Baby birds and Pavlov's Air Conditioning

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Today’s Lesson

Pavlov’s Air Conditioning

As the summer months swelter on, it’s important to remember one of the early failed experiments in sweat-reduction technologies.

Fresh off early conditioning experiments with dogs, Pavlov spent a lot of time playing fetch and, of course, wiping his brow in a sweaty lab. Naturally, his thoughts turned to a way to make the air cooler or, barring that, make people think the air was cooler.

Air conditioning was born.

Pavlov hired ten graduate students to spend the rest of their summer in the sweaty lab doing simple calisthenics. He gave them a slap on the wrist every time they complained about the heat. If they went ten minutes without doing so, he gave them a delicious chocolate.

Within just a few days, he’d almost completely conditioned them to enjoy life in the stinking sweat-soaked room. Unfortunately, there were adverse consequences. Each student gained approximately 20 pounds, and their faces and hands were covered with melted chocolate. One student, previously interested in studying the growth rates of chimpanzees, now only sat, sweating chocolate onto the floor, trying not to complain.

Though Pavlov’s air conditioning was a failure, it did lay the groundwork for a gym program to help the graduate students recover. Pavlov’s TOTAL AB CONDITIONING still sells on VHS tapes to this day.

From the Lab

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