Is This Experiment Worth Having Your Testicles Squeezed?

Illustration for article titled Is This Experiment Worth Having Your Testicles Squeezed?

There's no question that knowledge has value. The question is, how much value does it have? One experiment involved male participants having their testicles squeezed by a strange man. We'll tell you what they learned from the experiment, and you decide whether it was worth it.


What would you sacrifice for science? This comes to mind when looking at an experiment conducted in 1935, by Edward Carmichael. He had people sit in a chair, eyes closed, their fingers in little glass tubes. Carmichael came up to them and made loud noises, or put ice down their clothes, or stuck them with pins. Then he had them strip down. At random times, during the experiment, he snuck up behind them and squeezed their testicles. He tried this experiment on two groups - some people who were neurotypical, and some people who had received traumatic brain injuries.

Now, before you judge, consider that Carmichael was looking for something rather important. The body has a conscious nervous system, that helps control voluntary actions like moving and talking. It also has a autonomic nervous system, which regulates digestion, heart rate, and other unconscious responses. Among them is the body's response to shocks - the one that we rely on in an emergency situation. One of our responses to shocks is constriction of the blood vessels. This is the reason for the finger tubes. When the blood vessels constrict, the body part they're in shrinks as well. The tubes were there to measure how much the person's fingers shrink.

Carmichael found that, in neurotypical people, any major shock brought on the emergency response, and the person's fingers shrank. Most of the people who had suffered brain damage exhibited the same response. The only people whose fingers did not shrink were the people whose autonomic nervous system had been damaged.

This is valuable information. At the same time, it seems like there had to be other ways of obtaining it. Couldn't Carmichael have stopped with just the pins, the loud noises, and the ice? Going for the testicles seems like an over-reaction. Unfortunately, I do not own a set of testicles. Accordingly, I have to throw the question to the floor. Would those who do own testicles give their opinion on this? You've seen the scientific knowledge uncovered by this experiment - you be the judge. Do you think it would be worth having your testicles manhandled to bring this information to light?

I await your response.

(Those without testicles should feel free to weigh in as well. In fact, it would be interesting to see if there's a difference in responses.)


Image: William Warby

[Via Squeezing Testicles Causes Finger Shrinkage.]





Did he make it clear that he was going to squeeze my testicles? Does he have prior testicle squeezing experience (other than his own?) If he had squeezed say 12 before with no ill effects I'd be fine with it. I recognize I'm probably an outlier here. The most uncomfortable part of the testicle exam in a physical to me is not the the actual testicle handling. It's the doctors comfort level with it. I'd rather an old guy (or woman) who's been doing it for 30 years and goes through the whole thing on automatic, than the new intern who gets nervous and then you get that conspicuous lack of eye contact. That just make the whole thing weird to me.

sticking me with pins unexpectedly would earn him a kick though.