Archive for April, 2010

Another Walk In The Woods.

April 28, 2010

Another Walk In The Woods

I look forward to a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Gotta go sit by the camp-fire and walk in the woods. I might have a few sips of some fine tequilla and contemplate the fact that our government will not close our borders or in any effective way stem the flood of illegal Mexicans who are swarming into our country. Look for a detailed discussion of this catastrophe upon my return.

In the meantime, the jumble of buffoonery that  we call our  Federal Government, continues to refuse to defend our borders during a time of invasion. This, while is  busily at work strong-arming MacDonald’s to remove  the toys from its Happy Meals!

Lets send a big “Way To Go”!!!—-To the Great State of  Arizona— Another wonderful American example of courage and steadfastness in the heat of battle!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.  4/27/10

  

 

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House Initiative To Legalize Internet Gambling: Dumb-Assed Move!

April 26, 2010

House Initiative To Legalize Internet Gambling: Dumb-Assed Move!

I have written about the damaging effects of legalized gambling on our socioculture in past blogs. Please see them for additional details.

Schedules of cash rewards for gamblers are designed to keep them coming back and chasing their losses. Anyone who gambles long enough will surely lose (maybe a little money, maybe a fortune, maybe their home, maybe their wife and children, maybe their life). Increasing the ease of gambling, depersonalizing it, and providing immediate access to money to wager (credit card/debit card) is  an old and  standard  behavior modification technique to increase the rate of an individual’s, or a population’s behavior.

Too-bad this will lead to people who cannot, or do not wish to travel to the nearest casino,  sitting at home, having some drinks (or whatever), getting carried away by the ease and unreality of it all–until irreparable damage is done.  Children  will find ways to gamble on-line, people will  find ways to gamble other peoples money. The problem will spin out of control and the Feds will call for increased taxes and a new bureaucracy to improve monitoring, control, and judicial consequences for the bad behaviors they have created.  Then the government will raise taxes on the population to try to fix the mess, that cannot be fixed.  Another example of a governmentally constructed Pandora’s Box.

Welcome to our own crooked Federal Government that will do anything to get its hands on our money (i.e., taxes on a new industry). It will do  anything, of course,  except cut its own growth, its countless  programs  and the salaries and benefits of its own employees.

If we do not vote these governmental rapists and pillagers out of office, now and in 2012, the failure to do so will stand forever as  our own Dumb-Assed Move.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.    4/25/10

Look-Out For The Blind-Side Divorce!

April 26, 2010

Look-out For The Blind-Side Divorce!

My client is depressed and discheveled: He or she is in a lot of shock and pain. I have seen this situation over and over again for 30 years.

The person tells me that they “never saw it coming” and now, suddenly, their mate’s “mind is made-up” and they are leaving. All too often there is little to be done except help the blind-sided individual cope as effectively as they can.

There are many reasons for the blind-side break-up or divorce.

One frequent reason is that the departing loved one has found someone else to love. Sometimes the blindsided one did the same thing. Occasionally this is because someone has issues with loyalty. More often the dying relationship had an affair because it had been dying for years, it had grown increasingly empty and one (or both) did nothing to save it.

Often, what has happened is that one or both members of a couple (married or not)have stopped making the other person a priority in their lives, they stopped telling and showing, in countless ways, how special the other person is and how much they love them. They have stopped being friends and taking time to plan fun things and play together. These things can happen to a once good relatinship for many reasons.

Finally, there is mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse/addiction, and physical or emotional abuse.

The fact is that loving and caring feelings and emotions in a relationship can wither and die-out if not fed and nurtured. This degenerative process can progress beyond the point where many people are unwilling to work to repair their relationship.

Fail to deal effectively with any of these problems and growing resentment, anger and disgust, along with the belief that nothing will ever change, can destroy your relationship. This process is often slow and insidious and it can take years to develop.

Look for signs of trouble and talk them over. Listen to feedback from trusted friends and loved-ones. Act earlier rather than later, acting earlier is symbolic of your love, acting too late is frequently symbolic of fear and dependency. Seek the assistance of a Ph.D. level psychologist experienced in relationship counseling. Personality testing is often very helpful to this process.

Look-out for the blind-side divorce and the great damage it can do to families, their children, and to our socioculture.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.      4/25/10

No To Gay Marriage

April 25, 2010

No To Gay Marriage

Sorry that I cannot go along with Marriage  for Gays . Marriage is a religiously-based tradition woven intricately into the fabric our American socioculture. It is the traditional, and very successful, (till relatively recently) social organization for couples dedicated to having and raising children.

I do not wish to be mean-spirited about this and will not object to gay couples selecting their own form of union (civil, judicial, or whatever) that allows them to have and exercise their full civil rights. But, it should not be Marriage. This is one of the areas where I am in favor of separation of church and state.

The progressive movement is dedicated to destroying the traditions of America. They hypocritically argue for separation of church and state, but then insist that the state destroy the religious institution of Marriage. In doing so they seek to destroy the beliefs and values of the church and its power to influence the population.

