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This is a question Pointless Experiments

Pavlov's Frog writes: I once spent 20 minutes with my eyes closed to see what it was like being blind. I smashed my knee on the kitchen cupboard, and decided I'd be better off deaf as you can still watch television.

(, Thu 24 Jul 2008, 12:00)
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Mind control
The human mind is a subtle and delicate thing, and putting it in front of 120 psychology students and expecting them not to tear the wings off to see how it flies is an act of stunning naivety. Still, every year people choose to put themselves in the firing line and try to lecture the little bastards. And boy, were we bastards.

The greatest experiment we ever tried was inspired by Pavlov. Reasoning that the dogs didn't have to consciously reason that the bell meant food was coming, I figured that the same should be true of humans. All I needed was a victim, a lecture theatre full of like-minded bastards and a way of keeping score.

The like-minded bastards were easy to find, and I had an opportunity to recruit them fairly early on in the term when a lecturer failed to show. This gave me the opportunity to take to the front and launch the grand experiment.

The question I asked them was simple - just as Pavlov made dogs salivate when they heard a bell, could we make a lecturer sweat when she thought a lecture was going well?

Obviously we couldn't measure a lecturer's sweat directly, unless one of us was prepared to seduce the luckless victim and take regular swabs - and even our flexible moral code drew the line at this. Instead we reasoned that the closer the victim was to the radiator at the side of the lecture theatre, the more they'd be sweating. Simple.

Thus the game began. When the lecturer moved towards the radiator, we leant forward and tried to look interested. When the victim moved away, we sat back and started getting distracted. The first couple of lectures were agony - trying to look as absorbed as possible whilst 120 people all try to stifle giggles because you once stood up and suggested something stupid - is nearly impossible.

After a month, my records show, the lecturer was spending 64% of her time within about 10m of the radiator. Within three months we'd got that to within 90% and we were pushing her more and more often into the 5m zone - a position so ludicrously uncomfortable that she couldn't actually see her own slides. By the end of the year we actually managed to get her to collapse with heat exhaustion after some clever bastard (not me, sadly) thought to bribe the caretaker to put the heating on full blast for two hours in the middle of summer (for "servicing", apparently) - we had conditioned her so well that she was unable to move out of the swiftly christened "death zone".

I guess this doesn't qualify for a pointless experiment as it taught me quite a lot. For example, if you're humping a radiator to get attention, you're best off getting a new job for the sake of your health. It also taught me that subtle mind-control techniques are amazingly effective. Now you will send me all your money.

(No apologies for length, because it was clearly enough to fuck at least one mind. No apologies for not naming lecturer nor university - but we told the new undergrads the secret and I like to think they've passed it on so that she's still there, hugging the radiator. Imagine the damage it'd cause if she realised the reason behind her addiction to Hammerite?)
(, Thu 24 Jul 2008, 20:32, closed)
I'd just like to say
that was bloody brilliant.
(, Thu 24 Jul 2008, 20:49, closed)
Fine work
Top marks!
(, Thu 24 Jul 2008, 21:18, closed)
Did your peers realise
that you'd also successfully conditioned them?

(, Thu 24 Jul 2008, 21:44, closed)
Funny you should say that
I sort of conditioned myself in the end - I find that every time I see a radiator I still remember old scientific terms that I haven't used for years!
(, Thu 24 Jul 2008, 23:35, closed)

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