Skinner and Environmental Manipulation: Modifying Behavior Since the 1960s.

Bf Skinner Quotes About Behavior. QuotesGram


The further we chug along this fundamental choo-choo train of transformation, which most people would think the nation boarded when Obama assumed the presidency, the more I am convinced that what we see is little more than a staged soap opera. From one perspective, we have an exercise in compliance gaining where the social engineers manipulate messages and narratives, presenting us with a never-ending stream of crises meant to keep us sitting on the edge of our seats not knowing what to do. From another, we have a carefully contrived stage show, where the people have been divided into two sides whose beliefs concerning daily events and national politics are fed to them from a media apparatus controlled by a small group of people who ironically, admit they exist to dictate what the people think are the most important issues of the day. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if we have reached a point in this age of social media, where we are now propagandizing ourselves simply by paying attention to the stories that reflect our views. We all know that algorithms are controlling what it is that people see the most. Those algorithms, if you think about it, are controlled by what we are paying attention to, what we are liking and clicking on. At some point, people need to understand that propagandists spend a great deal of time studying our beliefs and feeding them back to us in an effort to keep us trapped in our own respective boxes. As the book Media, Propaganda, and Persuasion so eloquently states, “To make the unruly public more productive and orderly, publicists first need to discover what the public thinks and feels.”

“The news media exert a significant influence on our perceptions of
what are the most salient issues of the day. Bernard Cohen says it best
with his observation that the news media may not be successful in telling
people what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling them
what to think about (Cohen, 1963). The news media can set the agenda for
public thought and discussion.” (Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research) 

The bigger problem Americans have, and this has been my contention for a long time, is that they don’t realize how far down this rabbit hole we are. They are trapped in a cycle of thinking, which the media helps create, that keeps them focused on the here and now without developing any understanding of how we got here. Each side of the political spectrum has been conditioned to blame the other for our problems and carry on with this belief that putting in “our candidate” in the next election is key to fixing everything. This goes on every four years and people have this peculiar way of turning themselves off to the issues once their candidates win. B.F. Skinner states in Beyond Freedom and Dignity that people are easily controlled by the value they place on whatever, or whoever it is they are working to support. “Those who work productively because of the reinforcing value of what they produce are under the sensitive and powerful control of the products” (Skinner, 1973). This essentially means that people who place great value on their efforts are unlikely to deviate from the beliefs that drive those efforts. To put it simply, in an age where we are being propagandized with a message of constant doom, both liberals and conservatives can be conned into unquestionably supporting their chosen political candidates if the perception is created suggesting that they alone, have the power to save us.

Now that I have that out of my system I can move on to what I really want to talk about. I truly believe that if Americans could bring themselves to shut off the media, and spend a little time understanding the work of B.F. Skinner, or behavioral psychology in general, and its influence on modern education, we might be able to change the tide in a favorable way. Skinner, on the one hand, revolutionized the nature of behavioral studies. Taking an evolutionary approach, he solidified the idea that any notion of free will should be excluded from the study of human behavior because it creates too many unknown variables. Science, Skinner states in Science and Human Behavior, cannot effectively be applied to any organism that is assumed to act on its own accord. “To the extent that relevant conditions can be altered, or otherwise controlled, the future can be controlled” (Skinner, 1956).  What does that mean? To sum it up as neatly as possible, the science of human behavior is now dictated by the idea that it is the environment that largely controls our actions, and the manipulation of our environment can dictate the ways in which we behave. Freedom to Skinner was non-existent from the perspective that we can act freely and make our own decisions. The act of making a choice, which appears to be done on the basis of free will, is nothing more than a reaction seeking to free ourselves from whatever constraints the environment placed on us. A necessary adaptation for the survival of the species. Controlling the environment, therefore, would lead to more effective means of controlling and guiding behavior.

“In what we may call the pre-scientific view (and the word
is not necessarily pejorative) a person’s behavior is at
least to some extent his own achievement. He is free to
deliberate, decide, and act, possibly in original ways, and
he is to be given credit for his successes and blamed for
his failures. In the scientific view (and the word is not
necessarily honorific) a person’s behavior is determined
by a genetic endowment traceable to the evolutionary
history of the species and the environmental circumstances
to which as an individual he has been exposed.

Neither view can be proved, but it is in the nature of
scientific inquiry that the evidence should shift in favor
of the second. As we learn more about the effects of the
environment, we have less reason to attribute any part of
human behavior to an autonomous controlling agent.
And the second view shows a marked advantage when we
begin to do something about behavior. Autonomous
man is not easily changed: in fact, to the extent that he is
autonomous, he is by definition, not changeable at all.
But the environment can be changed, and we are learning how to change it.

