I attended an episcopalian high school, which meant that I had to sit through a chapel service every day. Thankfully the services were never fire-and-brimstone stuff. These were Episcopalians, after all. Instead, they were most often like general-interest lectures. But one service in particular has stuck in my mind, during which whoever was giving the service described an unusual experiment involving the relationship between rats and God. I think the experiment might be an interesting addition to my next book, so I'm trying to track down details about it. But so far I've been unsuccessful. So I'm hoping that one of the Museum of Hoaxes readers might know something about it.
The experimenters, so it was said, wanted to test empirically if the universe tends more towards benevolence (good) or malevolence (evil). So they attached two sets of wires to some rats. One wire delivered a painful shock. The other wire triggered a pleasure-center in the rat's brain and made them feel good. The researchers then programmed a computer to randomly activate these wires over a period of time. The activation of the wires was supposed to be totally random, but when the researchers measured which wire got turned on more often, they discovered that it was the pleasure wire. From this they concluded that there must be a benevolent force in the universe (i.e. God) that favors pleasure over pain.
Now, I can see many flaws in the design and conclusions of this experiment. Not least of which is that a benevolent God would never have made the rats suffer by making them endure the experiment in the first place. But that's not the point. The point is that it's a very odd experiment... if it ever really did occur. Or is it just one of those urban legends that circulate through the church community. Anyone know any details?