally. The chemical disrupts an enzyme called Na+/K+-ATPase, which does the important job of pumping sodium out of cells and pumping potassium in. When that doesn’t happen, all functions break down.

2Adenium Obesum


Photo credit: Pon Malar

Native to Africa, Adenium obesum has been used as a spear poison by tribes for centuries. The desert rose, as the preparation is called, is made by boiling the plant for 12 hours before removing all the plant matter and letting the liquid evaporate. The resulting goo is a highly concentrated poison. It’s so toxic that just a bit of the poison from a spears or arrows brings down large game before they can run 2 kilometers (1.2 mi), so hunters can stay on their trail while they gradually bite the dust.

This specific plant has been used by tribes all over Africa to kill animals as large as elephants, and now that we’ve studied it, we know why. The plant contains a chemical called ouabain, which causes almost immediate respiratory failure at high doses.

Another flower in the Apocynaceae family grows in the same region, and hunters often use it in conjunction with Adenium. It also contains ouabain, and it turns out that humans aren’t the only African natives using its killing power—the African crested rat will chew the flower’s bark and lick his hair with the toxins, turning itself into a scurrying ball of unexpected death.

1Oenanthe Crocata


Photo credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar

In 2002, eight tourists in Argyll, Scotland decided to forage some choice water parsnips from a nearby stream. Prize in hand, they returned home and put them in a curry dish. The next day, four of them were in the hospital. What they’d thought was water parsnip was actually Oenanthe crocata, or hemlock water dropwort. The plant has mortality rate of up to 70 percent, so the group was lucky nobody died.

Hemlock water dropwort has an interesting property. It’s lethal, sure. But the killer toxin, oenanthotoxin, relaxes the muscles around your lips and forces you to smile, even when you’re in the throes of fatal convulsions. The plant has been used in Greece since at least the eighth century B.C., when Homer coined the term “sardonic grin” to describe the grisly smile adorning the faces of water dropwort victims.

Andrew Handley

Andrew is a freelance writer and the owner of the sexy, sexy HandleyNation Content Service. When he”s not writing he”s usually hiking or rock climbing, or just enjoying the fresh North Carolina air.

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10 Macabre Medical Experiments From History

10 Macabre Medical Experiments From History


Throughout history, some of the most important scientists have “bent the rules” every once in a while to achieve their goals. Always for the betterment of humanity as a whole, the suffering of a few to save the masses is always worth the risk — or is it?

Here are 10 examples that just might make you think twice about how you answer that question. The actions of some of these scientists may just cause you to wonder how many times our lives have really been gambled with over the centuries.

10 Giovanni Aldini
The Original ‘Doctor Frankenstein’


Photo credit: Wellcome Images

Giovanni Aldini (1762–1834) was a professor of physics at Bologna who had a scientific interest in a variety of fields. But the one that stands out most was galvanism. Aldini helped put together a group of scientists in Bologna to experiment in this area, which involves the therapeutic use of electrical currents.

This interest led him to create one of the most macabre road shows ever devised. Traveling all over Europe, Aldini choreographed countless gruesome theatrical displays. Crowds of patrons would pay to gather and gleefully stare in horror while the proverbial “mad scientist” electrified an assortment of grisly human and animal body parts. Aldini put on spectacular demonstrations, producing hair-raising spasmodic convulsions of arm and leg muscles and even more spine-tingling contractions of the facial muscles of dead human heads.

Using the severed remains of animals and humans and the current of a powerful battery, Aldini would cause eyes to roll, jaws to open, teeth to clack, and fleshy-smelling smoke to curl eerily into the electrically charged air. A truly appalling spectacle, witnesses were reported to say that they could not shake the feeling that the “victims” had really just been brought back to life only to suffer death again.

Always the showman, Aldini enjoyed his most famous performance in 1803 at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Using the corpse of an executed convict named George Forster, he proceeded to poke and prod the dead man with a pair of conducting rods connected to a battery, causing various parts of the corpse to quake, quiver, and contort.

In his day, he was not considered to be a “mad scientist” especially since the emperor of Austria, in recognition of his achievements, made Aldini a knight of the Iron Crown and councillor of state at Milan.

9 A Real Haitian Zombie And Zombie Poison


A worn, ragged-looking man shows up in a rural Haitian town claiming to have died on May 2, 1962. One of the problems with this picture is that the year was 1980. Clairvius Narcisse swore that he had been pronounced dead in Deschapelles, Haiti, at Albert Schweitzer Hospital. He also said that he was awake and conscious during the entire ordeal.

Narcisse also claimed that he had been completely paralyzed and could do nothing but lie there in horror as he was pronounced dead, nailed into a coffin, and unceremoniously buried alive. He also claimed that the bocor (Haitian witch doctor) who had made him a zombie had also dug him up and forced him to work as a zombie.

In Haiti, zombies are not only common in folklore but commonly feared as well. Scientists have uncovered innumerable reports of the bodies of friends and family members coming back to life. According to the legends, zombies are not aware of anything in their surroundings so they are generally harmless unless, of course, you allow them to regain their senses by eating salt.

Despite countless reports, investigators could locate little evidence either proving or disproving the phenomenon. A common theme with the zombie stories concerns people dying without receiving any medical care before their alleged deaths. This raises the red flags of fraud and possible mistaken identity for investigators to deal with.

Right about this time in the early 1980s, anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis just happened to be in Haiti to investigate the causes of zombies. Davis was there at the request of anesthesiologist Nathan Kline, who theorized that a drug was somehow involved and that it could have valuable medicinal uses. Davis was hoping to get his hands on samples of these zombie concoctions so that they could be chemically analyzed in the US for medicinal purposes.

Davis managed to gather eight samples of zombie powder from four different regions of the country. The ingredients in all of them were not the same, but seven of the eight had four ingredients in common. They were the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (derived from puffer fish), the marine toad (also containing numerous toxic substances), the Hyla tree frog that secretes a very irritating but not lethal substance, some other ingredients derived from indigenous animals and plants, and even ground glass.

The use of puffer fish was the most intriguing to the scientists because the active ingredient tetrodotoxin causes both paralysis and death, and those poisoned with it are known to stay conscious right up until it occurs. The scientists theorized that the powder would create irritation if applied topically and subsequent scratching would break the skin of the victim and allow the tetrodotoxin to enter the bloodstream.

This would paralyze the victim and cause him to only appear to be dead. After the family buries the victim, the bocor returns and digs up the grave. If everything goes according to plan and the victim survives the horrific ordeal, the toxin would eventually wear off. Through the use of other debilitating drugs, the victim could come to truly believe that he had been turned into a zombie.

8 Poison Labs Of The Former Soviet Union


At one time, the former Soviet Union operated secret poison labs to experiment with new ways to covertly eliminate subversives and enemies of the state. The most infamous of these was a laboratory known as the Kamera (“Chamber”) where Russian scientists conducted experiments to look for better methods of poisoning people. Everyone knows that the KGB was infamous for murdering and kidnapping those who spoke out against the state — regardless of their location on the planet. As time went by, the KGB continuously perfected this sinister art with labs like the Kamera.

The “holy grail” for the scientists would have been a poison that was not only tasteless and odorless but also undetectable during an autopsy. The technicians also looked for both slow- and fast-acting toxins that left no clues at an autopsy. They conducted experiments using delivery systems like injections, drinks, and powders and powerful toxins such as curare, digitoxin, ricin, and mustard gas.

Eventually, they had enough poisons to work with and started focusing on delivery methods and the systems to administer the toxins. A good example was one occasion where two Soviet officials were murdered using a type of vapor gun containing a poison that made it appear as though they had both died of heart attacks.

In fact, these official “natural deaths” were never once suspected to be assassinations until years later when a Soviet agent defected and took credit for the crimes. The scientists tested their gruesome creations on political prisoners held in prison camps all over the Soviet Union. If any of these test subjects were not killed by the poisons, they were summarily shot.

It seems as though the fate of the Kamera is unclear. According to a declassified CIA document from 1964, the Soviets abandoned the Kamera in 1953, although it is believed to still exist in some form or another.

7 Jose Delgado
Electronic Control Of The Mind

Streaming hotly over the wooden structures and below into the ring, the bright afternoon Sun lights up fiery eyes as it falls onto a powerful and angry bull staring down his prey. Enraged at being disturbed, the bull charges at the man standing there, seemingly unarmed and looking very vulnerable.

But incredibly, just as the behemoth reaches his defenseless target, the huge animal stops dead in his tracks and just stands there, snorting heavily and looking around nervously. Only then do you see that the “unarmed and defenseless” man was actually a scientist, now looking rather smug, with a radio transmitter in his hand. The scientist had only to press a button to stop a charging bull.

You watch again in silent amazement as the scientist presses another button on the device, and the bull smartly turns and simply trots harmlessly out of the ring. What you do not know was that the day before, the scientist — Dr. Jose Delgado of Yale University — had painlessly implanted a series of fine wire electrodes into predetermined regions of the brain of the animal. The bull was obeying commands caused by electrical stimulation of specific areas of his brain using wireless radio signals tuned to the frequency of the wire electrodes connected to him.

Conducted in the 1960s in Cordoba, Spain, this experiment was one of the most incredible displays of intentional animal behaviorial modification using external control of the brain. The doctor was attempting to discover what makes bulls brave. Just as in his other experiments that concentrated on finding biological reasons for things such as emotions, personality traits, and behaviorial patterns in both animals and man, he succeeded by way of electrical stimulation of the brain.

