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Saltman No. 4 (Another View)

Saltman No. 4 (Another View)


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Lawyers are often required by law to keep confidential anything pertaining to the representation of a client. The duty of confidentiality is much broader than the attorney–client evidentiary privilege, which only covers communications between the attorney and the client. [1]

Both the privilege and the duty serve the purpose of encouraging clients to speak frankly about their cases. This way, lawyers can carry out their duty to provide clients with zealous representation. Otherwise, the opposing side may be able to surprise the lawyer in court with something he did not know about his client, which may weaken the client's position. Also, a distrustful client might hide a relevant fact he thinks is incriminating, but that a skilled lawyer could turn to the client's advantage (for example, by raising affirmative defenses like self-defense)

However, most jurisdictions have exceptions for situations where the lawyer has reason to believe that the client may kill or seriously injure someone, may cause substantial injury to the financial interest or property of another, or is using (or seeking to use) the lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime or fraud.

In such situations the lawyer has the discretion, but not the obligation, to disclose information designed to prevent the planned action. Most states have a version of this discretionary disclosure rule under Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.6 (or its equivalent).

A few jurisdictions have made this traditionally discretionary duty mandatory. For example, see the New Jersey and Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.6.

In some jurisdictions the lawyer must try to convince the client to conform his or her conduct to the boundaries of the law before disclosing any otherwise confidential information.

Note that these exceptions generally do not cover crimes that have already occurred, even in extreme cases where murderers have confessed the location of missing bodies to their lawyers but the police are still looking for those bodies. The U.S. Supreme Court and many state supreme courts have affirmed the right of a lawyer to withhold information in such situations. Otherwise, it would be impossible for any criminal defendant to obtain a zealous defense.

California is famous for having one of the strongest duties of confidentiality in the world its lawyers must protect client confidences at "every peril to himself [or herself]" under former California Business and Professions Code section 6068(e). Until an amendment in 2004 (which turned subsection (e) into subsection (e)(1) and added subsection (e)(2) to section 6068), California lawyers were not even permitted to disclose that a client was about to commit murder or assault. The Supreme Court of California promptly amended the California Rules of Professional Conduct to conform to the new exception in the revised statute.

Recent legislation in the UK curtails the confidentiality professionals like lawyers and accountants can maintain at the expense of the state. [2] Accountants, for example, are required to disclose to the state any suspicions of fraudulent accounting and, even, the legitimate use of tax saving schemes if those schemes are not already known to the tax authorities.

Breach of confidence in English law Edit

The "three traditional requirements of the cause of action for breach of confidence" [3] : [19] were identified by Megarry J in Coco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd (1968) in the following terms: [4]

In my judgment, three elements are normally required if, apart from contract, a case of breach of confidence is to succeed. First, the information itself, in the words of Lord Greene, M.R. in the Saltman case on page 215, must "have the necessary quality of confidence about it." Secondly, that information must have been imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence. Thirdly, there must be an unauthorised use of that information to the detriment of the party communicating it.

The 1896 case featuring the royal accoucheur Dr William Smoult Playfair showed the difference between lay and medical views. Playfair was consulted by Linda Kitson he ascertained that she had been pregnant while separated from her husband. He informed his wife, a relative of Kitson's, in order that she protect herself and their daughters from moral contagion. Kitson sued, and the case gained public notoriety, with huge damages awarded against the doctor. [5]

Confidentiality is commonly applied to conversations between doctors and patients. Legal protections prevent physicians from revealing certain discussions with patients, even under oath in court. [6] This physician-patient privilege only applies to secrets shared between physician and patient during the course of providing medical care. [6] [7]

The rule dates back to at least the Hippocratic Oath, which reads: Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.

Traditionally, medical ethics has viewed the duty of confidentiality as a relatively non-negotiable tenet of medical practice.

United States Edit

Confidentiality is standard in the United States by HIPAA laws, specifically the Privacy Rule, and various state laws, some more rigorous than HIPAA. However, numerous exceptions to the rules have been carved out over the years. For example, many American states require physicians to report gunshot wounds to the police and impaired drivers to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Confidentiality is also challenged in cases involving the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease in a patient who refuses to reveal the diagnosis to a spouse, and in the termination of a pregnancy in an underage patient, without the knowledge of the patient's parents. Many states in the U.S. have laws governing parental notification in underage abortion. [8]

European Union Edit

Due to the EU Directive 2001/20/EC, inspectors appointed by the Member States have to maintain confidentiality whenever they gain access to confidential information as a result of the good clinical practice inspections in accordance with applicable national and international requirements. [9]

A typical patient declaration might read:

I have been informed of the benefit that I gain from the protection and the rights granted by the European Union Data Protection Directive and other national laws on the protection of my personal data. I agree that the representatives of the sponsor or possibly the health authorities can have access to my medical records. My participation in the study will be treated as confidential. I will not be referred to by my name in any report of the study. My identity will not be disclosed to any person, except for the purposes described above and in the event of a medical emergency or if required by the law.My data will be processed electronically to determine the outcome of this study, and to provide it to the health authorities. My data may be transferred to other countries (such as the USA). For these purposes the sponsor has to protect my personal information even in countries whose data privacy laws are less strict than those of this country.

HIV confidentiality Edit

In the United Kingdom information about an individual's HIV status is kept confidential within the National Health Service. This is based in law, in the NHS Constitution and in key NHS rules and procedures. It is also outlined in every NHS employee's contract of employment and in professional standards set by regulatory bodies. [10] The National AIDS Trust's Confidentiality in the NHS: Your Information, Your Rights [11] outlines these rights. All registered healthcare professionals must abide by these standards and if they are found to have breached confidentiality, they can face disciplinary action.

A healthcare worker shares confidential information with someone else who is, or is about to, provide the patient directly with healthcare to make sure they get the best possible treatment. They only share information that is relevant to their care in that instance, and with consent.

There are two ways to give consent: explicit consent or implied consent. Explicit consent is when a patient clearly communicates to a healthcare worker, verbally or in writing or in some other way, that relevant confidential information can be shared. Implied consent, means that a patient's consent to share personal confidential information is assumed. When personal confidential information is shared between healthcare workers, consent is taken as implied.

If a patient doesn't want a healthcare worker to share confidential health information, they need to make this clear and discuss the matter with healthcare staff. Patients have the right, in most situations, to refuse permission for a health care professional to share their information with another healthcare professional, even one giving them care—but are advised, where appropriate, about the dangers of this course of action, due to possible drug interactions.

However, in a few limited instances, a healthcare worker can share personal information without consent if it is in the public interest. These instances are set out in guidance from the General Medical Council, [12] which is the regulatory body for doctors. Sometimes the healthcare worker has to provide the information - if required by law or in response to a court order.

The National AIDS Trust has written a guide for people living with HIV to confidentiality in the NHS. [13]

The ethical principle of confidentiality requires that information shared by a client with a therapist in the course of treatment is not shared with others. This principle bolsters the therapeutic alliance, as it promotes an environment of trust. There are important exceptions to confidentiality, namely where it conflicts with the clinician's duty to warn or duty to protect. This includes instances of suicidal behavior or homicidal plans, child abuse, elder abuse and dependent adult abuse. Recently, [ when? ] confidentiality laws have been changed [ by whom? ] so that doctors and nurses face strict penalties if they breach confidentiality.

Some legal jurisdictions recognise a category of commercial confidentiality whereby a business may withhold information on the basis of perceived harm to "commercial interests". [14] For example: soft drink giant Coca-Cola's main syrup formula remains a trade-secret.


Knievel was born on October 17, 1938, in Butte, Montana, the first of two children of Robert E. and Ann Marie Keough Knievel. [2] His surname is of German origin his paternal great-great-grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Germany. [3] His mother was of Irish ancestry. Robert and Ann divorced in 1940, after the 1939 birth of their second child, Nicolas, known as Nic. Both parents decided to leave Butte.

Knievel and his brother were raised in Butte by their paternal grandparents, Ignatius and Emma Knievel. At the age of eight, Knievel attended a Joie Chitwood auto daredevil show, to which he gave credit for his later career choice as a motorcycle daredevil. Knievel was a cousin of the former Democratic U.S. Representative from Montana, Pat Williams (b. 1937). [4] : 38 [5]

Knievel left Butte High School after his sophomore year and got a job in the copper mines as a diamond drill operator with the Anaconda Mining Company, but he preferred motorbiking to what he called "unimportant stuff". [ citation needed ] He was promoted to surface duty, where he drove a large earth mover. Knievel was fired when he made the earth mover do a motorcycle-type wheelie and drove it into Butte's main power line, leaving the city without electricity for several hours. [6]

Always looking for new thrills and challenges, Knievel participated in local professional rodeos and ski jumping events, including winning the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men's ski jumping championship in 1959. During the late 1950s, Knievel joined the United States Army. His athletic ability allowed him to join the track team, where he was a pole vaulter. After his army stint, Knievel returned to Butte, where he met and married his first wife, Linda Joan Bork. Shortly after getting married, Knievel started the Butte Bombers, a semi-pro hockey team. [4] : 21

To help promote his team and earn some money, he convinced the Czechoslovakian Olympic ice hockey team to play the Butte Bombers in a warm-up game to the 1960 Winter Olympics (to be held in California). Knievel was ejected from the game minutes into the third period and left the stadium. When the Czechoslovakian officials went to the box office to collect the expense money that the team was promised, workers discovered the game receipts had been stolen. The United States Olympic Committee ended up paying the Czechoslovakian team's expenses to avoid an international incident. [4] : 21–22 Knievel tried out with the Charlotte Clippers of the Eastern Hockey League in 1959, but decided that a traveling team was not for him. [7] [8] [9]

After the birth of his first son, Kelly, Knievel realized that he needed to come up with a new way to support his family financially. Using the hunting and fishing skills taught to him by his grandfather, Knievel started the Sur-Kill Guide Service. He guaranteed that if a hunter employed his service and paid his fee, he would get the big game animal desired or Knievel would refund his fee.

Knievel, who was learning about the culling of elk in Yellowstone, decided to hitchhike from Butte to Washington, D.C., in December 1961 to raise awareness and to have the elk relocated to areas where hunting was permitted. After his conspicuous trek (he hitchhiked with a 54-inch-wide (1.4 m) rack of elk antlers and a petition with 3,000 signatures), he presented his case to Representative Arnold Olsen, Senator Mike Mansfield, and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. Culling was stopped in the late 1960s. [10]

After returning home to the west from Washington, D.C., he joined the motocross circuit and had moderate success, but he still could not make enough money to support his family. During 1962, Knievel broke his collarbone and shoulder in a motocross accident. The doctors said he could not race for at least six months. To help support his family, he switched careers and sold insurance for the Combined Insurance Company of America, working for W. Clement Stone. Stone suggested that Knievel read Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, a book that Stone wrote with Napoleon Hill. [ citation needed ] Knievel credited much of his later success to Stone and his book. [ citation needed ]

Knievel was successful as an insurance salesman (even selling insurance policies to several institutionalized mental patients [ citation needed ] ) and wanted recognition for his efforts. When the company refused to promote him to vice-president after he had been a few months on the job, he quit. Wanting a new start away from Butte, Knievel moved his family to Moses Lake, Washington. There, he opened a Honda motorcycle dealership and promoted motocross racing. [11] During the early 1960s, he and other dealers had difficulty promoting and selling Japanese imports because of the steep competition of their auto industry, and the Moses Lake Honda dealership eventually closed. After the closure, Knievel went to work for Don Pomeroy at his motorcycle shop in Sunnyside, Washington. [12] Pomeroy's son, Jim Pomeroy, who went on to compete in the Motocross World Championship, taught Knievel how to do a "wheelie" and ride while standing on the seat of the bike. [13]

Stunt performance Edit

As a boy, Knievel had seen the Joie Chitwood show. He decided that he could do something similar using a motorcycle. Promoting the show himself, Knievel rented the venue, wrote the press releases, set up the show, sold the tickets and served as his own master of ceremonies. After enticing the small crowd with a few wheelies, he proceeded to jump a 20-foot-long box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. Despite landing short and his back wheel hitting the box containing the rattlesnakes, Knievel managed to land safely.

Knievel realized that to make a more substantial amount of money he would need to hire more performers, stunt coordinators and other personnel so that he could concentrate on the jumps. With little money, he went looking for a sponsor and found one in Bob Blair, owner of ZDS Motors, Inc., the West coast distributor for Berliner Motor Corporation, a distributor for Norton Motorcycles. Blair offered to provide the needed motorcycles, but he wanted the name changed from the Bobby Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils Thrill Show to Evil Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils. Knievel did not want his image to be that of a Hells Angels rider, so he convinced Blair to at least allow him to use the spelling Evel instead of Evil.

