The Real American Crossroads: A Question of Defining Freedom

If there was one question Americans must ask themselves, one that rose above the fray as the question that will define what it means to be an American, what would it be? We live our lives day in and day out believing that we are free, but do we even give much thought to that word? Does freedom mean we can do as we choose because we are free from the consequences of our actions, or does it mean we can accept such consequences and learn from them? The answer, whichever side you may choose, comes with some major implications that not only define what freedom is or should be but altogether describe the nature of mankind. We are either independent thinkers who can take responsibility for ourselves or just another animal who merely reacts to the environment around us. The answer, if men truly wish to retain any sense of freedom or dignity, must be for the former. Or else we suffer the certainty of total control of every aspect of our lives. This, according to B.F. Skinner is the very purpose of the study of human behavior.

“If we can observe human behavior carefully, from an objective point of view, and come to understand it for what it is, we may be able to adopt a more sensible course of action.” (Skinner, 1956, p. 5)

“It is understood that there is no point in furthering a science of nature unless it includes a sizable science of human nature, because only in that case will the results be widely used.” (Skinner, 1956, p. 5)

What does this mean, and how does it apply today? I have been arguing here at that the nature of propaganda revolves around the idea of studying our reactions to messaging and social stimuli and using that data to further control our behavior. Let’s look at my article – Gauging Elaboration Likelihood To COVID-19 Interventions Through the Health Belief Model of Behavioral Change. This article discusses the use of behavioral models to persuade people to comply with the COVID-19 mandates. The information cited is based on decades of study in human responses to persuasive messaging. If one of the goals of studying human behavior is to further the science of controlling human nature, understanding how people process information would be an important element. If you have read any of my articles on persuasion, you know they have a solid understanding of how we react to much of the propaganda they feed us every day. As I noted in my last article, researchers have spent a great deal of time studying what they call the “variability of response” to trauma. It would be safe to assume that this includes messaging as well. This would theoretically mean that they are well beyond the point of simply understanding how we react, but they are very adept at understanding how to manipulate and guide our reactions, attitudes, and beliefs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, social media groups were infiltrated and their attitudes were evaluated. Once the fundamental belief was identified which caused hesitation towards compliance, they began tweaking the message in a way that aligned with those beliefs.

The fundamental belief driving the study of human nature is that we are not in control of ourselves. Skinner (1956, p. 6) argued that it is impossible to apply scientific methods to any organism that is believed to be moving about on its own accord. Why? Because behavior then becomes unpredictable, and science requires predictability to obtain dependable results. Skinner (1956, p. 6) says that we must accept whatever “working model of behavior that the application of science will eventually lead.” The only working model of behavior that works when it comes to predicting human behavior is one where free will is non-existent, and behavior is controlled by our reactions to the environment. Consider what Skinner argues in Beyond Freedom and Dignity. He argues that there is a pre-scientific and scientific view of man to the study of behavior. The former suggests that men are to be thought responsible for their own achievements and able to think and act of their agency. The scientific view, he argues, suggests that men’s behavior is largely controlled by environmental circumstances and can be traced back to the “evolutionary history of the species”(1971, p. 101). This essentially describes a Darwinian belief in the origin of man, and while he states neither view can be proven conclusive, he argues that “in the nature of scientific inquiry the evidence should shift in favor of the second.” What does that mean? Skinner argues that the science of human nature itself, to establish a system of control, needs to be conducted from the point of view that man has no free will because the existence of such a thing prevents an effective science from being developed at all.

This brings us to the main question. Who is responsible for our safety? If Skinner’s view is adopted there is no possible way the Second Amendment will survive because people are not capable of such freedom, and because we are merely reactive to environmental circumstances, any of us could become a mass shooter at any moment. The right to keep and bear arms is so fundamental to human freedom because it recognizes one undeniable truth. The right to your being is non-existent if your inalienable responsibility to protect it is taken from you. Think about it for a moment. If your survival is dependent upon the arrival of another individual charged with protecting the public, what rights do you have? Looking at the recent mass shootings, how many of them were stopped by police? How many people died before the police responded? The government, whether it be federal or local, is incapable of providing the kind of protection needed to keep everyone safe in situations like this. It isn’t the government’s purview to provide such safety. Personal protection is a personal responsibility. The more human nature is governed through the lens of science, the less likely freedom of any kind is going to prevail for any of us. The very direction society is moving in under The Great Reset, or Agenda 2030, is all predicated on the belief that they have come to understand the nature of human behavior and how to manipulate it. Sadly, many of us fall for propaganda every day, and our compliance educates the social elite on what is or isn’t effective in producing desirable behavioral change. Furthermore, compliance needs to be understood as acceptance. Not just doing what we are told, but accepting whatever narrative they are feeding us.

The right keeps focusing its arguments on personal liberty without giving a real definition to the word. Personal freedom is being contrasted with safety and many people are demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice one for the other. It must be understood that the entirety of the left’s worldview concerning governance, welfare, a basic universal income, and gun control is all predicated on the prevailing belief concerning human nature. The fundamental question concerning freedom and the future of our nation revolves around these ideas. Is man capable of freedom or are we doomed to totalitarian control because it is believed our behavior is controlled not by our own free will, but through the environmental circumstances in which we find ourselves? If the latter holds any truth then we are in for a world of hurt because the environment is going to get increasingly chaotic. If we wish to retain our freedom we better start understanding the relationship between liberty and responsibility because as far as science is concerned, we are incapable of it.


If you enjoyed this content please consider subscribing to my website and checking out my most recent books.

A Critical Look at CRT in Education, Research and Social Policy, now available in paperback.  

And Without a Shot Indeed: Inducing Compliance to Tyranny Through Conditioning and Persuasion.

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