death of the mind.

David Longley David at
Sat Jul 10 13:55:16 EST 2004

In article <40f0105f at>, John Hasenkam 
<johnh at faraway.?.invalid> writes
>Thanks for the tips but you're damning me.
>I did not understand much of what Skinner was saying so I can fully
>appreciate David's point about context. I just saw the title and thought
>this must be important.
>Unfortunately I am not in the position to communicate personally with the
>right people so that makes my current learning project extremely difficult;
>probably impossible.
>As to David's comments about the culture of universities, perhaps I have a
>paradoxical advantage. Even at the conference I frequently had to go outside
>just to move around a little. The most probable explanation for this is that
>the minor brain damage I incurred in childhood left with me a subtle form of
>ADD, I certainly do demonstrate some behavioral markers in that regard and
>attentional issues are one of the more common problems after brain injury;
>irrespective of the lesion site. Localisationists please take note. The
>positive side is that I recognise the need to work much harder than most
>people, my intelligence remained intact,  and I am not easily swayed by
>authority figures and the like. So I probably have a touch of oppositional
>defiant disorder as well. Hence the paradox, my peculiar behavior has per
>chance freed me from some of the constraints that others frequently are
>ensnared by. In short, *I* had nothing to do with this, my personal history
>As to the comment about needing assistance to understand VB - that's just a
>bait to me. Nonetheless I think I shall have to take a step backwards, it
>appears that at this point I need to get grounded in some more basic
>concepts first.
>Anyone who thinks education doesn't entail a good degree of indoctrination
>must be un-conscious. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with
>indoctrination, it saves a lot of time and trouble for the individual and in
>various occupations it saves lives. I suppose one way to approach this is to
>conceive of indoctrination as the beginning of education, hopefully
>thereafter the student can move on. Nor does the application of Skinner's
>ideas to humans constitute "unethical" behavior. He is simply asking us to
>be more conscious of how our behavior is shaped and how his ideas can allow
>us to better shape behavior without resort to practises that have been going
>on since day dot. 20 years ago I read Beyond Freedom and Dignity and thought
>it was fascist. I've grown up somewhat since then. Wherefore art thou
>freedom Johnno?

This is something of an aside as this isn't really directed to your post 
(although it was prompted by your last few sentences).

I've referenced the May 2002 issue of the JEAB a number of times because 
of the readable historical articles on "The Pigeon Lab".   About twenty 
of the fifty or so of Skinner and Herrnstein's post-graduates provide 
reminiscences from their time in (or associated with) the lab and how it 
shaped their subsequent careers.


If more people here read material such as this (and followed some of it 
up), they might begin to better appreciate the opportunity they're now 
squandering (e.g. in not asking Glen for guidance) and they may even 
stop posting the inane nonsense that they do.

The likelihood of any of that actually happening is, I predict rather 
low. Too many here have too much invested in their "artificial 
intelligence" or is it "intensional opacity"?
>"David Longley" <David at> wrote in message
>news:0HL2+JHG4+7AFwEI at
>> In article <40EFE150.1070802 at>, Joe Legris
>> <jalegris at> writes
>> >Glen M. Sizemore wrote:
>> >> Odd that Peter would have referred you to O'Regan and Noe, and then say
>> >> he does about "seeing red" (but then, Peter is a complete idiot). O& N
>> >> indispensable reading after Science and Human Behavior, About
>> >> and an undergrad text on behavior analysis. I leave out Verbal Behavior
>> >> because it is not really possible to read it on your own.
>> >>
>> >
>> >That's right.
>> >
>> >Skinner intended V.B. as a speculative work, but by now it has attained
>> >the status of standard dogma for the radical behaviourist. The worthy
>> >task of empirically verifying Skinner's conjectures as they pertain to
>> >humans (conveniently unethical, no?) has been deprecated in favour of
>> >political indoctrination, a time-honoured technique for instilling
>> >"difficult" subject matter. A qualified handler will ensure that you
>> >"understand" the book.
>> >
>> Skinner regarded it as his most important work, and here, even Quine
>> deferred to him. As to your last sentence, that's usually how education
>> works. It seems that you alas, (and some others here) have a problem
>> with that. Smarter folk like JH, CW and PC ask questions, suffer a
>> little along the way (as one must in my view) and their behaviour
>> changes as a consequence. You seem to have "forgotten" how universities
>> and other education institutions work as part of your verbal community.
>> Sadly, a lot of the time, they just don't work!
>> In other words, colloquially, you're an arrogant idiot. Why not do
>> something about it?
>> --
>> David Longley

David Longley

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