Everyone has heard of some form of horrific science experiment, things usually involving torture of subjects who are forced to participate against their will. Subjects of these experiments were typically prisoners of war who were as good as dead anyway.
Well what if I were to tell you that one of these experiments took place in the united states; as difficult as it is to believe it’s true. in the 1930s there was an experiment called the silence study. Finding any account of this experiment was nearly impossible, but in an old university library deep within the archives was the first hand account from the scientist running the study, Dr. Maxwell Adrian.
5 August 1948
The 1930s is a time in United States history where poverty ran rampant more so then any other time in our nation’s history thus far. This time period would also be the setting for the most controversial, and last, study of my career. Getting subjects was simple really, find 10 homeless people no one would miss, and in the 1930s this was as easy as going to the super market and getting 10 apples. We would lure subjects toward a van with the promise of food and money just for answering a few questions.
What really awaited them was a syringe full of Demerol and a ride to our laboratory. All of the subjects were obtained simultaneously and were each placed in separate rooms upon arrival. They were told one thing and one thing only “Do not speak for the duration of your time here. You are not to speak, not one word. If you do you will be immediately terminated.
Compliance will earn you your freedom at the end of ten days. Do you understand?” If subjects spoke to answer they received a mild shock and the instructions were repeated until they learned to nod as their answer. Seven out of ten subjects were shocked once before nodding. Two were never shocked, and one was shocked twice. This subject displayed the highest levels of anxiety.
After each of the subjects were efficiently briefed they were all put in one dimly lit containment chamber with a lone door and no windows. The subjects were given no instructions and we observed them for the first 24 hours, no food or water was given. Nothing of note happened during the first 24 hours, a lot of sitting in the corner, pacing and sleeping.
We planned to go another 24 hours without nourishing them to see if they would elicit a response for survival needs or stay quiet for fear of certain death. At about 38 hours the first subject snapped, he started yelling at the top of his lungs to be released. At this point I walked into the chamber; as soon as the door opened the subject stopped screaming. All the subjects just looked at me in awe, I walked to the center of the room and without hesitation I shot the subject in the head. The sound of the gunshot startled the subjects, but none of them screamed. Then I slowly walked out of the room without saying a word.
When the 48 hour mark hit some assistants and I walked into the chamber with 9 equal plates of food and placed them in the center of the room. A female subject asked ‘may we eat’ to which I turned and faced her, and again without hesitation and without saying a word I shot her. I removed one dish of food and my assistants and I left. The subjects were hesitant to eat the food but after an hour they had all begun eating in silence.
72 hours in my assistants and I walked into the chamber yet again, 8 subjects remaining, 2 dead with their bodies beginning to rot. This time we brought only 4 plates of food, the subjects displayed confused facial expressions but did not say a word. Almost immediately after we closed the door behind us the subjects approached the food and without speaking they each ate half a portion of the food. This astounded my colleagues and I, this idea that altruism would prevail when only nonverbal cues were present. One of my more creative assistants got an idea that we should introduce aggressive cues to their environment.
On the 96th hour the subjects were all displaying signs of severe fatigue. I entered the chamber with 2 assistants one on each side each with a single dish of food. They placed the food down and I reached in my lab coat, at which point all the subjects flinched. I pulled out a large knife, nothing fancy something you would find in any kitchen, and dropped in on the ground. This made a loud sound which startled the subjects. I then walked out without saying a word.
The door closed and each of the subjects were fixated on the knife until finally one got up and grabbed it, he just stood there in silence looking at it. Just then another subject got up and picked up a plate of food. Before the subject could even touch the food the subject with the knife violently stabbed her in the stomach. She fell to the ground and he got on top of her violently stabbing her all over until she laid there motionless. Blood now started to cover the floor as the subject took both plates of food and sat in the corner, eating in silence.
It is now the 5th day and we are down to six subjects. One of my assistants told me that during the night the subject with the knife quietly killed another subject. We entered the room armed today with a lone plate of food. We examined the two newly dead subjects, it was such a paradox to see them killed in the same way, and yet so differently. One subject had at least thirty stab wounds, and the other had but one right in the heart. We left the food on the floor and walked out silent as usual.
As soon as the door closed what we saw next shocked us like nothing us thus far in the experiment. Two subjects were sprinting toward the food, they were sprinting at rates which should theoretically be impossible for them given how malnourished and fatigued they were.
The subject with the knife saw this and sprinted just as quickly to the center of the room. A violent brawl ensued and was happening faster then we could record it. In the end two subjects had died one from being stabbed in the stomach several times and one from a snapped neck. An important thing to note is that the subject who originally had the knife was the one who had his neck snapped.
The events that took place on the 6th day were things I thought I would never see in my lifetime, they disgusted us to a point I thought we would never reach. With only four subjects remaining and one with a knife, desperation started to set in. Two of the subjects had spent 6 hours straight eating the dead subjects. Biting off all the flesh, ripping open their torsos with their bare hands and pulling out and eating all of the intestines, this made them sick but they did not stop.
The final subject had been docile from day one and continued to do so on this day. By the time we brought the lone plate of food in all of the dead bodies were mangled with the remaining parts scattered throughout the chamber, blood now covered the floor and could even been seen smeared on the walls. Despite the feelings of horror and disgust we felt we still did not speak, and none of the remaining subjects had spoken in 6 days. We dropped the food and left, and as expected the subject with the knife took it.
Hour 178. It has been a week since we started this study, we started with ten subjects and we are down to three. During the initial hours of the seventh day the two subjects who turned to cannibalism got into a violent fight where the victor killed and ate the loser. However the subject was left crippled and having already consumed his rival he snapped off his frail and now useless legs and is gnawing on them now. The other two subjects are sitting in silence watching this subject enjoy his last meal while he slowly bleeds out and dies.
At this point all of my colleagues have quit and some even hung themselves in the facility. I knew the experiment could not go on any longer.
On the dawn of the 8th day I walked into the room, this room filled with blood, vomit, and feces. To look into this room never mind to set foot in it was the most disgusting fate I could imagine, and it was I who created this hell, this hell where everyone suffered but no one screamed. I walked into the room and spoke to the subjects for the first time in a week.
“Congratulations on completion of the experiment, you have earned your freedom.” I walked out of the room leaving the door open behind me, out of curiosity I stayed to watch their reactions, not even caring if they killed me at this point. They just stared at the door for hours, as if it were some kind of trap. The docile subject finally walked out like a zombie, the remaining subject took the knife and slit his own throat.
I left that godforsaken place and never went back. Its rumored that the surviving subject lived for another 15 years and did not speak a single word during that time. For better or for worse this experiment was conducted, what’s done is done and this is my account of it.
That report was found in an abandoned warehouse in New York City, and was on the archive for only an hour on the faithful day that I was looking. The entry also contained a photo of a piece of paper that was found with the report but was in different handwriting which read:
“Max, good luck in going forward with the project, we can’t wait to hear how it goes. –H.H.”
There is no record of anyone by the name of Dr. Maxwell Adrian ever existing, and no mention of the silence study what so ever. But what convinces me is the note at the end of the file, because if you zoom in on the bottom right corner you can see a smudge, and if you look really hard at it you can make out an image of the presidential seal.