Simply put, he found that people could be made to act in a variety of ways with just the push of a button. He could cause sudden and acute bouts of passion, euphoria, and anger in patients at will. In one chilling and disturbing experiment, a calm and collective epileptic woman nonchalantly playing her guitar was made, at the push of a button, to suddenly start smashing the instrument against the wall in an instant fit of rage.

Delgado concluded that only an increase or decrease in aggression was possible using this technique and that a specific behavior could not be accurately produced. Controversy over whether his motives were geared more toward mind control or preventive psychology exists, but Delgado maintains that the latter was and has always been the case.

6 Egas Moniz
A Lobotomy Gets Him Shot


Photo via Wikimedia

Egas Moniz, a Portuguese neurologist in 1936, devised a surgical procedure to treat schizophrenia called a prefrontal leukotomy, or more commonly, a lobotomy. The operation calls for incisions to be made in the brain, destroying connections between the prefrontal lobe and other areas of this vital organ. The exceedingly delicate operation was successfully used globally for treating schizophrenia, earning Moniz the Nobel Prize in 1949. But the accolades didn’t last long.

Introduced in 1952, chlorpromazine was our first neuroleptic drug and the first one discovered to have a positive effect on schizophrenia. The idea of a noninvasive treatment for schizophrenia, such as an oral medication, would and did win over the scientific community soon after it was known to work and medically available. Since 1960, a more aggressive form of lobotomy is sometimes used but only when severe anxieties and uncontrollable syndromes resistant to other forms of therapy are being treated.

Moniz conceded that some personality and behavioral degradation is expected with some lobotomized patients. But he also insisted that the negative cases were overshadowed by a corresponding decrease in the adverse effects of mental illness. Despite this statement, Moniz had at least one disgruntled patient who did not agree with him and proceeded to shoot him as a result, leaving him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

5 Ivan Pavlov
His Experiments On Dogs Graduate To Kids


Photo credit: Open Culture

“Pavlovian conditioning,” like most notable advances in science, was accidentally discovered. This time, it was by a Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov. During the 1890s, the scientist was investigating salivation (drooling) in dogs in response to food.

Pavlov noticed that whenever he entered the room, even without food for them, the dogs would salivate. By 1902, he was looking at the idea that there are certain things that a dog does not need to learn such as salivating over food. This reflex must be “hardwired” into the animal since they do not learn to salivate whenever they see food. It just happens.

In behaviorist terms, this is called an “unconditioned response.” Pavlov proved the existence of the unconditioned response by giving a dog a bowl of food and then measuring its saliva output. When he discovered that even something only reminding the dog of food still triggered it to drool, he knew he was onto something of scientific value. As a result, he would dedicate his entire career to this line of study.

Pavlov quickly noted that the lab dogs had learned to associate his lab assistant with food. He had to assume this behavior had been learned because there was a time that they did not do this. So a point had arrived when this had changed. Pavlov knew that the dogs in his lab had somehow learned to associate food with his lab assistant. Since changes in behavior are usually the result of learning, the assistant must have started as a neutral stimulus for the dogs, which became a positive one after being unintentionally associated with the unconditioned stimulus of food.

Pavlov used a bell in his experiments as a neutral stimulus. Whenever a dog got food, he would ring the bell. After a dog became conditioned to the procedure, he just rang the bell without giving the dog any food and, as expected, the action caused an increase in salivation.

Since this response had been learned, it was called a “conditioned response” and the neutral stimulus had become a “conditioned stimulus” in the process. With dogs, Pavlov discovered that two stimuli had to be introduced one right after the other for the association to be made. He dubbed this the “law of temporal contiguity.”

In 1920, John B. Watson, a Johns Hopkins professor, was fascinated with Pavlov’s research on conditioned stimulus. Watson wanted to try to create a conditioned response in a human child. The professor found his subject in a nine-month-old child named “Albert B.” (aka “Little Albert”).

To start the experiment, Little Albert was given, among other things, a white rat, a Santa Claus mask, a white rabbit, and a dog. The toddler was not afraid of any of them and seemed to favor the white rat. After Albert became acclimated to the items, a scientist would smack a metal bar, making a loud bang and scaring the child whenever he made a choice.

Soon, due to this conditioning, Little Albert became afraid of the mask and the rat and even a fur coat. What was particularly disturbing about the entire ordeal was that Watson never attempted to undo any of the harm he may have inflicted on his innocent subject.

4 The Russians’ First Cosmonaut


Photo credit: NASA

On November 3, 1957, the former Soviet Union put their first cosmonaut into space, and it was not Yuri Gagarin. The achievement was touted worldwide as a soaring victory for the Soviet Union, giving them a commanding lead over the US in the race to space. What many do not know, though, is that it was a suicide mission for the lone passenger of the small spacecraft — a dog called Laika.

It was the dawn of spaceflight and just getting there was the battle. Getting back was another story and a problem that would have to wait for future missions. According to the Associated Press, Laika was a stray recovered in Moscow just a week or so before launch. She was promoted to cosmonaut because she was small enough and had a good disposition. In total, the Soviet Union sent up 36 dogs in rockets, and although not the first sent up, Laika was the first to achieve a successful orbit.

The Soviet Union was leading the US in the space race — or at least, it appeared that way. Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite, had been put into orbit just one month earlier. When Sputnik II achieved orbit with Laika aboard, the US fell even further behind. The media could not decide whether to ridicule the event or praise it, which should probably be expected, because the bottom line was simple: Somebody had to send an animal up first, and it was just a question of who that would be.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War, leaked information from the former Soviet Union began to surface, clearly stating that the animal did not die the “humane” death that was advertised by the Soviets. They had long reported that the dog had died a painless death after a week in orbit. But the Institute of Biological Problems in Moscow leaked the truth in 2002. According to the leak, Laika had become overheated and panicked, causing her death within just a matter of hours after launch.

Personally, the more I think about it, this is a rare case of the truth being better than the lie because a quick demise in just a matter of hours for Laika seems a lot more humane to me than a week floating in space scared, lonely, and slowly dying. If one must go, the quicker the better, right? What do you think?

3 Talk About A Stomachache


William Beaumont obtained his medical license in June 1812 from the Medical Society of Vermont. That same month, the War of 1812 erupted and Beaumont joined the US Army with a commission as surgeon’s mate. After a short retirement in 1815, he accepted a commission as a post surgeon in what is now Michigan at Fort Mackinac. On June 6, 1822, an accident occurred that would make Beaumont famous. A 19-year-old French Canadian fur trapper named Alexis St. Martin was accidentally shot in the abdomen with a shotgun at close range.

In spite of a horrible prognosis for someone with a gutshot, St. Martin did recover. But it took 10 months to do it. After almost a year, a hole remained in his abdomen that would not close, producing a passageway directly into his stomach. Seeing an opportunity to do some serious science, Beaumont took St. Martin into his own home to treat him.

The stomach and digestive system were a complete mystery to science 200 years ago. Realizing this, Beaumont saw his chance in May 1825 and started conducting experiments on his young houseguest. For the eight years from 1825 to 1833, Beaumont conducted four sets of experiments on St. Martin while stationed at various posts around the Great Lakes region. This caused gaps in his experiments — and in his notes — lasting from months to years, which was also due to his forays into Canada.

But eventually realizing his limited knowledge of chemistry, Beaumont employed the services of Yale chemistry professor Benjamin Silliman and University of Virginia physiology professor Robley Dunglison. Both scientists analyzed specimens of gastric juice from St. Martin and determined that it consisted of hydrochloric acid, which confirmed the suspicions that Beaumont had formed from his experiments.

Beaumont would dangle pieces of different foodstuffs like meat or eggs into the stomach of his patient, all the while taking detailed notes on how long various foods took to digest. These could not have been very pleasant experiments, to say the least.

2 Domestic Biological Warfare


With operation names like “Drop Kick,” “Big Itch,” and “Big Buzz,” the United States Army Chemical Corps, according to some, let loose mosquitoes infected with yellow fever over Avon Park, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia, back in the 1950s. At the time, the Chemical Corps thought strongly that a surprise attack with some 230,000 infected mosquitoes would be impossible for a nation to react to as well as extremely hard to detect in time to do anything about it.

The corps put its theory to the test in the 1950s by exploring the possibility of weaponizing vermin such as mosquitoes and fleas when they released uninfected mosquitoes over Avon Park, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia. The tests were done just to determine how far the insects would spread once released into the environment.

Many bloggers and watchdog groups have made unproven claims that the military released infected mosquitoes over Savannah and Avon Park, although no outbreaks of yellow fever in those areas have ever been reported. Allegedly, after every mosquito release, army agents would come in acting as health officials to document the results.

Recently declassified documents reveal that these tests were actually conducted but with mosquitoes that were not infected with yellow fever. Reports by an unidentified Avon Park resident refer to an outbreak of dengue fever in the area that allegedly could be traced back to the army experiments and the CIA. There are also other unconfirmed claims that these alleged experiments in biological warfare caused six or seven American deaths.

At the corps’ historical office in Maryland, there is a document called “Summary of Major Events and Problems” which states:

In 1956, the corps released 600,000 uninfected mosquitoes from a plane at Avon Park Bombing Range, Florida. Within a day, the mosquitoes had spread a distance of between [2–3 kilometers (1–2 mi)] and had bitten many people. [ . . . ] In 1958, further tests at Avon Park AFB, Florida, showed that mosquitoes could easily be disseminated from helicopters, would spread more than [2 kilometers (1 mi)] in each direction, and would enter all types of buildings.

Beatrice Peterson, a longtime Avon Park resident, never knew of the mosquito releases, but she did recall the screwworm flies that were released in the mid- to late 1950s. She was 14 and remembered planes dropping boxes, but she could not recall what type of aircraft they were.