Knievel and his daredevils debuted on January 3, 1966, at the National Date Festival in Indio, California. The show was a huge success. Knievel received several offers to host the show after their first performance. [ clarification needed ] The second booking was in Hemet, California, but was canceled due to rain. The next performance was on February 10, in Barstow, California. During the performance, Knievel attempted a new stunt in which he would jump, spread-eagled, over a speeding motorcycle. Knievel jumped too late and the motorcycle hit him in the groin, tossing him 15 feet into the air. He was hospitalized as a result of his injuries. When released, he returned to Barstow to finish the performance he had started almost a month earlier.

Knievel's daredevil show broke up after the Barstow performance because injuries prevented him from performing. After recovering, Knievel started traveling from small town to small town as a solo act. To get ahead of other motorcycle stunt people who were jumping animals or pools of water, Knievel started jumping cars. He began adding more and more cars to his jumps when he would return to the same venue to get people to come out and see him again. Knievel had not had a serious injury since the Barstow performance, but on June 19 in Missoula, Montana, he attempted to jump 12 cars and a cargo van. The distance he had for takeoff did not allow him to get up enough speed. His back wheel hit the top of the van while his front wheel hit the top of the landing ramp. Knievel ended up with a severely broken arm and several broken ribs. The crash and subsequent stay in the hospital were a publicity windfall.

With each successful jump, the public wanted him to jump one more car. On March 25, 1967, Knievel cleared 15 cars at Ascot Park in Gardena, California. [14] Then he attempted the same jump on July 28, 1967, in Graham, Washington, where he had his next serious crash. Landing his cycle on the last vehicle, a panel truck, Knievel was thrown from his bike. This time he suffered a serious concussion. After a month, he recovered and returned to Graham on August 18 to finish the show but the result was the same, only this time the injuries were more serious. Again coming up short, Knievel crashed, breaking his left wrist, right knee and two ribs.

Knievel first received national exposure on March 18, 1968, when comedian and late-night talk show host Joey Bishop had him on as a guest of ABC's The Joey Bishop Show.

Caesars Palace Edit

While in Las Vegas to watch Dick Tiger successfully defend his WBA and WBC light heavyweight titles at the Convention Center on November 17, 1967, Knievel first saw the fountains at Caesars Palace and decided to jump them.

To get an audience with casino CEO Jay Sarno, Knievel created a fictitious corporation called Evel Knievel Enterprises and three fictitious lawyers to make phone calls to Sarno. Knievel also placed phone calls to Sarno claiming to be from American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and Sports Illustrated inquiring about the jump. Sarno finally agreed to meet Knievel and arranged for Knievel to jump the fountains on December 31, 1967. After the deal was set, Knievel tried to get ABC to air the event live on Wide World of Sports. ABC declined, but said that if Knievel had the jump filmed and it was as spectacular as he said it would be, they would consider using it later.

Knievel, at the age of 29, used his own money to have actor/director John Derek produce a film of the Caesars jump. To keep costs low, Derek employed his then-wife Linda Evans as one of the camera operators. It was Evans who filmed the famous landing. On the morning of the jump, Knievel stopped in the casino and placed his last $100 on the blackjack table (which he lost), stopped by the bar and had a shot of Wild Turkey, and then headed outside where he was joined by several members of the Caesars staff, as well as two showgirls. [ citation needed ]

After doing his normal pre-jump show and a few warm-up approaches, Knievel began his real approach. When he hit the takeoff ramp, he claimed he felt the motorcycle unexpectedly decelerate. The sudden loss of power on the takeoff caused Knievel to come up short and land on the safety ramp which was supported by a van. This caused the handlebars to be ripped out of his hands as he tumbled over them onto the pavement where he skidded into the Dunes parking lot.

As a result of the crash, Knievel suffered a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist, and both ankles, and a concussion that kept him in the hospital. Rumors circulated that he was in a coma for 29 days in the hospital, but this was refuted by his wife and others in the documentary film Being Evel. [15] [16] [17]

The Caesars Palace crash was Knievel's longest attempted motorcycle jump at 141 feet (43 m). After his crash and recovery, Knievel was more famous than ever. ABC-TV bought the rights to the film of the jump, paying far more than it originally would have had it televised the jump live. [ citation needed ]

Insurance Edit

In a 1971 interview with Dick Cavett, Knievel stated that he was uninsurable following the Caesars' crash. Knievel said he was turned down 37 times from Lloyd's of London, stating, "I have trouble getting life insurance, accident insurance, hospitalization and even insurance for my automobile. Lloyd's of London has rejected me 37 times so if you hear the rumor that they insure anybody, don't pay too much attention to it." [18] Four years later, a clause in Knievel's contract to jump 14 buses at Kings Island required a one-day $1 million liability insurance to the amusement park. Lloyd's of London offered the liability insurance for what was called a "laughable $17,500". [19] Knievel eventually paid $2,500 to a U.S.-based insurance company. [19]

Jumps and records Edit

To keep his name in the news, Knievel proposed his biggest stunt ever, a motorcycle jump across the Grand Canyon. Just five months after his near-fatal crash in Las Vegas, Knievel performed another jump. On May 25, 1968, in Scottsdale, Arizona, Knievel crashed while attempting to jump 15 Ford Mustangs. Knievel ended up breaking his right leg and foot as a result of the crash.

On August 3, 1968, Knievel returned to jumping, making more money than ever before. He was earning approximately $25,000 per performance, and he was making successful jumps almost weekly until October 13, in Carson City, Nevada. While trying to stick the landing, he lost control of the bike and crashed, breaking his hip again.

By 1971, Knievel realized that the U.S. government would never allow him to jump the Grand Canyon. To keep his fans interested, Knievel considered several other stunts that might match the publicity that would have been generated by jumping the canyon. Ideas included jumping across the Mississippi River, jumping from one skyscraper to another in New York City, and jumping over 13 cars inside the Houston Astrodome. While flying back to Butte from a performance tour, he looked out the window of his airplane and saw the Snake River Canyon. After finding a location just east of Twin Falls, Idaho, that was wide enough, deep enough, and on private property, he leased 300 acres (1.2 km 2 ) for $35,000 to stage his jump. He set the date for Labor Day (September 4), 1972.

On January 7–8, 1971, Knievel set the record by selling over 100,000 tickets to back-to-back performances at the Houston Astrodome. On February 28, he set a new world record by jumping 19 cars with his Harley-Davidson XR-750 at the Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California. The 19-car jump was shot for the biopic Evel Knievel. Knievel held the record for 27 years until Bubba Blackwell jumped 20 cars in 1998 with an XR-750. [20] In 2015, Doug Danger surpassed that number with 22 cars, accomplishing this feat on Evel Knievel's actual vintage 1972 Harley-Davidson XR-750. [21]

On May 10, Knievel crashed while attempting to jump 13 Pepsi delivery trucks. His approach was complicated by the fact that he had to start on pavement, cut across grass, and then return to pavement. His lack of speed caused the motorcycle to come down front wheel first. He managed to hold on until the cycle hit the base of the ramp. After being thrown off, he skidded for 50 feet (15 m). He broke his collarbone, suffered a compound fracture of his right arm, and broke both legs.

On March 3, 1972, at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, after making a successful jump, he tried to come to a quick stop because of a short landing area. He reportedly suffered a broken back and a concussion after getting thrown off and run over by his motorcycle, a Harley-Davidson. Knievel returned to jumping in November 1973, when he successfully jumped over 50 stacked cars at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. [22] For 35 years, Knievel held the record for jumping the most stacked cars on a Harley-Davidson XR-750 (the record was broken in October 2008). [23] His historic XR-750 is now part of the collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Made of steel, aluminum and fiberglass, the customized motorcycle weighs about 140 kg (300 lb). [24]

During his career, Knievel may have suffered more than 433 bone fractures, [25] earning an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of "most bones broken in a lifetime". [1] However, this number could be exaggerated: his son Robbie told a reporter in June 2014 that his father had broken 40 to 50 bones Knievel himself claimed he broke 35.

The Grand Canyon jump Edit

Although Knievel never attempted to jump the Grand Canyon, rumors of the Canyon jump were started by Knievel himself in 1968, following the Caesars Palace crash. During a 1968 interview, Knievel stated, "I don't care if they say, 'Look, kid, you're going to drive that thing off the edge of the Canyon and die,' I'm going to do it. I want to be the first. If they'd let me go to the moon, I'd crawl all the way to Cape Kennedy just to do it. I'd like to go to the moon, but I don't want to be the second man to go there." For the next several years, Knievel negotiated with the federal government to secure a jumping site and develop various concept bikes to make the jump, but the Interior Department denied him airspace over the northern Arizona canyon. Knievel switched his attention in 1971 to the Snake River Canyon in southern Idaho.

In the 1971 film Evel Knievel, George Hamilton (as Knievel) alludes to the canyon jump in the final scene of the movie. One of the common movie posters for the film depicts Knievel jumping his motorcycle off a (likely) Grand Canyon cliff. In 1999, his son Robbie jumped a portion of the Grand Canyon owned by the Hualapai Indian Reservation. [26]


Saltman No. 4 (Another View) - History

TEHRAN –A project for purifying, cleansing, and restoring three ancient salt men, found in Iran’s Chehrabad Salt Mine, will be commenced in the near future, Zanjan’s provincial tourism chief has announced.

The salt men number three, four, and five, their belongings, and some ancient relics discovered from the mine will be restored in collaboration with Iran’s Research Center for Conservation of Cultural Relics and Zanjan’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department in close collaboration with the research institute for the protection and restoration of historical relics from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and the Archaeological Museum Frankfurt, Amir Arjmand said on Saturday.

The first step before any rehabilitation works will be accurate documentation of the initial status of the salt men, which are being kept in Zanjan saltmen Museum, the official added.

Back in May, the official announced that a team of experts from Iran and Germany has started a project for cleansing and restoring garments and personal belongings of ancient salt mummies.

In 1993, miners in the Douzlakh Salt Mine, near Hamzehli and Chehrabad villages in Zanjan Province, accidentally came across a mummified head, dated to 300 CE. The head was very well preserved, to the extent that his pierced ear was still holding the gold earring. The hair, beard, and mustaches were reddish, and his impressive leather boot still contained parts of his leg and foot, according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia.

However, in 2004, the miners discovered yet another “saltman,” which was followed by further excavation unearthing remains of a human body along with a large number of artifacts made of wood, metal tools, clothing, and pottery.

In 2005, a systematic excavation began, three more mummies were excavated, and a sixth remained in situ due to lack of funds for its storage. The context of the remains suggested that a collapse in the mine had caused the death of the miners in question.

The first mummy dubbed the “saltman,” is on display in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. He still looks very impressive.

This particular “saltman” was originally dated based on the archaeological material found with him. Later, the mummy was carbon dated, which placed him in 500 CE (1750 BP, that is, “before present” or 1750 years ago), the Sasanian Empire's height. The second “Saltman” was carbon-dated to 1554 BP, which placed him in the same era as the first “saltman,” the Sasanian era.

The third, fourth, and fifth “saltmen” were also carbon dated. The third body was dated and placed in 2337 BP, the fourth body in 2301 BP, and the fifth mummy was dated to 2286 BP, placing them all in the Achaemenid period.

The individual “saltmen” has a few secrets of their own, for instance, the first “saltman” that was discovered had the blood type B+, and 3D imaging of his skull revealed fractures around his eye and other damage that occurred before death by a hard blow to the head. His clothing (the impressive leather boot) and his gold earring show a person of some rank the reason for his presence in the mine still remains a mystery.

Saltman No. 5 had tapeworm eggs from the Taenia sp. genus in his system. These were identified during the study of his remains. The find indicates the consumption of raw or undercooked meat, and this is the first case of this parasite in ancient Iran and the earliest evidence of ancient intestinal parasites in the area. The best preserved and probably the most harrowing of the saltmen is saltman No. 4. A sixteen-year-old miner, caught in the moment of death, crushed by a cave-in.


Paul Laszlo for Brown & Saltman Mid-Century Sideboard

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The Temple Of Reason

Sam Harris is a brave man. In a country where 90 percent of adults say they believe in God, he has written a bestseller condemning religion. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (Norton) has won numerous awards for its meticulous and far-reaching arguments against the irrationality of religious belief. Harris has also drawn criticism from all sides, endearing himself to neither religious moderates nor fundamentalists, and even irritating atheists. His latest book, Letter to a Christian Nation (to be published this month by Knopf), is a bold attack on the heart of Christian belief. Clearly, this is someone who is not afraid to speak his mind.

As a teenager in the eighties, Harris became fascinated with Buddhism and Hinduism, and he made several trips to India and Nepal, where he participated in many silent meditation retreats. He later studied philosophy at Stanford University and came to see the more dogmatic teachings of both faiths as, in his word, &ldquononsense.&rdquo He&rsquos currently completing his doctorate in neuroscience, researching what happens in the brain when we experience belief, disbelief, and uncertainty.

