Elephants on Acid Paperback – 15 May 2009
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'Excellent accounts of some of the most important and interesting experiments in biology and psychology' -- Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Last Theorem
`Boese's kooky look at history's most outlandish, provocative and downright ridiculous scientific endeavours (zombie kittens anyone?) will keep you smiling.' -- Sunday Herald
`Boese's kooky look at history's most outlandish, provocative and downright ridiculous scientific endeavours (zombie kittens anyone?) will keep you smiling.'See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Great quality stories, and very well written.
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!
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.
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.
It sounds corny, but I don't want this book to end, as while I know I can look more experiments up online or at the library they won't be grouped together so cleverly, infused with Boese's easy, clever sense of humour nor preceded by a short, fictional account based on the next experiment to be looked over. If you're interested in psychology, want a bit of a quirky read or something that you can pick up and put down without losing track of what's going on I say, buy it! If nothing else you'll pick up a few amusing tales to tell in awkward silence and the sense that, really, are psychologists really anything more than a bunch of smart children with access to some handy equipment and a scientific journal?
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This book aims to be easy reading and thus does not overload with facts or details but rather gives you enough to...Read more
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