April 14, 2024


An infamous American case of doctors experimenting on orphans without their consent is close to settlement. The state of Iowa has agreed to pay US$925,000 to several people who were dragooned into a study on stuttering in 1939. The plaintiffs had sought $13.5 million.

The experiment, run by Dr Wendell Johnson, a pioneer of speech pathology, involved harassing and badgering children in the state- run Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in an effort to turn them into stutterers. None did, but some became reluctant to speak or self- conscious. The experiment was kept secret for decades until it was exposed by the San Jose Mercury in 2001.