As America seems to chug along on what during the Obama years, I referred to as – the fundamental transformation choo choo train – people are wondering how our society became so chaotic. America was founded as a nation rooted in Christian ethics and morality, where human life held an intrinsic value because people believed God created us to fulfill his grand purpose. As society advanced, and the sciences became an integrated part of human development, the views of humanity changed.
Darwin’s theory of evolution introduced the radical idea that man was without a will of his own and because there was – in his view – no God, human beings became nothing but another animal. Bertrand Russell wrote in The impact of science on society that profound social and political changes, as well as control over the human environment resulting from scientific advances, would allow an entirely new philosophy of human society to emerge. One, that in my opinion, is contributing to the rapid deterioration we are witnessing today.
In my latest book Without a shot indeed: inducing compliance to tyranny through conditioning and persuasion, I discuss B.F. Skinner’s influence in the development of what he referred to as a science of human behavior. Skinner believed, as Darwin, that man had no will of his own, and his actions were determined by the environment. The root of this belief is Marxist in origin as the communists thought men were free to choose their course of action only so far as the surrounding environment would dictate their choices. This is a concept known as economic determinism.
The science of behavior can also be attributed to Pavlov, who showed that animals can be conditioned to behave in a certain way by associating a reward (food) with another outside stimulus (the bell). This is known as classical conditioning, and it laid the groundwork for what Skinner would eventually call operant conditioning. This is the concept of scheduled reinforcements of acceptable behaviors through control of the environment. Free will then, as far as science is concerned, is nonexistent.
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