Sunday, September 14, 2008

Advisor Geneology



I recently got interested in my intellectual ancestry-- my advisors, and their advisors, etc. I'm more interested in this than in my biological ancestry.  I found that I have some heavy-hitter ancestors! It's really not too surprising. Everyone can find famous people in their ancestry if they look hard enough and far back enough (I'm a biological descendent of Charlemagne.)

Turns out there's a website for tracking this kind of information-- Neurotree. Awesome!
You can see a portion of my tree here:


So who's in my past?

Rudolph Carnap is one of the most famous philosophers of science. He was a member of the Vienna Circle, and a founder of the now-infamous and discredited logical positivism.
Carnap advised Howard Stein advised Nancy J. Nersessian who advised me. In German, especially in the days of Carnap and Hempel, the advisor was called the doktorvater, or "doctor father." When  Nancy was talking to Hempel (another famous philosopher of science) he referred to her as a doktorvater. She coined a term and replied that she was a doktormutter, being female.

Gordon Bower is one of most influential psychologists of the 20th century.
Bower advised Keith Holyoak advised Dorrit O. Billman who advised me in my psychology masters.

Bower was trained by Neal E. Miller, who was trained by Clark L. Hull, a famous behaviorist.

Wilhelm Wudt (pictured) practically invented modern psychology, along with William James. The two of them advised Granville Stanley Hall, who advised Joseph Jastrow, who advised Clark Hull.

Polymath Francis Galton is nobody to sneeze at either. He trained James McKeen Cattell, who advised V.A.C. Henmon, who trained Hull with Joseph Jastrow (of duck-rabbit illusion fame; see below.) Carl Linneaus is way back there too.



Onethe most famous person in my ancestry is Sigmund Freud, who trained Anna Freud, who trained Neal E. Miller. Freud was one of the most influential people in all of psychology. Whether this is a good thing I still hear debated today. 

The site also lets you trace connections between any two people. Though I'm not connected through advisor relationships, I am connected through post-doc training and such to people like
Galileo Galilei
 Albert Einstein
and Charles Darwin.

What a fun site! Unfortunately, I don't appear to be related in any way to Aristotle. Can't win 'em all.

I encourage anyone with a Ph.D. to contribute to the site. It's a lot of fun and only takes a few minutes to add information about yourself and your advisors. 

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