The 6 Most Evil Scientists of All Time
Many of us grew up hating the evil scientists in our favorite sci-fi shows. Some of our most cherished cartoons even had an evil scientist or two. I still remember the villainous Simon Bar Sinister that Underdog used to wage battle with¹.
Never did we venture to think that any of these unsavory characters would ever come to life. But, unfortunately, they did — and with more wickedness, than we could ever imagine.
Check out these unbelievable evil scientists from history. They will blow your mind.
Alfred Nobel (1833–1896)
The famed Swedish chemist from which the prestigious Nobel Prize is named was actually the father of explosives². He discovered the use of nitroglycerine when he invented dynamite. From this discovery, Nobel went on to teach the world how to mass produce deadly explosives.
He engineered the construction and development of countless explosive factories throughout Europe. One of which killed his own brother Emil and many others in a deadly factory accident. The future death count from his creation would be among the most ever by one scientist.
When he passed away in 1896, Nobel had left a sizeable chunk of his enormous fortune to establish an annual award for high achievement in the fields of Chemistry, Medicine, Physics, Literature, and Peace — Economics was added later. Some believe this was done to whitewash his tarnished legacy.
Noble died from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1896. Many newspapers throughout the world referred to Nobel as the ‘Merchant of Death’ upon his passing.
Trofim Lysenko (1898–1976)
Trofim Lysenko was assigned to oversee Soviet agriculture during the 1930s³. From the start, he despised genetics, which was a young field that had rapidly advanced in the 1920s. Genetics had emphasized the idea of plants and animals possessing specific traits passed down to their offspring.
Lysenko saw these ideas of genetics as evil and reactionary, which denied any capacity for growth and change. He instead assumed the Marxist notion that the environment alone influenced the development of animals and plants. He believed that the proper setting and exposure would remake them to fit any desire.
With these beliefs, Lysenko attempted to ‘educate’ Soviet crops to germinate at different times of the year — doing things like soaking them in freezing water, among other crazy practices. He believed future generations of those crops would remember these environmental cues and inherit the beneficial traits. Along with this, there were promises of boosting crop yields nationwide.
While these claims were precisely what Soviet leaders liked to hear, the opposite was what they got. The Soviet Union’s agricultural program was nothing short of disastrous. Lysenko’s absurd policies created widespread crop failure and famine. It is estimated that around 30 million died from starvation.
Lysenko died of natural causes in 1976 at the age of 78.
Johann Konrad Dippel (1673–1734)
Johann Konrad Dippel specialized in alchemy, theology, and philosophy⁴. He was born at Castle Frankenstein and believed to be the real Dr. Frankenstein — or at least the inspiration for Shelley’s book. While this may be debatable, what isn’t questioned is how this brilliant doctor conducted several vivisections on people.
Dippel had experimented with nitroglycerin to the point that he destroyed a tower. However, during the process, he also found a medicinal use for this volatile substance. It was also rumored that he performed many gruesome experiments in his tower with cadavers.
Legend also claims that Dippel once tried to transfer one cadaver's soul into another cavader, but there are no details about the experiment. So the claim is unconfirmed.
Oddly enough, his biggest contribution to humankind was Dippel’s oil — a nitrogenous by-product from the manufacture of bone char. This oil is used as a base product in Prussian blue dye — which is still being used by artists today. Until then, blue dies were incredibly costly to make.
In constant search for a life-sustaining elixir, Dippel died from chemical poisoning in 1734.
Dr. Joseph Mengele (1911–1979)
Dr. Josef Mengele was the infamous Nazi doctor who conducted hideous medical experiments at the Auschwitz death camps⁵. When World War II broke out, Mengele became the medical officer for the SS — who was Hitler’s elite secret police that inflicted terror campaigns in the name of Nazism.
In 1943, Mengele was assigned to the Auschwitz death camps in Poland. There he supervised the selection of incoming prisoners for either immediate execution or backbreaking labor. With strong ambitions, he attempted to advance his medical career by publishing ‘groundbreaking’ work.
