Beating the System

Bill Powers (990319.10.35 MST)

An unspoken assumption has been slipping past in this discussion: namely,
that punishment and reward are the only methods that would work to improve
people's "overall ability to control their perceptions." This really
asserts two things: first, that punishment and reward are effective in
achieving this end, and second that no other method would work better. I
thionk that both assumptions are highly suspect.

What I have learned about the use of rewards and punishments is that they
are very effective as instructional or teaching devices. All rewards and
punishments are "administered" by way of some kind of system that seems to
involve some element of detection, confirmation, and application. People
seem to very quickly learn how to manipulate such systems, that is, to
avoid punishments they deserve and to obtain rewards they don't deserve.
So, sez I, tongue-in-cheek, perhaps reward and punishment ain't so bad
after all--they teach us the useful skills of "beating the system" and,
until the world is a much better place, beating the system is a very
valuable skill set (and that isn't meant tongue-in-cheek).


Fred Nickols
Distance Consulting
(609) 490-0095