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Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments [Unabridged] [Paperback]

Alex Boese
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.00
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Book Description

1 Aug 2008

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, the question of whether women who play hard to get really are more desirable. As well as learning what happened to Tusko, you will discover the 1959 mathematical equation for the point at which chatter at a drinks party becomes loud; whether listening to Mozart makes children super-students; and the secret of how to sleep on planes . . .

* If left to their own devices, would babies instinctively pick a well-balanced diet?

* If you were unfortunate enough to fall down a disused mine shaft, would your dog run to fetch help?

* Which really tastes better in a blind tasting -- Coke, or Pepsi?

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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: 13.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elephants (And Psychologists?) On Acid 11 Oct 2008
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Outrageousness and Smirk-factor 10 Mar 2009
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good fun with a few lessons attached too 1 Sep 2009
By Dan
Science can be fun. I've seen this book everywhere--it's number 2 in the book chart at a certain large book, magazine and stationery selling chain at the moment so I picked it up in 2-book offer. I'm glad I did. I whizzed through it and thoroughly enjoyed the way the neat little scientific stories are explained. Perfect if you want to learn a little but have some fun alon the way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Giraffes on Speed 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
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty interesting 1 Mar 2013
I found this book a fairly easy read, good for dipping into and interesting. Clearly, today's ethics committees would have prevented many of these experiments from happening; I can't help thinking that the author trivializes just how distasteful some of these experiments were.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A fun read! I have impressed alot of people with my newfound useless knowledge and facts.
Published 23 days ago by Flemming Damgaard Nielsen
4.0 out of 5 stars great service
first book was a bit oldish and not up to scratch but when they were informed of this, they were fantastic.I have another one which they sent me free. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ann M. Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is better than good.
I bought this for my wife and she was over the moon. This is a good thing and no mistake.
Published 6 months ago by Henry Higgins
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, Slightly Creepy, Mostly Interesting
As a scientist writing about science, it's important to make the subject matter interesting and engaging. Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. Marczak
5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating
Great book - well worth reading. Well written, well researched and interesting throughout. Thoroughly recommended - can't wait to read his other books now.
Published 11 months ago by GSC
5.0 out of 5 stars How Strange
This book is fantastic!! if you would like to find out some of the strange experiments that have taken place through time this is the book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rav
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I read this book on holiday and couldn't put it down. There's some really interesting (and shocking) stuff in there, most of which couldn't happen today. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Megan Painter
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting!
Very interesting book containing some very bizarre biology and psychology experiments!

Would recommend it to anyone that has a particular interest in these areas or are... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Natalie Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Experiments on Acid?
Loved this book as it was easy to read, interesting and funny. As a student I am interested in psychology and these tales gave a light hearted perspective on the lengths some... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Kat2492
5.0 out of 5 stars very funny and informative
This is a great book that you can dip in and out of and it and is rather amusing, defiantly worth a read if you enjoy the history of science, but also not for the faint hearted.
Published 14 months ago by Beka888
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