“It is a sad irony that the snake’s rattle, which functions as a warning device, is widely regarded as a bellicose drumroll, or war-cry, instead. It may well have been in a mood of remorse for having killed a rattlesnake on impulse that [William] Bartram, vowing solemnly that he ‘would never again be accessory to the death of a rattle snake,’ painted his marvelous portrait of a coiled rattler.” Christopher Benfey on Rattlesnake Island, a sanctuary set up to protect the woodland serpents from their greatest danger — us.
Chances are that your mental image of Pavlov is that of a man giving commands to a barking dog. However, as a new biography makes clear, the doctor who brought us his very own adjective has a far more complicated legacy. In The New Yorker, Michael Specter writes about the man behind the bell.