Friday, May 30, 2008

ya know why fiction is called fiction?

because the good guys always win.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

CNN spins and doesn't even know it

checked the CNN website this morning to see how the McClellan book fallout was going. the caption for the article was...


if CNN had any stones and/or any real commitment to journalistic integrity, they would have titled the article in accordance with what they were actually reporting on. it is obvious to anyone who pays any attention, that it was not Bush-bashing, it was...


"he who controls the environment, controls the population" - you read it hear first.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

who makes the goddamn rules, anyhow???

much of behavior analysis is concerned with the impact of environmental events on the behavior of individual organisms. for humans in highly industrialized countries, most of the contact we have with the environment is with the social environment. as such, we are under the control of social stimuli.

no argument with any of this.

the question, however is where do the social-environmental stimuli come from? in many cases, these stimuli are intentionally promulgated and diffused within the social environment because of their effect on groups of humans; for both, they serve as SD's and reinforcers. for the group disseminating the stimuli, they are reinforcers for continued dissemination of stimuli as they provide reinforcement in the form of money. for the group making contact with the stimuli, they serves as renforcers because they, themselves are reinforcing -- they are "goods" as Skinner says. these two interlocking contingencies maintain the behavioral repertoires that comprise the system. the outcome of the system is what is problematic (global warming, loss of resources, inequality, etc.).

the issue that is frequently overlooked is the notion of stocking the social environment with stimuli. advertisers and marketers do considerable work to determine which reinforcers are most preferred by the buying public. why? to keep the public buying so that they can continue to profit from the behavior. who stocks the environment with reinforcers? how do they do that?

on another level, when it comes to rule-governed behavior, the question is not only how people follow rules, but who makes the rules? in smaller groups, the rules might be self-generating and stem from contact with both physical and social environments. in highly industrialized societies, the rules stem from these same dynamics, but much of the time are less concerned with species-specific behavioral outcomes like survival, and much more concerned with systemic behavioral outcomes, like continued purchasing of products and services.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

putting some things together...

we respond to environmental stimuli based on learning history, principles of classical and operant conditioning. these are principles which apply to all organisms that have a nervous system (although this may turn out to not be necessary). allegedly, humans have the most articulated brain on the planet and much of our brain is a replication of other animals with our cerebral cortex being the most recent development. presumably it was with the development of the cerebral cortex (and other physiological features) that permitted speech to occur. of course, speech is nothing more than sound, so this is where the conditioning principles come in to determine what different sounds "mean" -- in relation to consequences paired with different stimuli or consequences that occur after presentation of certain stimuli.

as it is generally agreed that sensations prefigured (and occur developmentally prior to) speech, one wonders if when encountering certain stimuli, the first reaction/response is due to the principles of learning on a sensational level. this seems to account for how there is some evidence that the brain responds before there is any "conscious" effort to do so. this also seems to account for humans not being aware of "why they feel a certain way" and then finding a "reason" for their feelings. the reason found would be influenced by prior learning history, and principles of classical and operant conditioning; in other words, the reason why one feels a certain way is related to the response-generating stimuli if it has been tacted; if not, it is perhaps intraverbal behavior and nothing more.

Friday, May 16, 2008

collective obedience

the easiest way to get masses of people to do something different is to identify the institutions that already control them and then revise the content of the institutions. like what Bush Co. has done the last eight years. they knew that Americans were obedient to the government, so all they had to do was to provide the populace with the words most associated with America and the American government (freedom, liberty, God, evil, good, sacrifice, etc.) and then do whatever they wanted under those auspices.

brilliant, really. evil, despicable, criminal, and certainly not planned (or maybe so), but brilliant nevertheless.

this is the fundamental problem that people don't recognize. we see ourselves as humans that have special qualities (like reason, cognition, etc.) and as such, are not susceptible to the same conditioning dynamics that other animals are; but we are wrong. we are first and foremost biological organisms and consequently, are subject to all of the dynamics and properties associated with biological organisms, hence our ability to be molded, manipulated, shaped, etc.

to the extent that we don't recognize how easily we are conditioned, those who benefit from our conditioning remain happy and content. feeding us words like freedom, liberty, choices, etc., keeps us from seeing the unfortunate reality of our condition.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


walking into work this morning, i saw a law text in someone's car and immediately started thinking, pre-law, then went to pre-med, then went to...


that makes sense; another way of saying still alive, yes? sort of Buddhist, perhaps.
idol thoughts

biology allegedly is the study of life; but it's not. it is really the study of things that fit the definition of living. the study of the structure and function of these things. notice how this is not the study of life, but the study of material objects. not a bad thing, but not the same as life. it is easy to see how a complex, multi-cellular organism like humans are alive. what is more of a mystery are those tiny little red spiders that are the size of one of these letters that scurry about.

life, how it is possible that such things, on a such small scale (and even smaller scale), can have structure and function, move about, etc. still remains a mystery in my mind.

Friday, May 09, 2008

redistribution of wealth redux

in the last few years, Bill Gates has turned from software mogul to humanitarian. not a bad thing. sadly ironic, though. he earns billions of dollars, and now he wants to use it to benefit the world. wouldn't a better system be one in which instead of one man earning billions of dollars, his wealth is capped at say, $100 million and the billions that he could have earned are actually used earlier and more comprehensively to help those people he is now interested in helping? is there a difference in quality of living between possession of $30 billion and $100 million? i can't imagine that there is.

one wonders what the world would be like if wealth had a cap of some kind. i am sure at some point wealth becomes self-sustaining. maybe someone should do an analysis of that and then let all of the up and coming billionaires know.

it doesn't all come down to money; it all comes to down to worth and people are not worth as much as money is.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


very nice site for FREE distance education.
slow-cooking the frog

i frequently tell my students that they need to pay attention to the way things are organized instead of just their response(s) to the way things are organized. for instance, most of us have to work longer, take on more than one job, reduce vacations, etc., just to make a decent living. students today understand this, so they are looking for a career in which they can, "make a lot of money." understood. the problem is that they will be sucked into the long days, longer weeks, less time with family and friends, etc., in their pursuit of this career.

my point to them is that doing all of the above is simply a reaction to the way things are organized. another response would be to question the way things are organized and ask, "wait a minute, why do i have to do all of this just so i can have a decent wage?" in other words, instead of adapting to the environmental conditions, why not change the environmental conditions? yes, i know, it is hard, impossible, etc. these are just ways of reducing the anxiety of the awareness that our lives are really not our own; somebody is going to establish the environmental conditions, how about if we have a say in that?