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Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments Paperback – Unabridged, 1 Aug 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Boxtree (1 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752226746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752226743
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'A gripping compendium of the strangest experiments ever conducted in the name of science, from the horrifying to the hilarious' -- The London Paper

'Alex Boese puts the world's most weird and wonderful experiments under the microscope...' -- Independent Extra

'This is an entertaining look at (mostly Victorian) science's forays in to the unknown' -- Maxim

'packed with interesting, amusing and troubling stories' -- London Lite

'this highly entertaining collection of the wackiest experiments ever undertaken is a brilliant read' -- Star magazine


`Boese's kooky look at history's most outlandish, provocative and downright ridiculous scientific endeavours (zombie kittens anyone?) will keep you smiling.' --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Turnock on 11 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Elephants On Acid is made up of surprisingly entertaining, interesting content in a witty, humorous tone. I say surprisingly because I was not expecting a book that has apparently sold very well to have experiments that are well-picked and really well researched, in my opinion, as two of them were ones I studied in my AS-level psychology class, and the book went into more detail than my teachers did. Which might be a sign of bad teaching rather than a very well researched book but let's assume that's not the case.

There are ten chapters with each chapter's experiments being grouped together under a theme - For instance death, the senses, sleep, sex. Some experiments last only a page or two but others go on for a few more than that, and there are clever headings separating them from one another. There are the more well-known experiments (Such as Zimbardo's prison experiment), the experiments whose after-effects seem pretty well-known (Does Mozart make babies smarter?), the totally obscure (cockroach racing, anyone?) and the things everyone wonders about (Coke or pepsi?).

Personally, I feel that the first chapter is ill-placed as it's heavy on the animal decapitation and I think that might put some people off, for all the content is very interesting in its own disturbing way. So I say, preserve! I won't lie, there is some more decapitating etc to come post the first chapter. However, it's much more spread out and easier to take post chapter one as it's liberally overweighed by experiments ripe with whimsy, oddness and genuinely interesting (non-violent!) insights into human and animal behaviour.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Ventos on 10 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Grouped in sections dealing with the Big Subjects (life, sensation, memory, sex, sleep, evil, children) this book contains many of the more famous psychological experiments (Zimbardo's prison, Milgram's obedience experiment, John Watson and Little Albert's rat, and Wegner's White Bear) as well as others less well-known but chosen for their outrageousness or smirk-factor (electrocuting corpses, counting pubic hairs after sex, giving LSD to the terminally ill). It debunks a few myths (babies don't instinctively choose a balanced diet, cockroaches wouldn't survive a nuclear holocaust) - and also contains some real eye-openers (the branding of Coke actually affects it's taste!). And although it's written in a jolly-humorous way, with a little joke at the end of each section (some as cringeworthy as the experiment they conclude), the book's a forceful reminder of the need for today's Ethics Committees in Science. What's frequently been done to animals is horrific, and what was sometimes done to humans is nearly as bad.

This is the sort of book that, if you're reading it in someone else's presence, is likely to make you want to read bits out loud to them. There are references too - unusual in a popular book like this - perhaps because the author thought that no-one would believe some of these stories otherwise!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George Kelly on 18 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Elephants on Acid is basically a collection of interesting, intriguing and occasionally insane experiments that Scientists have undertaken over the years. Each chapter surrounds a new subject, such as animal experiments or sex-based experiments or whatever--and each category is split into sections, scrolling through the different experiments and their outcomes.

It's a thought-provoking read. I understood the reasons behind some of the experiments, and was baffled by others, as was the writer in some cases. But even the mad experiments have a vein of reason behind them; it seems that scientists will test anything, just to find out the whys or the hows. And it makes okay reading. I wouldn't say I was riveted or unable to put the book down. It's not something that will hook you into non-stop reading. It's more of a book to take around and read when you have a spare five minutes. The majority of the segments are short and easily-digestible and the book makes perfect bathroom reading, although I'm sure that wasn't the purpose.

So if you want something to read on your lunch break or whilst stuck in a particularly long queue, or maybe even something between programmes, this is a pretty good option.

At the very least, it will give you something to talk about with your friends.

And if you don't have any friends, then maybe you need to get out more.

And if you're always out, but STILL don't have any friends, maybe you need to evaluate your personality . . .

Anyway, read the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Speakman on 1 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a really great read. I got it at christmas and read it over a couple of days when travelling - for which it was a perfect companion. It provides summaries of a whole range of experiments conducted between about 1800 and the late end of the 1990s. Each experiment is covered in about 2-3 pages and they are grouped together in ten separate themes. These cover all sorts of topics from how long a head can be kept alive after decapitation, to whether the females in a bar become more attractive as closing time approaches, and how many men interrupted in the street accept an offer of sex from an attractive woman compared to how many women accept the same offer from an attractive man (guess what the answer to that is?). Some of the experiments are disturbing, but many of them are amusing. The balance is just about right to keep you reading through the disturbing stuff with the promise of amusement to come. The tone of the author in describing the material is just right. Most of the experiments described are psychological rather than biological investigations.

Lots of these bizarre experiments particularly from the 1930s until the 1970s are performed on very small samples (occasionally the researchers own children!) and in some cases include procedures that are ethically outrageous. You will more than occasionally be dismayed that doing this stuff was actually legal. As such I think this book would be a fantastic undergraduate additional reading text for science ethics courses as it really emphasises why we currently have and need ethical review boards to oversee science proposals before experiments can be performed. Don't let that put you off though. This is as far from a boring undergraduate textbook as you are likely to get.
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