In the end, it seems as though the army did drop uninfected mosquitoes. But in my humble view, the action remains a public health hazard that should not be practiced by any government.

1 The Japanese And Unit 731


Photo via Wikimedia

During World War II, two biological warfare research facilities were owned and operated by the Japanese Imperial Empire. This was in complete violation of the 1925 Geneva Convention and the resulting ban on chemical and biological warfare.

These research facilities were called Unit 100 and Unit 731 and were commanded by Lieutenant General Ishii Shiro. Under his command, 3,000 Japanese scientists and researchers labored at infecting human subjects with dangerous diseases such as the anthrax virus and the black plague.

Before dying of their respective afflictions, these test subjects were then eviscerated, or surgically gutted, with no anesthesia whatsoever in order to study the effects of these diseases upon human organs. Due to the highly secretive nature of these units, a complete list of their horrific experiments is not available.

Actual testimony from participating surgeons helps to shed some gory light on these gruesome experiments. One medical assistant, who wished to remain anonymous, described his first vivisection in a 1995 interview with The New York Times: “I picked up the scalpel . . . he began screaming. I cut him open from the chest to the stomach, and he screamed terribly.”

Unit 731 did not stop at vivisections since they were known to try out new biological weapons on their subjects, including dirty bombs loaded with plague-infested fleas or deadly cultures. One horrific experiment conducted by the Japanese scientists involved placing subjects dubbed “logs” inside pressure chambers to see how much pressure it took to blow their eyes out of their sockets. Other subjects were forced to stay outside during winter until their limbs were frozen solid so that Japanese doctors could find better ways to treat frostbite.

Unit 731 was also tasked with developing better toxic gases for the Japanese army. “Logs” made perfect subjects for these morbid experiments, too. A graduate student in Tokyo found documentation in a bookstore describing horrendous experiments conducted on humans during the war. The documents speak of the adverse effects of massive dosages of the tetanus vaccine, with tables indicating the time it took victims to die. It also described the bodies’ muscle spasms.

During World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army used biological and chemical weapons developed by Unit 731 to kill or injure at least 300,000 Chinese victims. At least 3,000 Korean, Mongolian, Russian, and Chinese victims also died due to the experiments conducted by Unit 731 in the six years between 1939 and 1945. Not one prisoner came out alive.

Duane lives in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States of America and in “one of the Original 13” as he likes to say, where he grew up with a fascination for collectibles like baseball cards, coins, stamps, and old bottles, just to name a few. Always a self-starter, he has taught himself many different things and has ended up with a large variety of skills and hobbies in both old and new and has recently started putting them to use on the Internet. He has been writing in several capacities for several decades.

Top 10 Natural Weightloss Aids

Top 10 Natural Weightloss Aids

Some years ago I read an excellent article by Dr Ron Rosedale which discussed the effects of insulin resistance in keeping people overweight and unhealthy. The effect is basically that when you eat too many carbohydrates, your body overproduces insulin (which is used in the breakdown of sugars) and your body begins to build a resistance. The worst effect of this, is that you lose your ability to recognize when you are full – which ultimately leads to overeating. In his article he discussed a variety of natural remedies that he uses to dramatically reduce insulin resistance, thereby reducing cravings and ultimately fat. These remedies are all readily available in most western countries without a prescription.

Celeb Scales-1

1. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Rosedale’s Recommended Dose: 100-300mg

This vitamin-like substance is, by nature, present in all human cells and responsible for the production of the body’s own energy. In each human cell food energy is converted into energy for our body in the cell power plants with the aid of CoQ10. It is an essential compound required in the proper transport and breakdown of fat into energy; 95% of all our body’s energy requirements is converted with the aid of CoQ10. Clinical studies have shown that CoQ10 may help promote weight loss. In one study coenzyme Q10 levels were found to be low in fifty-two percent of overweight subjects tested. Treatment with 100mg of CoQ10 was found to accelerate weight loss resulting from a low-calorie diet.

Trying to drop a few pounds? Maybe start out with Nature Made CoQ10 softgels at!

2. Chromium

RRD: 1000mcg

Caution: This daily amount is much higher than the US FDA recommended daily dose. If you experience any side-effects, stop taking it immediately.

Chromium is required in trace amounts for sugar metabolism in humans. It is usually found as Chromium picolinate or Chromium Chloride. Chromium plays a key role in increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Without chromium, insulin’s action is blocked, blood sugar levels are elevated, and thermogenesis is inhibited. Since increasing insulin sensitivity is a critical goal in promoting weight loss, chromium supplementation would be quite beneficial in people trying to lose weight. In a study of 59 college-age students at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, researchers found that women taking 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate a day gained almost twice as much lean body mass as those who did not take the supplements. This can result in long-term reductions in body fat, since lean body mass burns more calories than fat. Chromium also improves the effectiveness of insulin. For this reason, chromium may also be helpful in preventing diabetes, which is common in people who are overweight. People with diabetes who take chromium should be under medical supervision, since their insulin dosage may need to be reduced as their blood sugar levels drop.

3. Carnitine

RRD: As much as you can afford

Carnitine helps transport fats in the bloodstream into the mitochondria (where the cellular energy or power produced) for burning. It has the ability to break up fat deposits and aids in weight loss. It also helps to reduce cravings for sweets and fats. Though the body naturally produces carnitine, people who are overweight rarely make enough. In clinical trials, overweight volunteers taking 200 mcg of chromium picolinate with 100 mg of L- carnitine daily, plus vitamins and minerals, have been shown to average a 15- pound weight loss in eight weeks. This combination was observed to increase their metabolism as well. You should increase your daily exercise when taking carnitine.


4. Glutamine

RRD: As much as you want

Glutamine is the most abundant naturally occuring, non-essential amino acid in the human body. In the body it is found circulating in the blood as well as stored in the skeletal muscles. It becomes conditionally essential (requiring intake from food or supplements) in states of illness or injury. Food sources of glutamine include meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and dairy products. There have been several recent studies into the effects of glutamine and what properties it possesses, and, there is now a significant body of evidence that links glutamine-enriched diets with intestinal effects; aiding maintenance of gut barrier function, intestinal cell proliferation and differentiation, as well as generally reducing septic morbidity and the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Glutamine is also marketed as a supplement used for muscle growth in weightlifting, bodybuilding, endurance and other sports.

5. Vanadium

RRD: 25mg (first 3 months then reduce and stop)

Vanadium is an element (elemental symbol V). It is found in most living organisms. Vanadium, in many ways, mimics insulin, thus it helps accomplish the function of insulin without requiring extra effort on the part of your pancreas. Vanadium and Chromium together are a smart pair in controlling blood sugar. This, in turn, suppresses blood sugar spikes and the formation of excess body fat following meals, especially meals containing refined carbohydrates.

Keep track of your outstanding progress with a Weight, Body Fat, Water, & Bone Mass Bathroom Scale at!

6. Gymnema Sylvestre

RRD: Per instructions on packet

Gymnema sylvestre is a herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India where it has been used as a naturopathic treatment for diabetes for nearly two millennia. While it is still being studied, and the effects of the herb are not entirely known, the herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time. Additionally, Gymnema alters the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings. Extracts of Gymnema is not only claimed to curb sweet tooths but also for treatment of as varied problems as hyperglycemia, overweightness, high cholesterol levels, anemia and digestion.

7. Elemental Magnesium

RRD: 300-400mg

Caution: If you have heart or kidney problems, consult your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.

Magnesium is essential for every major biological function, including your heartbeat. Magnesium supplementation is useful to treat the muscle cramps that people get when they’re trying to lose weight. It also seems to curb sweet cravings. Magnesium can give you a better metabolism, better digestion, and an in-sync melody of the vitamins and minerals within can help you reach your weight loss goals a bit quicker and safer. There have also been some unverified links to magnesium helping reduce middle aged memory loss.

Ingredients Healthy Food

8. Taurine

RRD: 1gm twice daily

Taurine is an organic acid that is a major constituent of bile. In recent years, taurine has become a common ingredient in energy drinks. Taurine is often used in combination with bodybuilding supplements such as creatine and anabolic steroids, partly due to recent findings in mice that taurine alleviates muscle fatigue in strenuous workouts and raises exercise capacity. Recent studies show that taurine supplements taken by mice on a high-fat diet prevented them from becoming overweight. Taurine has also been shown in diabetic rats to decrease weight and decrease blood sugar.

9. Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

RRD: 2000mg

Caution: If you are taking anticoagulants, don’t take vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant. There are three specific situations when a vitamin E deficiency is likely to occur. It is seen in persons who cannot absorb dietary fat, has been found in premature, very low birth weight infants (birth weights less than 1500 grams, or 3.5 pounds), and is seen in individuals with rare disorders of fat metabolism. Individuals who cannot absorb fat may require a vitamin E supplement because some dietary fat is needed for the absorption of vitamin E from the gastrointestinal tract. Vitamin E has also been shown to be helpful in reduction of scarring, and in other skin related disorders.

10. Zinc

RRD: 30-60mg (take 1mg of copper for every 10mg of zinc)

Caution: Daily doses of more than the Daily Value of 15 milligrams of zinc warrant medical supervision.

Zinc deficiency results from inadequate intake of zinc, or inadequate absorption of zinc into the body. Signs of zinc deficiency include hair loss, skin lesions, diarrhea, and wasting of body tissues. Eyesight, taste, smell and memory are also connected with zinc. A deficiency in zinc can cause malfunctions of these organs and functions. It is widely recognised that the lack of zinc can contribute to acne. Significant dietary intake of zinc has also recently been shown to impede the onset of flu.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. You should discuss the effects of these medicines with your druggist to ensure that you do not have problems that may prevent you from taking them. High dosage of Vitamin should be taken only under medical supervision, especially if you are a woman of childbearing age. Women who are pregnant should not use this therapy.

