Posts Tagged ‘B. F. Skinner’

B. F. Skinner: Why America’s Decline

December 6, 2022

The following long quote is from one of the greatest Psychologist of the 20th century, and perhaps of all time. This is the stunning truth about the problems that face all humanity. As a professor, I read this warning to nearly all of the students taking my classes for over 30 years. It has a prominent place in the book I am writing entitled: The Psychology of America’s Decline: And How To Reverse It.

I have not blogged in many days, I am too busy working on this book. I may not get it finished and published before I am finished. We shall see about that!

Regarding the past and present quality of our environment and the quality of life for all, Skinner wrote the following (p. 5) in his 1971 book entitled Beyond Freedom and Dignity, published by Alfred A Knopf.

I quote the following.

In trying to solve the terrifying problems that face us in the world today, we naturally turn to the things we do best. We play from strength, and our strength is science and technology. To contain a population explosion we look for better methods of birth control. Threatened by a nuclear holocaust, we build bigger deterrent forces and anti-ballistic-missile systems. We try to stave off world famine with new foods and better ways of growing them. Improved sanitation and medicine will, we hope, control disease, better housing and transportation will solve the problems of the ghettos, and new ways of reducing or disposing of waste will stop the pollution of the environment. We can point to remarkable achievements in all these fields, and it is not surprising that we should try to extend them. But things grow steadily worse, and it is disheartening to find that technology itself is increasingly at fault. Sanitation and medicine have made the problems of population more acute, war has acquired a new horror with the invention of nuclear weapons, and the affluent pursuit of happiness is largely responsible for pollution. As Darlington has said, ‘Every new source from which man has increased his power on the earth has been used to diminish the prospects of his successors. All his progress has been made at the expense of damage to his environment which he cannot repair and could not foresee.’
Whether or not he could have foreseen the damage, man must repair it or all is lost. And he can do so if he will recognize the nature of the difficulty. The application of the physical and biological sciences alone will not solve our problems because the solutions lie in another field. Better contraceptives will control population only if people use them. New weapons may offset new defenses and vice versa, but a nuclear holocaust can be prevented only if the conditions under which nations make war can be changed. New methods of agriculture and medicine will not help if they are not practiced, and housing is a matter not only of buildings and cities but of how people live. Overcrowding can be corrected only by inducing people not to crowd, and the environment will continue to deteriorate until polluting practices are abandoned.
In short, we need to make vast changes in human behavior, and we cannot make them with the help of nothing more than physics or biology, no matter how hard we try.

End of Quote


The truth is that the solutions to our social and political problems lay in the wise use of well known scientifically validated psychological laws and principles that influence the quality of human behavior.

In America people vote for representatives who promise to make rules about rewarding and punishing (i.e., strengthening and weakening) the behavior patterns of America’s countless citizens, and other inhabitants. This now includes millions of unvetted individuals who illegally flood across our borders.

Skinner names nearly every environmental and behavioral problem that is now killing record numbers of our population, destroying the quality of our lives, and weakening our ability to survive as an effectively self-regulating nation. A nation capable of defend its self against powerful forces now in the process of destroying our Constitutional Republic by attacking it and us all from outside and from within.

In our Constitutional Republic increasing numbers of our people have long been voting for governmental rules, laws, and regulations that are destroying their own home land’s way of life. If only they knew enough about the laws and principles of psychology that influencing the quality of our own populations behaviors, they would understand that they are voting for the self-destruction of America as well as their own, and their loved one’s safety, security, and prosperity.

It is essential that voters understand the psychological laws and principles that increase good prosocial behaviors and decrease bad antisocial behaviors among our citizens; and then vote accordingly!

The basic laws and principles must be taught to all future voters in America’s private and public schools.


V. Thomas Mawhinney Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology and a Practicing Psychologist.

Legalized Prostitution: Sex Robots Lead the Way

January 1, 2019

Legalized Prostitution: Sex Robots Lead the Way.

Prostitution is illegal in every state in America, except Nevada. You might find it interesting to review the state and federal laws against Prostitution. Please see below.

You should know that prostitution, like gambling, pornography and recreational drugs were outlawed for good reasons. They were once called “vices” because they ruin families, businesses and individual’s lives. Separately each of these legalized activities is a great cost to society that should supersede hedonistic quests for more personal pleasures. Taken together, I judge that their synergistic costs to America are, or soon will be, disastrous.

On a strongly related matter: “technological determinism” is a term used by those who wish to illustrate how advancing technology shapes the perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors of populations within civilizations. When perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors change they can spread through populations via well-known biopsychosocial scientific laws and principles.  I call these laws and principles the mechanisms of change. I call the changes they cause within populations, behavioral contagion. The effects of behavioral contagion can be good or bad for populations, cultures, and societies.

Technological determinism is only one important source of the many summating and multiplicative changes in societies that, when viewed at-large, are identified as cultural evolution. Behavioral contagion is an important component of many chains of causes (war, depletion of resources, disease, natural disasters, religion changes, technological developments, politics and more) that drive good and bad cultural evolutions. Therefore, behavioral contagion can also be an important force in the rise and decline of civilizations. Changing and even clashing subcultures can easily be observed in societies.

Unfortunate, the workings of the biopsychosocial mechanisms that drive behavioral contagion for better and for worse, are not easily observed. In fact, from what I can tell almost everyone is oblivious to them. Even most scientists that I know do not think much about their involvement in sociocultural evolution and the survival value of  societies

The video below is a perfect example, among countless others, of technological innovations that can catalyze destructive forms of behavioral contagion in America.

The following  video is only soft-pornography But, I warn you that your own imagination will rapidly convert it to XXX rated hardcore-pornography. If you are offended by this video, and your own naturally occurring imagination, I will invite you to “grow-up” and face reality. You will have to politically defend against this reality, or you and your loved ones will be hurt to varying degrees by it.

Psychology is very much at play in this robotic example of technological determinism, its resulting behavioral contagion, and also resulting cultural evolutions will likely produce . I will explain in brief.

