Posts Tagged ‘Conservatism’

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

 

 

Russell Kirk, “The Conservative Mind” # 2

January 6, 2016

Russell Kirk, “The Conservative Mind” # 2

From Russell Kirk’s foreword.

“For the conservative, custom, convention, constitution, and prescription are the sources of a tolerable civil social order. Men not being angels, a terrestrial paradise cannot be contrived by metaphysical enthusiasts; yet an earthly hell can be arranged readily enough by ideologues of one stamp or another. Precisely that has come to pass in a great part of the world during the twentieth century.” pp. xv- xvi

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“It remains conceivable even now that much worth conserving in our culture may be protected and renewed—granted some conservative will and talent among the rising generation. No universal fall into the antagonist world is decreed ineluctably by a defied History. Burke in 1779, denied with vehemence that great states inescapably are subject to cycle of growth and decay”:

‘At the very moment when some of them seemed plunged in unfathomable abysses of disgrace and disaster, they have suddenly emerged. They have begun a new course, and opened a new reckoning; and even in the depths of their calamity, and on the very ruins of their country, have laid the foundations of a towering and durable greatness. All this has happened without any apparent previous change in the general circumstances which had brought on their distress. The death of a man at a critical juncture, his disgust , his retreat, his disgrace, have brought innumerable calamities on a whole nation. A common soldier, a child, a girl at the door of an inn, changed the face of fortune,  and almost of Nature.’ p. xix

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Perhaps there is reason to still hope for America!

God only knows who America’s fickle political process will propel to the Presidency.

There may be several candidates who Edmond Burk and Russel Kirk (both now deceased) may have approved of.

I suspect that Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz would be prominent among them.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, 1/6/16

“The Conservative Mind” by Russell Kirk

December 20, 2015

“The Conservative Mind” by Russell Kirk

The actual title of this book is The Conservative mind: From Burke to Eliot.

This is no easy book to read, as it spans 501 pages and covers the concepts and precepts of Conservatism through history, through Russell Kirk’s own vast vocabulary and highly refined style of written expression.

Even well-educated readers will need to use a good dictionary should they wish to grasp much of his own writings and those of the great personages of history upon whom he elucidates and very frequently quotes. These quotations  are frequently written in a formal style and in the prose of centuries past.

Never the less, diligence will be rewarded with important insights into the origins of both conservative and liberal/progressive ideals. More importantly, the reader will see why conservative societies generally succeed (at least for a time) and why liberal/progressive societies (into which conservative societies tend to decline) generally fail.

America is now at enormous risk because it has abandoned is social and political conservatism and is rapidly evolving in the direction of the well-known socialistic/progressive ideals that generally spell disaster.

I have provided a significant number of short articles examining and critiquing the social/political philosophies of Conservatism, Libertarianism, Socialism and Progressivism.

At this time of steep American cultural decline, it is imperative that the voting public understand the main features of these engines of social change, as well as their typical evolutionary trajectories.

The fact that a great percentage of America’s (let alone the world’s) population will be unable to grasp the complexities of these philosophies and their deferred consequences to societies embodies a fearful revelation:

Relatively “free societies”, democracies and unbalanced representative republics (such as our own) normally devolve into rank socialism, and worse, when an increasingly indolent and dependent electorate learns to vote itself into the shackles of governmental largess.

I hope you will spend some time reviewing my articles that bear directly upon these concerns and the looming fate of your own society.

Please separately enter the words conservatism, libertarianism, socialism and progressivism in my search box on the upper right side of my main blog page. Think about these matters and then vote accordingly in all upcoming elections.

I will soon provide you with a series of commentary and important quotes from Russel Kirk’s, The Conservative Mind.

V. Thomas Mawhinney,  12/19/15

 

 

Reagan on Conservatism Vs. Libertarianism

July 17, 2013

Reagan on Conservatism Vs. Libertarianism

The following is a seven page interview of Ronald Reagan by the Libertarian magazine, Reason.

It is worth your while to read all of it. Reagan illustrates some of the similarities and differences between the philosophies of Conservatism and Libertarianism. He talks of the “grey areas” which are a challenge to both sides of the issues presented.

He is wonderfully straight-forward and some of his illustrations flash with brilliant clarity and humor.

You will find Ronald Regan to be very informative and entertaining: A far cry from the “bumbling dunderhead” that the liberal and corrupt popular news and entertainment media has made him out to be.

VTM, 7/17/13 

 

http://reason.com/archives/1975/07/01/inside-ronald-reagan


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