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Monday, December 24, 2012

A Pleasant Christmas Story

I will tell, just for you, a nice little TRUE Christmas story so gather round.
Once upon a time, in the 1920’s, Professor and Psychologist, John Watson was positioned at John Hopkins, and as it is for most academically focused schools, the rule is publish or perish. Being familiar with Pavolov’s dogs who were trained to salivate at the sound of a bell (and what a useful behavior that is! I would have tried to teach them to pick up their own poop.)
Dr. Watson (no relation to the fictional Dr. Watson of Sherlock fame) decides he will experiment on a toddler-aged boy he calls Albert. Already getting the creepy vibe from this? You should be!
He decides to make Albert terrified of white, fluffy things. (And how does he come to such an epiphany? I frankly think he would have had a stronger supposition on behavior modification if he had made Albert unafraid of something, but you know how those brain jockeys are.) So he starts out with white rats, which Albert doesn’t seem to mind but then he pairs their arrival with a very loud and frightening noise. So guess what, Albert is not a fan of the rats anymore. (Where the hell was his mother?)
Then Dr. Watson moves on to bunnies. I don’t remember the full progression but pretty soon little Albert is petrified of anything white and fluffy and this culminates in a complete paranoia about Santa Claus.
Then, as it was with the psych guys at the time, Dr. Watson shoos little Albert back to his mom, with some deep psychological issues. But, more importantly, he had enough fodder for a paper so he retained his position.
The question always is what happened to the poor kid? No one seems to know for sure but there is some recent evidence that he died at age 6 from fluid on the brain.
In addition, there was a Stanford “prison” experiment where students were randomly assigned a role as a prisoner or guard. The behavior of the guards became so brutal that it was terminated after six days. And finally, the secret LSD experiments carried on by our government on college kids. (Go head, deny them if you want.)
So what have we learned? Don’t volunteer yourself, your spouse, your kid or your dog for any experimentation, especially it is on a college campus. And have a Merry Christmas!

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