All animals are generally influenced by the same Psychological laws and principles. One of these principles is the Law of Effect. This law states that behaviors that produces rewards for individuals will normally cause them to repeat the same behaviors more often in the future. These behavior patterns, with repeated rewarding consequences, can become deeply ingrained within the in individuals and greatly increase in future frequency. Such high rates of behaviors have, in lay language, been called “psychological addictions”. When the rewards are actually biologically addicting, both psychological and physiological addictions present concurrent problems to individuals, families, businesses, etc., and entire societies. The psychologist B. F. Skinner researched and promulgated these laws and principles he called Operant Conditioning and Learning.

Basic Laws of Association increase the likelihood that stimuli, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors that occur together with individuals will be psychologically linked together and will be more likely to occur together more often in the future. If the stimuli are closely associated with pleasure, individuals will be more likely to be motivated to work to produce them more often in the future. Conversely, the stimuli, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and actions are closely associated with pain or discomfort will be more likely to be escaped and avoided. Ivan Pavlov’s discovery of Classical (Respondent) Conditioning helped psychologist to understand how, for better or worse, new learned (conditioned) emotions and reflexes can be learned in humans and other animals. 

The Principle of Least Effort often leads to people and other animals seeking the least effortful ways to obtain their rewards and the least effortful ways to escape or avoid pain and discomfort. The implications for sex with robots as opposed to all that one must do to find and retain sexual partners should be clear. The more realistic the sexual robots become the more powerful their attractiveness is likely to become.

It is critically to note that behavioral scientists have demonstrated that humans and other animals are generally highly motivated get their rewards more immediately, more frequently and in larger magnitudes.  

Albert Bandura, conducted important research into the psychological field of Social Learning Theory. There are a great many social influences upon perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors the individuals within societies. These influences include all of the previous laws and principles, and more. These influences are spread through language, written words, popular media, and the imitation of other’s behaviors that are perceived in some fashion. All of this presents another level of complexity of influences upon individual’s perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors.  The principles of social learning theory present countless other avenues of behavioral contagion with good or bad effects upon individuals, cultures and societies.

All of this, and much more, is part of human and animal nature.

Historically, in Western Civilization Judeo/Christian religion’s stimuli, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, behaviors and sacred values have militated against bad behavioral contagion. Also, Western Civilization’s, more’s, folkways and governmental laws; largely based upon these religious values, punished the spread of bad behaviors within the populations. All of this and the population’s own social controls (encouragement, praise, material rewards; or, criticism, social censure, rejection and physical punishment) also militated against bad behavioral contagion and strengthened good behavioral contagion. 

Finally, it is now increasingly clear that genetics is a very important factor in the inheritance of tendencies towards a host of diseases, both physical and psychological; as well as a number of personality features that often produce maladaptive behaviors in individuals. 

All of this provides fodder for the behavioral contagion of bad or good outcomes for individuals, culture and society. 

Perhaps you are beginning to understand that psychology is one of our most important sciences and technologies for future human social and political survival. 

Finally, please note that all levels of America’s governments have been suppressing the power of Judeo/Christian influences. Also, our corrupt governments  have been legalizing the behaviors that were formerly labeled as sinful and illegal. Governments are doing this in order to augment their tragically depleted revenues. Governmental revenues horrifically depleted by unprincipled spending designed to secure a dependent electorate dedicated to furthering politician’s personal wealth and political power. 

Sex robots are perfect technological symbols of secular post-modern nations now in steep decline.

Will America be one of these?

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Health Services Provider in Psychology

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend


For more “Big Picture” thinking, I invite you to study two of my professional publications below. There I detail a few (just a few) of the determinants of human behavior, cultural evolution and potentially the rise and decline of civilizations.

Also, you undoubtedly note that I have not specified what is good or bad behavior, or good and bad behavioral contagion. I invite you to think about your own value judgments about these matters. However, I ask that you put these judgments within the context of the biopsychosocial laws and principles discussed in this blog. If you wish to know my own thoughts on this difficult matter, you will find them in my publications below.



Operant Behavior and Cultural Evolution

April 8, 2016

Operant Behavior and Cultural Evolution

B. F. Skinner is often credited with being the greatest psychologist of the 20th Century.

In my judgment, and that of countless others, Skinner deserves this special honor  because his prodigious research and writings gave birth to the psychological science of Behavior Analysis. Furthermore, his work also led to the development of the science and technology of Applied Behavior Analysis. Skinner’s efforts and that of his legions of followers has culminated in, and continues to yield, the world’s most powerful and practical applications of psychology to ameliorate human behavior problems. But, even better, the wise use of this behavior technology could lead to the prevention of human behavior problems!

One old saying is: “An Ounce Of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”. This rule  could be one important the key to sociocultural longevity, if humans can be helped to care for such future outcomes.

Societies that do not teach their children and young adults about science-based findings about the environmental forces that shape human behavior patterns, as well as an effective moral code to their populations, fail to do so at their own great peril. The dramatically increasing behavior problems in America’s society, and others, provide stark support for this conclusion.

Some of B. F. Skinner’s prophetic words were published in 1971 in his powerful little book,  Beyond Freedom and Dignity. Please read the following samples of his writing with care and you may begin to understand one great source of America’s citizen’s behavior problems.

Then get the entire book and learn some essential information that relatively few citizens know.

Sample 1.

Twenty-five hundred years ago it might have been said that man understood himself as well as any other part of his world. Today he is the thing he understands least (Kindle Loc. 64).

In other words, as we have advanced our understanding in all other areas of science and technology, we have remained woefully ignorant of the psychological science and technology that shapes our own behavior patterns. Skinner also wrote about the fact that the health and longevity of all cultures rest upon the understanding and benevolent use of this science and technology of human behavior.

Sample 2.

