Volume 6, Issue 3
There is a beauty to science. Whether it involves the exploration of crystal formation, or the electronmicroscopy of the synapses of the brain, or the life cycle of red algae, or the cognitive-perceptual development of the human fetus, there is a beautiful aspect to the endeavor. Science produces beauty in the sense of wholesome curiosity about the self and the world, elegant research, pleasing theories, and even engaging artifacts like photographs, models, films and technologies.
Oh, there is the ugly side of science, too. Ugliness is often found in research involving the willful destruction of beings; like producing cancers on the flanks of rats, nuclear and non-nuclear weapons to kill folks, temperature adaptation experiments on Jews by Nazi physicians, experimental brain lesions in cats and dogs and chimpanzees, and so on.
My personal feelings about animal research are similar to Lu Baxter's voiced in her letter to the editor below. When I did my postdoc in neuroscience at the Institute of Neurological Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania in 1973-74. I was brought face-to-face with the reality of animal research. I found I could not participate in it. I watched them do the surgery on the brains of living animals, but I would neither initiate any research nor participate in it. I am by training an anthropologist, and we anthropologists learn by doing, by participating, but in this instance I had to draw the line. As an anthropologist I have watched East African tribesmen shoot arrows into goats and Navajos slit the throats of sheep. That's all part of the cultural reality of the world I wish to understand. But that kind of killing is for food, and sometimes for ritual purposes. It is nothing compared with the incredible cost of suffering caused in hundreds of thousands of non-human beings by researchers and pharmaceutical testing people.
Feeling the way I do, being the editor of a scientific journal, especially one as eclectic as PPPJ, places me in an interesting position. Do I have the right or duty to enforce my own moral code on the features we present in these pages-especially without any referendum or PPPANA policy position guiding my response? I think not. I feel like I am still in the anthropologist's position of watching people do something that I myself would not do. But I have no right to stop them doing it.
Fortunately for me, the problem arises infrequently. We receive few papers that involve animal research involving the destruction of beings. Those we do receive are treated to the same review process other papers receive. I suspect that if we started excluding papers due to repugnant methodologies, moral scruples, theoretical positions, results, etc., we would end up with a very biased journal, and one that did not reflect the full spectrum of pre- and perinatal psychological science.
Thankfully, however, in my experience most really creative science is a joy and beauty to behold. Good science usually seems to have its aesthetic side. And this is nowhere more apparent than in scientific conferences where researchers come together to communicate their findings and ideas. Unique among conferences are those that combine scientific and non-scientific professional communication about a common subject. This allows a breadth of point of view and communion that can only enrich and expand the scientific disciplines that take part in them.
So it was with the Fifth International Congress of PPPANA held from July 18th through the 21st in Atlanta. The breadth of presentations was remarkable, ranging from clinical psychology to shamanism, from infant learning to telepathic perception in utero, from the psychological sequelae of adoption to mythological birthing themes. The Georgia Sea Island Singers even got folks to boogie at the Saturday night banquet! It was an extraordinary balance of events, perspectives and approaches to knowledge that cannot help but leave its mark on the science of pre- and perinatal psychology over the coming two years. And it was fun! If you missed the Fifth, do yourself a favor and check out the Sixth which will be held from July 29th through August 1st, 1993, at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Washington, D.C. I hear Dr. Fritjof Capra, author of The Too of Physics, is going to be one of the plenary speakers. If you want to get more information, or to register early, contact Laura Uplinger, 1993 PPPANA Congress, 5324 Saratoga Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA.
One sad note at the Fifth was that our founder, Dr. Thomas R Verny, stepped down as President of PPPANA. The sadness was mollified by the ascendance of Dr. David Chamberlain as our next President. We hear from both men in this issue of PPPJ. In his last Presidential Address, Thomas R Verny discusses the crucial relations between the psychological sequelae of pre- and perinatal life and ecology. David Chamberlain continues the theme that has been central to his career and addresses the question of whether there exists intelligence before birth. Then Dr. Darlene DeSantis reports on the potential usefulness of behavioral assessment measures, particularly wake/sleep patterns, for diagnosing medical problems in newborns.