Welcome to The Show

[From Rick Marken (951211.1415)]

Dag Forssell (951209 2110) --

The world is WORSE off with contemporary psychological "science" than it
would be if these "scientists" had the insight (which many do) and the
intellectual honesty as well as intestinal fortitude (which they
don't) to simply say: "We don't know".

I'm not sure the world is _worse_ off with it; but the world is certainly not
better off with it. Reinforcement theory has been with us for quite a long
time, now; it started well before psychologists gave it scientific
respectability. Indeed, people have probably always tried to use the promise
of rewards and the threat of punishment to control each other -- people
probably always believed that you could control other people with rewards and
punishments. Psychologists just added the idea that rewards and punishments
_really do_ control behavior: science proves it. Maybe the addition of this
"scientific" imprimatur has, indeed, made things worse.

Anyway, I completely agree that:

This is tragic for mankind. Never mind the status of psychologists
as scientists or not. Educators, parents, leaders, politicians,
counselors and anyone who tries to serve his fellow man has been
sold a bill of goods: misleading falsehoods.

Instead of pointing us toward ways of dealing with each other as what
we are -- living control systems -- reinforcement theory justifies our
continued efforts to perfect ways of dealing with each other as what we
are not -- non- living objects. Thus, we get (ex?) reinforcement theorists
(Bruce Abbott (951210.1715 EST)) describing Clockwork Orange approaches to
dealing with people -- "programmed learning, behavior modification, and
systematic desensitization" -- as useful results of research on
reinforcement theory.

I have said this before; but I think many (most?) people just don't WANT to
understand PCT; at least, they will only understand it up to a point -- the
point at which the implications become a disturbance to some important
belief (like the belief in control by consequences or conventinal IV-DV
methodology). At that point, there is really nothing more for us to do than
just sit back and enjoy the show; and I think you'll agree, it's been a great
show so far.