Harris began writing his first book almost immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was dismayed by how quickly public discussion turned from pointing the finger at Islamic fundamentalism to calling for religious tolerance. As he saw it, 9/11 should have exposed the dangerous irrationality of religious belief, but instead it pushed the United States even deeper into its own religiosity. And so he began work on The End of Faith, whose central tenet is that religion &mdash and religious tolerance &mdash perpetuates and protects unjustifiable (not to mention just plain silly) beliefs. In an age of nuclear proliferation and jihad, Harris says, religion paves the way for violent destruction on a terrifying scale.

Harris goes after religious belief with a mixture of humor and deadly seriousness. &ldquoTell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him,&rdquo he writes, &ldquoor that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.&rdquo Unlike some atheists who cast clever barbs at all spirituality, Harris sees value in what he calls the &ldquocontemplative experience&rdquo and views his own Buddhist-inspired meditation practice as an evidence-based, rational enterprise.

Since the publication of The End of Faith, Harris has appeared in the documentary The God Who Wasn&rsquot There, as well as on various cable-television programs, including The O&rsquoReilly Factor on FOX News and Comedy Central&rsquos news-lampoon show The Colbert Report. Though busy working on his new book, Harris made time to talk to me twice. He was charming and witty &mdash joking, when I talked to him the second time, that he had converted to Islam since we&rsquod last spoken &mdash but also tough. His arguments are tight and well rehearsed, and, like a politician, he can stay &ldquoon point&rdquo and turn a question on its head. I sometimes found it frustrating to discuss life&rsquos deepest mysteries in scientific terms. As one respondent wrote on Harris&rsquos website (www.samharris.org): &ldquoAs far as trying to rationally prove that God exists, I don&rsquot even try. . . . So how do I know God exists? . . . I FEEL him.&rdquo This is the kind of faith Harris would like to see the end of.

Saltman: Do you think religious identity is always destructive?

Harris: Yes, insofar as people believe that such identities matter. Sure, we can all point to people who call themselves Christians or Muslims or Jews but who don&rsquot really take their religion seriously. Obviously I&rsquom not lying awake at night worrying about these people. But where people think there is a profound difference between being a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew, I think those identities are intrinsically divisive. Devout Muslims generally think that the Christians are all going to hell, and devout Christians return the favor. And the difference between going to hell and going to heaven for eternity really raises the stakes in their disagreements with one another.

Saltman: How is religious identity different from ethnic or national or racial identity?

Harris: I think it&rsquos similar in the sense that they are tribal identities of a sort, and it&rsquos across these tribal lines that human conflicts tend to occur. The problem with religion is that it is the only type of us/them thinking in which we posit a transcendental difference between the in-group and the out-group. So the difference between yourself and your neighbor is not just the color of your skin or your political affiliation. It&rsquos that your neighbor believes something that is so metaphysically incorrect, he&rsquos going to spend eternity in hell for it. And if he convinces your children that his beliefs are valid, your children will spend eternity in hell. Muslim parents are genuinely concerned that their children&rsquos faith is going to be eroded, either by the materialism and secularism of the West, or by Christianity. And, obviously, our own fundamentalist communities in the West are similarly concerned. So if you really believe that it matters what name you call God, religion provides far more significant reasons for you to fear and despise your neighbor.

Saltman: What about someone who, say, identifies as Jewish and wants to preserve that tradition, but isn&rsquot really worried about what other religions are doing?

Harris: Well, that&rsquos easier in Judaism than in most religions, because Judaism does not tend to be particularly concerned about what happens after death and focuses more on living well in this life. It also tends to be more of a cultural identity than a faith-based one. That said, the extreme forms of Judaism are quite divisive. There are, I&rsquom sure, Orthodox Jews who are waiting for the Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, and once that happens, they&rsquoll be eager to live out of the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and kill people for adultery or for working on the Sabbath &mdash because that is what those books say you should do.

Saltman: Isn&rsquot religion a natural outgrowth of human nature?

Harris: It almost certainly is. But everything we do is a natural outgrowth of human nature. Genocide is. Rape is. No one would ever think of arguing that this makes genocide or rape a necessary feature of a civilized society. Even if you had a detailed story about the essential purpose religion has served for the past fifty thousand years, even if you could prove that humanity would not have survived without believing in a creator God, that would not mean that it&rsquos a good idea to believe in a creator God now, in a twenty-first-century world that has been shattered into separate moral communities on the basis of religious ideas.

Traditionally, religion has been the receptacle of some good and ennobling features of our psychology. It&rsquos the arena in which people talk about contemplative experience and ethics. And I do think contemplative experience and ethics are absolutely essential to human happiness. I just think we now have to speak about them without endorsing any divisive mythology.

Saltman: Your analogy between organized religion and rape is pretty inflammatory. Is that intentional?

Harris: I can be even more inflammatory than that. If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion. I think more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than as a result of any other ideology. I would not say that all human conflict is born of religion or religious differences, but for the human community to be fractured on the basis of religious doctrines that are fundamentally incompatible, in an age when nuclear weapons are proliferating, is a terrifying scenario. I think we do the world a disservice when we suggest that religions are generally benign and not fundamentally divisive.

Saltman: I&rsquove interviewed a lot of born-again Christians. Many of them said they were praying for me because they were convinced I&rsquom going to hell, since I&rsquom not a &ldquobeliever.&rdquo Sometimes this irritated me, but I never felt that I was in real danger.

Harris: Even Christian fundamentalists have learned, by and large, to ignore the most barbaric passages in the Bible. They&rsquore not, presumably, eager to see people burned alive for heresy. A few centuries of science, modernity, and secular politics have moderated even the religious extremists among us. But there are a few exceptions to this. There are the Dominionist Christians, for example, who actually do think homosexuals and adulterers should be put to death. But the people going to a megachurch in Orange County, California, are not calling for this.

They are, however, quite sanguine about human suffering. Their opposition to stem-cell research, for instance, is prolonging the misery of tens of millions of people at this moment. Michael Specter wrote an article in the New Yorker titled &ldquoPolitical Science&rdquo about how the Christian Right is distorting the government&rsquos relationship to science. One example is that we now have a vaccine for the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer, of which five thousand women die every year in the United States. The vaccine, which can be given to girls at age eleven or twelve, is safe and effective. Yet evangelical Christians at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention &mdash political appointees &mdash have argued that we should not use this vaccine, because it will remove one of the natural deterrents to premarital sex. Reginald Finger, who&rsquos on the immunization advisory committee of the CDC , has said that even if we had a vaccine against HIV , he would have to think long and hard about whether to use it, because it might encourage premarital sex.

Now, these people are not evil. They&rsquore just concerned about the wrong things, because they have imbibed these unjustifiable religious taboos. There is no question, however, that these false concerns add to the world&rsquos misery.

Saltman: If we were to eliminate religious identity, wouldn&rsquot something else take its place?

Harris: Not necessarily. Look at what&rsquos going on in Western Europe: some societies there are successfully undoing their commitment to religious identity, and I don&rsquot think it is being replaced by anything. Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Australia, and Japan are all developed societies with a high level of atheism, and the religion they do have is not the populist, fundamentalist, shrill version we have in the U.S. So secularism is achievable.

I think the human urge to identify with a subset of the population is something that we should be skeptical of in all its forms. Nationalism and tribal affiliations are divisive, too, and therefore dangerous. Even being a Red Sox fan or a Yankees fan has its liabilities, if pushed too far.

Saltman: You mentioned Canada. I have good friends in Canada who are practicing Buddhists and have lived for several years in a monastery. They have a difficult time, because Canadians are extremely suspicious of any religious activity. Everybody thinks they&rsquore fundamentalists.

Harris: To some degree your friends are casualties of the fact that we have not learned to talk about the contemplative life in terms that do not endorse a particular religious ideology. If you go into a cave for a year to meditate, you are, by definition, a religious extremist. You have to be able to explain how you are different from Osama bin Laden in his cave.

Saltman: Are you a Buddhist practitioner?

Harris: I&rsquom a practitioner, but I don&rsquot really think of myself as a Buddhist. Buddhism can be distinguished from other religions because it&rsquos nontheistic. But I think Buddhists have to get out of the religion business altogether and talk about what the human mind is like, what the potential for human happiness is, and what are some reasonable approaches to seeking happiness in this world.

Saltman: How did you come to Buddhist practice?

Harris: I came to it initially through a few drug experiences. I had a brief psychedelic phase around twenty years ago that convinced me, if nothing else, that it was possible to have a very different experience of the world. I began reading about mysticism and contemplative experience, and it led me to Buddhist practice &mdash Dzogchen practice, in particular.

If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion. I think more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than as a result of any other ideology.

Saltman: So you see Buddhist meditation not as a religious practice, but as something that can yield results.

Harris: Clearly, there are results to any religious practice. A Christian might say, &ldquoIf you pray to Jesus, you&rsquoll notice a change in your life.&rdquo And I don&rsquot dispute that. The crucial distinction between the teachings of Buddhism and the teachings of Western religions is that with Buddhism, you don&rsquot have to believe anything on faith to get the process started. If you want to learn Buddhist meditation, I could tell you how to do it, and at no point would you have to believe in God or an afterlife. Whereas if you&rsquore going to be a Christian and worship Jesus to the exclusion of every other historical prophet, you have to accept that he was the Son of God, born of a virgin, and so on. And I would argue that those beliefs are unjustifiable, no matter what the results of Christian practice are. The fact that you prayed to Jesus and your life was completely transformed is not evidence of the divinity of Jesus, nor of the fact that he was born of a virgin, because there are Hindus and Buddhists having precisely the same experience, and they never think about Jesus.

Saltman: Do Buddhists have a better chance of transforming their lives?

Harris: I wouldn&rsquot say that, but they have a better chance of talking reasonably about the capacity of the human mind to experience transcendent states, and about the relationship between introspection and such states of mind. The Buddhist discourse on the value of introspection is much more reasonable and evidence-based and unconstrained by dogma. If you become a Catholic and spend eighteen hours a day praying, you&rsquore going to experience a radical transformation in consciousness and maybe become an extraordinarily compassionate person. But when it comes time to talk about why that&rsquos happening, you&rsquore likely going to speak in terms of mythology.

Saltman: But even Buddhists believe some tenets on faith.

Harris: Right. They believe in rebirth, for example. Some believe that this Dalai Lama was the Dalai Lama in a previous life. The distinction is that you can be a practicing Buddhist, who recognizes all the core truths that the Buddha spoke of, without ever believing in the lineage of the Dalai Lama, whereas you cannot be a Christian if you&rsquore not convinced of the core dogmas of Christianity.

Saltman: Would you identify yourself as an atheist?

Harris: Well, I&rsquom not eager to do that. For one thing, atheists have a massive public-relations problem in the United States. Second, atheists as a group are generally not interested in the contemplative life and disavow anything profound that might be realized by meditation or some other deliberate act of introspection. Third, I just think it&rsquos an unnecessary term. We don&rsquot have names for someone who doesn&rsquot believe in astrology or alchemy. I don&rsquot think not believing in God should brand someone with a new identity. I think we need to speak only about reason and common sense and compassion.

Saltman: Atheism doesn&rsquot always go hand in hand with reason and compassion. Look at the destruction and violence caused by atheist ideology in China and the old Soviet Union.

Harris: What I&rsquom really arguing against is dogma, and those communist systems of belief were every bit as dogmatic as religious systems. In fact, I&rsquod call them &ldquopolitical religions.&rdquo But no culture in human history ever suffered because its people became too reasonable or too desirous of having evidence in defense of their core beliefs. Whenever people start committing genocide or hurling women and children into mass graves, I think it&rsquos worth asking what they believe about the universe. My reading of history suggests that they always believe something that&rsquos obviously indefensible and dogmatic.

Saltman: Do you think that there is such a thing as a peaceful religion?

Harris: Oh, sure. Jainism is the best example that I know of. It emerged in India at more or less the same time as Buddhism. Nonviolence is its core doctrine. Jain &ldquoextremists&rdquo wear masks in order to avoid breathing in any living thing. To be a practicing Jain, you have to be a vegetarian and a pacifist. So the more &ldquoderanged&rdquo and dogmatic a Jain becomes, the less likely he or she is to harm living beings.

Jains probably believe certain things on insufficient evidence, and that&rsquos not a good idea, in my opinion. I can even imagine a scenario in which Jain dogma could get people killed: I don&rsquot actually know what Jains say on this subject, but let&rsquos say they became unwilling to kill even bacteria and forbade the use of antibiotics.

Saltman: They&rsquod probably want to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Harris: Probably. But the point is, we&rsquore not likely to be in a situation where Jains start to endanger people&rsquos lives and rights, because they&rsquore so peaceful.

If you become a Catholic and spend eighteen hours a day praying, you&rsquore going to experience a radical transformation in consciousness. . . . But when it comes time to talk about why that&rsquos happening, you&rsquore likely going to speak in terms of mythology.

Saltman: In evangelical circles I hear a lot of tirades against &ldquomoral relativism&rdquo &mdash the idea that right and wrong can vary depending on the culture or time period or situation. Liberals and secular humanists all get accused of moral relativism. You are opposed to moral relativism. Do you feel as if that places you, on some level, in the same camp as the born-agains?

