The Calhoun rodent experiments: the real-life rats of NIMH

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Calhoun’s prophet rodents and the creation of the “behavioural sink”

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aerial view of a rat experiment enclosure
An illustration of one of Calhoun's rat experiments. Credit: National Library of Medicine, John B. Calhoun papers, 1909-1996. MS C 586. Series III: Historical Flow Chart (HFC), 1909-1995, box 143, folder 1.

A seminal research work on overpopulation in rodent communities created an increasingly elaborate set of experiments in search of rat utopia. The work ended up referencing the Book of Revelation, and may have predicted the end of days for all of humanity.

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