Fables grow around missed natural experiments

So I read Think like a Freak, and then glimpsed through a well-in­ten­tioned col­lec­tion of “Read­ing Com­pre­hen­sion Tests for Schoolchil­dren” (in Ukrainian), and I was ap­palled at how eas­ily the lat­ter book dis­missed sim­ple ob­ser­va­tion of nat­u­ral ex­per­i­ments that it makes a to­ken effort to de­scribe in favour of draw­ing the moral.

There was the story of “the Mowgli Chil­dren”, two girls who were kid­napped and raised by wildlife, then found by some­one and taken back to live as hu­mans. (So what if it is hardly true. When I Googled “feral chil­dren”, other sto­ries were too similar to this one in the ways that mat­ter, in­clud­ing this one.) It says they never learned to talk, didn’t live for long af­ter cap­ture (not longer than 12 years, if I re­call right), never be­came truly a part of hu­man so­ciety. The moral is that chil­dren need in­ter­ac­tion with other peo­ple to de­velop nor­mally, “and the tale of Mowgli is just that, a beau­tiful tale”.

Well yes, it kind of seems just like a beau­tiful tale right from the point when the wolves start talk­ing, I don’t know what kind of a kid would miss that be­fore the Read­ing Com­pre­hen­sion Test but stop be­liev­ing it af­ter­wards, but any­how.

What did they die of?

Who an­swered them when they howled?

Were ever dogs afraid of them?

They did not mas­ter hu­man lan­guage, but how did they com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple? They had to, some­how, or they would not live even that long.

And lastly: how do peo­ple weigh the sheer im­pos­si­bil­ity of two lit­tle kids ever sur­viv­ing against the iron cer­tainty that they would not be able to in­te­grate back into hu­man so­ciety—weigh it so lightly? If the reader is ex­pected to take this on faith, how can one be any­thing but amazed that it is at all pos­si­ble? When I read about other feral chil­dren, some­how be­ing found and taken back never seems to mean good news for them, or for any­body else.

I haven’t ever read or heard of “the Mowgli Chil­dren” in any other con­text. Only in this one, about three or four times, and yet it was always pre­sented as an “anec­dote of sci­ence”, al­though ev­ery­body un­der­stands it leads nowhere (can’t ever lead any­where be­cause ethics for­bids recre­at­ing the ex­per­i­ment’s con­di­tions) and hardly sig­nifies any­thing.

What other missed nat­u­ral ex­per­i­ments do you know of?