The Psychologist Who Tests the Tickling Response on His Son While Dressed Up as a Nightmare
In 1933, psychologist Clarence Leuba wanted to figure out whether laughing when being tickled is an instinct we're born with or if we just learn it from watching other people do it. It seems like a fine plan, but that's when he took it to crazytown. See, he figured that the best opportunity to crack the tickle matrix was to experiment on his infant son. While wearing a terrifying mask.
In the interests of science, Leuba first banned all tickling in his household, allowing it only during special, experimental tickling periods. What's more, he explicitly banned his wife from ever laughing while she touched the kid so that he would never hear the sound of laughter and accidentally associate it with tickling. Because, you know, this question is totally important enough to sacrifice someone's childhood to answer it.
Getty "Shut up, I'm tickling her right now! Look, she's not laughing. Shut the fuck up!"
Where It Gets Weirder:
But the most terrifying aspect of this experiment was the tickling itself. To make really sure his child would not be influenced by his facial expressions, Leuba wore a large, blank cardboard mask with only narrow eye slits, and in an effort to win the award for "creepiest child-parent interaction that doesn't involve any form of taxidermy," Leuba carefully conducted "controlled tickling" on various predetermined areas of his child's body, starting with the armpit.
Shockingly, the kid did start laughing (we sure as hell wouldn't have), but according to Leuba, the validity of the test had been ruined by his wife, who confessed one day that she had laughed while bouncing her son on her knee and saying "Bouncy, bouncy!" Exactly how Leuba reacted to this confession is not known, but we assume it had something to do with stabbing her while wearing a clown costume.
"Controlled experiment! Controlled fucking experiment!"
Nevertheless, Leuba realized how insane this whole thing was, and they all had a good laugh about it afterward. No, wait. Actually, Leuba just started the experiment over again with his second child.