Readers respond to reviews about the science of love and heresy during the Protestant Reformation.

By Salon Staff
Published November 15, 2002 9:00PM (UTC)
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[Read "Publish and Perish."]

While Mr. Kurth has discovered the 16th century crimes of Protestantism, he is apparently entirely unaware that heretics are still executed today. By Muslims.

This, I think, renders the first paragraph of his review -- with its disingenuous "for instance" -- a portrait of politically correct self-indulgence. It's certainly fashionable and rhetorically satisfying to cry "tu quoque" and point at Western religion's past sins. But the key word is "past."

When the major modern centers of a religion practice as a matter of law the kind of atrocities that the West has spent the past 400 years successfully eliminating, I call that religion "backward." It's the very definition of the term.

-- Ian Wood

[Read "Love Hurts."]

Suzy Hansen, in her review of Deborah Blum's bio of psychologist Harry Harlow, asks: "Is Harlow's legacy, our understanding of child abuse or our use of 'touch therapy,' worth the pain his experiments caused?"

This, after quoting Harlow's own estimate that if experiments with 10 monkeys could save even a million human children, it would be worth it?

As we now know, of course, his experiments saved more than a scant million human children. Partly because of their influence on Dr. Benjamin Spock, they saved an entire generation -- and the later generations that followed. If Harlow had to go through a hundred monkeys instead of just 10, I do very much consider it "worth it."

This is not cosmetic testing were looking at, or dissections in high school classrooms. This was groundbreaking research, used to find out something new, to challlenge a prevailing orthodoxy, and to put a halt to cruelty against innocent humans.

Hansen ends her review: "... by the end of 'Love at Goon Park' ... you are ... ultimately grateful to live, and love, in a post-Harlow age." I think that's recognition enough of the value of his work.

-- Kai MacTane

Salon Staff

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