In trying to solve the terrifying problems that face us in the world today, we naturally turn to the things we do best. We play from strength, and our strength is science and technology. To contain a population explosion we look for better methods of birth control. Threatened by a nuclear holocaust, we build bigger deterrent forces and anti-ballistic-missile systems. We try to stave off world famine with new foods and better ways of growing them. Improved sanitation and medicine will, we hope, control disease, better housing and transportation will solve the problems of the ghettos, and new ways of reducing or disposing of waste will stop the pollution of the environment. We can point to remarkable achievements in all these fields, and it is not surprising that we should try to extend them. But things grow steadily worse, and it is disheartening to find that technology itself is increasingly at fault. Sanitation and medicine have made the problems of population more acute, war has acquired a new horror with the invention of nuclear weapons, and the affluent pursuit of happiness is largely responsible for pollution. As Darlington has said, ‘Every new source from which man has increased his power on the earth has been used to diminish the prospects of his successors. All his progress has been made at the expense of damage to his environment which he cannot repair and could not foresee’.

Whether or not he could have foreseen the damage, man must repair it or all is lost. And he can do so if he will recognize the nature of the difficulty. The application of the physical and biological sciences alone will not solve our problems because the solutions lie in another field. Better contraceptives will control population only if people use them. New weapons may offset new defenses and vice versa, but a nuclear holocaust can be prevented only if the conditions under which nations make war can be changed. New methods of agriculture and medicine will not help if they are not practiced, and housing is a matter not only of buildings and cities but of how people live. Overcrowding can be corrected only by inducing people not to crowd, and the environment will continue to deteriorate until polluting practices are abandoned.

In short, we need to make vast changes in human behavior, and we cannot make them with the help of nothing more than physics or biology, no matter how hard we try (Kindle Loc. 31-50).

The powerful truth that B. F. Skinner has tried to explain to us is that our most enduring and damaging problems are a result of the ignorant management of our own individual and collective behavior. Furthermore, our ignorance can be remediated only if we will study the right available information and convert this knowledge into practice.

I have taught my psychological subject matter as a professor for 36 years and also taught and applied it within my a private practice for a similar duration. Over this time I have watched as America has all but destroyed itself, largely through the gross misapplication of these very elemental psychological principles.

I believe that certain sociopolitical and economic philosophies are compatible with, and naturally catalytic to, the societal integration of these elementary principles of psychology…and that is why they have consistently succeed.

It is clear to me that other sociopolitical and economic philosophies are naturally antithetical to these elementary principles of psychology and this is why they have consistently failed.

In my judgement, many important elementary principles of psychology are inherent in  conservative political and economic philosophies and practices. Although the resulting behavioral and cultural outcomes are never perfect, history demonstrates conservative principles are superior to those of other sociocultural designs. I judge that B. F. Skinner would not have agreed with many of my political/economic conclusions on this last matter and I am certain many of his followers do not.

On the other hand, the natural elemental principles of psychology, as implemented by progressive/socialist political and economic philosophies consistently damage motivation and most often lead to increased rates of maladaptive and self-destructive behavior among its citizens and leaders. These tragedies are are illustrated by the fact that socialist leaders normally gather the lions-share of power and material gains, at the great expense of their citizens….including the imprisonment and even death of over one hundred of million of them by starvation and execution. The arrested development, if not the horrific decline, of entire socialist/communist societies is clearly documented by history.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 4/8/18

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend

President and Clinical Director, Behavioral Psychological Family Services



Why Americans Should Hate Liberalism #3

February 19, 2016

Why Americans Should Hate Liberalism #3

The following is a direct quote from Dr. Michael G. Martin’s book: Liberalism: The Demise of America .

Not only will it be well worth your time to read and think about these two paragraphs: It is your patriotic duty to do so.

America’s future hangs in the balance of a general understanding of the following  perceptions of reality.


Liberals want to change society so that there are no longer losers, malcontents, or the irresponsible. It is strange that the policies they tout involve perverse incentives, so these bad behaviors are actually promoted and incentivized. This applies to drug addiction, hard work, sexual responsibility, and the like. Liberals think compassion will change everything. They believe people are malleable and plastic, susceptible to change—but even if this were true, it must be accomplished though the proper incentives and social and economic context. They appear to be behaviorists, but yet they are employing perverse incentives to get change. This is a puzzle that defies comprehension.

It’s interesting that liberals believe they can change society and the nature of individuals when they don’t believe in individual responsibility or accountability for individuals. They see the life of the individual as being largely deterministic. That is to say, their behavior is shaped by social and environmental forces beyond their control. If an individual can’t affect his own life, how can liberals argue that they can change the nature of society and individuals? On the scale of the collective, then, they are basically acknowledging that they escape the thrall of determinism.

Perhaps the explanation is that they believe the common man is too stupid to affect his life, but that the elite—the smart people—can basically re-engineer not only themselves, the society, and the very nature of human beings themselves. Liberals are saying in effect, then, that the common man—really the stupid people—is totally malleable. He can be made into anything the liberal elite want, good or bad. There are strong assumptions here about not only human nature, but the influence of other unseen and not-understood forces that shape human behavior, as well as the ability of the liberal elite to engineer the wrenching change that they desire.

Kindle pages 261 and 262.

End Quote:

I am a behavioral psychologist and a great admirer of B. F. Skinner, perhaps the greatest psychologist of the 20th century.

Skinner and other behaviorists rightfully ascribe great power to the environment to shape the behavior patterns of humans and other animals. Furthermore, Skinner, as well as many behaviorists acknowledge the strength of genetic determinants upon human psychological adaptations as they interact and are influenced, in very complex ways, by a plethora of environmental influences.

It is important for Americans to understand that is no “free will”, in the sense that humans are totally free from genetic and environmental influences.

No population can escape the influences of their genetics, social and physical environments. The best that can be done, in my judgment, is to educate citizens about the scientific principles of these influences and also teach them to come under the control of the imperatives of survival for their own society, their own loved ones who will outlive them and their loved-ones who are yet to be born.

This bright future will require that Americans relearn the advantages of forsaking immediate gratifications in favor of highly beneficial long-term outcomes. It will also require that we again venerate and teach the compliance with rules of living and conduct that insure such future benefits.