You can read a transcript of the article here.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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Top 10 Notable Residents of Broadmoor Hospital

Broadmoor Hospital is a high-security psychiatric hospital at Crowthorne in the Borough of Bracknell Forest in Berkshire, England. It is the best known of the three high-security psychiatric hospitals in England, the other two being Ashworth and Rampton. The hospital was built in 1863 to a design by Sir Joshua Jebb, and covers 210,000 square metres (53 acres) within its secure perimeter. After the escape of John Straffen (see below) in 1952, who murdered a local child, the hospital set up an alarm system. The hospital has seen some prolific inmates since its inception, and this list describes 10 of its most famous tenants.

Note: If you’re just interested in Charles Bronson, we’ve got an entire list dedicated to the most insane prisoner in England.

Robert Napper


Robert Clive Napper is a convicted British murderer and rapist who was remanded in Broadmoor Hospital indefinitely on 18 December 2008 for the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell. He is a paranoid schizophrenic who has also been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. The marriage of Napper’s parents was violent; Napper witnessed violent attacks on his mother which ended in divorce when he was 10. Napper and his siblings (two brothers and a sister) were placed in foster care and underwent psychiatric treatment.

Meanwhile, Napper underwent a personality change after a family friend assaulted him on a camping holiday when he was 12. The offender was jailed, but Napper became introverted, obsessively tidy and reclusive according to his mother. He also bullied his siblings and spied on his sister while she undressed.

Napper’s convictions include an offense with an air-gun, stabbing a young mother forty-nine times in front of her two year-old son, killing then sexually assaulting a woman and smothering her four-year-old daughter, and admitted to two rapes, but it is believed he is the ‘Green Chain Rapist’ who carried out at least 70 savage attacks across south-east London over a four-year period ending in 1994

Graham Young

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Graham Frederick Young is notable for his obsession with the use of poison, and for having been imprisoned for murder in his teens, only to kill again after his release. Born in Neasden, north London, he was fascinated from a young age by poisons and their effects. In 1961 at 14 he started to test poisons on his family, enough to make them violently ill. He amassed large quantities of antimony and digitalis by repeatedly buying small amounts, lying about his age and claiming they were for science experiments at school.

In 1962 Young’s stepmother Molly died from poison. He had been poisoning his father, sister, and a school friend. Young’s aunt Winnie, who knew of his fascination with chemistry and poisons, became suspicious. He might have escaped suspicion as he suffered the same nausea and sicknesses as his family, however he sometimes forgot which foods he had laced. He was sent to a psychiatrist, who recommended contacting the police. Young was arrested on May 23, 1962. He confessed to the attempted murders of his father, sister, and friend. The remains of his stepmother could not be analyzed because she had been cremated.

Young was sentenced to 15 years in Broadmoor but was released after nine years, having been deemed “fully recovered”. After release from hospital in 1971, he began work as a storekeeper at John Hadland Laboratories, which manufactured thallium bromide-iodide infrared lenses used in military equipment. Soon after he began work, his foreman, Bob Egle, grew ill and died. Young had been making tea laced with poisons for his colleagues. A sickness swept through his workplace and, mistaken for a virus, was nicknamed the Bovingdon Bug. These cases of nausea and illness, sometimes severe enough to require hospitalization, were later attributed to Young and his tea. Young poisoned about 70 people during the next few months, although none fatally. Young is the subject of an extremely good film called The Young Poisoner’s Handbook

Kenneth Erskine

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Kenneth Erskine is an English serial killer who became known as the Stockwell Strangler. During 1986, Erskine murdered seven elderly people, breaking into their homes and strangling them; most often they were sexually assaulted. The crimes took place in London. A homeless drifter and solvent abuser, Erskine was 24 years old when he committed the crimes, but had the mental age of a 12-year-old. Police suspected Erskine of four others murders but Erskine has never been charged with any of these murders. Erskine was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 40 years, but has since been found to be suffering from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983, and is therefore now held at Broadmoor. He is unlikely to be freed until at least 2028 and the age of 66. Some 20 years later, the trial judge’s recommendation is still one of the heaviest ever handed out in British legal history.

In February 1996, Erskine was again in the news, this time for preventing the possible murder of Peter Sutcliffe (see below), by raising the alarm as a fellow inmate, Paul Wilson, attempted to strangle Sutcliffe with the flex from a pair of stereo headphones.

David Copeland

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David John Copeland is a former member of the British National Party and the National Socialist Movement, who became known as the “London Nail Bomber,” after a 13-day bombing campaign in April 1999 aimed at London’s black, Bangladeshi and gay communities. The bombs killed three, including a pregnant woman, and injured 129, four of whom lost limbs. No warnings were given.

After his arrest, he told psychiatrists that he had started having sadistic dreams when he was about 12, including dreams or fantasies that he had been reincarnated as an SS officer with access to women as slaves. Copeland wrote to BBC correspondent Graeme McLagan, denying that he had schizophrenia, and telling McLagan that the “ZOG,” or Zionist Occupation Government, was pumping him full of drugs in order to sweep him under the carpet. He wrote, “I bomb the blacks, Pakis, degenerates. I would have bombed the Jews as well if I’d got a chance”. When asked by police why he had targeted ethnic minorities, he replied: “Because I don’t like them, I want them out of this country, I believe in the master race.

Although Copeland was diagnosed by five psychiatrists as having paranoid schizophrenia, and a consultant concluded he had a personality disorder, his plea of diminished responsibility was not accepted by the prosecution, which was under pressure not to concede to his pleas of guilty to manslaughter. He was convicted of murder on June 30, 2000, and given six concurrent life sentences.

Peter Sutcliffe

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Peter William Sutcliffe is an English serial killer who was dubbed The Yorkshire Ripper. Sutcliffe was convicted in 1981 of murdering 13 women and attacking several others. He is currently serving life imprisonment in Broadmoor. Reportedly a loner at school, he left at the age of 15 and took a series of menial jobs, including two stints as a grave digger during the 1960s. He frequented prostitutes as a young man and it has been speculated that a bad experience with one (during which he was allegedly conned out of money) helped fuel his violent hatred against women.

In 1981, Sutcliffe was stopped by the police with a 24 year old prostitute. A police check revealed the car was fitted with false number plates and Sutcliffe was arrested for this offence and transferred to Dewsbury Police Station, West Yorkshire. At Dewsbury he was questioned in relation to the Yorkshire Ripper case as he matched so many of the physical characteristics known. The next day police returned to the scene of the arrest and discovered a knife, hammer and rope he discarded when he briefly slipped away from police during the arrest. After two days of intensive questioning, on the afternoon of 4 January 1981 Sutcliffe suddenly declared he was the Ripper. Over the next day, Sutcliffe calmly described his many attacks. Weeks later he claimed God told him to murder the women. He displayed emotion only when telling of the murder of his youngest victim, Jayne MacDonald.

At his trial, Sutcliffe pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The basis of this defence was his claim that he was the tool of God’s will. Sutcliffe first claimed to have heard voices while working as a gravedigger, that ultimately ordered him to kill prostitutes. He claimed that the voices originated from a headstone of a deceased Polish man, Bronislaw Zapolski, and that the voices were that of God.

In the years of Sutcliffe’s incarceration, there have been numerous attempts on his life from other inmates. The first was during his stay at HMP Parkhurst when James Costello, a 35-year-old career criminal from Glasgow plunged a broken coffee jar twice into the left side of Sutcliffe’s face. Whilst at Broadmoor he was subject to an attempted strangulation (thwarted by Kenneth Erskine, above) and lost the vision in his left eye after being attacked with a pen.

John Straffen

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John Thomas Straffen was a British serial killer who was the longest-serving prisoner in British legal history. Straffen killed two young girls in the summer of 1951. He was found to be unfit to plead and committed to Broadmoor; during a brief escape in 1952 he killed again. This time he was convicted of murder. Respited due to his mental state, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he remained in prison until his death more than 50 years later.

Aged 8, Straffen was referred to a Child Guidance Clinic for stealing and truancy. In 1939 he first came before a Juvenile Court for stealing a purse from a girl, and was given two years’ probation. His probation officer found that Straffen did not understand the difference between right and wrong, or the meaning of probation. The family was living in crowded lodgings at the time and Straffen’s mother had no time to help, so the probation officer took the boy to a psychiatrist. As a result, Straffen was certified as a mental defective under the Mental Deficiency Act 1927. A report was compiled on him in 1940 which gave his Intelligence Quotient as 58 and placed his mental age at six. When Straffen was 14, he was strongly suspected of being responsible for strangling two prize geese owned by one of the officers of his school; however, no proof was found and it was not noted on his records. At the age of 16 the school authorities undertook a review which found his I.Q. was 64 and his mental age 9 years 6 months and recommended his discharge.

In 1951, Straffen killed two young girls for which he was sent to Broadmoor. In 1952 whilst cleaning some outbuildings, he escaped over a perimeter wall, and within 2 hours had killed another young girl. It was this escape and subsequent murder that urged the government to install an alarm system. To this day, the alarm is tested every Monday morning at 10am for two minutes, and then sounded again to give the ‘all clear’. With hooters located in several locations round Surrey and Berkshire, the alarm can be heard for up to 15 miles in each direction from Broadmoor.

Charles Bronson


Charles “Charlie” Bronson (born Michael Gordon Peterson) is an English criminal often referred to in the British press as the “most violent prisoner in Britain”. Born in Luton, England, Michael often found his way into fights before he began a bare-knuckle boxing career in the East End of London. His promoter was not happy with his name and suggested he change it to Charles Bronson.

