Throwback Thursday: Lorrie Moore

Issue 40, The Retrospective: 1977 – 2004
(Originally in Issue 9)

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Excerpt from “Where Food Comes From” by Lorrie Moore

One of the few things I recall from my undergraduate psychology courses (I later switched to English, replacing the yawn of the obvious with the shock of the obvious) had something to do with superstitiousness in pigeons. Apparently, laboratory pigeons who receive food pellets at random intervals from a dispenser will nonetheless begin to believe that something they are doing is resulting in the food’s delivery. Whatever gesture the pigeon happens to be in the middle of when the food drops down, it will repeat, for luck, for next time, for just in case. As pigeons are particularly given to spins and twirls, what results – I am imagining here – is a laboratory full of pigeon-dervishes, compulsively spinning and twirling, simply because they’ve done such dance steps before and – look! – food arrives…


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