The Right Coast

February 16, 2005
The primates of Harvard
By Tom Smith

This wonderfully lucid essay by Stephen Pinker about the Lawrence Summers kerfuffle suggests an image: In the hallowed, ivied hall at Harvard mill two hundred odd primates. At the front of the hall is their alpha male, and he is saying something the rest of them don't like. The shrieks of outrage! The somersaults! The tail chasing! Ahhhhhreeeeeek! The naked ape outrage! Summers violated The Taboo! He ate of the casava root without first spitting upon the ground. He climbed the forbidden bannana tree! Apes have a tendency to get upset, and it takes a long time for them to calm down.