Elephants On Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments
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Elephants On Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,755 ratings  ·  194 reviews
When Tusko the Elephant woke in his pen on 3 August 1962, little did he know that he was about to be given the largest ever single dose of LSD . . .

"Elephants on Acid" is a wonderfully entertaining, authoritative collection of history's most bizarre experiments, from the 19th-century creation of zombie kittens to a University of Wisconsin study that answers, definitively,...more
Paperback, 283 pages
Published by Boxtree, Limited (first published November 5th 2007)
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Robert
Boese presents a catalogue of truely bizarre experiments, giving a short essay on each and collecting them into themed chapters. The book is intended to be humourous and it is, in places, but the technique used for the jokes hardly varies throughout and if read in just a few sessions, becomes repetative and palls. Some of that humour is also, in my view, in poor taste; jokes about dogs that have been repeatedly shocked with electricity don't make me laugh.

This leads directly to the other problem...more
Jason
An interesting book, I heard about ELEPHANTS ON ACID from the Kevin Smith podcast (SMODCAST). This is a great, quick/bathroom read that will that astound and captivate even the least scientific-minded individual.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that book is less about the experiments AND more about the experimenters. Scientists are a strange group of people (drinking vomit to prove fellow fever isn't contagious? Yikes).

The book is a nice blend of the horrifying and the humorous. Having take...more
Jen Estrella
This is really a 2.55 stars but since there are no halves, a 3 will have to suffice.

So. For what this book was, it served its purpose. It delivered what it promised: a book filled with an assortment of strange, and sometimes straight up scary experiments from a time obviously long before regulations existed to protect the "subject" in the experiment. There was a decapitated canine being pumped fresh oxygenated blood in order to examine the possibility of a head/brain being able to maintain funct...more
Joseph Mckenna
An absolutely fantastic book that gives great insight into the odd ends of humanity's pursuit of knowledge as well as some excellent scientific trivia. I highly recommend this book to any who have even a slight interest in general science, especially sociology and psychology. Heck, I really want everyone to give this book at least a try.

Although there are many well known studies in this book, that might not be new or surprising to the scientifically aware, the author does an excellent job giving...more
Godzilla
Another chance pick up from Fopp: this one more of a miss than a hit, but if I'm paying peanuts then I'll get the odd duffer, and I can live with that.

I'm not sure what my real beef with the book is though, to be honest. It's laid out in a sensible fashion: experiments grouped together by "genre" and they're all written up pretty succinctly.

Perhaps it's the lame attempt at humour from the author that grated, or the slightly laborious writing style.

However, being impartial, there are some interes...more
John
TL:DR: This book is excellent popular science reading; I can’t recommend it enough.

If you have ever taken a basic course in psychology, then you have a good idea of the kind of material found in this book. Elephants is essentially a collection of the more bizarre anecdotes you will find in a basic psychology and/or sociology class, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The author admits this groundwork in his introduction; he is very aware of the nature of his project, and he constantly liv...more
Isabel Cleverfakename
Marchevsky 1
Isabel Marchevsky
Mrs. Romaniuk
Book report #6
7 December, 2010
Elephants On Acid:
What In The Name Of Science?!?!
Most people draw the line at zombie kittens, two headed dogs, and enrolling black bags in school, but not these people! In this 5 star informational short story book by Alex Boese, scientists throughout history have conducted outstandingly bizarre experiments for the sake of curiosity and competition, and, most remarkably, received government grants for their work. Whether me...more
Bagtree
The author's sense of humor is extremely grating, and the experiments all seem to fall under either "somewhat eccentric but useful way of answering a valid question" or "stupid and cruel." Neither is enhanced by Boese's jeering or the weak one-liners with which he ends each anecdote.