Harris: No, I don&rsquot think I&rsquom in the same camp with them at all. They have a great fear that unless we believe the Bible was written by the creator of the universe, we have no real reason to treat one another well, and I think there&rsquos no evidence for that whatsoever. It&rsquos just fundamentally untrue that people who do not believe in God are more prone to violent crime, for instance. The evidence, if anything, runs the other way. If you look at where we have the most violent crime and the most theft in the United States, it&rsquos not in the secular-leaning blue states. It&rsquos in the red states, with all their religiosity. In fact, three of the five most dangerous cities in the United States are in Texas.

Now, I&rsquom not saying that we can look at this data and say, &ldquoReligion causes violence.&rdquo But you can look at this data and say that high levels of religious affiliation don&rsquot guarantee that people are going to behave well. Likewise if you look at UN rankings of societies in terms of development &mdash which includes levels of violent crime, infant mortality, and literacy &mdash the most atheistic societies on the planet rank the highest: Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark. So there is no evidence that a strong commitment to the literal truth of one&rsquos religious doctrine is a good indicator of societal health or morality.

I think it&rsquos easy to come up with other bases for morality that are objective and not relativistic. Buddhism certainly has one. The proposition in Buddhism is that it matters how you behave and what kinds of intentions you form in your relationships to other human beings, because these things affect your mind, and your mind is the true locus of your happiness or suffering. If you&rsquore interested in being as happy as possible, you will be interested in overcoming your fear and hatred of other human beings and maximizing your love and compassion. This is not a relativistic picture.

Saltman: You talk quite a bit in your book about how tolerance is part of the problem: that we feel we&rsquore supposed to be tolerant of other people&rsquos religions we&rsquore supposed to step back and allow them to have their own beliefs. But if we&rsquore not tolerant, I&rsquom not sure how we should express our intolerance.

Harris: How do we express it with respect to people who believe Elvis Presley is alive?

Harris: No, we&rsquore worse than that. I mean, if someone applies for a job that involves significant responsibility, and in the process he or she expresses absolute certainty that Elvis is still alive, I would hope that person wouldn&rsquot be hired. The belief that Elvis is alive is clearly incompatible with a reasonable evaluation of the evidence.

Saltman: So we should express our intolerance of religious believers by not allowing them into positions of power?

Harris: Well, yes. The belief that Jesus is going to come down out of the clouds like a superhero sometime in the next fifty years and save us &mdash which 44 percent of the American population apparently believes &mdash is every bit as specious as the belief that Elvis is still alive. A radical change in our discourse is called for. The problem is, there are so many people who subscribe to the Christian belief that it&rsquos difficult to act reasonably in response to it. Ultimately, being a Christian should be like believing in Zeus. But right now there is a relevant difference between believing in the divinity of Jesus and believing in Zeus, because the first belief has so many adherents, and because there is such cultural support for the idea. The real liability of religion is that it allows perfectly sane people to believe en masse what only a lunatic would believe on his or her own.

We have to recognize that there are behavioral consequences to certain beliefs &mdash that certain beliefs are indefensible intellectually and have moral consequences that we should find intolerable. Religion allows otherwise intelligent, moral people to endorse positions that are unintelligent and immoral.

Saltman: You use words like unintelligent very freely.

Harris: I&rsquom not saying Christians are unintelligent. It&rsquos possible to be very intelligent and believe that Jesus is going to come back. I just got an e-mail from a biomedical physicist who, at a conference, was the only atheist in a room of five physicists, all talking about the literal truth of Scripture. This happens because religion appears to be the only game in town when it comes time to talk about spiritual experience, ecstasy, devotion, the reality of death, or the meaning of life. We need other ways of talking about these subjects.

Saltman: I&rsquom just surprised that you can so freely make the observation &ldquoThis is unintelligent.&rdquo It feels more mysterious to me.

Harris: Well, I know what it&rsquos like to experience religious ecstasy, and I know how tempting it is to interpret that feeling in light of a given metaphysical doctrine. If you go to a church and sing the hymns and start to feel blissful and ecstatic, you might take this, in a very naive way, as confirmation that Jesus is the Son of God. In my own life, I have interpreted it in more of an Eastern context. But any Christian feeling the way I have felt at meditation retreats will be certain that God&rsquos grace is hitting him full in the face. It will seem to confirm his religious beliefs. That Christian needs to realize that whatever he&rsquos experiencing in that moment has also been experienced by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and so on.

Saltman: So you&rsquore saying all religious experiences are the same?

Harris: No, I&rsquom saying that there&rsquos a deeper truth to human experience, and people are interpreting that truth in light of the beliefs to which they subscribe and drawing a false conclusion. Here&rsquos an analogy: If you give LSD to five people from five different religions, they will each interpret the experience in light of their cultural and religious tradition. And yet the real truth is they all just dropped acid together, and acid has a certain effect upon the brain.

Saltman: You seem very confident of your own experience, of what you see.

Harris: But I&rsquom also certain that my experience is a tissue of cognitive errors and partial viewings of the universe. It&rsquos not as if I were saying that our subjective experience is somehow delivering us an open channel to the truth of the universe.

Whenever people start committing genocide or hurling women and children into mass graves, I think it&rsquos worth asking what they believe about the universe. My reading of history suggests that they always believe something that&rsquos obviously indefensible and dogmatic.

Saltman: In your book, you write, &ldquoI believe there is an oak in my yard, because I can see it.&rdquo Does belief always come down to a matter of evidence? When people say that they have seen God, I look for the evidence in their behavior. When they say that they&rsquore in love, I look for the evidence in the way they treat the people they say they love.

Harris: In many areas of our lives, scientific rigor would be hard to achieve. We don&rsquot feel as if we&rsquore talking nonsense when we say a man loves his wife, but if you want to sit down and scientifically prove that he loves his wife, then you have set yourself a real challenge. Love has different components. It has a behavioral component. It has a subjective emotional component. And those components can be independent of one another. It&rsquos quite possible to feel love for someone but not be able to show it. And it&rsquos possible to act loving and yet not really feel much love for the person you&rsquore treating well. Then there&rsquos the Buddhist concept of &ldquolovingkindness,&rdquo which is not the same as what most people in the West mean by &ldquolove.&rdquo From the Buddhist point of view, romantic love has a lot of craving and attachment in it, and may not have much lovingkindness.

Nevertheless, we know what we mean by &ldquolove,&rdquo and to some degree we can come to an agreement about what it is. If we try to talk about it rigorously, there are some interesting and even controversial discoveries to be made. For instance, if we could isolate the brain locus of the emotion of love, and we could affect it by mechanical or pharmacological means, then we might have some interesting philosophical questions to answer. For example, if a love drug can just dial up the feeling of love, does that mean that you can be made to love someone?

People like to say that love is fundamentally not a matter of reason, but I think that&rsquos just a false way of partitioning the discourse. There&rsquos nothing irrational about valuing the experience of love. You don&rsquot have to believe anything on insufficient evidence in order to fall in love with other human beings and to value that experience.

Saltman: Getting back to religion: what about liturgy? You could rationally say that liturgy helps people. Shouldn&rsquot we value it?

Harris: I think there&rsquos a power to ritual that is not understood in scientific terms, and we should want to understand it. If ritual is doing something for us psychologically and culturally that cannot be done by anything else, then we shouldn&rsquot lose it. I think we would be much poorer for the absence of ritual. We need rituals for all those moments in our lives that we want to mark as having special significance, such as births, deaths, weddings. The problem is that, at the moment, we have only religious language for these occasions. What we need are secular rituals.

This is an idea that has been bouncing around among scientists: that we need a kind of scientific liturgy. It&rsquos not as if, looking out into this universe billions of light-years across, you can&rsquot find anything amazing to say about reality. It&rsquos actually far more amazing than the God of the Bible stalking the deserts of the Middle East, demanding burnt offerings. So we need a language that expresses a reasonable awe at the nature of the cosmos and our existence in it. And we need to make this language emotionally moving for people. I think it would be thrilling if we had a temple of reason that presented through ritual our growing scientific understanding of ourselves in the cosmos. Surely we could think of profound, uplifting, scientific things to say at the occasion of somebody&rsquos death. It&rsquos not as if, once you divest yourself of your religious myths, you&rsquore left with an excruciatingly boring, trimmed-down sense of confinement. In fact, it&rsquos the religions that are excruciatingly boring and confining. The scientific truth, so far as we understand it, is magical and open-ended and thrilling. It just takes a little more work to understand it.

Saltman: It seems to me that people do have secular rituals, or &ldquospiritual but not religious&rdquo ones. And I always find them kind of sad, to tell the truth. Divorced from long-standing traditions, ritual feels a little empty.

Harris: I agree that we haven&rsquot brought it off. I absolutely hate it when someone trots out a Hindu chant in English rather than Sanskrit. It has a kind of incantational value in the original language, but when you sing it in English, it just sounds goofy. This was probably a problem in Catholicism when the Latin Mass gave way to the vernacular. It loses something.

It really is a question of art, ultimately. We&rsquore talking about what kind of art is going to be most pleasing and uplifting. It&rsquos not merely an exercise of rationality to create such art, but there&rsquos nothing inherently irrational about it.

Saltman: Do you believe there are aspects of life that will never be explained by science?

Harris: I think there&rsquos a confusion about what it means to explain anything, and what is lost when things are explained. For instance, I have no doubt that one day we will understand love as a function of the brain &mdash which is to say, we will have &ldquoexplained&rdquo love. But there&rsquos no reason to think that this will diminish the experience of love, any more than understanding the chemical composition of chocolate makes me want to eat less of it. There&rsquos no conflict between a full understanding of the world and our seeking those experiences that we find most pleasurable or most life-affirming. It may be possible that a scientific understanding of love will allow us to find more love or feel more loving. But even if it doesn&rsquot give us any new options, it seems to me that there&rsquos never any argument against understanding phenomena at the scientific level, too.

Saltman: But there are mysteries that it seems we will never unravel through research and experiment. We can have all the evidence and all the understanding in the world and still be suffering.

Harris: Well, from a first-person, subjective point of view, it&rsquos all mystery. Look at your hand. Look at the sky. Look at any object and ask yourself, &ldquoWhat is it, actually?&rdquo I can tell you about the neurology of how you move your hand. But the fact that you can move your hand is irreducibly mysterious. And that&rsquos something that you can be in contact with from moment to moment, when you cease to think so much and just pay attention. But that wonder you feel is not in conflict with an understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships in the universe.

What you seem to be getting at is that maybe there are circumstances in which not understanding what&rsquos going on helps more than understanding. The person who thinks Jesus was really the Son of God may be happier in certain circumstances than the person who understands that Jesus was probably just an ordinary man. It may be that in such cases, being absolutely certain of a dogma delivers more happiness than being rational. But I think the liabilities of having a world that is shattered by competing religious beliefs are much graver than any of the possible benefits of religious certainties.

Saltman: Will science replace religion?

Harris: I think so. I view religion as a failed science, insofar as it makes false claims about the world. Obviously there&rsquos also the ritual aspect of religion, and the architecture, and the community, and the music, and the art. And there&rsquos nothing wrong with that. But when religion makes claims about the way the world is, it is on a collision course with science. These claims often conflict with the mountains of evidence to the contrary that science is continually producing. So at that level, whenever you claim something to be true on the basis of religious dogma, you are trespassing on the terrain of science and actually impeding its progress. And whenever science comes up with a good reason to believe or disbelieve something, it has eroded some of the ground on which religion seeks to stand. Science suggests that life has been evolving for billions of years, and we are descended from species that were not themselves human. This completely closes the book, or should, on the biblical story of Genesis. So if people are attached to their religious ideas, they have to resist science.

Saltman: You obviously approve of Buddhist teachings. As a Buddhist, I don&rsquot know how one would pass on those teachings without the religion. When the religion is taken out of it, people kind of borrow a little of this and a little of that, and before you know it, nobody is practicing Buddhism anymore.

Harris: Well, that is a liability. But nobody is really practicing Buddhism in Buddhism, either.

Harris: I mean the same people who fail to become enlightened picking and choosing their practices would probably fail to become enlightened living in a monastery. If the goal is to transcend your identification with discursive thought and live in an immediate and undeluded awareness of the present moment, few people do that in any sort of ongoing way. And there are many people going to heroic extremes to try to achieve that awareness. It&rsquos just damn hard to do, even in the most dogmatic circumstances.

It seems to me we can talk rationally about what the process of enlightenment is, and why it occurs in one context and not in another, without believing anything preposterous &mdash and certainly without endorsing the dogmatic side of Buddhism. You could have retreat centers teach meditation methods that are completely in harmony with our twenty-first-century understanding of the universe, and leave out the story that Guru Rinpoche was born from a lotus.

Saltman: You mean, you could drop the sutras, drop the Buddhist teachings.