My reading of American and World History has led me to conclude that the “Wisdom of the Ages” resides in the Judeo/Christian precepts and values for personal conduct that once helped make America great. The same can be said of other compatible religions of the world.

The teaching of, and compliance to, these precious guides for life are powerfully augmented when a society encourages the belief in a Higher Power than that of the self-destructive philosophy of secular humanism forms the basis of liberalism,  progressivism, socialism and communism.

Only then we can we hope that our Constitutional Republic might endure thorough our representative democratic political process and citizen voter counter-controls on governmental actions.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 2/19/16

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend


My First Of Now 1300 Posts: “Boiling The American Frog” (6/30/09)

February 8, 2015

My First Of Now 1300 Posts: “Boiling The American Frog” (6/30/09)

The following is my very first post from (6/30/09).

I admit it is too long for this forum. It is essentially an introduction to a, seemingly never-ending, book that I am still writing. I present it, in total, at this time for many reasons. One reason is to remind myself of my own originating motives for this daunting effort.

Another reason is to see if the American sociocultural concerns that were troubling to me then, starting in 1980, are still relevant today.

I have decided in the affirmative.

I would be interested in what you think.  Are my concerns more or less relevant today?

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 2/8/15


“Boiling The American Frog”.

I have studied the decline of our American society and culture for nearly 30 years. I have long wanted to share my findings with the general public and now the time has come.

In all that follows, I will promise you–as I promise my therapy clients– “I will never lie to you:  I will always tell you the truth, as best I can know it”.  It is the truth, and what is done with it, that provides the only hope for a good life with individuals and families. The truth, and what is done with it, also determines the  survival of nations and their cultures.

My dear brother, Mark, once told me that an author should make his or her biases clear at the start of their book. He thought it was appropriate to warn the reader of my biases straightforwardly, so the reader could guard against manipulation. This was great advice and in the interest of honest communication, I will follow it.

As a behavioral psychologist I naturally value good behavior. Race, color, creed, and age, etc., are irrelevant to this bedrock value. By “good behavior”,  I mean behavior patterns within the individuals of a population that help the population and its culture to survive long and to prosper. Except in rare instances of self-defense against lethal or damaging attack, I despise violence.  I also despise hostility, intimidation, lying, cheating, stealing, aggression, rape, child abuse, child sexual molestation/exploitation, and murder, etc. In short, I despise those things that have always destroyed the lives of people who wish to live long together in peace and harmony. I despise those things that are destroying our historically marvelous society and culture.

I will not be inhibited about addressing other issues involved in my value system. It is now common for almost any identifiable organized group to accuse others of some sort of “ism” (racism, sexism, ageism, or hate against someone’s lifestyle). This dirty and stigmatizing accusation is increasingly used when someone says something that is not in support of the accuser’s political agenda. I vow to myself and to everything that I know to be right and good, that I will not be intimidated by such brutal forces of self-interest.  I will not withdraw ideas that must live, if we are to live.

In 1984 the phone rang and my physician informed me, “we have a problem”.  At 45 years of age, I was told that I had cancer of the colon. Of course, this was very bad news! But this bad news, along with immediate effective action,  saved my life.

What I will now tell you about our beloved American culture is no more “fun” than having to tell someone that they suffer a cancer. Or, as in my own field of psychology, having to tell one of my clients that they have debilitating emotional and behavioral problems that will destroy their lives without swift and effective corrective action on their part.

What I must tell you in this book is that our culture’s sad fate will be sealed if we continue to imbue our children and young adults with troubled and destructive beliefs, thoughts  and behavior patterns.  We have been doing this, with increasing power,  without most of our citizens and politicians even knowing it.  It is particularly ironic that our hard-earned tax resources have supported very productive scientific research into how to avoid such outcomes, but this information is ignored and buried in the remote bowels of our libraries. All the while, each generation produces a next generation which is more psychologically disturbed and self-damaging than it was. The only possible salvation from this relentless self-destructive course is to educate ourselves about the basic laws of human behavior and to conduct significant emergency American Culture redesign changes accordingly.

It is symptomatic of our huge cultural blind-spot that a common exclamation of considered wisdom is: “it’s the economy, stupid!” Of course the economy is important. But, to secure and maintain our rightful goals of cultural health and longevity, the exclamation should also be: “it’s our behavior, stupid!”

The economy, alone,  is likely to be a relatively late indicator in such matters of cultural health. For a strong economy to emerge and endure, a population’s behavior must also be strong. Among other things, the individuals in a population must learn to invent, to cooperate, to work diligently, to follow certain rules of law, and to forgo certain immediate personal gratifications in order to secure future benefits. They must also raise a sufficient number of competent and similarly endowed children to replace themselves. If these things are not accomplished, eventually, the economy will suffer and so will the whole culture. Of course, these influences are circular: the rewards of a free market economy strengthen a populations productive behavior patterns and these productive behavior patterns strengthen the free market economy. However, I will argue that the predominance of healthy and effective population behavior (among other environmental factors) is an essential ingredient leading to the success of our free market economy within our free society.

If we fail to raise and train –to acculturate– our own children effectively, our economy can be fueled by the “behavioral capital” from past generations (senior citizens) for some period of time.  But as that reservoir of quality human behavioral energy is being used up, we must create and train more, or, we must import behavioral energy from other cultures. We now appear to be embracing the later strategy at the expense of the former one. The question is: how long can a culture exist if it fails to raise and acculturate its own competent future generations to support a growing and increasingly complex technology and information-based economy? No one knows the answer. However, I am convinced that we already know enough about creating strong and healthy human behavior to avoid learning the answer to this question the hard and tragic way.

The issues and concerns identified in the preceding paragraphs will take many pages to make clear and, for some, believable. This will be done in the following ways:

I will tell true stories and use anecdotes as a way to introduce and summarize the findings of hard science—these findings relate to what is happening in our increasingly self-destructive culture. The values of an Applied Science of Cultural Analysis will guide this process and they will be explained as they become relevant.

