Anyone who studied what I studied in university should know the story of Pavlov's dog, i.e. the story of the Russian scientist of the functions of the body's organs, and this type of medicine. He was called Ivan Pavlov and his research involved a group of dogs, not just one. I studied Pavlov's dog as part of Psychology 101 and 201 (or perhaps 102, I have forgotten), and found it appropriate for discussion this these days.
Pavlov studied the digestive system of dogs, and noticed that his dog began to drool when any assistant of his entered the room. The dog linked the assistant to his bringing it food.
The assistants gave things to eat, and things that could not be eaten, to the dogs. Then, they would study the amount of drool, and Pavlov observed that the dogs would drool without seeing or smelling the food, so he decided that a conditioned response was taking place.
He chose a metronome, and first the dogs would hear the sound of the bell and then the food would come. The experiment showed that the drool would appear from merely hearing the sound of the bell, which is how Pavlov arrived at the idea that the conditioned stimulus would stir a conditioned reaction. This was known later as classic conditioning. Pavlov won the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work, which began in 1896 and continued until 1930.
I recalled Pavlov and his dog while following the angry reactions in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere against the vile, obscene film that people thought was produced about the Prophet Mohammad.
I condemn all of these reactions. I accuse the demonstrators, saboteurs and killers, with the help of a group of low-lifes who came up with the idea of the film, and the hellish idea of promoting it, as a provocation of ignorant people.
Here, I should state as clearly as possible that I am not comparing Pavlov's dogs to the demonstrators against the film. Rather, I am saying that the producers of the film were aware of the theory of "classic conditioned response." Thus, they offered the conditioned stimulus, fully aware that it would provoke a conditioned response. This is what took place, and the film reaped huge advertising, which guaranteed its spread around the world.
The Muslim Brotherhood is innocent of the primitive, and not principled, reactions to the film. Even so, I hold the new rulers of Egypt, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, responsible for what happened. The demonstrators in each country were seen as following the thought of the Muslim Brotherhood; these demonstrators are a kind of deviant terrorist group that achieved for enemies what they were unable to achieve for themselves. Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood, before any other side, has the duty to fight this blind extremism in their countries, and defend the true reputation of Islam abroad. What took place in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere have been a disaster for Muslims before anyone else.
The condemnation from the president or his ministers, or any government side, is not enough. There should be effective action that people see, and they should be convinced that the new regime in Egypt does not support recidivism, and asking for a pass that does not exist. Rather, it should be building for the future or that renaissance that we always hear about every day, which remains rubble.
People, Egypt is the mother of the world, and the leader of the Arab nation. If it falls, we all fall with it. I am searching for reasons to be optimistic, but I am not finding any.
Here is another story, after the story of Pavlov and his dogs.
In 1972 I was the guest of the West German government for the Olympic Games. I found myself in a group of journalists and writers from several countries, and we had official guides. Of the 15 men and women there were two Egyptians, each of whom was around 60. We would go to various stadia, and the two Egyptians would disappear, only to return at the end of the night. I would tell them about basketball or boxing, and they would tell me that they had bought books, or gone to the opera, of visited a museum or an exhibition, or other activities of high culture.
Does this kind of cultured person exist in Egypt? There must certainly be, but I do not hear about them, rather the ignorant and their acts. I can only say, God have mercy.
The writer is a columnist at the London-based al-Hayat, in which this article was published on Sept. 17, 2012