Elephants on Acid review

Elephants on Acid review

‘Elephants on Acid and other Bizarre Experiments’ is an absorbing book dedicated to fringe science experiments – to zombie kittens, the Mozart effect on babies and the real difference between Pepsi and Coke. A worthy edition to anyone’s bookshelf!

The laboratory was filled with a flash of light. The body on the table jolted as volt after volt of electricity poured into it. Generators whirred and the odd stray lightning bolt struck here and there. The scientist rubbed his hands with glee, his face smudged with soot, his hair a white halo around his head. Slowly, the creature on the table stirred; its eyelids fluttered and snapped open. “It’s ALIVE!”

We’re all familiar with the mad scientist stereotype, seen it in movies, read it in books. Frankenstein or Carry on Screaming jump readily to my mind. But what we may not realise is that these fictional crazed scientists may not be far from the truth. ‘Elephants on Acid’ sees Alex Boese delve into the world of fringe science – exploring the funny, freaky and downright twisted.

Boese uses Elephants on Acid: and Other Bizarre Experiments to dredge up the quirkiest and most surreal experiments from history’s back catalogues. All these experiments really happened, and they were believed to have some scientific merit in their time. Ranging from zombie kittens to the Mozart effect in babies, this book has everything. Here you can learn about the man who gave LSD to an elephant, the creation of two headed dogs, or about the fact that people really do get more attractive towards the end of a night on the town. The accounts are arranged into categories depending on their subject which are listed in the contents, plus further reading is listed in an incredibly detailed index at the back.

Visceral display lovers, however, must look elsewhere, if you want a book with pure shock value this is not the tome for you. ‘Elephants on Acid’ focuses on the surreal and the unbelievable, not the horrific – and there isn’t a Nazi experiment in sight. But don’t be disheartened, this book is perfect for any science or history buff out there, as well as for anyone who likes having oddball facts to throw into a conversation. For example, did you know that there is no real difference between the taste of Coke and Pepsi, its all to do with Coke’s excellent marketing scheme that makes it the favoured drink for most? No? Well, neither did I till I read this book.

‘Elephants on Acid’ has something for everyone and covers a vast range of topics. The accounts of the experiments are detailed but not tiresome and all are laced with Boese’s witty commentary. Any psychology students will no doubt recognise some of the names, with the likes of Milgram and Harlow cropping up here and there. These fringe science experiments are so fascinating that they could be a little more detailed but on the whole ‘Elephants on Acid’ would be a worthy edition to anyone’s bookshelf.

But whatever you do – and you’ll have to read the book to get this – don’t think about a white bear.

Elephants on Acid

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