Harris: Well, you can drop the part that doesn&rsquot make any sense. And I admit that few of us are in a perfect position to talk about what ultimately makes sense. I have a fair amount of experience in meditation and have read a lot of books on Buddhism, so I fancy myself a pretty well-educated consumer of spiritual ideas, but I would be the first to say that I am not in a position to authenticate the reasonableness of every spiritual doctrine.

Saltman: Isn&rsquot that why we have tradition: to authenticate the doctrines that work best?

Harris: The traditions are not particularly good, either, because they are perpetuated by people who are not really in a better position than we are to talk about the veracity of certain spiritual ideas. In fact, many of them are in a worse position, because they&rsquove been sheltered from any real conversation with other spiritual traditions and with science. There are great lamas who don&rsquot know a thing about physics, or biology, or anything else that you should know in order to talk about the cosmos. They may be great meditators, but their understanding of the world is extremely narrow, by our standards, and we shouldn&rsquot make a fetish of that kind of narrowness.

Now, maybe without believing the whole metaphysical package of Buddhism, you&rsquore never really going to become enlightened. Maybe it&rsquos a cosmic placebo effect. You have to be deceived somehow by the dogma. There may be something about believing in an afterlife that motivates people to make extreme commitments to the contemplative life. People who go into caves for decades at a stretch are no doubt motivated by a desire to avoid the torments of an infinity of future lives.

But it seems to me that you can&rsquot believe something simply because the belief motivates you, or gives your life meaning, or makes you feel good, or consoles you. It&rsquos crazy to believe something just because it makes you feel good. You have to believe it because you think it&rsquos true. The utility of a belief is secondary.

There are good people whose hearts are, for the most part, in the right place, and they are making decisions based on religious dogma that are getting lots of people killed.

Saltman: Haven&rsquot Buddhists been discussing what &ldquomakes sense&rdquo in Buddhism all along? Don&rsquot all faiths do this? And isn&rsquot it our disagreements about what makes sense that have, as you put it, shattered our world into separate moral communities? How is the conversation that you are trying to have different from the conversation that&rsquos come down to us through the ages?

Harris: Well, for most of the last two thousand years, we have been provincial for reasons of language and geography. Now we are interconnected. All of the religious literature of the world has been translated. It&rsquos all in plain view. And it seems to me we don&rsquot have the same right to our religious provincialism that our ancestors had two hundred years ago, when people on different continents didn&rsquot encounter each other much. Now we&rsquore in a very different period in human history, when our beliefs about the universe transcend any local culture. Say you grew up in Connecticut. It would be crazy to think that there&rsquos something about the history of Connecticut that better equips you to understand the universe than a Tibetan, or an Iraqi, or anyone else. We have to talk about the human endeavor in terms that are not encumbered by the particulars of any one location&rsquos history. Science is clearly the prime example of a discourse that transcends culture and locality. There is no such thing as Japanese science, or Buddhist science. There&rsquos just science.

Saltman: You&rsquore saying that in-group/out-group thinking creates a lot of violence in the world. But even in talking about that, haven&rsquot you created an in-group and an out-group? You&rsquore saying, in effect, that people who believe in Christian dogma are crazy, and people who don&rsquot are sane.

Harris: There is a point at which certain religious beliefs become intolerable. If the root problem were intolerance, then the solution would be to be more and more tolerant of everything. And I think that would ultimately be quite dangerous, because there are some views that are just so obnoxious and maladaptive they have to be resisted at all costs. There are people whose beliefs pose an unconscionable liability for all of us: people who aspire to martyrdom and demonize the entire human race apart from the narrow few who accept their religious propositions. With them, we&rsquore past the point at which tolerance is appropriate.

Saltman: But it&rsquos going to be impossible to get those people to drop their religious affiliation. Shouldn&rsquot we be trying to make them more tolerant?

Harris: Yes, we should. I&rsquod be the first to admit that religious moderates are better than fundamentalists in general. In the Muslim world, for example, what we need are more moderate Muslims. Fundamentalists are not going to leap to being reasonable, secular, and atheistic. I think we need to do whatever we can to empower the moderates of the Muslim world, people who, whatever they believe about God, are willing to say that our governments should be organized around secular values.

Saltman: Even if we were all atheists, we would still have to be tolerant. We would find other things to fight over.

Harris: Definitely, but I hope we&rsquod be able to talk out our conflicts. The problem with religion is that it is the one front upon which we inevitably stop talking to one another and are not willing to have our beliefs about the world revised through conversation. You put a fundamentalist Christian and a fundamentalist Muslim in a room together to talk about food or art, they can maybe find common ground or at least agree to disagree. But if the conversation turns to the divinity of Jesus, they will plunge into their incompatible religious certainties. And that is now manifestly dangerous. Discourse breaks down on the subject of God, because this is the nature of dogma: it&rsquos the thing you&rsquore certain about but refuse to talk about, because your certainty is ill-founded.

Saltman: You have mentioned religious hatred and fear as a source of much of the world&rsquos conflict. Do you fear believers?

Harris: I fear that our religious beliefs &mdash even ones that on their face seem benign &mdash can, when the circumstances are right, cause people to do terrible things. There are good people whose hearts are, for the most part, in the right place, and they are making decisions based on religious dogma that are getting lots of people killed.

Saltman: How do you work with your own fear, so that it doesn&rsquot turn into the kind of fear that&rsquos creating all of this division?

Harris: That&rsquos just the moment-to-moment practice of noticing when you&rsquore out of balance, and releasing that feeling, ceasing to recoil from other human beings, or from the circumstances. That&rsquos what, at one level, meditation is: noticing suffering and letting go of it. And to the degree that you can do that, you can cease to be motivated by your anxieties, your fear, your anger, and so on. But obviously I&rsquom a work in progress.

And it&rsquos not as if the enlightened mind were always this pacifistic, smiling, nonconfrontational acceptance of whatever&rsquos going on. Not all fear or all anger is unwarranted, or even counterproductive. It&rsquos clear to me that there are certain practices in this world that we cannot accept. And that if we accept them, we&rsquore accepting them out of idiot compassion, and not actual compassion. You can be informed about what you&rsquore afraid of, or you can be delusionally afraid of something. We are wise to be afraid of jihadists acquiring nuclear weapons. How much we should fear this is open to debate, but there&rsquos no question that this should concern us. It&rsquos just a question of what the actual risk is of any specific threat coming to pass.

Saltman: Well, maybe if jihadists learned to do a little meditation . . .

Harris: But this is the irony. This is why spiritual experience alone is not enough. Because I have no doubt that these jihadists are experiencing religious ecstasy. The man who&rsquos on his way to blow himself up at a checkpoint has put himself in a state of ecstasy based on his religious convictions. I&rsquom sure he feels that his entire life has brought him to this moment. He&rsquos about to have his every desire fulfilled.

Saltman: To me that sounds like spiritual greed, not ecstasy.

Harris: Well, I&rsquoll bet when you&rsquore in a state like that, it probably has some of the features that we recognize as spiritual experience: a kind of blissful, orgasmic, concentrated focus.

Saltman: But it certainly isn&rsquot a realization of the unity of all things. It arises from dualism: a separation of the world into good and evil.

Harris: I agree. But you can go very far in contemplative, mystical experience without ever questioning dualism. I would argue that the entire Christian contemplative tradition never questions dualism. All Christian religious ecstasy is experienced in a context that presupposes dualism.

It&rsquos hard to maintain a nondual awareness, and dualism is so available. People may taste nonduality for a few moments when they meditate and perceive that everything is one, but then they get up off the cushion and start thinking in dualistic terms again.

I think we have to seriously consider the possibility that someone can be happy and loving and psychologically well adjusted and be a suicide bomber. I don&rsquot think that Osama bin Laden is mentally ill. He simply believes in the absolute rightness of his cause. You need not be a sadist or deranged to do truly malevolent things on the basis of your religious belief. All you need is delusion. And insofar as we can discern what is delusional in any system of thought, we have to criticize it, particularly when it&rsquos politically ascendant and well armed.

Saltman: Do you think that we&rsquore at war right now with Islam?

Harris: I think we are at war with Islamism, which is the strain of Islam that really sees no difference between religion and politics and wants to convert the entire world to a Muslim theocracy. Now, I don&rsquot know how many Islamists there are, but even if only 5 percent of the world&rsquos 1.4 billion Muslims think this way, it&rsquos worth worrying about. I happen to think it&rsquos more than 5 percent &mdash which is to say there are probably tens of millions of people who really are as sure as they can be that Islam is going to conquer the world through armed conflict. We are at war with those people. But this battle has to be, for the most part, waged as a war of ideas. We have to find some way of inspiring a reformation within the Muslim world, so that moderate Muslims &mdash whether through persuasion, or civil war, or crime-fighting initiatives &mdash can subjugate the religious lunatics in their midst. Because we can&rsquot do it by ourselves. And it&rsquos going to be a disaster for us to keep trying to do it by ourselves, because it plays right into their notion that this is a war between the &ldquocrusader armies&rdquo and the &ldquotrue believers.&rdquo

Western Europe at the moment has a real problem with Muslim radicals. Because of political correctness and multiculturalism, the Left doesn&rsquot want to admit that the problem is with Islam itself. These countries&rsquo liberalism has left them totally powerless to deal with extremists. They blame themselves.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Dutch citizen and a vocal critic of Islam &mdash particularly its treatment of women. Her life has been threatened by Muslim extremists many times. Yet the government of the Netherlands essentially blamed her for her predicament and even called her citizenship into question. She was obliged to leave the country.

At a certain point you have to, with full conviction, put your foot down and say, &ldquoHonor killing is nonnegotiable. You crazy bastards who want to kill your daughters when they get raped are beyond the pale. This is wrong. And we&rsquore going to stop you.&rdquo It&rsquos just that we&rsquove been so browbeaten by our own historic failings and conflicts over religion that we&rsquore squeamish about calling a spade a spade.

Liberals have made a fetish of tolerating even the most ludicrous belief systems. They think tolerance is an all-purpose solvent into which even the most obnoxious and arrogant ideas will finally dissolve. But you can tolerate Osama bin Laden all you want he&rsquos not going to moderate his worldview. The irony is the jihadist has nothing but contempt for the weak-kneed tolerator of all beliefs. A jihadist has much more respect for a Christian fundamentalist who says that Islam is an evil religion than for a liberal who says, &ldquoLet&rsquos just look at this from the point of view of anthropology and agree to get along.&rdquo

Saltman: I keep thinking about the suicide bomber feeling bliss.

Harris: What I mean to say is that bliss is not enough. Bliss doesn&rsquot prove that you&rsquore not horribly mistaken about what is true or what is moral.

Saltman: Right, but to me that kind of bliss isn&rsquot worth much &mdash it&rsquos not a real penetrating, transformative, ecstatic experience. So I&rsquom hesitant to put it in the same category as a religious experience that can actually heal.

Harris: Maybe it&rsquos just the context in which you feel the ecstasy that makes you do something: like detonate a bomb in a crowd of innocents. Someone in a different situation might be motivated to save a life, and to sacrifice his own life in the process, because the creator of the universe wants him to do it. It&rsquos basically the same belief system, but he&rsquos saving a life. If you could talk to that person in the last seconds of his life, I&rsquoll bet he would say, &ldquoI&rsquom completely sure of what I&rsquom doing. I&rsquove never felt better. This is what life is about.&rdquo


The Linen Karballatu

24 Saturday Dec 2016

I am cautious about posting closeups of my face on the Internet, but while I am visiting my parents I have a convenient surrogate available

Some years ago, I made up one of the famous Persian hoods in red linen cloth. I machine-sewed it and bag-lined it, and did not have sources other than reliefs, the Darius Mosaic, the bonnet from one of the Pazyryk tombs, and an interesting woodcut which Jona Lendering showed me. I used linen because it was available and appropriately light and flowing. I had a feeling that wool would have been more common. Back then, I knew that Strabo said that ordinary Persians wore a rag of sindōn (fine linen? by the middle ages sindon was a delicate silk) about their heads while rich ones wore a tower-like felt hat, so I had one possible source for linen (the original Greek is ῥάκος σινδόνιόν and πίλημα πυργωτόν and the citation is Strabo, Geography, 15.3.19). In the meantime I learned a bit of Greek, and also some Akkadian. It turned out that both of those languages are relevant.
Continue reading &rarr


Can Attachment Theory Explain All Our Relationships?

The most important parenting you&rsquoll ever do happens before your child turns one &mdash and may affect her for the rest of her life. One mother&rsquos journey through the science of attachment.

The stage is set: a room with two chairs and some toys on the floor. A mother and her 1-year-old baby enter and begin the Strange Situation, a 20-minute, eight-episode laboratory experiment to measure &ldquoattachment&rdquo between infants and their caregivers.

Through a one-way mirror, researchers observe the pair, cataloging every action and reaction. It doesn&rsquot take long to determine the baby&rsquos baseline temperament: physical, running to every corner of the room inquisitive, intently exploring and mouthing every block or reserved, wistfully holding a wind-up toy. The mother is told to sit down and read a magazine so the baby can do whatever she is naturally drawn to do. Then a stranger comes in, and the baby&rsquos reaction is observed &mdash is she afraid of the stranger, nonchalant, or drawn to her? This indicates the style of relating to people in general, and to the mother by comparison.