In 1974 he was imprisoned for a robbery and sentenced to seven years. While in prison he began making a name for himself as a loose cannon often fighting convicts and prison guards. These fights added years onto his sentence. Regarded as a problem prisoner, he was moved 120 times throughout Her Majesty’s Prison Service and spent all but 4 years of his imprisoned life in solitary confinement. What was originally a seven year term stretched out to fourteen year sentence that resulted in his first wife Irene, with whom he had a son, leaving him. He was released on October 30, 1988 but only spent 69 days free before he was arrested again. Bronson has spent a total of just four months and nine days out of custody since 1974. Known as one of the hardest criminals in England, Bronson has written many books about his experiences and famous prisoners he has met throughout his internment.

Bronson has been involved in over a dozen hostage incidents, one of which includes taking hostages and staging a 47-hour rooftop protest at Broadmoor in 1983, causing £750,000 (nearly $1.5m) worth of damage. Bronson has spent time at all three of England’s high-security psychiatric hospitals.

Richard Dadd

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Richard Dadd was an English painter of the Victorian era, noted for his depictions of fairies and other supernatural subjects, Orientalist scenes, and enigmatic genre scenes, rendered with obsessively minuscule detail. Most of the works for which he is best known were created while he was incarcerated in Broadmoor hospital.

In 1842, Sir Thomas Phillips, the former mayor of Newport, chose Dadd to accompany him as his draftsman on an expedition through Europe to Greece, Turkey, Palestine and finally Egypt. In November of that year they spent a grueling two weeks in Palestine, passing from Jerusalem to Jordan and returning across the Engaddi wilderness. Toward the end of December, while traveling up the Nile by boat, Dadd underwent a dramatic personality change, becoming delusional and increasingly violent, and believing himself to be under the influence of the Egyptian god Osiris. His condition was initially thought to be sunstroke. On his return in the spring of 1843, he was diagnosed to be of unsound mind and was taken by his family to recuperate in the countryside village of Cobham, Kent. In August of that year, having become convinced that his father was the Devil in disguise, Dadd killed him with a knife and fled for France. En route to Paris Dadd attempted to kill another tourist with a razor, but was overpowered and was arrested by the police. Dadd confessed to the killing of his father and was returned to England, where he was committed to the criminal department of Bethlem psychiatric hospital (also known as Bedlam). Here and subsequently at the newly created Broadmoor, Dadd was cared for and encouraged to continue painting.

Dadd probably suffered from a form of paranoid schizophrenia. He appears to have been genetically predisposed to mental illness; two of his siblings were similarly afflicted, while a third had “a private attendant” for unknown reasons.

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Daniel M’Naghten (pronounced, and sometimes spelled, McNaughton) was a Scottish woodturner who assassinated English civil servant Edward Drummond while suffering from paranoid delusions. Through his trial and its aftermath, he has given his name to the legal test of criminal insanity in England and other common law jurisdictions known as the M’Naghten Rules.

In 1840 M’Naghten sold his wood turning business and spent two years in London and Glasgow. Whilst in Glasgow in 1841 he complained to various people, including his father, the Glasgow commissioner of police, and an MP, that he was being persecuted by the Tories and followed by their spies. No-one took him seriously, believing him to be deluded. In January 1843, M’Naghten was noticed acting suspiciously around Whitehall in London. On the afternoon of 20 January the Prime Minister’s private secretary, civil servant Edward Drummond, was walking towards Downing Street from Charing Cross when M’Naghten approached him from behind, drew a pistol and fired at point-blank range into his back. M’Naghten was overpowered by a police constable before he could fire a second pistol.

M’Naghten appeared at Bow Street magistrates’ court the morning after the assassination attempt. He made a brief statement in which he described how persecution by the Tories had driven him to act: “The Tories in my native city have compelled me to do this. They follow, persecute me wherever I go, and have entirely destroyed my peace of mind… It can be proved by evidence. That is all I have to say”

Ronald Kray


Ronald Kray along with his twin brother Reginald, were the foremost perpetrators of organized crime in London’s East End during the 1950s and 1960s. Ronald, commonly referred to as Ron or Ronnie, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The Krays were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, violent assaults including torture and the murders of Jack “The Hat” McVitie and George Cornell. As West End nightclub owners they mixed with prominent entertainers including Diana Dors, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and politicians, which gave the Krays a veneer of respectability. In the 1960s they became celebrities in their own right, being photographed by David Bailey and interviewed on television.
The Kray twins became famous locally for their gang and the mayhem they caused. They narrowly avoided prison several times and in early 1952 they were called up for National Service. They deserted several times, each time being recaptured.

It was during this period that Ron started to show the first signs of mental illness. He would refuse to eat, shave only one side of his face and suffer wild mood swings, sitting still for hours before erupting into a violent frenzy. On one occasion, Ron climbed into the prison rafters and, according to one guard, refused to come down for some six hours in spite of brother Reggie’s pleas. It is not clear whether at this stage it was another prank to annoy their guards, or if Ron had become unbalanced. Guards at the Canterbury military holding prison were convinced he was dangerously psychotic.

They were arrested in May 1968 and convicted in 1969 by the efforts of a squad of detectives led by Detective Superintendent Leonard “Nipper” Read, and were both sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronnie was eventually certified insane and lived the remainder of his life in Broadmoor, dying on 17 March 1995 of a massive heart attack, aged 61. His funeral on 29 March 1995 was a huge event with people lining the streets. Reggie was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, a few weeks before his death from cancer.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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Top 10 Notable People Who Died From AIDS

AIDS is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The condition progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors. As of 2009, it is estimated that there are 33.3 million people worldwide infected with HIV. However, the majority of people with the virus don’t know they have it. For this reason, major inaccuracies exist in certain statistics. Millions of people die from AIDS-related diseases every year. The disease is devastating Africa. The continent is home to about 14.5% of the world’s population and 72% of all AIDS deaths in 2009.

In many areas of the world, the AIDS virus has become associated with the gay community. This is because a large percentage of notable people who have died from AIDS were homosexual. The link between being gay and AIDS is not well understood. In 1969, an American teenager from Missouri named Robert R. became the earliest confirmed victim of AIDS. It remains unclear how Robert got the virus. The first person known to have contracted HIV and died outside of the United States is Arvid Noe.

Since the spread of AIDS, hundreds of famous people have died from the disease. This article will examine ten notable cases (and, in time, will be followed up by a second list of ten). Everyone listed had an established and notable career before getting HIV. They were not made famous by the disease, like many activists that died during the 1980s and 1990s. For example, a woman named Kimberly Bergalis was the first person to get HIV from a clinical transmission. She received the virus from her dentist.

Some notable people not included are broadcast journalist Max Robinson, disco singer Sylvester, choreographer Alvin Ailey, French philosopher Michel Foucault, fashion icon Tina Chow, designer Willi Smith, Italian writer Pier Vittorio Tondelli, CEO of Hasbro Stephen D. Hassenfeld, French writer Jean-Paul Aron, and Spanish poet Jaime Gil de Biedma.

Keith Haring


In 1958, Keith Haring was born in Reading, Pennsylvania. He achieved his first public attention with chalk drawings in the subways of New York. To make his art recognizable, Haring used a Radiant Baby symbol. He used bold lines, vivid colors, and active figures to carry strong messages of life and unity. In 1985, Keith started to paint canvas. He made an appearance on MTV in November 1985 and painted the set during a show hosted by his friend, keyboardist Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. In 1986, Haring painted murals in Amsterdam, Paris, and Phoenix. He was also asked to paint a 350 foot mural on the Berlin Wall at Brandenburg Gate.

Keith Haring spoke about his work on the Berlin Wall. “I decided on a subject, which is a continuous interlocking chain of human figures, who are connected at their hands and feet. The chain represents the unity of people against the idea of the wall. I painted in the colors of the German flag, black, red and yellow.”

Toward the end of the 1980s, Keith’s art began to reflect socio-political themes, such as anti-Apartheid, AIDS awareness, and the crack cocaine epidemic. In 1988, he was diagnosed with AIDS. It remains unclear exactly how Haring got HIV, but it has been speculated that he received the virus through unprotected sexual intercourse or drug use. A collection of people that Haring was acquainted with died from AIDS. This includes model Tina Chow, who was one of the first heterosexual women to become infected with the disease. Chow died from an AIDS related illness January 24, 1992.

Haring was a homosexual man. In 1989, he established the Keith Haring Foundation to fund AIDS research and children’s programs. Keith Haring died on February 16, 1990, of AIDS-related complications. He was only 31 years-old. Keith’s last public work was painted on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of Sant’Antonio in Pisa, known as the mural Tuttomondo. His imagery has become a recognized visual language of the 20th century.

Howard Ashman

Howard Ashman

In 1950, Howard Ashman was born in Baltimore, Maryland. In the 1970s, Ashman began to stand out as a talented playwright, lyricist and director. He first worked with Alan Menken on a 1979 musical adapted from Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. They also collaborated on the successful Little Shop of Horrors rock musical. Menken would compose the music, while Ashman wrote the lyrics. Towards the end of the 1980s, the pair turned their attention to animated features produced by Walt Disney.

Howard Ashman wrote the lyrics for all the songs used in The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. At the time of his death, Ashman was in the middle of working on Aladdin. Three of his songs were featured, Arabian Nights, Friend Like Me, and Prince Ali. Along with Menken, Ashman is the co-recipient of two Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and two Academy Awards. His second Academy Award, in 1992, was awarded posthumously for Best Original Song (Beauty and the Beast). In the middle of the 1980s, Howard Ashman was diagnosed with HIV. After a long fight with the disease, he passed away from complications on March 14, 1991.

