Those Belgian neurologists, although they could hardly be accused of harming anybody, were therefore close to "mad" on a scale of mad to scientist. They took some people engaged in ordinary activities — let's face it: Sleep-deprived video game playing isn't that unusual — and made them into a bunch of test subjects. There's something deeply weird about that. It's also exactly the sort of experimentation that scientific inquiry should inspire. Sometimes the results may be silly, and they were downright scary in an era before review boards regulated tests on human subjects. But today such experiments encourage us to question what we take for granted in our daily lives. After all, it's the urge to understand the everyday that drives other MRI nerds to study how the brain processes vision, and geneticists to investigate which genes regulate aging.
I'm glad I live in a world where everything can be turned into an impromptu scientific paper. I'd rather be a research subject than an undiscovered condition. SFBG
Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who has, in fact, been studied by several scientists, but not for the reasons you think.