Friday, October 5, 2012

Dang! I told this fib about Watson's sex life for years!

Drat! It turns out that at least one of the stories I told for YEARS about John Watson turns out to be false.

The apocryphal story: John Watson was dismissed from his job at Johns Hopkins "not due to his affair with graduate student Rosalie Raynor, but rather because it was discovered that Watson was conducting research on physiological responses during sexual intercourse."

I can't remember when/where I learned the story (source amnesia!) but I liked talking with students about John Watson's "career arc": from one of the most famous and influential psychologists in the world to a fired professor because of something he might have thought of as "touchy-feely emotional stuff."

This is another good example why we, and our students, should try to think critically about information we find in textbooks. The article documents how this fib entered the lore of psychology and how it was perpetuated. I wonder how many other apocryphal stories are floating around in our books?

By the way, the site this article is from, Advances in the History of Psychology, is a good one! LOTS of historical information that teachers could use to fill in background on our topics.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

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