Howard Ashman was a homosexual. His life partner was a man named William P. Lauch, who joined Menken in accepting Ashman’s posthumous Academy Award. In a moving speech, Lauch proudly declared, “Howard and I shared a home and a life together.” He went on to note that this was “the first Academy Award given to someone lost to AIDS.” In 2001, Ashman was named a Disney Legend. The movie Beauty and the Beast is dedicated in his honor. “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful.”

Anthony Perkins

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In 1932, Anthony Perkins was born in New York City. He made his film debut in the movie The Actress (1953). In 1957, Perkins received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Friendly Persuasion. He also won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year. In the late 1950s, Anthony Perkins released three pop music albums as “Tony Perkins.” His single Moon-Light Swim was a hit in the United States, peaking at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. Perkins also acted in theater and received a collection of Tony Award nominations.

In 1960, Anthony Perkins landed his most notable role, as Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. The movie was a critical and commercial success, and gave Perkins international fame for his performance as the homicidal owner of the Bates Motel. In 1961, Perkins won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role, in Goodbye Again. In 1976, he hosted television’s Saturday Night Live and was featured in his only science fiction film, the box office smash and space opus, Walt Disney’s The Black Hole in 1979.

Perkins reprised the role of Norman Bates in three sequels to Psycho. The first, Psycho II (1983), was a box office success more than 20 years after the original film. He then starred in, and directed, Psycho III. In 1990, Perkins played Bates in the made-for-cable sequel Psycho IV: The Beginning. Anthony Perkins was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to honor his exceptional contributions to the motion picture industry.

Perkins was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989, and kept his illness a closely-guarded secret for fear that he would not be able to get an acting role. Despite his illness, Perkins worked until the very end. He died on September 12, 1992, from pneumonia related to AIDS. At the time of his death, Anthony had been married to photographer Berry Berenson for 19 years and had two children. Perkins was reported to have been bisexual, and had a close relationship with actors Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, and dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Anthony’s widow, Berry Berenson, was killed on American Airlines Flight 11 during the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Rudolf Nureyev

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In 1938, Rudolf Nureyev was born, on a train near Irkutsk, Siberia, USSR. By the late 1950s, he had become a dancing sensation in the Soviet Union. Nureyev was chosen as part of the Kirov ballet European tour. While in Paris, his performances electrified audiences and critics. Rudolf Nureyev was a free spirit and he was known for breaking Soviet rules about mingling with foreigners. For this reason, he was under investigation by the KGB and faced possible arrest.

On June 16, 1961, at the Le Bourget Airport in Paris, Nureyev defected, with the help of French police. Within a week of his defection, he was signed by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. Nureyev was openly gay. While on tour in Denmark, he met Erik Bruhn, a fellow dancer who became his lover and closest friend. In 1962, Nureyev was signed by The Royal Ballet as their Principal Dancer. He continued to perform regularly with The Royal Ballet until he joined the Paris Opera Ballet, in the 1980s.

When AIDS appeared in France around 1982, Nureyev took little notice and did not change his lifestyle. He simply denied anything was wrong with his health. In 1990, Rudolf became undeniably ill. His last performance was in the production of La Bayadère at the Palais Garnier. In 1993, Rudolf Nureyev died in Levallois-Perret, from an AIDS-related illness. He was 54-years-old. Rudolf is considered one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of the 20th century. He provided a new role for the male ballet dancer who once served only as support to the women.

Esteban De Jesús


In 1951, Esteban De Jesús was born, in the town of Carolina, Puerto Rico. He debuted as a professional boxer in 1969, beating El Tarita by a knockout. De Jesús won his first 20 amateur fights in the lightweight division, 13 by knockout. In 1971, De Jesús boxed Josue Marquez and beat him in a ten round decision. By the end of 1972, De Jesús’ had won six professional fights in a row. Despite all those wins, he was virtually unknown to most fans. That changed when Esteban faced undefeated Roberto Durán, in November 1972. The fight was at Madison Square Garden arena in New York. It marked the beginning of the Duran vs. De Jesús trilogy, De Jesus dropped Duran in round one and went on to give Duran his first professional defeat with a ten round decision.

Esteban De Jesús began 1974 by knocking out former world Jr. Welterweight champion Alfonso Peppermint Fraser in 10 rounds. He then faced Duran for the second time and knocked him down in the first round, but this time Duran rebounded and dominated the fight. In 1976, the WBC’s world Lightweight champion Ishimatsu Suzuki of Japan traveled to Puerto Rico to defend his title against De Jesús. It was the third world title chance for Esteban. He won the fight by beating Suzuki in a 15 round decision. He then retained the title against Hector Medina by a knockout in seven.

As a world champion, De Jesús defended his title over the next couple years. In early 1978, he faced Duran for the third time. It was a WBC Lightweight title bout in Las Vegas, which displayed Duran’s talents at their peak. Duran systematically broke down De Jesús and won in a 12th round knockout. Esteban De Jesús was the WBC Lightweight World Champion from May 1976 to January 1978. Esteban retired from boxing with a record of 57 wins and 5 losses, with 32 wins by knockout.

The next stage of Esteban’s life began on Thanksgiving weekend, 1981. In what became a famous case in Puerto Rico, De Jesús was convicted of murder after shooting and killing a 17 year-old over a traffic dispute. He was sentenced to life in jail. While in prison, De Jesús was infected with HIV. It is unclear exactly how he got the disease, but unprotected sex or drug use is likely. After it became public that De Jesús had acquired HIV, Governor Rafael Hernández Colón pardoned him. De Jesús returned to his house and was visited by many celebrities in his final days, including Duran. “It was a compassionate moment when Duran lifted De Jesús out of his bed and kissed him.” On May 11, 1989, Esteban De Jesús died from AIDS-related complications. He was only 37 years-old.

Arthur Ashe


Arthur Ashe was a professional tennis player, born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. During his career, Ashe won three Grand Slam titles, putting him among the best players ever from the United States. In 1963, Arthur became the first black player ever selected to the United States Davis Cup team. He won the inaugural US Open in 1968, the Australian Open in 1970, and Wimbledon in 1975. Arthur had heart surgery in 1979 and retired in 1980.

Arthur Ashe remains the only black man to ever win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, or Australian Open. He is one of only two black men to win a Grand Slam singles title, the other being France’s Yannick Noah, who won the French Open in 1983. Arthur was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1979, he suffered a heart attack and underwent a quadruple bypass surgery, performed by Dr. John Hutchinson. In 1983, Ashe underwent a second round of heart surgery to correct the bypass. Five years later he fell ill and it was discovered that Arthur had contracted HIV.

Ashe apparently got HIV from a tainted blood transfusion he received during his second heart procedure. Arthur and his wife decided to keep his illness private, until April 8, 1992, when reports on his health were published. By 1992, Arthur’s physical appearance was skinny and gaunt. In the last year of his life, Ashe started an AIDS foundation. He died from AIDS-related pneumonia on February 6, 1993. Arthur Ashe remains one of the most famous individuals to have received HIV from a tainted blood transfusion.

Perry Ellis


Perry Ellis was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on March 3, 1940. In the middle of the 1970s, Ellis was approached by his then employer, The Vera Companies, famous for their polyester double-knit pantsuits, to design a fashion collection. Soon after that, Perry Ellis presented his first women’s sportswear line, called Portfolio, in November 1976. By 1978, Perry Ellis was internationally recognized. His clothing line became loved by female consumers for the clean-cut yet casual style.

In 1978, Ellis founded his own sportswear fashion house, Perry Ellis International. As the company’s chairman and head designer he developed a popular Menswear Collection. Step by step, Perry Ellis added shoes, accessories, furs and perfume. Throughout the 1980s, the company continued to expand and include various labels. In the early 1980s, the wholesale revenues for Perry Ellis International had figured at about $60 million. By 1986, that number had risen to about $250 million.

Today the company is huge. Perry Ellis International is a leading designer, distributor and licensor of apparel and accessories for men and women. The company owns or licenses a portfolio of brands that includes 29 of the leading names in fashion. Perry Ellis became publicly shared in 1993, and annual sales have propelled to nearly $1 billion dollars.

In the middle of the 1980s, Perry Ellis became seriously ill. He died on May 30, 1986, aged 46, from viral encephalitis – an AIDS-related disease. He was openly gay. In November 1984, Barbara Gallagher, a Hollywood screenwriter and long-time friend of Perry gave birth to their daughter Tyler. However, a man named Laughlin Barker was his long-time partner. Barker also died in 1986. Perry Ellis was one of the first prominent American figures to succumb to AIDS.

Rock Hudson


Rock Hudson was an American film and television actor. During the 1950s and 1960s, Hudson played the lead role in many romantic comedies, most notably acting with Doris Day. He was a tall man standing at 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m). Hudson appeared in nearly 70 motion pictures, and several television productions, during a career that spanned over four decades. From 1971 to 1977, Rock starred in the lighthearted American crime series McMillan & Wife. At this time, he was the highest paid actor on television.

In the early 1980s, following years of heavy drinking and smoking, Hudson began to experience health problems which resulted in a heart attack. He underwent emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery, in November 1981. By 1984, Rock’s health began to get worse, which prompted rumors that he was suffering from liver cancer. He displayed an increasingly gaunt face and build.

Rock was diagnosed with HIV on June 5, 1984. He kept his illness a secret while continuing to work and attend Hollywood gatherings. It was not until July 25, 1985, while in Paris for treatment, that Hudson issued a press release announcing that he was dying of AIDS. In another press release a month later, Rock speculated that he might have contracted HIV through an infected blood transfusion that occurred during his heart bypass procedure.