I will first tell you what I think I see happening to our culture and the catastrophic future that it implies. Perhaps I am wrong about some of these observations and concerns–but I genuinely fear that I am not. You can decide this matter for yourself.  If I am wrong in my assessment, I have faith that with time and careful study, the truth will eventually emerge and things will evolve as they will.

I will then explain the basics of psychology, sociology, and anthropology by explaining their most robust principles, and relating them to my observations of events in our own society that you can also see clearly. I will use these factual principles to help you see and understand how and why the quality of our collective social behavior has diminished to the point that it is now glaringly reflected in our obvious cultural decline. I can only hope that my efforts will benefit the American Culture that has produced me, and that I have served and loved so much.

There is a wise old joke about doing successful psychotherapy with individuals. The question is: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”  The answer: ” Only one—but the light bulb has got to want to change”!  It is no great leap of faith for me to conclude that, like the individuals with whom I have done behavior therapy and counseling for over 30 years, we citizens of America,  must first also “feel a strong need to change” before successful cultural change becomes a possibility.

My intent in writing this book is to produce a felt-need-for-change, among ourselves,  which is based upon information that is honest, factual, clear, and powerful enough to motivate individuals and groups to work for desperately needed improvements. But at 67 years of age, and having observed the evolution of these United States for my entire life, sparking such a chain of events feels “a tad shy” of unlikely.  No problem.  I also write out of a sense of duty and for personal catharsis. Independent of the outcome, for me, doing this task will be its own reward.

New ways of seeing the world do not generally emerge because” minds” are changed. What happens is that entrenched ideas die with their thinkers and new, yet uncommitted, individuals are persuaded. However, this normally slow process can grind to a virtual halt if the new and uncommitted thinkers are taught to think only of their own immediate goods and pleasures. This culturally pervasive mode of personal arrogance, short-sighted thinking , and ignorance about long-term outcomes is our greatest danger.

My original training is in the psychological sub-field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Some may recognize one part of this sub-field as Behavior Modification. The discipline of Behavior Analysis has won its strong principles and techniques through the rigorous scientific analysis of human behavior, in nearly all of its forms, in almost all imaginable settings. More recently this field has turned its powers of analysis to the evaluation of cultural change and evolution. I have participated in this development and by doing so, I have come to believe that much of great practical value is now available— just when we need it the most.

I believe that someday, somewhere, cultures will finally learn how to extend their own life-span greatly by managing their own behavior effectively. Why can’t one of these cultures be us: The United States of America? To insure that we live long and well will require that we change our behavior substantially. I anticipate the reasonable concerns of many. I too worry about the exploitation of people through various behavior control methods.  Like you, I have watched the horrific bestialities of our time (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Ladin etc., all in quest of a “better culture”. Of course, our own culture has, for periods, been guilty of its own despotisms. Witness the genocidal treatment of the American Indians and our use of African slaves. These are the “ghosts of our cultures-past” whose barbarous actions towards our own, and other citizens of the world, haunt and frighten us. But these virulent and maladaptive strains of cultural behavior patterns, that long continue, tend to kill themselves just as they kill others. They cannot resemble the healthy, adaptive, and enduring species of cultures that may someday evolve to live very long and very well. Of course, there are no grantees that such healthy and adaptive cultures will ever appear: There is only an educated hope and the certainty that the pursuit of a better cultural future is not for the faint-of-heart.

I would like to think that a new breed of adaptive cultures are now being selected by the natural forces of survival. Such cultures would be especially good at teaching their children to live in an extraordinarily complex and threatening world. Their children would learn to work to preserve countless good things for themselves, as well as  good things for others who live, and those who are yet to live. Their citizens would therefore learn a rare mature value system that strikes a balance between self-interest and dedication to the long-term collective good of their fellow citizens—and of all people who mean them no harm. Such cultures would probably blend the best aspects of democracy, socialism and free-market capitalism into unique and effective hybrid of these adaptations . To the greatest degree possible, the citizens of these cultures would be dedicated to the preservation of life (in all of its forms) and yet they would have the skills, technology, and courage to defend themselves from the barbaric and predatory forces that will apparently exist for all time.

Such adaptive cultures would motivate their populations to propagate with a rate sufficient to maintain the proportions of age, skill, and intellectual resource groups necessary for survival. In doing so they would provide the quality and quantity of human energy necessary to build and maintain their own health and developmental vigor.  Such cultures may also use carefully controlled and specifically targeted immigration policies and rigorous acculturation standards in order to achieve these goals. They would strongly defend themselves against unregulated or illegal immigration, knowing that for all times this has been a destroyer of cultures.

These cultures would develop forms of government which strive to govern rates of cultural change such that, except in times of crisis, change remains slow and deliberate enough to avoid the damaging and misguided explosions of change that now threaten the United States. Of course there will always be threats to survival over which there is little or no control. But, the adaptive cultures will be able to respond to external or internal threats to their welfare in timely and effective ways that reflect the motivated, informed and intelligent problem solving efforts of their populations and political systems.

These adaptive cultures will also seek to preserve and maximize all of their natural resources, be they human-animal, vegetable, or mineral, and they will be amazingly adaptive to their changing environments. Their shared values and mutual interests will naturally lead them to avoid war with one another and they will seek to provide mutual support. By contemporary standards, such cultures will live for a very very long time. The main reason for these culture’s long-term success will be their learned ability to predict the occurrence of nearly all of the possible short and long-term astronomical, gelological, biological, psychological, social, and political problems that are known to have damaged and destroyed other cultures. More importantly, these cultures will have learned to implement effective preventive strategies as well as timely remedial adjustements in order to survive long and well.

If you see flashes of America’s history within my description of adaptive cultural designs, it is because we have actually achieved and reflected many of these values and actions at times in our own past. And if you see, during our present decline, the loss of these characteristics, you will begin to understand the general truths that I will now attempt to demonstrate in this book. To a significant degree, our cultural successes and failures relate to our evolution toward, and away from, these previously stated ideals.