The mother is instructed to leave the room, leaving her purse on the chair, a sign that she will return. Here we see how the baby responds to the experience of being left &mdash does she howl and run to the door? Or does she stay put, on the floor, in a mountain of toys? The stranger tries to soothe the baby if she is upset. Otherwise, she leaves her to keep exploring.

After a few minutes, cut short if the baby is truly under duress (but that happens rarely), the mother returns for Reunion No. 1. The theory of attachment holds that a behavioral system has evolved to keep infants close to their caregivers and safe from harm. The presumption is that all babies will be under stress when left alone (and in fact, heart rate and cortisol levels indicate that even babies who don&rsquot appear distressed still are). So when the mother returns to the room, researchers are watching to see whether the relationship works as it should. Does the reunion do its job of bringing the baby from a state of relative anxiety into a state of relative ease? In other words, is the child soothed by the presence of the mother?

If the baby was upset during separation but sits still as a stone when her mother returns, it&rsquos likely a sign of an insecure attachment. If the baby was relaxed when left alone and is nonplussed by reunion, that&rsquos less significant. If the baby hightails it to her mother, then screeches mid-approach, indicating a change of heart, that&rsquos a worrisome sign too.

But the most important moment is Reunion No. 2, after the mother leaves again and returns again. If a baby who was upset during separation still does nothing to acknowledge her mother&rsquos return, it&rsquos a sign that the baby, at only a year old, has already come to expect her advances to be rebuffed. If the baby reaches out for love but isn&rsquot able to settle down enough to receive it (or it&rsquos not offered), that may reflect a relationship filled with mixed messages. And if the baby is wild with sadness then jumps like a monkey into the mother&rsquos arms and immediately stops crying, the baby is categorized as secure, coming from a relationship in which she expects her needs to be met. The same goes for a mellow baby whose cues are more subtle, who simply looks sad during separation, then moves closer to Mother upon reunion. In both cases, the relationship works. (And just to be clear, a &ldquoworking&rdquo relationship has nothing to do with the baby-wearing and co-sleeping and round-the-clock care popularized by Dr. William Sears&rsquos attachment-parenting movement plenty of secure attachments are formed without following any particular parenting philosophy.)

1865, United Kingdom Photograph by SSPL/Getty Images

Separate, connect. Separate, connect. It&rsquos the primal dance of finding ourselves in another, and another in ourselves. Researchers believe this pattern of attachment, assessed as early as one year, is more important than temperament, IQ, social class, and parenting style to a person&rsquos development. A boom in attachment research now links adult attachment insecurity with a host of problems, from sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety to a decreased concern with moral injustice and less likelihood of being seen as a &ldquonatural leader.&rdquo But the biggest subfield of attachment research is concerned, not surprisingly, with adult attachment in romantic relationships (yes, there&rsquos a quiz). Can we express our needs? Will they be met? If our needs are met, can we be soothed? Adults with high attachment security are more likely to be satisfied in marriage, experience less conflict, and be more resistant to divorce.

The trouble is that only around 60 percent of people are considered &ldquosecure.&rdquo Which, of course, means that a good lot of us have some issues with attachment, which gets passed from generation to generation. Because if you had an insecure attachment with your parents, it is likely that you will have a more difficult time creating secure attachments for your own children.

The poet Philip Larkin was not the first or the last to notice that parents, &ldquothey fuck you up.&rdquo

When my daughter Azalea was born, I was flooded with feelings of love. But it wasn&rsquot long before I returned to a more familiar sense of myself, and that love was mixed with ambivalence, internal conflict, impatience, and sometimes anger. Yes, I adored my baby, the way she nose-breathed on me as she nursed, her milky smell, her beautiful face, her charming smiles, her bright energy. Her. I loved her. But I was exhausted and overwhelmed, and what might be expressed as irritability in some parents felt more like rage to me. I knew better than to express anger at a baby, but my control dials felt out of reach. I never hit or shook my daughter, but I did yell at her, in real and frightening fury. One time, when she was 6 months old, she was supposed to be taking a nap, but instead she was pulling herself up in her crib, over and over again, nonstop crying. I was over it, done, nothing left. I sat on the floor in her darkened room, and made my ugliest, angriest, face at her, seething, yelling at her to just&hellipgo&hellipto&hellipSLEEP.

If this had been a one-off, I could have rationalized that every parent loses it at some point. But this kind of heat was all too available to me. I would occasionally confess my behavior to my husband, a psychotherapist, but he rarely saw it up close. So as much as he, my own therapist, and my friends tried to support us both, I was largely alone in my shame. And my daughter was alone with a warm and loving and sometimes scary mom.

I had read Dr. Sears and his attachment-parenting ideas before Azalea was born, but I was deeply suspicious that a checklist of behaviors could teach anyone how to raise a human being. I would read things like &ldquoRespond to your baby&rsquos cues,&rdquo and think, Right. As if. Her cues were often inscrutable and always exhausting. Sears&rsquos cavalier oversimplification annoyed me to no end and added to the weight of expectations and disappointment.

As Azalea grew, some things got easier. Language helped. Her ever-increasing cuteness and sweetness helped. Our connection developed, and I loved doing things together &mdash reading books, going to Target, cooking, cuddling, walking, hanging out with friends. Things were good. Except when they weren&rsquot. Like the time in the grocery store as I was checking out with Thanksgiving groceries while struggling to manage Azalea&rsquos unwieldy 10-month-old body in front of a line of blankly staring, silently huffing adults. I remember the jaw-setting, skin-tingling, adrenaline-pumping feeling of anger overtake me. While I don&rsquot remember exactly what I said to my squirming baby, I will never forget the disgusted look on the checkout lady&rsquos face, confirming that whatever outburst I settled on was definitely not okay.

Circa 1895 Photograph by Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images Circa 1908, United States Photograph by Edward S. Curtis/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

In my dark moments, I felt like something inside me was missing, that thing that functions deep down that keeps us from hurting the people we love. But I also tried to remind myself that the cult of perfect parenthood is a myth, that there is no way to avoid making a mess of our kids one way or another. That gave me some peace. Then, when Azalea was 4, I interviewed Jon Kabat-Zinn, the mindfulness and meditation expert who has written many books, including Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of the Mindful Parent. I think I was hoping he might encourage me to set down my burden of guilt and shame, maybe even offer a God-like let it go. But that wasn&rsquot what happened.

Kabat-Zinn: The meaning of being a parent is that you take responsibility for your child&rsquos life until they can take responsibility for their own life. That&rsquos it!

Kabat-Zinn: True, and it doesn&rsquot mean you can&rsquot get help. Turns out how you are as a parent makes a huge difference in the neural development of your child for the first four or five years.

Me: That is so frightening.

Kabat-Zinn: All that&rsquos required, though, is connection. That&rsquos all.

Me: But I want to be separate from my child I don&rsquot want to be connected all the time.

Kabat-Zinn: I see. Well, everything has consequences. How old is your child?

Kabat-Zinn: Well, I gotta say, I have very strong feelings about that kind of thing. She didn&rsquot ask to be born.

I knew then that I needed to figure out why I am the kind of mother I am, and what effect it was having on my daughter.

What began as a quiet inkling that studying attachment might help me understand my vast and varied shortcomings as a mother unfolded into a bona-fide obsession with the entire field of attachment research, inspiring me to write a book and to sign up for training in the Strange Situation. So last August I traveled to Minneapolis where, for the past 30 years, professor Alan Sroufe, co-creator of what has become known as the Minnesota Study, a seminal, 30-year longitudinal study of attachment, has trained researchers, grad students, clinicians, and intrigued writers to become reliable coders of the Strange Situation. I knew that only through training could I learn to discern the bedrock of an infant&rsquos most important relationship. I wanted to become that trained eye.

From our seats in a big classroom, students from around the world &mdash Italy, Peru, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, Japan, and Zambia &mdash watched several videotaped Strange Situations a day, spanning the history and breadth of the field itself, from early, grainy footage with American moms wearing Gloria Vanderbilts and wedge sandals to HD-quality contemporary Swedish pairs. The action is so simple &mdash alone, together, alone, together &mdash it&rsquos almost lyrical. Though the Strange Situation has been done with fathers and other primary caregivers (and monkeys!), the structure is always the same and always points to one thing: the crazy, difficult, beautiful, mysterious nature of trying to love someone.

At the beginning, I was lost. I couldn&rsquot track the action, let alone what mattered, and I got distracted by the wrong details, or hung up on my own reactions. Is it the whiny babies who are insecure and the robust, easygoing ones who are secure? Not necessarily. Attachment is not about temperament. If a big crier is soothed by his mother&rsquos return, he is securely attached. If an anxious kid knows how to scramble for safety and feel felt, it&rsquos another good sign. This is why the Strange Situation works so well &mdash it highlights the relationship while controlling for almost everything else.

Eventually, I learned how to read the cues, and I began to notice the quickest glance and connect it with the rest of the baby&rsquos behavior. I began to notice the difference between a full-on wrap-around-the-legs greeting and a limp request for contact, and the significance of each. I started to wonder about the baby who reached up to be held and kicked at the same time. And I began to worry about all those &ldquogood&rdquo babies who just sat there, moving shapes around the floor, unaffected by their lifeline&rsquos comings and goings.

Circa 1910s, Japan Photograph by SSPL/Getty Images Circa 1925, South Africa Photograph by Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

While attachment behaviors look different across cultures, the attachment system itself is universal. All babies fall into one of the patterns: Secure (B), Insecure/Avoidant (A), and Insecure/Resistant (C). (There are also eight subgroups and a whole other strain within these categories called disorganization.) In the case of Avoidant babies, there is often little or no acknowledgment of the mother&rsquos return. The chill in the air is unnerving. The marker of the avoidant baby, as opposed to the secure one who simply doesn&rsquot need as much contact, is either a subtle averting of their gaze, or an overt change of direction en route to connection. You can see babies literally change their mind as they make a beeline for comfort. Resistant babies, meanwhile, are pissed &mdash kicking, arching, hitting. They make a big show of wanting contact, but they are unable to settle even after the one they desire has returned.

B-4 is a subgroup of secure babies who express a lot, need a lot, can be a bit feisty, but who know where their bread is buttered. My favorite Strange Situation starred a little B-4 girl in a lavender dress who reminded me of Azalea. Sitting in the darkened classroom, I watched the baby toddle around in her little sneakers, bawling her head off when her mother, a thin, sad-seeming young woman with &rsquo80s hair and Reeboks, left. But when the mother returned, the baby ran to her and was immediately picked up. The crying stopped. This was not one of those moms with tons of affect and big expressions of there, there. She just picked her up, and the baby molded right to her, put her head on her shoulder, and then (and this is the best thing ever) the mother and daughter patted each other&rsquos shoulders simultaneously. Co-regulation, a mirror. Then the baby got back on the floor to play.

I thought back to when my daughter Azalea was that age, wearing dresses with giant bows, walking on stiff legs, flyaway curls in pig tails &mdash an adorable, willful, comfort-seeking missile. Then there was me, self-concerned, kind of unavailable, moody, angry. I looked around at all the mothers and daughters and fathers and sons in the classroom, staring up at the big screen, as this sad-looking mother and her big-feeling daughter showed us all how it&rsquos supposed to be done, each of us probably wondering the same thing: What about me? What about her? What about us?

Before attachment theory came into view in the 1950s, the field of developmental psychology was very much focused on the interior drives of each individual, not their relationships. Then a British psychoanalyst named John Bowlby came along and made the case that relationships mattered more than anyone had previously suspected. His theory, influenced by the study of animal behavior, was that primates require a primary caregiver for survival, not as a means to receive food (as the behaviorists believed), but in order to be and feel close to a protective adult. According to Bowlby, it was in service to this goal of real and felt security that certain so-called &ldquoattachment behaviors&rdquo had evolved to elicit a caregiver&rsquos response &mdash crying, following, smiling, sucking, clinging. In other words, babies had evolved to send signals to their caregivers when vulnerable (afraid, sick, hurt, etcetera) that required a response (picking up, cuddling, tending to, etcetera) that kept them safe from danger. At the heart of the attachment system is a primitive kind of call and response that keeps the species alive.

While Bowlby is known as the father of attachment, a prodigiously smart psychologist who worked briefly as his researcher, Mary Salter Ainsworth, is the one who brought his theory to life. In 1954, Ainsworth&rsquos husband got a job in Uganda and she accompanied him, determined to set up a research project testing her and Bowlby&rsquos budding theory with real people. After a year of observing Ganda mothers and babies, she noticed that the babies who cried the least had the most attentive mothers. And she saw how &ldquomaternal attunement&rdquo to babies&rsquo cues seemed to determine these patterns.

