Head inclined towards the table, eyes drifting from the person in front of you to the clock above, your head falls further until it hits the table and a loud call of your name jerks you awake. All this while you wonder only one thing, ’why the hell is history so boring?’
For some history enthusiasts like us, history may not be boring but the monotonous repetition of same facts over the years may cause you to doze off in classes. For some, history classes can be a nightmare or like nighttime when they only want to sleep.
What if the lessons that we are taught in the classes are not the only noticeable events of history? There ought to be some harrowing episodes in the history of the world that would keep you on edge and keep you awake. What if we are taught about those daunting happenings in history classes?
The below listed perturbing benchmarks of human history will answer the above questions for you.
- The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment is an infamous psychological inspection of human perceived powers. Zimbardo and his associates turned the basement of the Stanford University into a mock prison. After careful interviews and further scrutiny 10 faux prisoners and 11 faux prison guards were chosen. These 21 students were placed in the prison. The rules were simple; the chosen ones had to act according to their assigned roles. The ‘guards’ were given full authority to discipline the ‘prisoners’ and the ‘prisoners’ were to function correspondingly.
The environment of the experiment was congruent to that of an actual prison. The ‘prisoners’ were treated like actual criminals and given numbers that replaced their names. After few hours of onset of the experiment, the ‘guards’ started inflicting psychological torture on the ‘criminals’. The ‘criminals’ started to rebel. Those who did not participate in the outburst were given special privileges and the guilty were stripped of their clothes, beds and other amenities. The psychological abuse drove the prisoners to go hysterical. One such tormented prisoner started shouting, crying and cursing, all the while not wanting to leave because of the fear of being called out as a ‘bad prisoner’. The experiment was suppose to last for 2 weeks but was shut down after 6 days. The guards had become too aggressive and the prisoners too submissive. The morality of the experiment is still debated.
During 1932-1933, millions of Ukrainians died due to a massive man-made famine. The households were pillaged of food and essentials, people were deprived of outside help and mass gathering was also proscribed. In the 1932 harvest, the Soviet authorities were only able to collect 4.3 million tons of food while in 1931, 7.2 million tons was procured. The government cut short the supply of replenishments. The urban areas started rationing. Soon that was scratched too. Stupendous number of people died due to malnutrition. The macabre repercussions of the famine did not stop here. Stalin’s forced industrialization of Russia led to extensive cannibalism. It did not matter if the residents were rich or poor or of distinct colour, everyone was starving and few resorted to cannibalism. There have been many incidents reported of parents eating their own children. If they did not expedient to man-slaughter, they were ravaged then feasted on. Not only did this forceful act by Soviet of suppression and subjugation was nefarious in its own conduct but also led to vile and depraved consequences.
Ever heard of the Greek goddess of wisdom Athena and her interesting way of birth? Zeus feared Meti’s son would overthrow him. So what is the best solution? Eat the lady! Zeus swallowed Metis while she was pregnant. Metis gave birth to Athena in Zeus’s body. Little Athena wrecked havoc in Zeus’s head. His head ached so much that his agonized cries could be heard on the Earth. His son Hephaestus, the Blacksmith assuaged his pain by opening a whole in his head. Athena sprang from that whole and that is how the Greek goddess of wisdom was born. Interesting? Now consider if you had a headache and your head was drilled into. Haunting? Well it seemed Hippocrates felt this method could cure mean ailments profusely. Disorders from meningitis to epilepsy were treated by opening a hole in the head with a tool called trepan to let out unwanted fluids. It was similar to bloodletting. Not only this proved to be a complete failure but also served as a basis of lot of medical studies. However today it is still practiced to cure various maladies which require surgery, it may not necessarily be the head. Eye operations and older version of lobotomy required burrowing into the skin under prescribed conditions.
- THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION
In May 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin set out on a voyage to find the apocryphal Northwest Passage. Packed with three years worth sustenance, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror reached Victoria Strait where unfortunately they were rendered icebound. The harsh climate brought no signs of comfort or any hope of rescue. After living for 18 months in the icy stockade, the survivors set to walk through the freezing and abrasive environment to some place of warmth. However, sadly they disappeared in the long swathes of white, merciless land. On the other side, Lady Franklin requested the government to look for her ‘missing’ husband. The officials shrugged off her request claiming these types of expeditions take time. But after some time search parties were assigned and the search for the ships started. Corpses of dead mariners and people on board were found underneath the thick layers of snow. The wretched state of caricatures hinted on lead poisoning, malnutrition, and even cannibalism. It seemed to survive the mariners had taken on to their comrade’s skin and organ during the trek to Canadian Lands. Only two persevered through the peril. The ships were still missing. In 2014, 170 years later the wrecked carcasses of HMS Erebus and Terror were found. The demolished ships related the horrendous and poignant story of the survivors and the dead. However one good thing did happen, the sequestered parts of the Northwest Passage were found later because of Captain Franklin’s dire journey.
- THE RUSSIAN SLEEP EXPERIMENT
Missiles flying, tanks loaded, guns positioned and hundreds of soldiers stationed at different outposts, made it clear WWW2 was not going to be any better than WWW1. Russians saw that too. They wondered how they can increase their manpower. What if the soldiers did not sleep at night? What if they never got tired? This surely would aid them during the grueling hours of war. Just like other Powers, the Russians started to prepare a drug to keep their soldiers awake. The prisoners of the war were chosen as lab rats. 5 prisoners were taken into a secluded room with all the facilities. The terms were simple, they were to stay awake for 30 days, do regular exercise, eat and drink at normal times, not harm other inmates and at last they would be freed. They were observed at all times, gas was diffused in the air at regular intervals. At first things were going smoothly. However on the 6th day a prisoner started screaming suddenly. He tore his vocal chords from screaming while the other prisoners did not even blink at him. Their state started to deteriorate maddeningly. The prisoners would speak to themselves, start howling at a high pitch or remain so still one would assume they were dead. Seeing their grim condition, the researchers decided to terminate the experiment. On 15th day the gas was not allowed in the room. The prisoners went hysteric. They roared for the gas, they claimed they did not want to sleep or let out. Next day they could not be seen through the solo window. The researchers got worried. They decided to open the chamber. The door was opened to a sight of chaos and gore. A prisoner had been ripped into pieces; his dead body lied on the floor while the other prisoners were feeding on themselves. They were immediately brought to the doctors. 2 died while being treated. The other two yelled and begged for the gas. They were re-incarcerated into the gas filled room only to be shot by the researchers. Many claim this incident to be fictitious while few still seek the truth in it.
HISTORY ISN’T THAT BORING INSN’T IT?