Samskar, Chicken Embryos, and Places of Practice

Zing-Yang Kuo was a biologist who was interested in investigating behaviors that were thought to be instinctual, or innate (his early research on this topic was in the 1920s). He studied chicken embryos, because it was believed the distinctive pecking behavior chicks show immediately upon hatching was an instincutual, innate behavior. Zing-Yang Kuo believed that labeling a behavior as “innate” or “natural” or “instinctual” didn’t help anyone understand the behavior. He watched chicken embryos develop by coating eggs with warm vaseline, rendering the shells translucent. And here’s the thing: