Conversations in Science
for K-12 Educators

A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center.

Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 4:00 p.m.

Tales of the Cloth Mother: A Story of Science, Love, Primate Research and One of the Most Unlikely Revolutions in Psychology

Deborah Blum
Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The science of affection and of relationships is surprisingly new, representing a genuine sea change in the thinking of psychologists within the last half century. For instance, in the early 20th century mainstream psychologists argued that affection was not only unnecessary for children but harmful to them. They counseled against hugging children, comforting them, spending too much time with them. That we now think the opposite is due almost entirely to a revolution in thinking brought about by the late Harry Harlow, one of Wisconsin's most important and most controversial psychologists, and a cadre of other determined outsiders in the field. The story of this change offers an insightful look both into how science works - and how we do.

About the Presenter:

Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer and has been a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1997. She is the author of Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, which is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named a 2002 best book of the year by Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Discover magazine and NPR’s Science Friday. Her previous books are Sex on the Brain, a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, and The Monkey Wars, a 1994 Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Book. She is also co-editor of A Field Guide for Science Writers. She worked for a series of newspapers before becoming a science reporter for The Sacramento Bee, where she won the Pulitzer in 1992. She continued with the Bee until moving to Madison. She has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Discover, Psychology Today, Life, Health, The Utne Reader, Mother Jones and She has appeared as a guest on The Today show, Good Morning America, and NPR’s Talk of the Nation and Morning Edition. She is president of the National Association of Science Writers and a member of the AAAS Committee on Public Understanding of Science and Technology and the National Research Council advisory board on agriculture and natural resources.