It has become “politically incorrect” to say that an increasing number of the things that people do are “good” or “bad”. However, as with any social problems (past, present, or future), there are  many possible helpful or destructive cultural adaptations that can be made. I call those adaptations that are helpful, good changes because they will improve the culture’s health and viability. I call changes that are destructive or damaging to the culture’s health and viability, bad changes. I recommend this value to you and invite you to consider that extending the life of your culture is a good thing to do and destroying it is a bad thing to do.

But, it is often difficult to know, in advance, what the good and bad changes might be for any culture, under any particular set of circumstances. To some degree, cultural evolution is a series of adaptations similar to gambles at a “comic crap table”. The “winners” may take all, but seldom do they keep it for long. And simply trying ideas that are intuitively, philosophically, or politically popular  (as we do now) is to court disaster in this deadly game of cultural “Russian Roulette”. Fortunately, there are ways to increase the odds of winning at this profoundly important game.

B.F. Skinner would reminded us that, although we will frequently not know what we should do about a cultural problem;  we can learn an ever increasing number of things that we should not do. Make no mistake about it, “learning more and more what not to do” is significant progress. Individuals who are knowledgeable about the basic laws of human behavior already know many possible adaptations that are clearly wrong and therefore, bad. They will also know which old and new possible adaptations accord with these laws and are, therefore, worthy of further consideration and experimentation. It is past time that our culture reap the benefits of its financial investments in over 100 years of its own behavioral science research findings. To do this only requires that the real cultural planners learn these laws and principles of behavior and then support those cultural practices that conform to them. It is essential that our cultural planners learn enough about the basic laws of human behavior to understand why they must attack and change, through existing political processes, our own cultural practices that do not conform to these laws and principles

You may ask, who are these cultural planners who must learn principles of human behavior and change our culture’s design to accord with them? Indeed, this is a huge task. But there is a huge number of cultural planners who are equal to the task. Who, in the final analysis, are the real cultural planners in a republic such as ours? It is certainly not our politicians, who increasingly war within between the two parties that have failed to stem our decline; who milk dollars from tax payers to benefit their own regional interests; and who pander to various rich lobbies and other donors to shore-up their own short-term political viability. The real cultural planners are the hundreds of millions of citizens like you and I, the voting citizens of America.

I believe that a vitally interested voting citizenry in free economic and social markets, under the guidance of basic Judeo-Christian values and  Basic Pyschological Principles of Human Behavior, will tend to strengthen its own health and longevity and that of other similar cultures. It will also secure the greatest good for the greatest number of  people.

In stark contrast, if there is anything to learn about the societies that designed themselves according to the Marxist/Leninist principles of central government control and planning, it is that they have failed repeatedly. Similarly, it is foolish to hope that our own central government will ever singularly fix this culture’s increasing woes, because “it”, in large part, has done more than fail to do so. “It” is what has caused most of our devastating sociocultural problems in the first place.

Just as our Founding Fathers understood, the informed individual citizen is the appropriate cultural planner in a republic such as ours. I therefore urge you to learn the things that we know cause good and bad human behavior. Having done that, there are hard and frightening realities to contemplate and it is our responsibility to do so. If our society, as now designed, produces ever-increasing numbers of barbarians of its precious children (and we are doing just that). We must accept that reality, study the problem,  and make our cultural changes accordingly.  As B. F. Skinner has said,  the idea that “the government that governs best,  is the one that governs least, only works when something else governs.” I will suggest that we move to a design where “that something else” is a newly educated voting public re-motivated with a combination of clearly understood principles/laws of human behavior, traditional values and ethics, and a clear perception of our own failing culture.

In the final analysis, I have a passion for truth and reality even if it disappoints or frightens me. As an emeritus professor of psychology, I deal with research findings and theory; as a therapist, I do “acid tests” upon this academically derived knowledge. I am not isolated in the theoretical traps of academe, nor have I become addicted to the trendy treatments of the therapist’s world. I am a pragmatist. If certain techniques and methods solve real problems, I value them: If not, I do not. I also believe that the interplay between scholarship and the demands of practical therapeutic applications in my life have earned me a measure of useful wisdom unavailable to those who do not work in both of these worlds.

Of course, experts frequently argue among themselves about the nature of things.  I could be wrong in my assessment of the state of our culture and its worsening condition,  about the reasons why this is so, and about the suggestions for change that I will give in the last two chapters of this book. It is for you to look at the facts that I will provide and to decide for yourself.

A good scientist/therapist will know the prognosis of their client and do their best to help; even when the prognosis is not good. I will do my best to help my socioculture to perceive itself accurately, to rationally evaluate and caringly confront its own self-destructive beliefs and behaviors. I will do my best to provide the general information and motivation necessary to help all of us to work for adaptive cultural changes that are now so urgently needed.

This is what I will now attempt to do.  And now the rest is up to you.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 6/30/09

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 7

June 27, 2013

Key Concepts of Libertarianism


David Boaz

January 1, 1999

I quote:

The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

Free Markets. To survive and to flourish, individuals need to engage in economic activity. The right to property entails the right to exchange property by mutual agreement. Free markets are the economic system of free individuals, and they are necessary to create wealth. Libertarians believe that people will be both freer and more prosperous if government intervention in people’s economic choices is minimized.

End of quote.

These assertions about a free markets, private ownership of property, the stultifying effects of governmental over-regulation, governmental ownership of businesses, and high tax rates to sustain an increasingly bloated, voracious and predatory governments are factual and beyond dispute.

However, one assertion needs special clarification because it is so universally mispercieved. Human’s can be largely free from governmental coercion, or the coercion of other people, and this is a main goal of a Libertarian cultural design. However, we are never free from the effects of our genetics, our learning histories, our current state of  health, or our immediate sociaocultural, economic, political and physical environments. The psychological laws and principles of conditioning and learning always affect us in major ways, without fail. And when we fail, we are failing to let them guide us.

The psychosocial casualties to which I refer are complex, layered and circular in nature; but our human behaviors remain a major part of this causal chain.

