When I first saw the headline for this article in my copy of Wired, I was excited to see what they had dreamed up. Alas, the article “Seven Creepy Experiments That Could Teach Us So Much (If They Weren’t So Wrong)” is mainly about biological experiments. One experiment, splitting up twins and fixing their environments, could be interesting: it would provide insights into the ongoing nature vs. nurture debate.
I would be interested to see how social scientists would respond to a question about what “creepy” or unethical experiments they would like to see happen. In research methods class, we have the classic examples of experiments that should not be replicated. Milgram’s experiment about obedience to authority, Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, and Humphrey’s Tearoom Trade Study tend to come up. From more popular sources, we could talk about a setup like the one depicted in The Truman Show or intentionally creating settings like those found in Lord of the Flies or The Hunger Games.
What sociological experiments would produce invaluable information but would never pass an IRB?