I don’t think people like the ones who made Jackass get enough credit. People dismiss them as those nutcases who push nails into their scrotum, drive into a brick wall, drink their own piss, and jump head-first into a cesspool as stunts for some stupid movie. I think they are much more than that. I think they are heroes. I think they are the people who really make this world move forward. They are the ones who break new grounds; the ones who try new things no one in their right mind would ever try.
Think about it: who else but a Jackass would think about milking a cow the first time in human history? Who else but a Jackass would think about to pick the nuts out of elephant dung, or the coffee beans out of a civet’s crap? Who else but a true Jackass could have said the first time “the stink of this cheese might knock a man off his feet from a hundred yards, but by god I shall put it in my mouth!”?
But even science could not progress without them. You wanna prove that you can insert a catheter into a beating heart? No problem! You’ve got a perfectly functional heart; just use that one. And once it is in place, proceed over to the X-ray machine and take an image yourself, because nothing says badass more than walking around with a freaking tube in your heart. It was a true, cringe-worthy stunt and a Nobel worthy act. You want to prove that it’s Helicobacter pylori and not stress that is causing ulcers? No problem; just drink some of that stuff and wait… Again, gross, but eventually worthy of a Nobel price. I don’t even want to think about what the people who started doing fecal-transplants tried first… Sweeteners, like acesulfame, sucralose, aspartame and saccharine would not exist had some scientist not decided to “screw that, I’m having some of that shit”. Want to study the effects of different psychedelic drugs like LSD and peyote, or indeed, anything that you might think of? What better way than to try them out? How better experiment with cholera or yellow fever than to try them out yourself? How better study snake venoms, than to inject them into your own veins? You are working with immune thrombocytopenic purpura? Let’s get some blood transfusion from a patient! Animal experiments are for sissies! These people really had what it takes to be a true Jackass: balls of steel and disregard for their own safety in the single-minded quest to discover something new. They recklessly endangered their own lives and advanced human understanding of our world around us (although I suspect the guys with psychedelic drugs had other motivations as well). They do deserve their own collective monument for their deeds that were both crazy and alturistic at the same time.
Honorable mention: Edward Jenner, who developed vaccination against smallpox. He used the pus from a cowpox blisters to inoculate – well, not himself, but an eight year old boy, who was then subsequently variolated (which WAS dangerous). Well, OK. He was not a Jackass in the true sense of the word. He was just an ass.