Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poetry and monkey convergence: Harry Harlow edition

I just finished Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love, a comic book about that scientist who did the wire mother experiments on monkeys. The book is okay, though if you're already familar with the experiments and their results there's not much new here. Harlow's experiments helped put "love" into science, though ultimately were bad for the monkeys he used. Still, his results were in stark contrast to the prevailing belief at the time that children who were given too much affection would be messed up and that mothers who kissed their babies on the lips were perverts.

Harlow also wrote poems, some of which appear in his 1958 paper "The Nature of Love." Like this one:
The Elephant
Though mother may be short on arms,
Her skin is full of warmth and charms.
And mother's touch on baby's skin
Endears the heart that beats within.

For an interesting account of Harlow and his research, go here.

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