Think about it. In my view the call for Gay Marriage may sound good and fair, but it is actually a calculated extremist, secular-progressive attack upon one of America’s great fundamental value systems.

VTM

Government Control: Positive Reinforcement

April 24, 2010

Government Control: Positive Reinforcement

Scientists describe the reinforcement of a behavior by the contingent presentation of some consequence (presentation of a stimulus) as being positive reinforcement. For example, if the room is too dark, we turn the light on (behavior) and there is more light (consequence/stimulus presented). If it is too cold, we turn up the heat (behavior) and we experience the increased warmth (consequence/stimulus presented). If it is boring, we call a friend (behavior) and we enjoy the conversation (consequence/stimulus presented). Most examples of positive reinforcement involve consequences that most of us would consider pleasant or “positive in nature”. However the term positive reinforcement only means that something is “added” following a behavior and the behavior was strengthened. You and I may not think that a particular consequence is “good or nice”. But, what we think is “good” is not relevant, as in the case of the masochist who enjoys pain.

All that matters is that someone behaved, a consequence was presented, and they did the behavior more often in the future. It would then be an example of positive reinforcement.

Governments control financial and other material positive reinforcers which they can give to citizens contingent upon their doing what the government wants they to do. In this case, rates of  the individual and of the population doing what the government wants then to do are likely to increase in frequency.

Sometimes this may benefit the socioculture,  such as when the government provides tax deductions or credits for starting a new business, inventing things,  conserving energy,  staying home to raise children, doing volunteer work, or making financial contributions to charities, etc.

Sometime Governments reinforce bad behavior and in doing so it gain the allegiance of voters to extend the governments power. When this happens the governments immediate gains are at the cost of delayed catastrophe.  Examples of such reinforcement contingencies are the provision of tax moneys for those who are capable of working, but do not; the provision of tax monies, housing, vouchers or other benefits to those who have children out-of-wedlock; providing random cash benefits to those who gamble; providing legalized recreational drugs for those who like to get high;  mandating the provision of high risk housing loans to those who cannot pay their mortgages, or allocating monies and advantages to populations within cities that riot, or providing cash and material benefits to illegal aliens, etc.

Any time the government positively reinforces industrious, competent, independent, and prosocial behavior within its population,  it is doing good things and strengthening its  socioculture’s viability.

Any time the government positively reinforces lazy, dishonest,  irresponsible, addictive,  various forms of lawlessness, aggression and  insurrection, it is doing bad things and weakening its socioculture’s viability.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   4/24/10

Obama: Destroying America

April 22, 2010

Obama: Destroying America

I will take a break from my stuff on psychology and culture to share the following letter written by an American Hero. He tells you the truth about President Obama. His letter is authentic and  has been verified by snopes.com.  I checked there to be certain.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/haroldestes.asp     Not Edited in any way….VERIFIED Authentic

A WW II Battleship sailor tells Obama to shape up or ship out !
This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now. He dictated this letter  to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president.

Dear President Obama,

    My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year.  People meeting me for the first time don’t believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos’n Mate.  Now I live in a “rest home” located on the western end of Pearl Harbor , allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.

One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.

So here goes.

I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.

I can’t figure out what country you are the president of.
You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:
” We’re no longer a Christian nation”
” America is arrogant” – (Your wife even
announced to the world,” America is mean-
spirited. ” Please tell her to try preaching
that nonsense to 23 generations of our
war dead buried all over the globe who
died for no other reason than to free a
whole lot of strangers from tyranny and
hopelessness.)
I’d say shame on the both of you, but I don’t think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you.  To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.

After 9/11 you said,” America hasn’t lived up to her ideals.”

Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British?  Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War?  I hope you didn’t mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.

I don’t think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination.  You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.

Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.

Shape up and start acting like an American.  If you don’t, I’ll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue .  You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.

And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don’t want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts , who was putting up a fight?  You don’t mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don’t want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.

One more thing.  I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you’re the Commander-in-Chief now, son.  Do your job.  When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him.  But if you’re not in this fight to win, then get out.  The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you’re thinking of.

You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.
You’re not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy.  That’s not our greatest threat.  Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now.
And I sure as hell don’t want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle..

Sincerely,
Harold B. Estes

End Of Quote

I continually ask myself why Obama would do the things that he has done: a ruinous health care bill, Cap and trade on the way, moving to close Guantanamo, flagrant  gays in the military, progressives on the Supreme court (another is coming soon), trying 9/11 terrorists in New York, stating that our elderly should turn to hospice, and much more…just you wait and see. 

 I am convinced that President Obama and his people are purposefully trying to destroy traditional America.

One could argue that it is inexperience and/or naivety that are driving his actions,  but inexperience and naivety could never show the consistency of the force destructive to our sociocultural being that he is unleashing. Perhaps he is naive and it is those who pull his puppet strings who account for the destructive consistency that I see. Whatever the source, the destructive internal force, funneled through President Obama,  is nothing like anyone who has ever lived in America has ever seen before.