Rock Hudson died on October 2, 1985, from an AIDS-related illness. He was a month and a half away from his 60th birthday. The disclosure of Hudson’s HIV status provoked widespread discussion on his sexual orientation, which was never made public. Rock and his agent, Henry Willson, kept his personal life out of the headlines. According to some colleagues, Hudson’s homosexuality was well known in Hollywood throughout his career. Rock Hudson was one of the first major Hollywood celebrities to die from an AIDS-related illness. His death had an immediate impact on the visibility of AIDS and on the funding of medical research.


Liberace2-Elvis Moz

In 1919, Liberace, known as Lee to his friends, was born in West Allis, Wisconsin. Liberace began playing the piano at the age of four, and memorized difficult pieces of music by seven. As a youth, Liberace focused fiercely on the piano, and blossomed under the instruction of music teacher Florence Kelly. He showed an interest in draftsmanship, design, painting, and became a lover of fashion. Liberace had a knack for turning his eccentricities into attention-getting virtues, similar to Elton John, David Bowie, Madonna and, more recently, Lady Gaga. By 1947, Lee was billing himself as “Liberace – the most amazing piano virtuoso of the present day.” He bought a rare, over-sized, gold-leafed Blüthner Grand, which he hyped up as a “priceless piano.”

Liberace created a very successful public image which helped rocket him to stardom. His New York City performance at Madison Square Garden, in 1954, earned him a record $138,000 for one show. By 1955, he was making $50,000 per week at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Liberace was also making over $1,000,000 per year from public appearances, and millions from television. He was frequently covered by the major magazines and became a pop culture superstar. The pianist’s flamboyant personality made him the butt of jokes by comedians and the public.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Liberace’s live shows were a major box office attraction in Las Vegas, and he made $300,000 a week. During the 1950s–1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. In 1982, Scott Thorson, Liberace’s 24-year-old bodyguard, limo driver, and alleged live-in boyfriend of five years, sued the pianist for $113 million in palimony. In response, Liberace denied he was gay. Confusion over Liberace’s true sexuality was further muddled in the public’s mind by his romantic links with a collection of famous personalities.

Liberace’s final stage performance was at New Yorks’ Radio City Music Hall, on November 2, 1986. His final 21 day tour grossed $2.5 million. Liberace died at the age of 67 on February 4, 1987, from cardiac arrest due to congestive heart failure. He never officially gave a statement saying that he was HIV positive or a homosexual. The pianist was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, and was hospitalized in January of 1987 with suspected anemia. An autopsy following his death confirmed that Liberace had HIV.

Freddie Mercury


Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara) was born in the British protectorate of Zanzibar, East Africa (now part of Tanzania). In April 1970, Mercury joined guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor to form the band Queen. Despite reservations from the other members, Mercury is the one who chose the band’s name. He later said about the decision, “I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it.” As a performer, Freddie Mercury was known for his flamboyant stage persona and powerful vocals over a four-octave range. His speaking voice fell in the baritone range, but Mercury delivered most songs in the tenor range.

Mercury wrote 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits album, including Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody to Love, We are the Champions and Killer Queen. He was known for his live performances, which were often given to stadium sized audiences. Over the course of his career, Mercury performed an estimated 700 concerts. He played the piano in many of Queen’s most famous songs. To date, Queen has released a total of 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs. Queen has sold over 150 million albums worldwide, with some placing the estimate closer to 300 million.

When Freddie Mercury was not performing he was a very shy and retired man. Mercury was a bisexual, but he did not like to speak about his relationships. He was diagnosed with HIV in April of 1987. Freddie decided to hide his HIV status from the public for several years. By 1990, his physical appearance began to change. On November 23, 1991, Mercury gave a public statement indicating that he had contracted the AIDS virus. A little over 24 hours later, Freddie Mercury died, on the evening of November 24, 1991, at the age of 45, at his home in Kensington. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. Mercury was the first major rock star to die of AIDS. There is little doubt that he has one of the greatest voices in music history.

10 Terrible Experiments Performed In The United States

Some of the following experiments are horrifying because of how doctors use fellow human beings as guinea pigs. Some of them are horrifying because of what they say about us as a species. In fact, a few of these experiments were even used as a justification by the Nazi doctors during their trials at Nuremburg.

10Measuring A Dying Man’s Fear


Photo credit: MOS Monitor

John Deering was a convicted criminal, having killed someone during a robbery, and he was sentenced to face the firing squad in 1932. Approached by doctors just before his death, he agreed to take part in a novel experiment. Electrodes would be hooked up to him, and researchers would determine exactly when his heart stopped.

The heart stopped 15.6 seconds after he was shot. He wasn’t pronounced dead until 150 seconds later.

However, the experiment also investigated something else. In addition to detecting when the heart stopped, the electrocardiogram measured the rate at which it beat, and the researchers used this data to extrapolate how scared Deering felt as he died. Immediately before the execution, the heart pounded at a very high 120 beats per minute. When the sheriff called “fire,” the pulse shot up to 180 beats per minute.

Deering had kept a calm exterior during the execution, but newspapers gleefully reported on the experiment by declaring: “You can’t be brave facing death!”

9Vanderbilt University’s Radioactive Iron

In 1945, researchers at Vanderbilt University set up a study to find out the rate of iron absorption in pregnant woman. Their preferred method of measurement was radioactive iron.

Researchers gave pills to 829 anemic women without telling them they were consuming something radioactive. Thanks to the pills, the women received radiation levels 30 times higher than normal exposure.

The study had a secondary objective: to observe the long-term effects of radiation on children. The experiment likely caused the deaths of three children: an 11-year-old girl and two boys, ages 11 and 5.

Vanderbilt ended up the subject of a lawsuit at the behest of the mothers of the dead children, a lawsuit that they settled for over $10 million.

8The Boston Project

In 1953, Dr. William Sweet, in conjunction with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, conducted several radioactive injection experiments on terminally ill cancer patients. As with the Vanderbilt experiment, the purpose of the uranium injections was twofold: to study the effects of ingested uranium on the human body and to see if the radioactive material would have any effect on the patients’ tumors. As part of a deal with the government, Sweet agreed to turn over the patients’ corpses to the government for further research on radioactivity.

None of the patients showed any signs of recovery. Many died quickly. In addition, it appears that no patients consented to the experiment.

7Bacteria Testing In San Francisco


Photo credit: dbn/Wikimedia

In 1950, fears of biological warfare with the Soviets inspired American officials to test the viability of an offshore attack. The experiment consisted of a single vessel located a few miles away from San Francisco, loaded up with a bacteria known as Serratia marcescens. The bacteria produced bright red colonies on soil or water samples, making it ideal for tracking purposes.

The researchers believed that the bacteria was completely safe for humans. In reality, it caused various respiratory and urinary tract infections. Doctors in the area observed such an increase in pneumonia and UTI cases that Stanford wrote an article about it for a medical journal. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were exposed to potentially deadly bacteria.

The worst part is that the experiment was completely unnecessary. Similar tests could have been done in a deserted area and in smaller quantities. The only thing the experiment proved was that San Francisco was indeed vulnerable to biological attack.

6 Puppy Obedience Experiments

In Stanley Milgram’s infamous experiments, participants were told to deliver electric shocks to victims, and actors pretended that they really were receiving shocks. Charles Sheridan and Richard King’s variation added a twist: The victim was not faking the cries of pain. Also, the victim was a puppy.

The two men felt that perhaps Milgram’s subjects realized that their victims were faking reactions, which would explain why the subjects so readily delivered shocks when asked to. Determined to remove that possibility, Sheridan and King recreated the experiment with a puppy who actually received electric shocks.

The volunteers were told that the puppies were conditioned to pose a certain way when prompted by a light. If they stood incorrectly, the volunteers were to throw a switch, giving the puppy an increasingly strong electric shock.

Over half of male participants, though distraught, obeyed to the fullest extent. Even more surprising, every single woman fully obeyed, some of them crying the entire time.

5The Broken Toy Experiment

Researchers at the University of Iowa gave toddlers toys, instructing them not to break them. The researchers had secretly rigged the toys to break in a matter of seconds, subjecting the children to an immediate flood of guilt.

As soon as the toy shattered, the researchers gave a brief “oh, my” to express their disappointment. They then carefully watched the toddlers for reactions, verbal or non-verbal.

Once a minute passed, the researchers left the room with the broken toy and returned shortly with an identical non-broken toy, assuring the child that they were faultless in the toy’s breaking. However, like any study involving children, this raises a number of issues about informed consent. (Various parents whose children participated in the study claim that there have been no adverse effects.)

4Chester M. Southam’s Cancer Experiments


Photo credit: Univ. Idaho Library

Chester M. Southam was a well-known cancer researcher in the 1960s, working diligently to study the immune system’s effect on tumors. He wanted to study whether a person already weakened by a different disease would be able to fight off cancer cells. To test this theory, he needed people on which to experiment, and he found them at the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in New York City. Convincing the medical director of the potential benefits, Southam was allowed to inject 22 people with foreign, live cancer cells to study the effects.

This was nontherapeutic experimentation performed on elderly, terminal patients, so Southam didn’t even get consent. He convinced the medical director that it was common practice not to. (Some were informed that they were to be part of an experiment but were not told the details.) In addition, some of the patients’ doctors told Southam that they didn’t want their patients to be a part of Southam’s experiment, but he used them anyway.

In the end, Southam was censured and put on a year’s probation. The experiment also brought the idea of informed consent back to the forefront of the American medical discussion.

