What science gets right - and wrong - about love

Nick Olson

Karen Swallow Prior
February 14, 2013

I've often lamented the fact that the English language uses one word--"love"--to cover such a wide affective range.

But this post makes me think about how the broadness of the term offers us much to consider and understand as we make connections among the different ways we mean and enact, "love."

Great post, Nick!

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
February 14, 2013

Even on Valentine's Day, we see this cultural credo of passionate romance being eaten away in little ways. Since having kids I've been struck at how they co-opt the holiday away from, say, Victoria's Secret, simply by sharing valentines with friends, teachers (and maybe even the principal!) It strikes me that these are more like the prosaic gestures you're writing about, Nick, than the romantic ones contemporary culture often demands.

February 14, 2013

This is indeed quite thoughtful and revealing.
The way it illuminates the 'little things that matters' as true and more important gestures of showing or expressing love even on a daily basis over the more popular practice of occasional expressions communicated with 'stuffs' done sometimes with an ulterior motive that mocks the concept of love in all facets makes it all the more a great read!

Marta L.
February 15, 2013

I recently participated in a blogging challenge on friendship (<a href="http://www.fidesquaerens.org/blog/?p=1151">, for the interested) that asked us to look at whether men and women could be friends. What I liked so much about the challenge was that it was timed to come out just before Thanksgiving Day. It was a big reminder that what we typically call love (romantic love) is far from the only thing worth considering.

As does this post. Whenever I hear people talk about being "just friends," it makes me a little sad. All kinds of love are worth thinking about and valuing. Thanks for sharing this timely post.

Elliott Scott
June 13, 2013

That is interesting Karen. In one word we try to reflect an enormous thing. Of course, anything worth pursuing is worth meditating on! I liked when you said, "...the broadness of the term offers us much to consider and understand..."

February 13, 2016

Science is strictly about determining cause and effect. Exactly how does "science" study "love?" Statistical analysis of questionnaires is not "scientific." How is "love" measured? The study of history is not "scientific" How can the study of pre-history be scientific? "Science" should be restricted to real time experimental investigations that observed, analyzed, and measured.

People have been deluded into believing that the investigation of anything with expensive technical toys is "scientific."

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