This was when he started experimenting with living Jewish prisoners. Under the guise of medical treatment, Mengele would inject thousands of prisoners with everything from petroleum to chloroform and observed the effects. Among his many atrocities, he removed the eyes from Gypsy corpses to examine their pigmentation and conducted several gruesome experiments on twins.
Mengele became known as the Angel of Death since he determined life or death for so many prisoners. It is said that there were many occasions where he condemned specific subjects to death so he could dissect them later.
Mengele died in 1979 from a stroke while swimming in Brazil.
Dr. Sigmund Rascher (1909–1945)
Dr. Sigmund Rascher is among the most despicable scientists of all time⁶. Along with Mengele, Rascher sought to pursue his personal ambitions during the sprawl of Nazism. As a SS doctor in 1939, he asked his boss, Heinrich Himmler, to send live human subjects for his experiments. He worked on plant extracts as a potential cure for cancer and believed that humans would be better subjects than lab rats.
As with many Nazi scientists and doctors, Rasher conducted his fair share of atrocities. At the Dachau concentration camp, he conducted hideous experiments such as placing prisoners in air chambers — to see how little oxygen was needed to survive.
Most prisoners did not survive these air chamber studies. Himmler felt that air chamber survivors should be spared a death sentence and given life imprisonment instead. Rascher disagreed, saying they were ‘only Russians and Poles’ and deserved no compensation at all.
Rascher conducted hypothermia research on some three hundred prisoners at Dachau, which killed approximately a third of them. He also conducted many medication experiments on human subjects. And if this depravity wasn’t enough, Rascher even collected human skin from which he had saddles made.
Fortunately, this evil man was executed by a German firing squad in 1945 for betraying Himmler.
Shiro Ishii (1892–1959)
Shiro-Ishii was a microbiologist by trade, and also a lieutenant general for the Imperial Japanese Army⁷. He served with a biological warfare unit during the Second Sino-Japanese War. He studied medicine at Kyoto Imperial University.
In 1932, he started working on a secret project that conducted preliminary experiments in biological warfare for the Japanese military. And later, in 1936, Unit 731 was created to pursue these deadly biological weapons. Ishii constructed a vast huge compound of over 150 buildings outside of Harbin, China.
It was on this compound that unspeakable depravity occurred under his command. Among the atrocities were the vivisection of live people and the amputations of limbs that were reattached to other body regions. They even froze parts of the bodies of prisoners to study gangrene that resulted afterward. Weapons like flame throwers and grenades were often tested on living humans as well.
Prisoners were given vaccinations that were actually inoculations of various diseases so that the effects could be studied. They observed untreated venereal diseases, as both female and male prisoners were raped and deliberately infected with gonorrhea and syphilis. Amazingly, these are just a small sample of what was done at Unit 731.
Incredibly, Ishii was never punished or sent to jail because of immunity granted by the American Occupation Authorities when the war ended. He eventually died of throat cancer at the age of 67.
: imdb.com. Underdog. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060037/
: Jeff Glorfield. (October 23, 2018). Science history: The merchant of death who commemorated peace. https://cosmosmagazine.com/chemistry/science-history-the-merchant-of-death-who-commemorated-peace/.
: Sam Kean. (December 19, 2017). The Soviet Era’s Deadliest Scientist Is Regaining Popularity in Russia. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/12/trofim-lysenko-soviet-union-russia/548786/.
: Wikipedia. Johann Conrad Dippel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Conrad_Dippel.
: History.com. Josef Mengele, known as the “Angel of Death,” dies. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-angel-of-death-dies.
: Nina Renata Aron. (November 15, 2017). This fraudulent and sadistic Nazi doctor was executed in the same camp where he once worked. https://timeline.com/sigmund-rasher-nazi-doctor-37ca7120a2c3.
: Warfare History Network. (October 20, 2020). Shiro Ishii, Head of Unit 731’s Horrific Human Experiments, Was Never Punished. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/reboot/shiro-ishii-head-unit-731s-horrific-human-experiments-was-never-punished-170983