3The Visual Cliff Experiment

The visual cliff experiment was thought up by two Cornell University researchers, Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk. A strong glass pane was placed on a table, with one end extending some distance off the tabletop. A checkered tablecloth covered the table, but below the rest of the glass, the distant floor was visible.

Gibson and Walk used this setup to discover whether depth perception was innate in various animals. If an animal avoided walking on glass beyond the table, it could perceive depth visually. They experimented on rats raised in complete darkness and found that the rodents could indeed perceive depth. So they next moved on to human babies.

The babies were made to crawl over the glass. The researchers placed the mothers at the end of the glass, having them call out to their offspring. To get to their mothers, the babies had to crawl across the glass, apparently over a sheer drop. Some babies did seem hesitant to move, implying that they were able to perceive depth—and implying that the experimenters had successfully inspired fear in them.

2Stateville Penitentiary Malaria Study

One of several human experiments undertaken to further the US effort in World War II, the Stateville Penitentiary Malaria study was designed to test experimental malaria drugs. To find subjects, the government turned to prisons and contracted hundreds of prisoners to become guinea pigs. Even though the men were all sane, mentally capable, and told of the specifics of the experiment, whether or not prisoners can actively consent remains debatable.

No one died due to the experiment, and many prisoners who took part in the study received generous compensation. Most also received reduced sentences for their patriotic service. However, nearly every man who was bitten by an infected mosquito contracted the disease

1Robert Heath’s Electric Sex Stimulation

In 1970, Tulane University ‘s Dr. Robert Heath turned to deep brain stimulation to treat something that he saw as a problem: homosexuality.

A 24-year-old gay man (“B-19″) suffering from paranoia and depression was chosen as the candidate. Stimulation of the brain’s septal region is associated with pleasure. So Dr. Heath inserted electrodes under the man’s skull and shocked his brain. The man did indeed report extreme pleasure. Offered next the ability to shock himself, the man—a suicidal addict—did so thousands of times, in sessions that lasted hours.

Shortly after, Heath monitored the man’s brain activity while B-19 masturbated to heterosexual pornography. The subject successfully orgasmed.

The final part of the experiment consisted of the patient having sex with a female prostitute that Heath had hired. The doctor continually shocked his brain during this process. B-19 didn’t seem interested in the woman, sitting still for over an hour, until she approached him and initiated intercourse.

In a follow-up interview a year later, the patient stated that he had been regularly having sex with both men and women. Deeming the experiment partially successful, Heath moved on to other fields of research, never again attempting to cure homosexuality.

10 Things That Can Influence Our Memory

When we experience something, there’s a variety of different factors which determine how well we’ll remember it—and how we’ll feel about it later on. Science has tasked itself with exploring the things which make our memory tick. Here are ten ways you can manipulate this fundamental part of your mind:

Sounds During Sleep Reinforce Memories

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Scientists have found that memories associated with sound can be reinforced by playing those sounds softly to people while they sleep. In one study, participants played a Guitar Hero-like game. They learned two tunes, then had a nap. While they were in deep sleep, one of the tunes played softly in their ears. And when the participants awoke, the tune that they’d heard while sleeping was the one they were better at playing from memory.

In a similar study by the same researchers, participants were asked to remember random locations of images on a screen, each of which was associated with a sound. When one particular sound was played to them during sleep, they were more likely to remember the original location of the matching object.

The scientists involved believe that we use our sleep to process and consolidate our memories. By associating a memory with a sound, we encourage our brain to absorb this particular memory while we’re asleep, rather than losing it among the countless other minor events from the day.

The jury’s out on what practical use this might have—but it at least suggests that we may be able to influence what we remember, with the help of a carefully chosen sound track.

Distractions (When You’re Old)


As we get older, we tend to become more forgetful. Scientists have found that a distraction related to what you want to remember can be extremely helpful for older people. They conducted an experiment in which they asked two groups of people—one of them aged seventeen to twenty-seven, and the other aged sixty to seventy-eight—to study and recall a list of words. They sprung a surprise second test on each group after an unrelated picture exercise.

During the dummy picture exercise, some people in each group were exposed to background reminders of some of the words from the first test. There was a thirty percent memory improvement in those who had been prey to these —but remarkably, only among the older group. There was no difference at all in the younger group. This suggests that keeping ourselves surrounded by reminders—even if we don’t take them in consciously—can help with recall in old age.

We Can Practice Forgetting

Happy Old Man

Research by psychologist Gerd Thomas Waldhauser has shown that humans can train themselves to deliberately forget information. Using EEG scans, he has shown that the same part of the brain we would use to restrain a motor impulse—such as to stop ourselves from catching an object—is also activated when people suppress a memory. His studies show that we can learn how to control this natural suppression—allowing us, theoretically, to forget whatever we want to forget.

Waldhauser is keen to point out, however, that only neutral memories have so far been forgotten in this way. But he speculates that—were the technique to be developed further—it may be possible to forget even our worst memories. This would be immensely helpful to trauma victims, and those with chronic mental health issues such as depression.

Diet Impacts Your Memory


As if we needed another reason to eat healthy food, science has found one. It turns out that a diet high in fructose or saturated fat can hamper our ability to learn and retain information. A poor diet can reduce the levels of a chemical known as DHA in your brain; and it just so happens that DHA is very important in forming memories.

High levels of saturated fat have also been linked to brain inflammation, which can cause memory loss. Increasing your intake of Omega 3 seems to be one of the best ways to counteract that, since it replenishes DHA—but reducing the amount of fatty foods in your diet will benefit the rest of your organs as well.

It might not be necessary to cut out all sweets just yet, however; some research has suggested that chocolate may be good for your brain, and your ability to remember things.

Learning a Second Language


Learning a second language, especially as a child, has been shown to have benefits which last a lifetime. Speaking two or more languages can delay the onset of dementia by an average of four years.

Scientists have also discovered that “working memory”—the kind of memory that acts like RAM in a computer—functions more successfully in children who have learned a second language. Studies have shown that bilingual children performed better in working memory tasks than their monolingual counterparts—and the more complex these tasks were, the better the bilingual students would perform in relation to their peers.

Being bilingual does more than just enhance and protect our memory; it also helps us with focusing, and shutting out distractions.

Washing Influences How We Feel About Our Memories

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“Washing your hands of guilt” is a popular phrase—but science has shown that the act of washing can actually have a deep impact on how we catalogue our memories. For a start, general cleanliness can impact how we feel about other people—and not necessarily because they’re dirty themselves. We’re more likely to harshly judge someone else’s moral misdeeds if we’re in a smelly room, for example.

And in relation to our own memories, washing ourselves really can help us feel less guilty about whatever evil deeds we’ve committed. It’s been found that gamblers who wash after a bad streak are likely to start making higher bets, as if they’ve washed away their bad luck.

If you make a difficult decision, wiping your hands afterwards can make you feel less doubt about it, since you’ve effectively wiped away your worries. But it goes both ways: if we wash after thinking about a positive experience, our happy memories can seem less satisfying.

How You Treat A Written-Down Thought Is Important


Writing something down is an intuitive way to help you remember it. Scientists from Ohio State University, however, found that the way you treat the piece of paper afterwards can have an enormous impact on memory retention. They found that if people wrote down their thoughts, and then scrunched up the paper and threw it away, they were less likely to use those thoughts when making a decision. If, on the other hand, they folded the paper neatly and put it into a pocket to protect it, the thoughts would stay with them and influence them later on. Keeping thoughts on a desk instead of throwing them away had a similar impact.

As with washing, it seems our brains are influenced by metaphors in the physical world when it comes to controlling our memories.

Putting Yourself Through Pain Reduces Guilt


Scientists have found that inflicting pain on ourselves can lessen the guilt we feel about a bad deed we remember having committed. In one experiment, researchers asked people to write about a time they had rejected or excluded someone. They divided them into two groups; the members of group one were asked to plunge their arms elbow-deep into ice-cold water, while the members of group two submerged their arms in luke-warm water. And when the participants rated the morality of their past actions, those who had experienced the pain of the cold water gave themselves a more forgiving score.

A third group of people were asked to write about an everyday interaction, with no guilt involved, and then to plunge their hand into the cold water. Interestingly, the people who had written about doing something bad actually kept their hands in the water longer, and reported more pain, than the control group. The scientists speculate that they subjected themselves to extra pain, as they felt the need for penance.

Difficult Fonts Help You Retain Information

Comic Sans

When you study, you’re more likely to remember information when it is presented in an unusual or difficult-to-read font. Scientists from Princeton University and Indiana University have conducted two different experiments to test the effect of fonts on learning. In one experiment, they gave participants some information to read for ninety seconds, either in Arial or Comic Sans. It was found that those who absorbed the information via the more difficult font had better recall fifteen minutes later.

To see if this result could have a real-world impact, the researchers designed another experiment. This time, they tampered with the fonts of learning materials used by high school students. Students who were given a difficult-to-read font performed better in tests than those who were given a simple font. So when you write your blog in comic sans, you are not only devoid of aesthetic taste, but also prevent your readers from remembering whatever it is you’re saying.

Drugs Can “Delete” Memories

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind 2

People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are often debilitated by horrific memories. Scientists have been working on a number of drugs that could be used to lessen, or even erase, memories. These drugs work because when we recall memories, we’re not just playing a tape—we’re actually recreating the memory in a different part of our brain. Some drugs can block the biochemistry involved in this process, and thereby cause the awful memories to fade, or even disappear.

Many people take issue with use of such drugs, however, arguing that artificially erasing our memories can have a fundamental impact on who we are. Proponents counter this argument by saying that millions of people debilitated by memories of terrible experiences could regain their lives—and their true selves—with the help these drugs can provide.