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06/10/91

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Book Digest

Mind control. As a teenager during the 1950s, Harvey Weinstein watched helplessly as his once vibrant and successful father sank further and further into mental illness, despite treatment by one of North America's preeminent psychiatrists.

It was more than 20 years later that Weinstein, now a psychiatrist and director of Stanford University's Cowell Student Health Center, realized what had actually happened to his father. His revelation came from reading an article about secret mind-control projects, funded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Canadian government, at the very institute where his father was being treated for anxiety.

In Psychiatry and the CIA: Victims of Mind Control (American Psychiatric Press, 1990), Weinstein tells of the torments his fathered endured -- multiple electroshocks, hallucinogenic drugs, prolonged sensory deprivation, forced sleep, and induced insulin comas -- and of his eight-year-long legal battle to obtain justice for his father and eight other Canadians who suffered similarly.

"This book is an indictment of one psychiatrist," Weinstein writes. "It is an indictment of a government agency gone awry. It is a tale of two national governments that hid behind secrecy and the legal system.

"It is my earnest hope that never again will we see the abuse of human rights that was perpetrated at the Allan Memorial in the name of science."

Romance, technically speaking. "Technology is older than art, religion or philosophy; indeed it is older than human beings themselves," writes Barry Katz, senior lecturer in Stanford's Program in Values, Technology, Science and Society, in Technology and Culture: A Historical Romance (Stanford Alumni Association, 1990).

Yet before the 20th century, technology was relatively neglected and even disdained by leading writers and artists. As the issue is raised in one Platonic dialogue, "We can scarcely do without the services of engineers, but would you let your daughter marry one?"

In this book, the latest in the Portable Stanford Book Series, Katz traces the diverse ways over time in which philosophers and scientists, painters and poets, theologians and political theorists have attempted to grasp the nature of technology, ranging from the story of the Tower of Babel in the Bible to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and from the myth of Prometheus to Mary Shelley's Dr. Frankenstein.

Like all romances, Katz writes, the relationship between culture and technology has had its high points and its lows. "But despite chronic marital discord, frequent bouts of infidelity, and even occasional attempts at separation, this is a relationship that shows no sign of weakening," he writes.

First edition. Pierre Beauchamp (1631-1705), the most prominent French dancer and choreographer of his time, also composed music for many of his ballets. His collaboration with Moliere resulted in a small masterpiece, now published for the first time as Le Ballet des Fauchex: Beauchamp's Music for Moliere's Comedy (Indiana University Press, 1991).

Edited by George Houle, professor of music at Stanford, the publication includes an introduction, notes on performance practice, the full score, and separate parts for five string instruments.

"The five-part texture of the Ballet des Facheux is typical of French theater music in the late 17thth century," Houle writes. "The music suggests the [spirited] dancing that inspired its creation as well as the character of Moliere's play. Perhaps it can find a place in our repertory today."

Tech text. During the past two decades, a number of undergraduate courses on science, technology and society have been established in American, European and Australian colleges and universities.

Science, Technology and Society (Prentice Hall, 1991), by Prof. Robert McGinn, associate chairman of Stanford's Program in Values, Technology, Science and Society, is an introductory text suitable for use in such courses.

"I undertook this project for two reasons, one pedagogical, the other personal," he writes in his preface. "While scholarly articles pertinent to most areas of the . . . field are now readily available, there remains a need for a broad gauged textbook. . . .

"Second, I wanted to contribute to a cause that I have come to regard as vital: enhancing the interrelationships among science, technology and society in th_e present and future.

"The 'STS question' is already an important issue for contemporary societies. The ways in which it is posed and answered in a given society will have an important bearing on its future quality of life."

Leaping boundaries. In 1987, the Stanford Humanities Center sponsored a centennial conference on the definition of humanity, in light of recent developments in sociobiology and artificial intelligence. The result is The Boundaries of Humanity: Humans, Animals, Machines (University of California Press, 1991).

The essays in The Boundaries of Humanity consider whether humanity can be said to have a nature and, if so, whether that nature can be objectively described or symbolically reproduced.

The volume opens with a general statement by philosopher Bernard Williams on the range of problems encountered in attempting to define humanity in relation to either animals or machines. This is followed by sections on humans and animals and on humans and machines.

"Never before have the conceptual boundaries of humanity been less secure," writes James Sheehan, Dickason Professor of History at Stanford, who edited the book along with Humanities Center Fellow Morton Sosna.

"Both sociobiology and artificial intelligence directly challenge the concept of human uniqueness. While neither questions that there are important differences between humans and animals and humans and machines, each insists that humans can best be understood if we acknowledge our essential kinship with these other entities."

Comment on commodities. The performance of commodity markets has been a major concern of producers, processors, and consumers for centuries. Yet the workings of these markets and the actual effects of government stabilization efforts are not well understood.

In Storage and Commodity Markets (Cambridge University Press, 1991), Jeffrey Williams, associate professor in Stanford's Food Research Institute, and Brian Wright, professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California-Berkeley, model the behavior of such markets, taking into account the dynamics of spot and future prices, quantities stored, and production adjustments.

"Although our stylized commodity is most obviously identified with agricultural products, the theory is sufficiently general to offer insights into metals and petroleum as well," the authors write.

Other chapters examine monopoly and market manipulation, seasonality and government programs, including their effects on the welfare of consumers, producers, and asset holders.

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