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Nikolaas Tinbergen
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    (April 15, 1907-December 21, 1988)
    Born in The Hague, Netherlands
    Studied behavior patterns in animals
    Wrote 'The Study of Instinct' (1951), 'The Herring Gull's World' (1953) and 'Animal Behavior' (1965)
    Co-recipient (with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch) of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1973)
    The Nobel Prize awarded to him and his co-recipients was controversial, since many commentators felt animal behavior studies were not a contribution to medicine.
    He may have had the same misgivings, since he later expressed guilt over working with animals instead of benefiting mankind.
    He attempted to apply animal behavior techniques to dealing with autistic children, declaring it the most important research he had done. ('I have become a kind of missionary ... applying my hard-won expertise to solving a human problem.')
    However, his recommendation of 'holding therapy' -- in which a parent holds their autistic child for long periods of time while attempting to establish eye contact, even if the child resists -- is controversial, lacks scientific support, and is sometimes considered potentially abusive.
    He was married to Elisabeth Rutten for 56 years.
    He and several other faculty members of the University of Leiden were imprisoned in a concentration camp for signing a statement protesting the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands (1942).
    While in prison, he wrote two children's books.
    He took a lower-paying position as a university lecturer after finding that the administrative duties of a full professor were a distraction from his research (1949).
    He said of his collaboration with Lorenz, 'Konrad's extraordinary vision and enthusiasm were supplemented and fertilized by my critical sense, my inclination to think his ideas through, and my irrepressible urge to check our 'hunches' by experimentation.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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