I enjoyed the Upfront story about the innate response to snakes ("Simians are also spooked by snakes," September Monitor). I was reminded of a trip to our zoo's reptile house with my 9-month-old son. With him on my hip I felt his legs squeeze me tight, and my shirt pulled from his clenching fist when he caught sight of a rattlesnake "hidden" in the exhibit. No words were needed to know what he was feeling and thinking!

Andy Andersen, PsyD
Decatur, Ga.


Rebecca Clay's September Monitor article, "Prevention works," reported on the profound importance of prevention research that uses evidence-based practices. Kudos to colleagues such as Anthony Biglan for continuing to advance that science. An historical quibble, though: Clay wrote that Shep Kellam, MD, "developed" the Good Behavior Game. That is not true. Kellam is one among several scientists who evaluated the game, but it was developed by Harriet Barrish, Muriel Saunders and Mont Wolf, all PhDs in psychology. If we forget the history of psychology, we may eventually find that physicians have usurped what we founded. I respect and admire physicians, but our sciences are different.

Edward K. Morris, PhD
Lawrence, Kan.

Environment vs. nuture

In an interview ("Brighten Up," September Monitor), social psychologist Richard Nisbett, PhD, was quoted as follows: "We know, for example, middle-class children are much more likely to get a good education and go to college, and to think that this makes no difference in intelligence seems impossible. But accepting that conclusion was core to such books as 'The Bell Curve' and 'The Nurture Assumption.'"

As the author of "The Nurture Assumption," I can assure Dr. Nisbett that nothing in my book makes it necessary to accept that conclusion. On the contrary, I devote an entire chapter to cultural transmission and another to the influence of schools and teachers. My book is not about how genes work, but how the environment works. Its title refers to the assumption that "environment" and "nurture" are the same thing.

Judith Rich Harris
Middletown, N.J.

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