I will take, on faith and because we already did it one time, that humans can learn to design better sociocultures and that such improvements will in-turn shape more adaptive and generally beneficial forms of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

For an intellectually stunning and revealing book about human nature, the causes of our good and bad behaviors, and  important principles of cultural change, you must read Beyond Freedom and Dignity, by B. F. Skinner.

The assertions above are, or should be, beyond dispute. If someone wishes to argue against these bed-rock main features of human psychology or Libertarian cultural designs…the very principles that made America the greatest Nation on earth…I will ask that they do some reading to educate themselves.

A good start would be the following:

The Road To Serfdom, by F.A Hayek

The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, by Michael E. Newton

Libertarianism, by David Boaz

What It Means To Be A Libertarian, by Charles Murray

The Secret Knowledge: On The Dismantling of American Culture, by David Mamet

Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity, by Francis Fukuyama

The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, By Thomas Sowell

There are many more sources of historically factual and well-documented  information that powerfully support the basic tenants of psychology and Libertarianism. Some of these principles are counter-intuitive to ways of popular thinking, and that is the greatest of all problems now driving America’s decline.

In a word, what drives America’s decline is ignorance.

It is ignorance about the causes of the quality of our own behaviors, within an electorate that votes to design and redesign America’s political and social cultures so that its population may live long and well…or fail and fade into history.

To live long and well requires that our electorate understand the determinants of their own behavior and how various human behavior patterns will survive (or fail to survive) the many inter and intra-cultural stresses of the future, most of which are now known and often predictable.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.,  6/27/13

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 6

June 24, 2013

Key Concepts of Libertarianism


David Boaz

January 1, 1999

The following are quotes from David Boaz:

The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

Limited Government. To protect rights, individuals form governments. But government is a dangerous institution. Libertarians have a great antipathy to concentrated power, for as Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Thus they want to divide and limit power, and that means especially to limit government, generally through a written constitution enumerating and limiting the powers that the people delegate to government. Limited government is the basic political implication of libertarianism, and libertarians point to the historical fact that it was the dispersion of power in Europe — more than other parts of the world — that led to individual liberty and sustained economic growth.

End of Quote:

B. F. Skinner, the great American psychologist, once said, and I paraphrase his thought: That government which governs least, governs best..only when something else governs.

I have wondered what the “something else” was that he was referring to. I assume it was some set of rules based upon operant conditioning contingencies of reward (reinforcement) and punishment. It was not a likely a host of religiously derived rules, given that he was an Atheist.

In a book that he wrote, entitled Walden Two, Skinner laid out the contingencies of reinforcement (rules) needed for a smoothly functioning  society…a smoothly functioning small communal society. This book is a good read and it is certainly educational and thought-provoking. The cultural design is remote from the our Founding Father’s Ideals, but it could work within the protective realm of a larger political context, much as other communes have worked for various periods in America. Those who have found happiness in such settings have lived the American dream.

But without some larger and benevolent federal power, with a strong police and military force, how would such an entity live long without predation by other national and international forces? This has been the way of the world forever and was the prescient argument put forward in America’s Federalist Papers in favor of forming a union of our states.

I believe it is true that the government that governs best is the one that governs least. I believe that among the somethings else that made America the greatest socioculture ever in history were the reigning ideals of Judeo/Christian religious ethics (rules to live by), small unintrusive government, private property rights and free enterprise, legal/judicial rules, supporting sanctions, and the legal/governmental protection of privacy for all who wished to be “left-alone” to live their lives as they preferred.

On a recent drive through Green Bay’s beautiful farm land Door County, I saw countless sprawling farms remote from cities and towns. Clearly, such farms are now festooned with more governmental rules than ever regulating their business enterprise. However, they are alone on their land to otherwise behave as they see fit. Yet, they are not free. They have come under the firm control of their land, their animals and crops, their families and friends, their climate, and their markets, etc. The controlling contingencies of reinforcement and punishment, for them, are more natural (less contrived) than are those for most who dwell in geographical locations of densely packed populations.

I am increasingly convinced that this, and other, penultimately successful American sociocultural designs, minus the stultifying governmental taxation and regulation, can be recaptured, but not by the modern Republican and Democratic political parties. These traditional American political parties have lost the essence of what made America great. They are now dedicated to massive government, intrusive and coercive control of the population, and socialism…which morphs to tyrannical central planning of the major aspects of private life, the culture, economics and perfectly predictable failure—A great deal more of the kinds of failure that we are now witnessing in America.

The ethos of our Founding Fathers was Libertarianism. While I view a few components of this political design as self-defeating, in this modern age (legalizing the traditional vices, for example), in the vast main it is the only political system that can  save America….for the second time.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Speaking As A “Racist Slimeball” And A “POS!”

May 12, 2012

Speaking As A “Racist Slimeball” And A “POS!”

I must be hitting pretty close to the mark with my blog because I got plenty of flack from, what I can only assume was a progressive, communist, Marxist “gunner” yesterday. I posted his comments so all could see the kind of profane condemnation and attempts at verbal punishment such individuals focus upon genuine decent.

If you wonder where,  what we call political correctness comes from, just witness the hate-filled profane insults thrown at me.

Screw you, and screw those disgusting disresptful racists POS! attacking Obama for doing something your Bushboy couldn’t do!”

“And that kills you racists inside! Yeah! I called you racists beause that’s what you slimeballs are!”

I suspect that a” racist POS!” is a racist Piece Of Sh–! I will accept that epithet as  a war medal won in combat during America’s 21st Century Culture War.

It is certainly not a Purple Hear,t as such words do not wound me. At age 70 years I have been called worse  over the years. Rather, I’ll consider it a medal for harassing one of America’s political enemies to the point of irrational behavior.

Regarding my being called a “racist”, this simple-minded  attempt to slander and discredit my objections to President Obama’s Marxist actions nicely illustrates how socialists attempt to punish their critics into silence. My response to that allegation is similar to my responses while watching a good comedy.

