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Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  3,245 ratings  ·  291 reviews
When Tusko the Elephant woke in his pen at the Lincoln Park Zoo on the morning of August 3, 1962, little did he know that he was about to become the test subject in an experiment to determine what happens to an elephant given a massive dose of LSD. In Elephants on Acid, Alex Boese reveals to readers the results of not only this scientific trial but of scores of other outra ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 5th 2007 by Mariner Books
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3.78  · 
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 ·  3,245 ratings  ·  291 reviews

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May 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
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
Kynthos-the-Archer (Kyn)

Impulse buy. Couldn't leave it alone after reading that crazy blurb on the back cover. Besides, I am so loving the cover and that odd title and thinks that it would look great in my living room library section.

Part of the blurb that caught my curiosity: Have you ever wondered if a severed head retains consciousness long enough to see what happened to it? -- Kinda morbid huh? But I can't help wondering about the answer to that question.

Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
Oct 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Joseph Mckenna
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Eve K
Jan 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I'm so pissed off at myself that I even tried to read this book not once but three times.

All it consists of is an utterly emotionally void fucking cretin (the author) getting obvious thrills over vomit inducingly vile and infuriatingly FUCKING POINTLESS experiments on animals, done by probably even more emotionally fucked cunts than the author.

Take the weird kid at school who thinks it's funny to pull off spiders legs and butterflies wings just because he/she is big enough to have complete power
Dane Cobain
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
There’s an interesting story behind this one – I rescued it from almost certain death, after a clear out at work. We had so many books that we had to get rid of a load of them, and so I pinched this one before it went to the charity shops. I’m glad I did.

As you can imagine, it’s basically a collection of some of the strangest scientific experiments that have ever been performed, and they’re grouped into different sections so that although Boese draws from all sorts of different sources, there’s
Jul 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
I started to read this with the chapter on relationships, which was setting a good tone to the book and nicely amusing, but after turned to other chapters I had to put it to paper recycling. As others suggested, the author did not at all fulfill his role in commenting the experiments as sometimes highly unethical and very simply described laugh at them. I know that the introduction provided his stance that he included experiments that were either very funny or disgusting, or weird, but ...more
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
Jun 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: a-whim, my-2016
An entertaining and informative book on bizzare scientific experiments that have been done so far. Some experiments were so disturbing, I had to stop reading for a while or jump to the next chapter. I knew there were inhumane endeavours out there in the name of science but reading them like this definitely made me squirm and quite angry. The author could address its ethical concerns a little bit more. But I guess that was not the purpose Mr. Boese wrote this. He wanted this book to be light and ...more
Right up my alley, this book filled with weird (and sometimes highly unethical) experiments in the science world shows readers how, without the weirdos and the trouble makers, science wouldn't be anywhere near as far as it is. It's a funny book, though the information regarding the experiments is accurate and clear. There's a lot of material here for a psychology student such as me, but just as well for a person interested in the history of science and how the rebels helped it in being born!
Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd
How to even come up with the ideas for such experimental arrangements. Moreover, who grants that...

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

The realm of science is cliché after a hoard sometimes foreign longliners, whimsical inventors and in the worst case of Franconian people with God complexes and narcissistic personality disorders.
A little bit of everything, the author combines in a colorful mix of different curiosities from th
Claire Dwyer
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you wanted to hear stories of elephants on acid, racing cockroaches or the psychology of humans then this the book for you. You will laugh and wonder how on earth some one got away with doing that. A great, quick read to give you plenty of anecdotes to tell to your friends.
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: smart, wierd
This book is recommended for someone with scientific mind and passion for exploration. Weird fact about that book is that it is actually interesting, reading how scientists were coming up with their experiments, investing their time, knowledge and in some cases sanity to provide people of Earth with eligible explanations for strange questions like "can we resurrect dead corpses?" or "is the system the one to blame for prison troubles or people?" is exciting as well as fully educational.
Yes, man
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this odd book. It's a selection of weird experiments conducted over the years, often when the consideration for animal and human feelings and emotions were less empathetic and, frankly, humane, than today.
Some times I cringed a little but what I thoroughly enjoyed was when some weird thing led to something else which led to something which is a recognisable benefit nowadays.

Other times I just shuddered at the things we thought acceptable.

A book worth reading in fits and starts really,
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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....
Jyotika Bahuguna
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
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.
Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
Sep 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
While lots of these experiments are really interesting and the writing style allows them to be accessible, Alex Boese's attempts at humour are embarrassing
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining! I'm glad we're not in the 1970s anymore... The author has a great sense of humour, which he weaves through the (often macabre & downright morbid) subject matter.
Karin Bodewits
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice easy going read. Reading it in one go is not great, but the good thing about this book is... you don't have to!
Jazli Aziz
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I took longer than I wanted to finish reading this book, and I think that's indicative of why I only gave it three stars. As a student of science, I was expecting to enjoy this book, and surely enough when I first started reading it I truly did enjoy it. But the more I read the book, the less motivated I was to finish it. Eventually, I had to force myself to read it as I slowly started feeling like I didn't want to continue reading it.

The book is well organised. Experiments are grouped into ten
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book, for many different reasons:

1. Reading how many weird, silly or crazy experiments have been made in name of the science is very interesting, and provides an alternate point of view to the definition of science itself.

2. The book is well written, funny and full of side stories about the life or scientists, or other historically related events.

3. I found that many experiments, even if weird, were really interesting and offer very practical information about the human mind and human
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent selection of immensely interesting case studies, where crazy and creative scientists alike struggle to answer questions most of us never asked to begin with.

The subject is great, but the author's attempts at puns at the end of every single vignette becomes increasingly cringy as the book progresses, and worse still - they seem to be his only real contribution to the book. Really, the research and editing of the different scientists' rants and results could probably have been done by any
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Best read in pieces and with a mind that either likes horror, grotesque things, or just detached entirely. This book shows its age on subject matter that most people wouldn't enjoy reading about unless they enjoy reading about the mistakes and science errors made to get where we are now. As a fan of outdated medical procedures -in the reading sense, not the supportive kind- who finds tales of the old practices hilarious in how ridiculous human stupidity was back then, I found this book to delive ...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 He lives near San Diego.