News | Trending

The True Story Of Triplets Separated At Birth For A Bizarre Experiment

Neon

At this year's Sundance Film Festival, a movie about a strange medical conspiracy that separated dozens of children from their siblings won a special award.

But this wasn't a Hollywood film thought up by an imaginative writer.

It's the painful, true story of three triplets who were born into a cruel experiment.

And as one of them says in the trailer for the new documentary about their lives, "I wouldn't believe this story if someone else were telling it."

Separated At Birth

Robert Shafran's first clue that something was wrong came on his first day of college in 1980.

Everyone on campus was mistaking him for someone named Eddy Galland, and when they met face to face it was easy to see why.

Robert and Eddy, who were both adopted, realized they must be twins who were separated at birth.

Neon

But when their incredible story was published in the newspapers, their triplet stepped forward.

The triplets made TV appearances and gave plenty of interviews. But one question still remained.

Why had these three siblings been separated from each other in the first place?

It turned out they weren't the only ones.

The Experiment

Neon

Digging into the triplets' past uncovered a shocking secret.

The boys were born in Long Island in 1961, but placed in three different homes as babies.

They were part of a strange experiment into the old question of "nature versus nurture," or whether a child's genetics or family background is more important.

Each of the three boys was placed in a family with a different economic status to study what differences it created.

Neon

The triplets, and their parents, were studied from birth by scientists.

But none of the parents knew about the research project. They all thought they were participating in a regular child development study.

In an even more surprising twist, dozens of other twins and triplets - no one knows how many - were split up in just the same way.

The full research study is still sealed until 2066.

Life After The Study

Neon

One of the most surprising thing about the research is how similar the triplets were despite their different homes.

That fits with the infamous Minnesota twin studies, another case where multiple siblings were separated at birth for research purposes.

Two men in the study, both named James by their adopted families, shared an incredible number of similarities, from the cigarettes they smoked to the cars they drove and even their hobbies.

The Jim Twins.All That Is Interesting

For a time, the triplets became fast friends. They moved in together and even opened a restaurant called Triplets.

But like many of the study's subjects, the boys felt emotional distress because of how their lives were manipulated by the study.

One of them, Eddy Galland, took his own life in the 1990s.

Their case has been compared to the Dion quintuplets, who were treated like a circus act as children.

You can see Three Identical Strangers later this month to learn more about the bizarre case.

Do you remember the triplets from their fame in the early '80s? Will you be seeing the new movie?

[H/T: People, Vulture, Cosmopolitan]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com