“Rats Avoid Harming Each Other” National Geographic Comes Full Circle, in a Way

Well, here I was thinking that I was overdue for a new post and, lo and behold, National Geographic pops up with this. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/03/rats-empathy-brains-harm-aversion/?fbclid=IwAR1_oy0GJZItPEixGltFnDFKkTQXC3RwSh6_cowygTsIXVl_QuGjLITtImw

Did you know that Robert Conly (Robert C. O’Brien) worked for the National Geographic Society? Did you also know that his book was at least partially inspired by the work of John B. Calhoun? Dr. Calhoun was studying what happens to societies when they can have everything they want except space from constant contact with others. Although the results were horrifying (rodent lovers beware), Calhoun was a huge proponent of compassion as the way to preserve the future of America and the world. He spoke against the extermination of rats – providing expert testimony, including defending rats for their positive features.

I remain mixed on all of this… Calhoun was a bit like Schultz in the sense that we was able to go “clinical” (or should we say sociopathic to some degree?) and watch these poor animals break down and suffer…. even harming each other (which Calhoun stated was NOT normal for rats). On the other hand, he was willing to defend rats and fervently believed in compassion being our saving grace. Calhoun even wrote about this to Nixon and presidential candidates.

Full circle.

P.S. About two years ago or so, the great people at National Geographic Archives allowed me to visit and take a look at their Conly files. One of the BEST days of my life.

From the courtyard of National Geographic headquarters.
Ready to research!!

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