Monday, May 7, 2012

2012 Philosopher's Way 15K

A view of the experiment from above

Physiological and Psychological Effects of 
Entrapment in a Complex Maze

2012 May 5

Department of Biology
Dept of Psychology
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The purpose of this study was to gauge the effects of forcing lab rats to repeatably run through a complex maze.

Unfortunately, due to protests by animal rights activists from the neighboring (and notably left leaning) city of Carrboro, we were forced to abandon the use of rats and mice in our laboratory maze experiments.

To avoid the ethical, legal and moral complications of using animals, the design of this research experiment was adjusted to use human subjects instead.


To accommodate the larger size of human subjects, a 750 acre maze was carved into the Carolina North Forest on the UNC Campus. To blind the research subjects to the purpose of this experiment,  the purported reason for the event was a "trail race".

176 Test Subjects.  Identity concealed to protect anonymity

This was the 5th iteration of this experiment, and for this test case 176 volunteers were recruited by the research team posing as a fictitious running group called the "Trail Heads".


Measurement #1: Exertion to physical failure

A robotic decoy, model #D.HOGE.1000 (here after referred to as the DH1000), was once again deployed as a stimulus. The  DH1000 was set to a speed of 10 mph and launched into the maze.

This induced several test subjects to attempt to follow, despite the speed being beyond what any human can sustain in the maze. These subjects all ran themselves into complete exhaustion within 8 minutes.

It was observed that subject #53 (shirtless douche bag, male), did not attempt pursue the DH1000, as he has in 2 previous trials. This demonstrates that "learning" can be achieved through repeated negative reinforcement of applied pain and suffering.

Subject #53 (nipples redacted) showing signs extreme physical stress
and erratic behavior (photo by Drew Kelley)

Measurement #2: Application of Extreme Heat and Humidity

At exactly 10 minutes into the experiment, the temperature was raised to 25 degrees C, and humidity to 90%. As expected, this induced sweating, discomfort, and illness among the test subjects.

Subject #53 began to exhibit erratic behavior, including slurred speech and a wobbling gait. When presented with cups of water, subject dumped them on his head instead of ingesting them.

Measurement #3: Effects of random and rapid changes in direction

In order for test subjects to exit the maze, they were forced to endure 800 random turns designed to confuse and disorient. Subjects showed signs of nausea, bewilderment, and depression.

Test subject #53 was observed to be weeping uncontrollably, and shouting "Is there any fricking end to this?! How do I get out of here?!"


Tricking human volunteer test subjects into a giant maze in the woods, and then observing them trying to escape can be wildly entertaining.

As in previous experiments, subject #53 was again observed to have sustained physical trauma.
To correct this, a gift certificate to Balanced Physical Therapy was promptly administered.

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