Ethical oversight in research is a fairly new concept. The first laws were proposed at the end of WWII as a response to unethical research conducted by the Nazis [Read here for more information on the Nuremberg Code]. As time progressed, these laws have become more and more detailed to protect vulnerable populations [Read here for more information on the Code of Federal Regulations].
Almost every research institution now has an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that proposed studies remain compliant with research policies and laws, and will be conducted with the highest ethical standards.
Pretend you are a fly on the wall of an IRB office.
Imagine some of the insane studies rejected on a daily basis...