The measures we use are those of physical and biological technology, but we use them in
special ways to affect behavior.(Skinner, 1973)

Skinner’s views on behavioral modification, known as operant conditioning, have been in use in our public schools since the 1960s. The goal, while some may argue was simply to create an environment more conducive to learning, was to learn to manipulate the learning environment to the extent that schools were now working to create the ideal type of standardized citizen. Today, everyone is focused on transgenderism, or Critical Race Theory in elementary school, as they rightly should be. They would have never advanced these ideologies as far as they have had they not understood the significance of Skinner’s work and followed the plan of incorporating the type of environmental controls he pushed for. They have been researching how to do this since the 1960s.

A thorough study of Chapter Five in Charlotte Iserbyt’s The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America will show just how much Skinner’s work was incorporated. The first thing to take note of is how education, in the 1960s, was reorganized along the lines of behavioral modification for the purpose of conditioning students to follow the government.

“In order to change society, it was essential to identify
the attitudinal changes needed in each student; then, modify the student’s behavior according to the
preconceived model approved by government social engineers known as change agents. This model
did not allow for competition or individual thought, belief, etc., but was conceived to standardize
(robotize) human beings—particularly Americans—so that the entire populace would be in general
agreement with government policy and future planning for world government.” (Iserbyt, 1999)

What does this mean? It means all of us who started school in the late 1970s and 80s have been touched by this in one way or another and most of us aren’t even aware. This will be rejected by many because there is this mass perception that certain people are opposed to, and fighting the plans for world government. Are they though? Remember, Joost Meerloo said in his book, The Rape of The Mind, that propaganda is used to keep the mind trapped in a narrow, totalitarian view of the world. What would that mean? I would think, and this is based on everything I have read on the subject, that it doesn’t really matter which political party you support, or who wins the presidency, as long as you are following along it is useful to them. As long as you believe whatever narratives are being pushed on you (controlling the environment) they can coax you into behaving in certain ways and accepting certain things which advance their agenda. You have to look at this from a generational point of view. Operant conditioning and the idea of manipulating the environment to control behavior was a new endeavor in the 1960s. Not a perfected one. Over the last sixty years, they have been using our schools as a scientific experiment in changing attitudes and beliefs. At the very least, behavioral modification techniques are used to prevent people from opposing the status quo. If a child is rewarded for going along, and another punished for not, is that not the type of environmental control that would control and guide behavior?

“The child who has learned what to
say and how to behave in getting along with other people
is under the control of social contingencies. People who
get along together well under the mild contingencies of
approval and disapproval are controlled as effectively as
(and in many ways more effectively than) the citizens of a
police state.” (Skinner, 1973)

This article shouldn’t be taken to think I believe we are all brainwashed automatons. Certainly, that is not the case. I believe in God and that we have free will, and the ability to make decisions that may not only benefit our own lives, but the lives of others as well. Science views our behavior in terms of stimulus-response psychology. We are merely another animal reacting to environmental cues for the necessity of survival. This can be equated with Marx’s concept of economic determinism. This suggests that we are only free in the sense that the choices we make are dictated by the economic circumstances we may be facing. Either view takes the position that it is outside influences that control our behavior, not our own free will. We are only free to choose within the environmental box in which we live. Whether we choose to accept this view or not bears little consequence on the fact this is the view of those formulating education policy. Looking at things from a larger perspective, and how the media controls narratives and keeps us on the edge of our seats going from one crisis to another, it should be taken from the perspective that it is a type of environmental control. They are trying to break us down and make us more susceptible to accepting their totalitarian solutions. Some people will recognize this concept as the Hegelian Dialectic.

What do we do about this? Well, there isn’t much that can be done if the problem isn’t recognized. You can go to the school board meetings and call them out all day long, but until you recognize you’re merely acting in a complicit manner, playing by their rules, asking them for permission to speak on their terms, because you have been conditioned to accept them as an authority, not much can be done. Sure, there have been a few instances where school boards were thrown out and a new one voted in. That’s great, but it doesn’t change the fact that the federal government is still funding education. Personally, I think Americans need to do some serious reflecting on what it is they believe and think they know. The idea that voting for a conservative president will fix everything when this is something that has been occurring since well before the sixties, in all honesty, is laughable. What is going on in public schools today is the result of decades of study of behavioral modification techniques. Ask yourself what can be done about this if people don’t accept it as a reality.

If you enjoyed this, and think there is more going on than meets the eye, visit my site In Defense of Our Nation – Defending the Principles of Liberty. 


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