Best Review of Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow And The Science Of Love:
Most helpful customer reviews 10 of 10 people found the following review helpful. Great Graphic-nonfiction! By Timothy Capehart The topic of this graphic nonfiction sounded interesting from a pre-pub review I read. At a library conference I visited the publisher's booth and got a copy signed by the author. While stuck in the airport, I started reading this...and couldn't stop. I read it twice through on the trip home. When I got home, I made my father (who's more of a scientist than I am) read this too.I don't have a degree in "real" science (writing and library science,) but I have always been interested. I do read a lot of graphic novels. This is graphic non-fiction as it should be done. In fact everything from GT Labs is worth your time and your dollars. All of GT Labs publications might not be great, but this is. The art is well done. The story is compelling. The information is well integrated into the story. Excellent! 8 of 8 people found the following review helpful. A nuanced, educational, and entertaining graphic novel By oldtaku I really don't understand the hugely negative reviews for this. It's based on extensive research, as I would expect from Ottaviani, including Harlow's own autobiography in both published and unpublished forms.'Wire Mothers' takes you through a tour of Harry Harlow's lab just before the famous CBS 'Mother Love' episode of 'Conquest'. At this time, B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning theory was king - everything and everyone was a black box, to the point that you don't even really comprehend or understand the words you are uttering - you are just regurgitating patterns you were trained in as a child. Love or affection were meaningless, because such concepts are null concepts to mindless automatons. It was the prevailing climate of the day, as strange as it sounds now.Harry Harlow thought this was ridiculous, so he engaged in a series of now painful to contemplate experiments with baby rhesus monkeys where he provided them with wire 'mothers' with bottles (food) and wire mothers with plush carpet skins (affection) or raised them with no mothers whatsoever, then subjected them to various stresses to see how they'd react. As the afterword says, this is cruel, but someone 'had' to do it and by the standards of the day it was no worse than subjecting minerals to acids.I really thought this was quite sympathetic to Harlow. He's pictured here as a nuanced, conflicted, but principled David who beat down the B.F. Skinner Goliath of the day with a simple, yet utterly compelling series of experiments. The presentation is clever, the art is appropriately realistic yet stylized. It portrays him as a very (likeable) human being, which I guess isn't acceptable to people who need everything to be in broad swathes of good/evil white/black paragon/fiend. But science is never so clean. Really, if you were going to complain, it should be about the caricaturization of Skinner and Watson (even though it's accurate!).This and all of Ottaviani's books are excellent windows into the real world of science, if you can handle it, and I'm sorry that I waited so long to read this because I stupidly trusted other reviews. I read about this in psychology classes, of course, but it never really hit home so well until now.Honestly, if I have any complaint at all it's that this is 'only' 80 pages, so for $10 you get a single concept well elucidated instead of 300 pages of dense text, but there's something to be said for quality. 3 of 3 people found the following review helpful. If all of history was presented like this, history would be worth teaching in school By Michael J. South This is an excellent work. You get to know the main character as a human being. You get to see the way science really happens, and how hard it can be for the truth to get out, when all you have is proof, and no clout. And you are introduced to the very, very fascinating process that happens when a *real* scientist--a true seeker of knowledge--looks at a problem like "how does the behavior/affection of a parent affect the development of a child?" and says, "yes, but how do we *know* this? What could we do to test it? What is a reproducible experiment that would give us some insight?".It's been a while since I read it. If I recall correctly, there was some irony in the end that at some point some of Harlow's interpretations of his own experiments started to become authority that no one doubted (like Skinner's ideas had been before Harlow toppled them). If I am remembering correctly, it was that Harlow felt like he had "solved" the problem of what causes autism, that it must be lack of affection given to the child. This is actually untrue [what *is* true is that if you give a monkey zero comfort but just give it food, it will display symptoms similar to autism--but just because that's true doesn't mean that symptoms of autism imply no affection was given. Kind of a rookie mistake if that's how it really went down, but it can be hard to resist the eureka moment when you think you have the answer to an important problem], but when Harlow became the new "authority", finally toppling Skinner, people followed him as religiously as they had previously been following Skinner. Which is also what happens in science, and thus, also worth exploring.Note that I'm not saying that this is the definitive work on Harlow's life. What I *am* saying is that this is an engaging and interesting introduction to him and some of the history of psychology that was happening around him. For me, it inspired an interest in him and what he tried to do, and encouraged me to dig more. How many of the hours that you spent in history classes did the same for you?It's too bad this hasn't seen a wider audience, because I'm pretty sure that the positive reviews of this would far outweigh the negative if you had a larger sample size. If you're wondering whether to bother checking this out, and in doubt because the current average review is low, my advice would be to take a chance on it. Seems to be a bit of axe grinding in the negative reviews IMHO. See all 8 customer reviews...
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