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The first sentence in the Wikipedia entry is chilling; "The Monster Study was a stuttering experiment performed on 22 orphan children in Davenport, Iowa in 1939."

Back in 1939, according to CBS News, "For six months, Mary Nixon and 10 other orphans were relentlessly belittled for every little imperfection in their speech to test the theory that children become stutterers because of psychological pressure."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 11: Emily Blunt (R) presents an award to Nolan Russo onstage during the American Institute For Stuttering 13th Annual Gala at Gustavino's on July 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for American Institute For Stuttering )

The study happened at the University of Iowa in Davenport, IA, and eventually, Mary Nixon got together with other test subjects in 2003 (the date of the CBS story) to sue because some of their lifelong mental-health issues harken back to that experiment.

The professor that planned the experiment was Wendell Johnson, a well-known and respected speech expert. Mary Tudor, a graduate student, ran the experiment with Johnson watching over her shoulder. Half the kids were praised constantly. The other half was not so lucky. Not only did they see a host of mental health issues throughout their life, but some of them retained speech problems the rest of their lives.

Don't Judge Them By Today's Standards

According to the CBS story,

"From the 2003 perspective, he conducted a hugely unethical project," said Arthur Caplan, head of the University of Pennsylvania's bioethics center. But 60 years ago, ethical rules did not exist, and experiments were done using minorities, disabled children or prisoners "because you didn't think of them as morally equivalent to others."

Contrast that point of view with this quote from the wiki article,

It was dubbed the "Monster Study" as some of Johnson's peers were horrified that he would experiment on orphan children to confirm a hypothesis. The experiment was kept hidden for fear Johnson's reputation would be tarnished in the wake of human experiments conducted by the Nazis during World War II.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 11: Benjamin Schussheim speaks onstage during the American Institute For Stuttering 13th Annual Gala at Gustavino's on July 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for American Institute For Stuttering )

Did They Win Their Lawsuit?

The State of Iowa agreed to award a total of $1.2 Million to the plaintiffs for "lifelong psychological and emotional scars caused by six months of torment during the University of Iowa experiment."

Personal Note: 82-years-ago is a long time. I'm not writing this to attack Iowa or the  University. I'm writing it because we so often hear "don't judge people by modern standards if they're not living in modern times." Sometimes I buy that as an argument, but then I read something like this...

But 60 years ago, ethical rules did not exist, and experiments were done using minorities, disabled children or prisoners "because you didn't think of them as morally equivalent to others. (source)

And in that atmosphere of ethical horrors, people said what this professor was doing was horrifying. Plus hiding the study hints heavily at what they knew and felt about their ethics.

circa 1936: Rosco Ates (1892 - 1962) the short American actor with a stutter who moved from the stage to films in 1929. He was also a violinist and vaudeville performer. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

So what do we do? We try to do better. Try to love people, all people, even the worst of us because if we don't, pretty soon we could be lulled into doing the same kind of things they did in 1939.

 

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Trunk Or Treating In and Around Rochester, Minnesota!

Huge List of Halloween Trunk or Treat and Family-Friendly Events in Southeast Minnesota

If you are looking for a fun and safe Halloween event for your kids this year, check out this huge list of trunk or treats and fun, family-friendly events happening in Rochester and throughout Southeast Minnesota!