Look, scientists can be huge weirdos. Charles Darwin once conducted an experiment to determine whether worms will get distracted from whatever it is worms do if you play the bassoon in their vicinity. THAT is the kin...more
Laura
As a collection of classic bizarre experiments, this book holds up well. I had read about most of the included studies before, and it would have been nice to get a little more obscure research, but I'm sure most of this is new to the general audience. There were a few new ones for me, including a study making fools of professional wine-tasters and another that showed being visited by a clown almost doubles likelihood of pregnancy for in vitro fertilization (which has interesting implications for...more
Tammy
This book is touted as a bathroom book and I think I may have enjoyed it more if I'd read it as such rather than reading it straight through. It consists of brief write ups of bizarre experiments conducted in 10 different categories. I don't know if it speaks to my tastes/interests or what, but I was familiar with many of the experiments that were addressed and I think that disappointed me - I wanted new stuff! Although I only gave it two stars - it was ok - I really would recommend it as fun li...more
Hanne
Oct 22, 2012 Hanne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a science background, especially life science or biology
Shelves: non-fiction
If you're a scientist, you'll love this book. If you're not a scientist, you might love it too, but i won't vouch for it.

I read this book a couple of years ago, probably in 2007 when it first came out, and i still remember some of the cases even though i haven't reread it. That in itself is quite miraculous. These books are typically fun to read but half a year later you don't remember it anymore.

This book learned me that 'the elephant memory' really exists. But it also learned me not to trick a...more
Heather
You know when you randomly browse the sale section in HMV and they have books going for about £2 and suddenly you fancy giving anything a try? That.

I like science and weird things, so this sounded pretty much ideal. I don't like animal cruelty, and most of the experiments in line with animals crossed that line heavily, which made me feel pretty uncomfortable. On the flip side, I found it interesting that people actually funded some of this stuff.

Outside of animals, there's sex and relationships,...more
Jyotika Bahuguna
A 3.5 actually.
Idea: Brilliant.
Content: Good, there are summaries of over 100 research papers about interesting, amusing, thought-provoking and truly bizzare experiments.
Writing style: Fair, with the experiment description lengths quite small, I wish there wasnt an average , predictable, playing-on-the-words-of-the-experiment joke at the end of each description.
Gem
I thought this would be really quite funny - but most of the experiments covered turned out to be really quite cruel and sadistic. Boese doesn't really go into any depth further than describing the experiments themselves; there's no real analysis and no real commentary on them.

Another thing that bothered me a little was the representation of ladies in this book - described mostly by their level of attractiveness, even when not relevant to the experiment taking place. One of the only times Boese...more
Dimitris Hall
I found this today on Goodreads unmarked and was surprised that this little gem had escaped my review steamroller! I read it about 4 years ago (or was it even further back?) and it left me completely flabbergasted by some of these ridiculous experiments... It is definitely at least partly responsible for my scepticism towards scepticism, if you're catching my drift, and what the results of the experiments or even the experiments themselves could tell us about the nature of reality.

To give you an...more
Patricia
Somewhat dry factual of many of the experiments done by man, to man or to animal. Some are unbelievable like the guy who drank vomitus to see if he would catch the disease. Anyhoo, mostly interesting, sometimes not. Did make me wonder about the intelligence or stupidity of the human race....even more....
Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
Couldn't even finish it. Author possibly sociopath/ high functioning psychopath? Animal despair and distress used as source of humour. Information spotty. Imagined wit interspaced with vague incomplete anecdotal accounts and abbreviated stories with varying degrees of inhumanity. Not good.
Laura

Boese presents a hodgepodge collection of experiments that range from comical, strange, disgusting, and just plain sad. This is not a book for those with weak stomachs as animals and sometimes humans endure painful procedures and tests in the name of science. Mainly my preference was for the studies that focused on human behavior or those in which the scientist used himself as a guinea pig. For instance, one researcher attempted to contract yellow fever by experimenting with the fluids of the in

...more
Chris
A quick read that is a fun romp through the zanier side of science. Although it's not nearly as lighthearted as it pretends to be... many of the example experiments showcase real mad-scientist-types of history (yeah... for various reasons scientists don't come out smelling like roses in this book). There are the Frankensteins that hang around the gallows to collect bodies to electrocute and those that attempt to keep dog heads alive after being severed from the body. I found the psychological ex...more
Mary
I'm not going to lie, I was pretty disturbed by the first chapter of this book, namely the picture that he chose to include of a really uncomfortable looking severed dog's head that was being kept alive by a machine. I found it strange that he made no mention of how awful it must have been to keep the decapitated head of a dog alive, and yet he wondered about the emotional state of the worst server. That poor human! The book got a little bit less horrible further along, although I skipped the ch...more
Mandie Kok
Apr 12, 2013 Mandie Kok rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in science for entertainment
I have to give this 3 stars, but it's my own fault. Had I read it back in 2007, when it was published, the bizarre experiments might still have been unknown to me. However, since this is something that interests me, I have come across most of the experiments mentioned in this book already.

