Is love fair game for science? Or, is it a sacred mystery that we should not try too hard to understand?
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Is Social Psychology Best Left Unstudied?The late U.S. Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin criticized the work of two prominent social psychologists when he stated that, "Americans want to leave some things in life a mystery, and right at the top of things we don’t want to know is why a man and a woman fall in love." Are there some things in life best left unstudied?
Proxmire, pork, and passionate prudishness
With all due respect, Senator Proxmire was a windy old curmudgeon who bragged that he was fired from his first job for impertinence and was fondly eulogized as being a maverick. His personal integrity, however, was reflected by a record 10,252 consecutive roll call votes across twenty-two years of public service. Proxmire took pride in lampooning wasteful “pork barrel” government spending and was notorious for giving “Golden Fleece” awards to many pork appropriations (with the notable exception of dairy supports in his home state of Wisconsin). The quotation, above, refers to his very first Golden Fleece, which went for $84,000 given to the National Science Foundation in 1975 for the study of “Why a man and a woman fall in love.” He should be forgiven a little hyperbole.
Under the circumstances,