1934, United Kingdom Photograph by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images 1939, Germany Photograph by Hedda Walther/ullstein bild via Getty Images

While previous studies had noted of a mother&rsquos &ldquowarmth,&rdquo or a child&rsquos smiles or cries, what made Ainsworth&rsquos observations original was that she noticed relational sensitivity, the actual relationship between two beings. The sensitive caregiver, she writes, &ldquopicks [the baby] up when he seems to wish it, and puts him down when he wants to explore &hellip On the other hand, the [caregiver] who responds inappropriately tries to socialize with the infant when he is hungry, play with him when he is tired, or feed him when he is trying to initiate social interaction.&rdquo She also noticed that the babies who were most comfortable exploring were the ones whose mothers made it clear they weren&rsquot going anywhere.

Ainsworth followed up her work in Uganda with her famous &ldquoBaltimore Study,&rdquo the first to methodically observe mothers and babies in relationship, in the home, and then with the laboratory procedure designed to replicate what she saw in the home, the Strange Situation.

Bowlby&rsquos theory was that babies can&rsquot handle their own fear, sadness, wet-diaper-ness, hunger, etcetera and need someone to handle it for them. This process begins with &ldquoco-regulation&rdquo with the caregiver and ends, ideally, with &ldquothe establishment of the self as the main executive agency of security-based strategies.&rdquo In other words, children who are effectively soothed by their caregivers eventually learn how to do it for themselves. And what of those for whom this doesn&rsquot happen?

It was with no small amount of trepidation that I began to wonder what happened to Azalea&rsquos tears when I wasn&rsquot able to absorb them. Where does a baby&rsquos unshared heartbreak go? I thought back to so many times when I turned away from her anguish, and how simple it would have been for me to turn toward her instead. I began to see her toddling along in the world, following the hot, human trail of seeking connection &mdash checking back, exploring, moving away, returning. And I saw how difficult it was for me to tolerate that much needy attention.

Was that because I had an insecure attachment myself? Pictures of myself as infant &mdash actual 1969 Polaroids, as well as mental images &mdash began coming into my mind. I know my mother nursed me, which was unusual at the time (I also know she smoked while nursing, as in at the same time). I know she was thrilled that I turned out to be a girl after two boys, that she always knew she would name her daughter Bethany. I started to wonder how my mother and I would have done in the Strange Situation. When Azalea was born and I struggled with keeping her little body occupied, my mom recalled, Gosh, I used to just put you kids on the blanket with some toys.

As a writer who has been in and out of therapy pretty much my whole life, it&rsquos not like I had never thought about my childhood, or worked with difficult feelings before. But learning about Bowlby&rsquos and Ainsworth&rsquos work made me wonder if at least some of my troubles &mdash all manner of adolescent acting out, complicated personal relationships, low self-esteem &mdash were an expression of an insecure attachment. I was a poster child, really, for insecurity. As Sroufe and his colleagues write, &ldquoAttachment history itself, while related to a range of teenage outcomes, was most strongly related to outcomes tapping intimacy and trust issues.&rdquo

Circa 1950s, United States Photograph by H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

And if I had an insecure attachment, was it affecting me even now, as an adult? One of the most profound modern advances in attachment theory came from a longitudinal study by Ainsworth&rsquos former student Mary Main. Main was trying to unravel the relationship between a child&rsquos attachment security and their caregiver&rsquos internal working model of attachment. So, in what became known as the &ldquoBerkeley Study,&rdquo children were assessed in the Strange Situation as usual, but in addition their parents were asked a series of questions about their early attachment relationships, questions designed to &ldquosurprise the unconscious&rdquo and reveal the person&rsquos true state of mind. The first big news was just how closely correlated a child&rsquos attachment classification was to their parents&rsquo adult attachment representation. The correlation was so striking that Main decided to check back in with the children at age 19, to ask them the same series of questions about their early-childhood relationships. What she discovered was that most had the same attachment classification as when they were in the Strange Situation at a year old. Later, other researchers found that what came to be known as the Adult Attachment Interview actually predicted how someone&rsquos baby might do in the Strange Situation. Attachment, it seems, is remarkably consistent throughout a life (though can also be changed by positive and negative forces) and even from one generation to the next.

While generally a research tool, the AAI is sometimes used in clinical settings, with therapists administering the interview to patients. It&rsquos a highly specialized procedure, expensive and time-consuming, but so full of potential insight I couldn&rsquot get it out of my head. I knew that taking the AAI wouldn&rsquot change history &mdash mine or Azalea&rsquos &mdash but I might be able to get some answers.

I had met Dr. Howard Steele, the expert in attachment who agreed to administer my AAI, two summers before, when, after I told him about the research I was doing, he invited me to observe a Strange Situation in his lab. Still, taking the train to the New School&rsquos Center for Attachment Research, I was incredibly nervous.

The AAI contains 20 open-ended, slightly startling questions about one&rsquos relationships in early childhood, along with prompts to reflect about it all, designed to elicit and reveal the speaker&rsquos internal working model of attachment. The questions &ldquorequire a rapid succession of speech acts, giving speakers little time to prepare a response.&rdquo They begin with general inquiries about the nature of one&rsquos relationship with parents, then drill down a bit, asking for five adjectives that describe that relationship, with supporting memories and details. Then come questions about how your parents responded to you in times of early separation, times of illness or loss, feelings of rejection, &ldquosetbacks&rdquo &mdash all with requests like &ldquoYou mentioned that you felt your mother was tender when you were ill. Can you think of a time when this was so?&rdquo

Next, the AAI is transcribed verbatim, then carefully coded for adult attachment security. This is done through a two-pronged approach &mdash assessing both the &ldquoprobable experience,&rdquo as in what the primary relationships were probably like, and the &ldquostate of mind,&rdquo which investigates things like idealization, preoccupied anger, and disorganized responses as well as vague speech and insistence on lack of memory.

Secure adults tend to value attachment relationships and are able to describe experiences coherently, whether negative (e.g., parental rejection or overinvolvement) or positive, says Main. Dismissing adults tend either to devalue the importance of attachment relationships or to idealize their parents without being able to illustrate their positive evaluations with concrete events demonstrating secure interaction. Preoccupied adults are still very much involved and preoccupied with their past attachment experiences and are therefore not able to describe them coherently. Dismissing and preoccupied adults are both considered insecure.

1970, United Kingdom Photograph by Chaloner Woods/Getty Images 1970, United States Jack Garofalo/Paris Match via Getty Images

The AAI has been found to be reliable independent of intelligence, or verbal fluency, or interviewer. The most articulate, detail-oriented trial lawyer, ordinarily linguistically unflappable, may report that her mother was kind, loving, warm, and fun but have an inability to recall any details to support that. In fact, she might repeat herself, or give irrelevant details. This would indicate a possibly insecure/dismissive state of mind, indicating the lawyer may well raise an avoidant baby. It&rsquos not a good relationship per se but the subject&rsquos state of mind in relation to their relationships that determines their children&rsquos attachment security, which provides a foundation for those children&rsquos socio-emotional health and happiness, which develops into their adult state of mind, which affects their own children&rsquos security. And so on.

Suddenly, there I was sitting in a little room with a professional listener, trying to come up with five adjectives to describe my mother and scrambling to find relevant memories to support my choices. I remembered my mother taking me into the bathroom at the end of the hall to talk about some drama that had happened at school. I described the sofa bed she used to make when I was sick, and the story of my dad blowing me off when I got a giant splinter in the backyard. I tried to explain my feelings of disconnection even in the presence of a mother who really did seem to try, and how that disconnection turned into anger and more distance. When Steele asked me about why I thought my parents raised me the way they did, it was easy to look at their parents and understand why my dad was shut down and my mom a little hard to access. And I didn&rsquot feel the least bit angry, not even for the thing that had plagued me my entire life &mdash a pervasive feeling of shame for having been neglected, not cared for, not protected from danger.

I feared that if my results came back &ldquopreoccupied&rdquo (I knew I wasn&rsquot dismissive), I would feel humiliated, as if my entire interest in attachment was merely a manifestation of my neuroses. But when I returned to the office later that afternoon to receive my score, what I felt was relief. My score, Steele said, was secure/autonomous. I asked him if he would be so bold as to predict, were I pregnant today, what kind of baby I would have. A B4, he said &mdash secure, with an edge. Like the girl in the lavender dress. I was the mom with the mullet and Azalea was the girl with the big, fat, soothable tears.

I didn&rsquot need a test to tell me that Azalea, who is now 10, does seem happy, well-regulated, and comfortable in the world. The other day, as I drove her and her 5-year-old friend Leroi to violin, I watched them talk about their respective field trips in the rearview mirror. I was so proud of the way Azalea cut short her story of climbing the fire tower so that Leroi could tell his kindergarten tale. I could feel her softening her voice when she talked to him and watched her face turn gentle as she offered to help him with the seat belt.

Beyond all the research linking secure attachments to everything good, attachment is connected to something so profound it&rsquos hard to describe. The literature calls it &ldquomentalization&rdquo UCLA psychiatrist Dan Siegel refers to it as &ldquomindsight.&rdquo Basically, it&rsquos the experience of knowing you have a mind and that everyone else has one, too. Then it&rsquos one small step to see that others have feelings, too.

Was Azalea&rsquos behavior with Leroi a result of her capacity to mentalize and therefore take care of her friends? I hope so. Did she learn that from me? Maybe. If so, does this mean our work is done? Hardly. But it&rsquos comforting to see that, despite all my very real, very unsettling shortcomings, something so important is functioning well. After all, it&rsquos the attachment-inspired capacity to feel that makes us care for and attune to others. And apparently the process is much more forgiving than I imagined.

1983 Photograph by Kees Smans Circa 2010s Photograph by Artem Rastorguev

My AAI subgroup was F3B, a category for a small percentage of the population who have, Steele told me, &ldquosuffered adversity&rdquo but are still able to have some coherence of mind in relation to attachment. In my confidential feedback, Steele wrote: &ldquoOverall, there is a sense that this speaker knows her own mind and the mind of others she cares about. Probable past experiences are mixed &hellip She learned to turn to herself and to her inner world, which became richly developed (as appears to be the case for her daughter too in the next generation) &hellip an adaptive strategy!&rdquo

This was a revolutionary way for me to think about my childhood. Yes, I wish some things had been different, but what if my self-reliance and sense of reflection &mdash two things I value greatly &mdash developed not in spite of my upbringing but because of it? What if I was taught from a young age how to see myself, from parents who &mdash research suggests &mdash had a knack for the same thing.

I had spent a lifetime worrying that there was something wrong with me. Then with my kid. Then with my family. But, as Sroufe pointed out in Minneapolis while we watched some ultimately secure but hardly perfect mother-baby duos in the Strange Situation, something was working.

Attachment is a simple, elegant articulation of the fact that, yes, we really do need each other, and, yes, what we do in relation to each other matters. And yet we don&rsquot have to get it right all the time, or even most of the time. As Steele and his wife Miriam write in an essay in the book What Is Parenthood?, &ldquoEven sensitive caregivers get it right only about 50 percent of the time. There are times when parents feel tired or distracted. The telephone rings or there is breakfast to prepare. In other words, attuned interactions rupture quite frequently. But the hallmark of a sensitive caregiver is that the ruptures are managed and repaired.&rdquo

Maybe all this room for error means we&rsquore wired for forgiveness.

Or maybe, as Steele gently suggested at the end of our interview, even though I experienced my early life as very painful, maybe, in fact, it wasn&rsquot that bad. Technically speaking.


The issue of censorship as it relates to children's literature continues to provoke debate between opposing factions who each believe they have the best interest of children at heart. Deeply rooted in personal convictions, censorship is a perennial cultural flash-point, particularly when it involves children, whose own voice in the debate is muted at best. "Their ignorance and lack of preconceptions," argues Julia Briggs, "leave children peculiarly vulnerable to outside influences. The claim that they need protection can be extended to justify the exercise of censorship on a variety of grounds." With legions of adults seeking to speak on their children's behalf, fierce arguments arise between opponents of censorship who wish to defend the free speech clause of the First Amendment and those who pursue censorship in order to ban media potentially ill-suited for a juvenile audience. Between 1990 and 2000, the American Library Association (ALA) reported 6,364 challenges to various books in libraries and public schools in the United States. Likewise, in Canada, one third of all schools reported attempts to censor certain materials within a four-year span in the early 1990s. Although censorship is often defined as an overt effort to completely ban books and is regularly associated with the political right, neither assumption accurately reflects the nuance of the ongoing debate. Professor of Library Science and censorship scholar Judith Saltman asserts, "advocates of censorship of children's literature on the left of the political spectrum are becoming uneasy bedfellows with the traditional advocates of censorship, those on the right. The new realism in children's fiction has prompted a call from some for a return to conservative values and limitations on content, and book banning in schools and libraries is threatening to become epidemic."