My philosophy of social science is Behaviorism. I like people who do good behavior and I do not like people who do bad things. I understand that the concepts of good and bad beg definition. If you have been following my posts on this blog, you will likely understand my meaning. If you have not, I invite you to sample some of them. I have written close to 700 posts and most of them are about, or imply human behaviors that I think are desirable and undesirable.

The fact is that racism as this behaviorist defines it, is the differential treatment of others based upon their race. Such differential treatment can advantage or disadvantage someone and that is what I call racism. Criticizing or complimenting someone because of their behavior is not racism. Rewarding, withholding rewards, or even punishing someone because of their behavior is not racism. As B. F. Skinner said, It is “good husbandry”.

I wish I could have voted for Alan Keyes for President.

I liked Herman Kain very much and doubt the allegations of impropriety brought against him, amplified by the liberal media.

Two of my very favorite economists and social commentators are Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams, Jr.. I have frequently quoted their words on my blog and will continue to do so.

I have a deep respect for Congressman Allen West. He tells it like it is and I would proudly vote for him if he were running for President.

I judge and I discriminate alright….but I do so on the basis of an individual’s behavior…not his or her ethnicity.

VTM, 5/12/12

You Can’t Lie To The Eye In The Sky

January 2, 2012

You Can’t Lie To The Eye In The Sky

Please notice that many communites are strategically mounting video cameras in an attempt to control criminal (immoral) behavior. There is a strong message in this technological effort, which is doomed to failure.

B.F. Skinner once argued that a government that governs least, governs best, only when something else is  governing. This of course suggests that without good values and moral behaviors, and a source of their maintenance,  “The People” will be unable to govern themselves effectively.

You are seeing the truth of this statement dramatically playing-out, now during Amrica’s tragic decline.

Secular humanism (atheism)  cannot provide the good behaviors and values needed for a population’s sucessful self-governance. The following is an explanation of some of the reasons this is true.

For those who do not believe in God, the question is: Why should they believe in God’s rules for personal conduct?  What moral influences on the nonbeliever are left?

For non-believers,  God’s moral rules are apt to be weaker because there are no spiritual consequences for resisting our innate tendency to selfishly maximize our immediate pleasures with blindness to the damaging delayed consequences of such behavior.

It is natural for humans to associate with others who share similar views and behavior patterns; and who will agree with and reinforce their own, and others, short-sighted pleasure-driven actions. Non-believers, like Believers,  will normally avoid the company of those who do not approve of their thoughts, words and actions.

Non-believers are more likely to associate with those who reward conformity to nonreligious moral codes. Unfortunately, a great many non-religious guides are inferior to the religious ones due to delayed harmful consequences to misbehaving individuals, their loved ones, and the whole socioculture in which they reside.

Secular social moral influences will also have a weaker effect upon the moral conduct of non-believers for another reason. Non-believers will experience social consequences for only their behaviors that are detected by their moral associates. Social moral influences will  be weak when nonbelievers can behave in private, with anonymity (i.e.,the internet, large cities, travel to distant locations). Under these conditions many short and long-term negative social consequences are more easily escaped or avoided by those who do immoral things. Modernity promotes the very conditions that increase privacy, anonymity, and association with others, who are willing participants and share similar immoral value systems and behavioral tendencies. Anonymity also makes it more likely that those who behave badly can find unwitting victims.

On the other hand, for True Believers the most powerful consequences come from their personal God who they believe sees everything they do and even knows their private thoughts. For them, God will certainly consequate their public and private behavior. He will provide worldly misfortunes  for bad public and private behavior, as well as well-known  spiritual (i.e., heaven or hell) delayed consequences.  For the believer, these consequences are certain and they can very powerfully influence the quality of their actions.

The main reason that the True Believer will be more likely to be better behaved than the non-believer simple.

For the True Believer, there is no way to lie to the Eye in the Sky.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   1/2/12

The Natural Superiority of Capitalism

October 18, 2011

The Natural Superiority of Capitalism

The title of this blog begs the question: What is capitalism superior to?

The answer is that it is superior to all of the other competing economic systems.

I strongly recommend that you go to  and read a very fine short  presentation of the merits of capitalism.

I think the reason that capitalism is so powerful in motivating people to high achievement is that it harnesses psychology’s wonderful Law of Effect (consequences control behavior). But there is much more to it.

A monumental value is added when the Law of Effect is harnessed through the application of psychology’s principles of positive reinforcement. By massing positive reinforcers (cash, prestige, and other material benefits, all  provided contingent upon individual and group productivity (and the various human behavior patterns that lead to increased productivity), a volcano of genius and generativity explodes within a population.

When all of the contingencies of positive reinforcement are on human productivity, and our natural tendency towards sloth (the Law of Least Effort) is not positively reinforced, the scientifically predicted outcomes erupt into astonishing social and  material benefits for the greatest percentage of a population.

Very basic principles of behavioral science, modern psychology, drive the  powerful economic technology called capitalism.

If you reverse all of the contingencies of positive reinforcement, you get socialism and communism and the results are just as predictable…but in the other direction.

To an important extent, all of Economics (another essential field of understanding)  is based upon principles of psychology (deprivation, satiation, punishment, extinction, positive and negative reinforcement, etc.).

Obviously, and unfortunately,  capitalism without moral and ethical constraints will lead to bad outcomes. This is our current “fly in the ointment” that must be fixed, or I fear all will be lost, thus fulfilling the predictions of Judeo/Christian faith and teachings.

It is so sad that modern humans still generally think in  prescientific ways about human behavior and what motivates us. Our common ignorance about psychology and the determinants of our own behavior is nothing short of appalling and it is killing us as individuals and as a socioculture.

If you, dear reader, ever have a chance to read B. F. Skinner’s book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, it will become clear that those who prefer socialism to capitalism simply do not understand that humans and other animals are strongly motivated by elementary principles of operant and respondent conditioning and  basic biological functioning. This lack of understanding by those who parent,  teach,  judge, rule, and  legislate (design our socioculture) has led to nearly all of our worsening social and economic problems.

When it comes to the conduct of human affairs, principles of psychology and ethics must go hand in hand for success.

Wake-Up America!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

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