Building Alpha Ralpha Boulevard

Cordwainer Smith’s novelette “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard” is a central component of his future history, marking the onset of the period he called the Rediscovery of Man. Though it has come to be regarded as a classic, the story’s title, the behavior and fate of its central characters, and its underlying autobiographical sources have all retained an air of mystery. This paper argues that in writing “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard” Smith confronted his feelings about his divorce from his first wife, stressed the value of simple human kindness in his treatment of others, and thereby dissolved a serious and years-long writer’s block.

Personal Account of a Depression Era Log Home Near Batesville, Arkansas

According to the editor of this article, “The following brief and informal account of the construction of, and life in, a Depression era log home erected near Batesville, (Independence County) Arkansas, in 1939 provides invaluable insights into the necessity-driven resurrection of a dying construction technique brought about by the financial conditions of those times.”

Social Primatology (Social Psychology and Social Relevance, Chapter 2)

The howling monkeys of Barro Colorado Island are especially attractive to social psychologists because their natural social life is protected from the destruction that hunters have delivered to their mainland brothers and sisters. Since being made wards of the Smithsonian Institution early in the 20th Century, the BCI howlers have been protected from the whims of fortune and the attacks of human Panamanians. This chapter is partly a report of my observations of howlers in the summer of 1959, when I was part of a field research expedition headed by Professor C. Ray Carpenter of Penn State University, and partly a broad review of the research literature on the social life of howlers and other nonhuman primates up to the early 1970s.

Experimental Ethics: Issues Raised by Obedience Research

Is the psychologist ever justified in leading a volunteer into a situation the volunteer has not anticipated and to which he has not given his prior consent? It’s tempting here simply to generalize from good medical research practice and argue (as Baumrind does) that the volunteer should always give his “informed consent” in advance, that he should be told what’s going to happen and what the dangers are so he can decide whether he really wants to participate or not. This may be feasible when you want to inject a bacillus into people, because telling them about it won’t do much to the bacillus one way or the other. But if you want to study the conditions under which a volunteer will obey an authority’s orders, you’d better not tell him, “I want to see when you’ll obey me and when you’ll disobey me,” or you might as well go play a quick game of ping-pong instead. The same is true for social conformity experiments, and in fact for a large proportion of the questions studied by social and personality psychologists.