As practiced, censorship can take many forms. In addition to outright prohibition of objectionable books, various interest groups have at times insisted that certain books be moved into sections of the library that are inaccessible to children, such as behind the librarian's counter or into adult sections where juveniles need parental permission to enter. Less overt censorial practices can also have a dramatic effect on the types of materials that are published in the first place. Examples of these practices, as noted by anti-censorship organizations and authors alike, include self-censure, editorial censorship, and market pressures. Self-censure occurs when an author questions their own work, altering it to accommodate the belief that certain aspects of their texts will face resistance from publishers or readers. Many authors have written about this internal struggle, including Judy Blume, one of the most censored contemporary writers for children. Blume wrote, "What effect does this climate [of censorship] have on a writer? Chilling. It's easy to become discouraged, to second-guess everything you write." Authors occasionally come under pressure from their editors and publishers to alter text or omit potentially objectionable passages for fear of negatively affecting their sales or attracting criticism from sensitive readers. Concern by editors and writers ultimately stems from market pressures, such as when book-sellers refuse to stock objectionable books or when children's advocacy groups organize a boycott of offending publishers, writers, or bookstores. These forms of self-censure have long been the norm in children's literature. According to Mark I. West, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, "[children's] authors automatically assumed that they could not refer to sexuality, mention certain bodily functions, graphically describe violent acts, portray adults in a negative light, use swear words, criticize authority figures or address controversial social issues."

Literary censorship is not a recent phenomenon, however. In the late fourteenth century, the popular Wycliffe Bibles, among the very first translations of the Bible into English, were banned for fear they misrepresented the word of God as expressed in the Latin texts authorized by the Catholic Church. The seventeenth century saw the labeling of Galileo Galilei as a heretic, and his works—principally his doctrine of astronomy, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632)—censured and banned for contrasting the facts as determined by the Gospels. Jonathan Swift is often thought to be among the first victims of deliberate censorship by forces outside of organized religion. Certain passages were excised from published editions of Gulliver's Travels (1726), including a scene where Gulliver urinates on a fire in the Lilliputian palace. In the context of children's literature, among the first scholars to recommend different standards of acceptability for children's works was English philosopher John Locke, who argued that goblins, ghosts, and other related folk myths had no place in a child's regular repertoire of stories. Social theorist Jean-Jacques Rousseau took this level of argument one step further, arguing in Émile: Or, On Education (1762) that children under twelve should be denied books entirely, suggesting they would be better served learning through the direct experience of life, or "unvarnished truth" as he called it.

By the Victorian Age, children's literature blossomed into a fully independent genre with a greater degree of variety and freedom, although this era saw the first coordinated efforts to ban or alter juvenile works. Penny dreadfuls—a term describing inexpensive series of macabre and violent books targeted primarily at young boys—featured dangerous criminals, serial killers, and mythic monsters of history as their protagonists, including such figures as Spring-Heeled Jack, Dick Turpin, Jack Sheppard, and Sweeney Todd. Concerned with the effects that these stories might have on developing minds, prominent English politicians and religious figures sought to have them banned. Their efforts were largely unsuccessful, though by the turn of the century, these novelty books had generally faded in popularity in England due to changing fads and overproduction. However, within a few years, penny dreadfuls and dime novels began to reach the United States, attracting a similar level of conservative backlash from such notable opponents as Anthony Comstock and Dr. Frederic Wertham. Comstock was the leader of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and author of Traps for the Young (1883), an impassioned treatise calling for the elimination of dime novels on the grounds that children needed to be protected from the negative influence of such publications. Arguing that "lewd" books had a direct link to perceived increases in juvenile misconduct, he sought an outright ban on their sales. Wertham, Comstock's philosophical heir, likewise alleged in his book Seduction of the Innocent (1954) that the influence of popular lowbrow pulp novels and comic books had triggered a rise in teen delinquency and homosexuality. Wertham's grandstanding led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority, an institutionalized form of self-censure created by the comic book industry to reduce public concerns about their content as well as preemptively avoiding even stricter guidelines from Congress. Based on these and several other successful campaigns, many found censorship to be an effective tool for restricting the circulation of books thought to be undesirable, and challenges to individual books began to witness a dramatic increase in the United States beginning in the mid-twentieth century.

Early challenges of this nature were made to books like Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), where language and nudity were highlighted as concerns, and J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951), which was seen as inspiring insolence in teenagers. Before long, classic works of literature such as Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847), Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1895), John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (1937), and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) were all the subjects of various challenges nationwide. However, the cultural liberalism and youth rebellions of the late 1960s and 1970s led to increased resistance to direct attempts at literary censorship. Mark I. West notes, "As Americans became more accepting of sexuality and less confident in the infallibility of authority figures, a number of authors and editors questioned the legitimacy of the taboos that had encumbered children's literature for so long. This development resulted in the emergence of a new breed of children's books." This "new breed" of juvenile works emphasized realism, placing characters in true-life situations without regard for the heightened sense of propriety that formerly limited the narrative potential of children's literature. Among this new generation of stories were frank depictions of adolescence containing graphically accurate characterizations of troubled teenagers, such as Judy Blume's Deenie (1973), Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War (1974), Lois Duncan's Killing Mr. Griffin (1978), and Alice Childress' A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich (1982). Today, the battle lines are regularly redrawn between supporters and opponents of censorship, often on a book-by-book, school-district-by-school-district basis. While some of the tactics and bases for challenges have evolved over the last twenty-five years—with restrictions on books containing homosexual themes or characters having seen perhaps the greatest number of new challenges—many of the same arguments for and against censorship remain as they were in earlier eras.

There are a myriad of reasons why books have been deemed objectionable by certain readers, from the offbeat—such as the removal of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901) and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904) from London classrooms in the 1980s for relying too much on "middle class" rabbits—to the surprising—as shown by the 1983 decision by the Alabama State Textbook Committee to recommend the elimination of Anne Frank's Het Achterhuis (1947 The Diary of a Young Girl) from schools because it was "a real downer" and included references to teen sexuality. But, generally, several consistent underlying reasons have been recognized as providing the inspiration for the majority of children's literature censorship challenges. Sexual conduct, such as promiscuity, homosexuality, or even frank examinations of the physical act, is one of the most frequently given reasons for removing a book from a library or school. Books portraying homosexuality as normal or mundane are commonly questioned examples of some of the most disputed works are Lesléa Newman's Heather Has Two Mommies (1989), Michael Willhoite's picture book Daddy's Roommate (1990), and Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat (1989). A North Carolina challenge of Daddy's Roommate argued that the book "promotes a dangerous and ungodly lifestyle from which children must be protected." Nonfiction titles have also attracted the same sort of censor scrutiny received by fictional narratives: Robie H. Harris's educational text It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (1994) was recognized by the ALA as the most challenged book of 2005 for its inclusion of homosexuality, nudity, sexual content, and sex education issues among its many points of discussion.

Another widely debated topic is the issue of racial portrayals. Questions of presentation, inclusion, and reliance on racial stereotypes in works of children's literature have been the focus of heated confrontations across the United States. Among the most challenged books in this category are Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Story of Little Black Sambo (1899) by Helen Bannerman, and The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts (1920) by Hugh Lofting, each accused of reinforcing racial clichés of African Americans. Likewise, Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie (1935) has come under fire for dehumanizing the Native American characters that appear in the text. Censors also challenge violent content in works targeted at children or young adults and are quick to correlate such representations of violence with increases in violent deaths among teens over the last twenty years. Authors seeking to draw attention to the problem of violence through literature—such as Walter Dean Myers, who is annually among the ALA's most challenged young adult authors—regularly see their works characterized as glamorizing violence due to their realistic and sometimes sympathetic portrayals of adolescent criminals and gang members. For comparable reasons, the subversion of religious dogma or the introduction of non-Western religious ideas in children's works has angered many American censors, as when Max J. Herzberg's Myths and Their Meaning (1928) was questioned at Colorado's Woodland Park High School "because," according to the challenge, "the stories about mythological figures like Zeus and Apollo threaten Western civilization's foundations." Roald Dahl's The Witches (1983) offers a unique case study of the diversity of inspirations for censorship challenges. It was attacked by both religious conservatives, who disliked the presence of magic in a children's story, and by liberal feminists, who worried that Dahl's tale offered an overly negative image of women and witches. Alternately, the same book was challenged in Tennessee in 2000 for providing a too "positive" depiction of witches.

Such contrary attacks on the same book illustrate how almost any literary work has the potential to offend someone. Raymond Briggs' innocuous 1973 Greenaway Medal-winning picture book Father Christmas was the subject of a series of challenges protesting its moral message due to an illustration late in the book where Briggs shows Saint Nicholas drinking alcohol. Likewise, Maurice Sendak's picture book In the Night Kitchen (1970) is regularly labeled as indecent by some censors for its nude depiction of its child protagonist. Bad language, inclusion of bodily functions, poor morality, and insolence towards adults are all frequently identified as reasons for censoring or altering offending children's works, and the list of potential crimes grows every year, a fact that Judy Blume laments: "There is no predicting the censor. No telling what will be seen as controversial tomorrow." The end result, she worries, is "the loss to young people. If no one speaks out for them, if they don't speak out for themselves, all they'll get for their reading will be the most bland books available. And instead of finding the information they need at the library, instead of finding the novels that illuminate life, they will find only those materials to which nobody could possibly object."

However pervasive the censor's attacks on children's literature, these challenges remain the exception. As Anne Scott MacLeod argues, "adult attitudes toward children's reading have undergone some major changes during the turbulent years just past. The wide (though not universal) acceptance of a greatly broadened content in children's books seems to stem from the conviction that children should learn as soon as possible the realities of the world they live in—even the hardest and most unsavory realities." Most writers who have been the subject of attempted censorship challenges welcome this hope that literature can indeed affect change when given the chance. There is a widespread belief among critics and scholars alike that censorship limits a child's potential for intellectual growth, and that when enacted, censorship offers only a poor and flawed protection from exposing young readers to some of the world's more morally ambiguous social issues. For Judith Saltman, the potential for literature to help children grow explains a need to tolerate variety in the subject matter of children's literature: "Tolerance is essential in our society, particularly tolerance in recognizing the right of others, especially minors, to make their own decisions about what they will read and their right to have access to a wide range of informational and recreational reading materials to accommodate the diverse interests and needs of youth."


"Chicago Fried Chow Mein": What was it? Do I want to know?

One of our famous local food bloggers (hi, Pats!) recently posted a link to an entry in the LA Public Library's menu archive:

for a Chinese restaurant menu, circa 1946, which refers, among other things, to Chow mein as being available in either of two styles: "Canton, or Chicago Fried".

"Chicago Fried Chow Mein" sounds either truly wonderfully American, or truly scary, depending on your view.

Anyone know what this was?

I don't know what it was, but:
a) They don't offer it any more, which is indicative of something.
b) "Chow Mein" served ANY style, is enough to scare me silly.

Clicking the will recommend this comment to others.

Well, the restaurant in question's long gone, and who knows: MAYBE the secret of "Chicago Fried Chow Mein" is a long-lost culinary revelation! It may have been the 1940's equivalent of that now-popular So. Cal. artery-clogger, "carne asada fries", which, of course, include cheese, guac, and sour cream.

Who knows what we might be missing? Foodies are clearly interested in reviving things on the drink menu (and it appears that "The Forbidden City" mixed a mean drink) so why not the rest of it?

Ok. Fair enough, I'll concede on a) , but I'm sticking to b) :->

I was surprised to see "Chicago-Style" fried rice on a takeout menu from a not-too-classy Chinese restaurant in Cambridge. When I asked what it was, they told me it had more sauce, and so was darker (when it arrived, it was, in fact, a very dark brown fried rice). Perhaps this could shed some light on the Chicago Fried Chow Mein?

pamiam (what a cute screen:->)
Hmmm. Interesting
I'm not sure why they refer to it as Fried" just b/c it looks darker, thus "Fried?" The fact that they add more sauce probably refers to soy sauce. I would think that would make it somewhat salty.
I'm glad you posted this. I've never heard of it and silverlake's calm logic had me half way to accepting it. :-> I order yang chow fried rice just to avoid the extra soy sauce, so I'll pass on the 'fried' chow mein.

Chicago style noodles - Deep fry. Loosen your bundle of noodles and lower all into a wok of hot oil. When noodles are light, crispy brown, use a big strainer and remove from oil & drain. Set aside. Place noodles in large serving platter few minutes before eating. Pour your prepared meat, vegetable, soy sauce & salt in gravy mixture over top of noodles.

I had also found some menus online for chinese restaurants that offer Chicago Chow Mein. Apparantly that means the noodles are deep fried. YUMMY!

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Well, there you go, then as I kinda suspected, whether you think of this as a long-lost culinary gem, or as the most disgusting grease bomb since whatever fried thing that got Elvis, depends largely on how you feel about deep fried salty stuff generally.

Gotta say, though, notwithstanding the "gringo-ized" label, I've seen deep-fried noodle nests in the high-end ultra-authentic places in the San gabriel Valley. . .


Watch the video: Nach PSG-Streit: Messi bricht sein Schweigen. (May 2022).