These are not examples of random crackpot medical experiments. All of the following were performed by well-respected, influential physicians and researchers during their time.
What we're trying to say is that these individuals have thrown down the proverbial gauntlet of badassery, making most of modern-day medicine look really, really lame.
Max Josef von Pettenkofer, desperate to give people something other than the absurdity of his name to talk about, decided that he could get a whole lot of mileage out of being a batshit scientist.
Pettenkofer was a late 19th century medical researcher and public health advocate who developed the very first large-scale pure-water system in Munich, Germany. And even though that's probably very impressive, from now until the day you die, if you remember anything about Pettenkofer, it will be this: Max Josef von Pettenkofer drank a steaming cup of cholera bacteria that he cultured from a patient's diarrhea bombs.
"Five bucks, and I'll drink that poop. Dare me? I'm gonna do it anyway."
Fun fact: The patient was dead.
You see, famous German physician and future Nobel laureate Robert Koch had just discovered the actual bacterium that causes cholera. But Pettenkofer suspected that the bacterium alone wouldn't cause cholera; he believed that other environmental conditions had to be in place for the disease to really make an impact. He noticed that the people who came down with cholera weren't just coming into contact with the disease -- they also rarely washed, had poor hygiene and drank filthy groundwater. Pettenkofer was a hygienist, after all, and basically was using the whole cholera experiment as a way of suggesting to people, "Hey, let's just try being less shitty, in general." He named his little adventure his "experimentum crucis," wisely leaving room for a sequel, Experimentum 2: Crucis Control, should the original do well in the scientific community.
After downing the cholera cocktail, Pettenkofer began to get violently ill within a day (SURPRISE!). However, the tough bastard never came down with a full-blown case of cholera. While experts today interpret his symptoms as having been a mild case of the disease, at the time Pettenkofer thought his experience was a pretty successful "FUCK YOU!" to Koch and his supporters and certainly a strong case for his "Let's Be Cleaner and Less Shitty" argument.
Pettenkofer: Equal parts Hemingway and the more horrifying aspects of what they make you do in hell.
Koch's theory eventually won out. But people thought that Pettenkofer was probably on to something with the whole "Hey, maybe we shouldn't drink the groundwater?" thing. He ended up on a stamp. So, if you want to be immortalized on a stamp, you know ... drink cholera? There's not really a good lesson to pull from this experiment.