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[Xmca-l] Re: BBC: Mind Changers

I've listened to the first two (that is the last two) of them (Arden House
and Harlow's Monkeys) and I'm always impressed by how very IDEOLOGICAL they
are. I mean ideological with a capital I, in the sense of reinforcing
whatever idea happens to dominate the dominant minds of the dominant class,
and I also mean that both the experiments themselves and their
re-presentations by the BBC are ideological.

So for example the in the Arden House experiments two graduate schools
devise an experiment that is designed to show how life-affirming and
life-enhancing consumer choice is and how life-denying and life-deadening
it is to be taken care of by people. Amusingly, the BBC then has to
re-present this experiment by gushing that the two graduate students had
absolutely no idea of what they would find (because of course even the BBC
understands that if an experiment simply reinforces our prejudices, it's
not very significant in the history of psychology).

The programme on Harry Harlow's experiments follows more or less the same
model. Harlow designs an experiment to prove that "love" and "attachment"
(which are apparently sufficiently represented by a wrapping a terry-cloth
towel around a wire cylinder) are crucial to parenting. The BBC re-presents
this as an astonishing experiment by claiming that in the 1950s the big
debate in psychology was over whether behavior was entirely innate or
entirely learned, something that has not been true of psychology since
Pavlov. Then the Beeb includes some criticism of Harlow--but much of it
has to do with animal rights! The best critique came from Harlow himself,
who assessing his own work, remarked that he had succeeded, through sheer
sadism and at no inconsiderable government expense, in convincing
psychologists of something everybody else has known for thousands of years.

David Kellogg

On Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 11:20 AM, Martin John Packer <
mpacker@uniandes.edu.co> wrote:

> This week the BBC has a series of interesting radio documentaries on
> classical psychological studies:
> <http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008cy1j/episodes/player>
> Martin