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When mice just are not enough

If you ever get time, or want to waste time in an “educational” manner, wander around the Cracked website.  Amazing, trivial pursuit, comedic stories about celebrities all the way to science.

With that I give you the article “6 Most Badass Self-Inflicted Medical Experiments

While people toil away in labs, scribbling furiously in lab notebooks, losing sleep, and losing sanity these men show what happen when you finally hit the wall. Or, really, when you ignore every protocol and committee in place regarding human subjects. But let’s face it, sometime you have to stick it to the man and drink whatever is in that flask.

Though, really, you should make sure you are really ready to lay it on the line.  I mean Max Josef von Pettenkofer drank cholera that he cultured from a patient’s stool.  A dead patient’s stool.  This cholera that he cultured, and then drank down like afternoon tea, had just killed someone.  And he did it to prove that the cholera bacteria was NOT, as Robert Koch had shown, the only factor in the illness. The man did it to show up Koch, the Nobel winner and inventor of Koch postulates. This was not just science- this was a personal vendetta. Regarding Pettenkofer’s ill-advised cholera tonic the Journal of Nutrition says this “During his later years, Pettenkofer was best known for his many studies of the epidemiology of cholera and typhoid. Unfortunately, he reached the incorrect conclusion that the microorganism for cholera is not virulent until it has incubated in dirt or soil under special conditions.

Not only did Pettenkofer get down with the sickness, his students took a sip of the kool-aid too! No offense, I think my boss is smart, but I cannot say I would follow him into battle like that.  Not without some additional medical staff on stand by.

Think that is the worst?  Not by far.  Pettenkofer is number 6 on the list.  John Hunter, an English physician in the 1700’s, attempted to show that gonorrhea and syphilis were the same disease in different stages.  He based this on the observation that the two diseases did not seem to co-exist in patients.  Granted, a person could get gonorrhea, and later get syphilis, but not at the same time.  But finding a clean subject was a tough cookie.  So Hunter, being ever the enterprising man of science, injected his own penis with gonorrhea obtained from another person.

Unlucky for Dr. Hunter, the patient also had syphilis.  So he ended up accidentally proving his hypothesis.  Which was later disproven. Because science actually works.

This still leaves you with crotch rot and syphilis induced madness. Which is defiantly worse than a light case of cholera.

Dr. Hunter is STILL not the winner of men who use themselves as test subjects.  No.  That distinctive honor of most Badass scientist goes to J.B.S. Haldane.  First off, lets preface this by saying this: The man was Scottish.  And, lets face it, the scots are not the most balanced in the bunch.  So crazy and nuts was this man that Aldus Huxley made him or his ideas the antagonists in two of his books.  It is reported that in one experiment he “he drank quantities of hydrochloric acid to observe its effects on muscle action; another time he exercised to exhaustion while measuring carbon dioxide pressures in his lungs.”  Whoo hoo! Lets drink acid and see what happens! He experimented himself in to a sever spinal cord injury, which he did not seek treatment for, and just walked off.

Of course he may have learned this from dad, Haldane Sr.,  a Scottish physiologist who investigated the toxic effects of various poison gases. On himself. And on Junior.  Not graduate students, but his own son. Again, the scots are a crazy bunch.  But at least none of these men infected themselves by drinking poo tea or sticking their own penis. So, really, who is the winner here?

I highly recommend the Cracked articles.  They are funny and include links to external sources.  Not always the most academic sources, but still.  It is a great way to kill those ten minute incubation periods!




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