A compromise then. If you've already read such books as Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers or a...more
Brian Clegg
I went about this what was officially the wrong way round, reading the sequel to Elephants on Acid (if you are wondering, Electrified Sheep) first – but for me it worked well because I preferred the original.

Both books have the same basic premise – a collection of tales of the weirdest and most bizarre experiments that real scientists have undertaken – but Elephants has the advantage of both coming first, and hence probably getting the cream of the crop, and also lacks the format issue I had wit...more
Serena
I found this book fascinating - occasionally discomfiting or even downright horrifying - but always interesting.

I wasn't sure of the contents when I picked it up, but was happy to find that it is full of specific accounts - complete with references - of experiments or studies. That each began with a short blurb written as a dramatisation or memory of the events in question was an excellent touch.

The layout, of grouped experiments in a chapter with a single theme, was easy to focus on and more en...more
Paul
This is one of those books that seems more interesting on the cover and when you start reading than when you actually try and read through it.

To put it another way, it's kind of like the toilet ritual book of science. By that I mean it's a book best appreciated when you dip in and out of it rather than try and read it straight through.

Even then you have to have some significant history or background in science to be bothered about actually trying to read everything in the book.

Interesting title,...more
Ron
Mediocre. The vast majority of these experiments hardly qualify as bizarre and it seems clear there was some legitimate aim in most of them. At best, they are a little odd.

The book will also bore those who have read better explorations of these experiments already in more scientifically valid books. The writing here is as you would expect: the boring prose of a journalist who is out to titillate more than elucidate.
Bronwen
Interesting! I found some parts quite difficult to read (especially the first chapter, which contains some particularly horrific experiments), but overall very interesting. The three studies I found the most intriguing were Paul Rozin et al's study that provided evidence of the "laws of sympathetic magic", Philip Zimbardo's research into the concept of deindividualisation, and Dr Eric Kast's study of the benefits of administering LSD to terminally ill patients. Some of the other experiments I fo...more
James Fallon
LoL..toilet reading at its finest.

I found this to be quiet an interesting book if i'am honest.Very strange and bizarre tales of doctors preforming questionable experiments by todays standards.
It basicly consists of collections of weird and wacky test on animals and humans such as some guy staying wake for as long as humanly possible and having his friends note the side affects.
Giving LSD to elephants?Can cut off heads be transfered to another body?Humans having sex with monkeys to produce a hybr...more
TwoDrinks
This book is AMAZING. The author takes strange science experiments and translates them in to plain English for the non-scientists among us. There is a real range of subjects including: synchronised periods; mothers preferring the smell of their own child's nappy and; a double-headed cat. My favourite stories were about how bad or unexpected human behaviour can be, along the lines of the Stanford Prison Experiment (p.224 - 242 if you're interested).

Friedler, S., et al (2006). "The Effect of Medi...more
Joshua Gross
This was an interesting book, but it covered so many different experiments it didn't have time to go into too much detail on them. A lot of them I found really interesting, like the mock prison experiment that went completely out of control, or the experiment where a husband and wife try to raise a chimp like one of their children, but I wanted to immediately read more about them. The author was nice enough to list a source at the end of each description, but it didn't help very much if the nea...more
Ashley
You know those books that are great to read in short spurts when you are waiting in line, or have a break between classes or some downtime at your crazy nursing job? This is like the most awesome of all of those books. It puts those books (of which I can currently think of no examples) to shame. There is some crazy shit that has happened in the history of scientic experimentation, and the best of it is right here. There is no need for commentary, the facts themselves are hilarious and terrifying...more
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Alex Boese holds a master's degree in the history of science from UC San Diego. He is the creator of museumofhoaxes.com. He lives near San Diego.

source: http://us.macmillan.com/author/alexboese
More about Alex Boese...
Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. Electrified Sheep The Museum of Hoaxes Elephants on Acid

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