We must now vote all corrupt and destructive politicians out of office or we will soon see the end of this great American dream.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.       4/22/10

P.S. Thank you Fred and Peggy Richardson for sending this man’s letter to me.

Our Operant Behavior

April 21, 2010

Our Operant Behavior

In some ways operant behaviors are the most important of all of our behaviors. We will therefore discuss operant behavior first. A good general way to identify which of our many behaviors is operant is to identify its physiological roots. Operant behavior is influenced by our central nervous system (our brain and spinal chord) and it is executed by thinking and/or by moving. This may sound simple, but of course, it is not. We use movement to talk, write, send email, to make and rear children, and to make war, etc. Movements require the use our skeletal (striped) muscles, which involves so much of our operant behavior.

The Simple Contingency
   
A simple contingency (con-tin-gin-see) only specifies that one thing must happen (a specific behavior) before another thing happens (a consequence). It includes only a behavior and a consequence.

So, for example, if you want the door to open, you must turn the knob and pull or push. If  you want a home loan you must select a mortgage company and make-out an application. The door is likely to open and the loan likely to be granted, contingent upon your doing the appropriate behavior. Similarly, a child may learn to make a polite request because that gets him what he wants. Or, a child may learn to throw a temper tantrum because that gets him what he wants.

A more complicated contingency involves three separate things. This is called the three-term-contingency and it involves 1. the situation or events that happen before a behavior, 2. the behavior, and 2. the consequence. Operant behavior takes place in the real world in countless fluid ways. But all operant behavior can easily be seen in this before, behavior, and after context. From birth to death we are immersed in a universe of three-term-contingencies. Again, the three parts to the world of our operant thoughts and actions are.

1. The stimuli or cues from our environment that precede our     actions.

2. Our specific behaviors or actions in the presence of those stimuli or cues.

3. The consequences of our actions that may strengthen or weaken the probability that we will do those actions again in the future.

Human operant behavior changes as its physical and social environment changes and as the consequences of behavior change. We should not miss the fact that normally the most skilled sailors live by the sea, the best trackers and hunters live in the forest, and the best mountain climbers live in the mountains. When people in these environments behave effectively they are rewarded: they eat well and prosper. If they fail to do so, they may perish.

It took a detailed scientific analysis, based upon E. L. Thorndike’s (1987) Law of Effect, to understand and appreciate how the environment shapes our behavior into complex bundles of actions that are both common among most everyone and also those that are unique to each of us. The law of effect relates to operant behavior and, as you may recall, it simply states that consequences control operant behavior.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   4/21/10

Two Basic Kinds of Behavior

April 20, 2010

Two Basic Kinds of Behavior

There are only two kinds of behavior in humans and other animals.

One kind of behavior is called Operant Behavior because it “operates”, or acts, upon the environment. Most important, operant behavior is controlled by its consequences. Consequences are said to “control” our behavior because they increase (strengthen) or decrease (weaken) the future frequency of the behaviors they follow.

Consequences influence our operant behavior probabilistically, but not absolutely. For example, a child who is praised for helping with a chore, is more likely to help others in the future. A child who is allowed to push another child down and take their toy, is more likely to be aggressive to others in the future.

The only other kind of behavior is Respondent Behavior. The word respondent means that these behaviors are reflexive responses to specific stimuli. Common examples of our respondent behavior are being startled by a loud noise, snapping our hand away from a hot flame, or salivating when we put food in our mouths.

As you will see, these two apparently simple kinds of behavior, and the ways they can be learned, are of huge importance to the lives of fellow citizens and to our socioculture.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.       4/20/10

Our Own High Risk

April 19, 2010

Our Own High Risk

Whenever we overlook the roll of the natural principles of psychology in shaping the behavior of our citizens and our culture, we do so at our own high risk.

Top-Down Influences on Culture

April 18, 2010

Top-Down Influences on Culture

Of course,  bottom-up influences are only part of the picture. There are also very powerful top-down influences on our population’s behavior as various levels of our government adopt laws and rules that can strongly affect, even regulate,  how people behave to each other. Some examples of top-down influences are the profound growth of government control, increasing taxes and the legalization of pornography, gambling, marijuana (under the pretext of medical applications) and a media that increasingly attacks traditional family and religious values and showcases antisocial behavior through its many venues.

What happens in our culture when top-down influences evolve that are in strong conflict with traditional bottom up influences; or, when subcultures bring their own dramatically different top-down and bottom-up forces into our existing socioculture? What happens to families and the future citizens that they produce when science and technology alter the physical, social and moral environment dramatic ways? How do these environmental changes impact the principles of psychology that shape the ways in which we and our children see, feel and behave toward each other?

These are only some of the  “big picture” concerns that need our closest attention. It is good to mention these major issues now,  because these are the ones we must attempt to answer in the end. With some of these larger issues in mind,  we can be on the look-out for the smaller (seemingly insignificant) factors that may be powerfully related to big and very important cultural outcomes.

We will return to these big picture concerns in due time. But, in order to understand the larger dynamics of cultural change, we must first understand a few key principles of psychology and how they powerfully influence the behavior of individuals within a population.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.  4/18/10


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