How GPS Became a Human Tracking Mechanism

Ralph and Robert Schwitzgebel were identical twins from Ohio, champion high school debaters who won the state title in 1951, graduated from different colleges, and both — unbeknownst to the other — applied to Harvard’s graduate program in psychology. “We kind of show up on campus one day — ‘What are you doing here?’ ” Robert recalls.It was a heady time at the Harvard psych department. The faculty included B. F. Skinner, behaviorism’s leading figure, and also Timothy Leary, who demonstrated during his brief time at the university that he was willing to go to unprecedented lengths to test the molding of human behavior. Leary became Ralph’s adviser. Ralph coauthored the paper detailing Leary’s infamous Concord Prison experiment, in which young inmates were given psilocybin as part of group therapy, between 1961 and 1963. The study proposed that the drug had a positive effect on the recidi- vism rate of the experimental group.Ralph took from his mentor a willingness — even an eagerness — to deploy unorthodox methodologies, especially in the treatment of young people on the margins of society. Ralph wanted to merge the experimental psychologist’s lab with the psychotherapist’s office.

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