Self-experimentation in Scientific American

Science has a long history of self-experimentation. Ethics and objectivity questions aside, researchers often found that the only way to satisfy their curiosity was by experimenting on themselves. For example, 16th century physician Santorio Santorii ran a 30 year self-experiment where he weighed himself, his food, his drink, and his excrement, in what was perhaps the first study of metabolism. According to Scientific American's JR Minkel, the 1987 book Who Goes First? The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine by Lawrence Altman is a wonderful history of these kinds of self-studies. Over at Scientific American's Web site, Minkel tells eight stories of "do-it-on-yourself discovery. Here are the brave souls he profiles, several of whom are certainly familiar to regular BB readers:

• Kevin Warwick wired his nervous system into the Internet and his wife; now he's out to become one with The Matrix

• Morgan Spurlock turned an extreme Big Mac Attack into a public health wake-up call

• Stephen Hoffman has given years of sweat–and lots of blood–on his quest to stop a global killer

• Olivier Ameisen had tried everything to dry out; then he heard about baclofen

• Deb Roy and his family are risking their privacy so that someday computers might understand human speech

• Seth Roberts says the key to self-help lies in the scientific method

• Sasha Giedd would have been the only girl in high school with a time-lapse movie of her developing brain, if not for a change in the rules

• Alexander Shulgin endured a government crackdown and bone-melting hallucinations in pursuit of new mind-bending compounds

Link to Scientific American, Link to buy Who Goes First? The Story of Self-Experimentation In Medicine