14 Experiments Gone Wrong

Franz Reichelt is now remembered as the "flying tailor."
Franz Reichelt is now remembered as the "flying tailor." / Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1971, 24 men were enlisted in the Stanford Prison Experiment. Led by Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University, the experiment was supposed to measure the effect of role-playing and social expectations over a two-week period in the basement of a school building. The participants were assigned the roles of either prisoners or guards, while others were held back as alternates. However, the events that took place over the next few days traumatized some prisoners so much they had to be removed from the experiment altogether. When an outsider witnessed some of the disturbing events taking place, they quickly sounded the alarm, which brought an abrupt end to the study after just six days. Many researchers don't believe this study could ever be replicated because it doesn't reach modern research ethics standards, and some psychologists doubt the Prison Experiment's core findings.

But science isn't responsible for all failed experiments; marketing has played a major role as well. The Cleveland Indians, for example, tried out a promotion to increase fan attendance by offering unlimited beer for 10 cents a cup in 1974, which certainly made for an eventful game against the Texas Rangers. What began with some drunken fans running onto the field and exposing themselves quickly escalated to fireworks being launched at the Texas Rangers’s dugout. Eventually, a riot broke out and some players were injured after having rocks hurled at them.

In this episode of The List Show, we're looking into the history of experiments gone wrong, from Franz Reichelt's failed parachute to a baby being raised alongside a chimp. You can watch the full episode below.

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