*Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science*

That is the new book by Daniel P. Todes, the first sentence is:

Contrary to legend, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) never trained a dog to salivate to the sound of a bell.  In over three decades of research and tens of thousands of experimental trials, he and his coworkers used a bell only in rare, unimportant circumstances.  Indeed, the iconic bell would have proven totally useless to his real goal, which required precise control over the quality and duration of stimuli (he most frequently employed a metronome, a harmonium, a buzzer, and electrical shock).

Nor was Pavlov a behaviorist, to address another common misconception.

This superb book — one of the year’s best — is 731 pages of original material on Russia, Russian communism, Russian science, and of course the life of Pavlov.  The TLS Stephen Lovell review of the book had a good line: “Controls were unthinkable: all the dogs were individuals.”

Overkill for some, recommended for many.


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