Posts Tagged ‘Behavior Analysis’

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 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.

12/6/22

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

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

 

 

A Reality-Based Conversation About Race

May 12, 2015

A Reality-Based Conversation About Race

You can count on Bill O’Reilly to tell-it like it is. So it is with his hard hitting almost accurate portrayal of the tragedy of a large segment of American Black Culture.

Please watch the following video and then ask yourself what O’Reilly has missed?

The hint is to be found in the Behavioral Analytic technical term “Metacontingency”, which I will explain after the following video.

http://www.cnsnews.com/video/national/oreilly-americas-race-problem.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Simply put: A Metacontingency comprises a culture’s rules, rewards and punishment systems and their measurable effects upon its population’s behavior patterns.

What almost everyone continues to miss is that the resolution of America’s behavioral problems ,among all races, will largely derive from replacing America’s pathogenic social and welfare system with one that rewards families who remain together, individuals who get educations and marketable skills, who gain employment and remain employed, who do not have babies out-of-wedlock, who avoid drugs, crimes, and other bad behaviors.

Of course there are other important matters, like teaching citizenship, ethics and moral behavior to our youth, as well as encouraging various pro-social religious teachings.

In my view, any culture that fails in these basic duties will fail to remain a viable social enterprise.

Wake-up America!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

5/12/15

P.S. Thanks to Lee Hornack for sending this video to me.


%d bloggers like this: