Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some history and consequence to the dialectical (opposing) notions of absolute and relative freedoms.

A person can believe there are such phenomena as an absolute behavioral freedom and a freely-selecting, behavior-generating mind, which signify together the meaning of free will. On the other hand, s/he can also believe in absolute behavioral determinism, which B. F. Skinner implicitly described as complete environmental and genetic causes of all of our behaviors, absent of "mind," which he called a "fictional explanation" of the true environmental causes of behavior, a belief system he labeled as "mentalism." (See this in Skinner (1953/2014) Science and Human Behavior and (1971) Beyond Freedom and Dignity.) The same person can know about, based on his or her own real world experiences, the existence of relative behavioral freedom, or we can say relative behavioral determinism instead, which are basically two flipped-about ways of saying the same thing. This paper prefers to say "relative freedom."

So we can say that we are relatively free when we walk to the store. We know we cannot turn our intestines inside out and then ride a bike on the boardwalk. Nor can we sprint across town when we are 120-years-old when a high school cross-country runner can do it. In this case the runner is more free than the elder, in terms of running ability. Hence we call it "relative behavioral freedom," or "relative freedom" for short, because freedom has flexible limits. Experience shows that this phenomenon cannot be denied, and clearly that it does exist, so then, we know it to be true. So we would then believe falsely in absolute freedom. We now know that absolute freedom to choose our own actions endlessly is a false belief. Relative freedom knows, rather, that "if we put our minds to it, we really can't do anything and everything."

Turning then to absolute determinism, logically, if we deduce, as Popper did, we know it is no more scientific than unfalsifiable totem pole worship, rain dances, Christianity, and unconscious-mind Freudian psychoanalysis. See Karl Popper (1935/2005), The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Popper used falsifiability as the standard with which to mark scientific systems away from the non-scientific. So can we never know anything first-hand about Freud's consciously-unseeable, non-feeling, internally-driven, ever-at-war Id, Ego, and Superego. We can never prove psychoanalysis to be wrong because we can never observe these things Freud said to be real. Though it might be true, we will never know his theory to be true or false unless we can read the unconscious mind with some kind of a secretive mind-reading gadget some time in the future. So we see that what could be true, but cannot now be shown to be false, is not falsifiable, and is not, therefore, scientific, in this construction of logic, if we agree with Popper. So let's apply Popper's falsifiability demarkation test to Skinner's behavioral belief in absolute determinism. We can conclude that Skinner might have a true belief. This is quite equivalent to saying that our belief in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow might be true, since we can falsify neither notion.

As much as his autism-behavior-control followers who call themselves Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) "effective scientists" might wish they had complete control over all the behaviors of their human and non-human "scientific organism autistic subjects," these ABA determinists cannot and will not ever make a computer big enough to account for every move of every quark in the universe to calculate all the potential permutations of where all the atoms and subatomic particles could possibly go, everywhere, forever, ad infinitum. So then ABA will never know whether or not all of the actions of little autistic toddlers are caused and determined by every atom and particle in the universe, let alone ABA's use of facial water spritzes, lemon on tongue, forced ammonia sniffs, white noise machines, and extremely painful electric skin shock "aversion therapy," so a physicist friend named Matthew Harbowy (ca. 1998), told this blogger. See Davies (2014) for a thoroughly-documented, highly-unethical list of ABA aversives. As much as ABA tries to control the autistic behavior of this blogger, he says to them now, "Go ahead, tickle me for good behavior, even though I despise your work. Give me my food-deprived piece of meat for normal behavior. Give me your stilted 'Good boy' praises in your piercingly shrill tone of voice that I hate so much! Listen for once to an actual autistic speaking. You can never stop me from saying to you, ABA therapist, 'Fuck you, pig! Leave me alone! I am at least somewhat free, you control freak, whether you like it or not! Get a real job, you phony baloney!" That all behavior is determined, therefore, could be true, but it is only a belief, and it will always be just a mere belief and nothing that we will ever know for sure. Behaviorism then, and Skinner called his brand Radical Behaviorism, is a philosophy, not a science. So while ABA professes it can fix not only autistics, but also the world, well, then, we can simply tell them, "Your concocted reasoning appears to be unsound, non copos mentis."

However, there is indeed a very powerful scientific element in Skinner's work. He said he aimed to "predict, explain, and control behavior." Based on the philosophy described above, let's tone it down and admit his knowledge base can influence behavior. Whether or not it should, and and whether or not it can be done ethically is a subject for another discussion or debate. See Altier(i), (March 31, 2016): "Applied Behavior Analysis is abusive. Reward and Consent's Cognitive-Behavioral Method is a viable alternative." Now operant conditioning, as Skinner showed us, can indeed influence behaviors, sometimes, as he and his network of followers showed us experimentally. That this is always the case is huge leap into Skinnerian fantasyland, as we already saw. So in his terms we go get a meal at our favorite restaurant because the food there did not make us vomit AND it pleased us. This is why we return. Skinner did discover operant conditioning, change of behavior rates through the immediate addition and subtraction of appetitive and aversive stimuli abd events. And Einstein allowed us to drop the A-bomb. Why MUST ABA coerce? That is their way of life, at work and play.

We cannot deny these scientific behavioral discoveries by Skinner. Meanwhile, we can reject his pseudo-scientific determinism philosophy. Unfortunately, some [anonymous] leading autistic opponents of ABA reject ethical uses of behavioral science in their knee-jerk, yet understandable, disdain for anything behavioral, as ABA is nothing but abusive and ABA claims it is THE behavior science, which it is not. ABA videos clearly show it to be nothing more than a coercive submission-training way of behavior-control models.

A commentator to the post "Here is why Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a [pseudoscience] cult" in Altier(i), November 21, 2015 clearly denied that ABA is a science. This does not mean, however, that highly-ethical, scientific cognitive behavioral systems with strong behavioral components do not exist.

In Popperesque, deductive-logic terms, then, Skinner's behaviorism, when it turns to absolute philosophical statements, veers off its experimentally inductive path of logic and dives deep into its very own non-scientific pit of fathomless pseudo-science, so we can say!

Skinner, my ABA friends, was as superstitious as his lab pigeons, which he claimed were as superstitious as people who believe in God. He was an atheist with a religious belief in science as all powerful. Are you an atheist, too, ABA behavior controller?

So now, we arrive at some more questions on freedom. Can relativity in freedom be as big a mystery as absolute determinism? Granted that our action is limited, as we can't do everything, and some days we can do more things than other days, but are we free to choose these limited actions that we are capable of performing? Do we do these few things we are capable of doing by ourselves, self-determined, with a mind, independent of any control or influence from environmental factors besides what goes into our genes, our history of experiences, and our current dilemmas of day-to-day affairs?

Though we can walk to the store, yet we cannot fly to the moon using our feet as propellers, when we walk to the store, is there absolutely no free will involved?

Well, please permit me to say, based on all I said above, that real world experience cannot say whether or not we do things all by ourselves. Cognitive science makes its claims that we can think things through only by thinking. Skinner retorts that thinking is a covert behavior under this skin, one step in the endless chain of behaviors and consequences to behaviors. Remember he does not deny that our genetic history causes us physical brain waves that we perceive as thoughts.

The question here boils down to this: Can a non-physical element called the mind cause a physical element, behavior, to occur? I repeat. The answer, whatever side we take, is a belief, metaphysics, as Socrates believed and never proved an ideal Chair, an ideal Good, the unattainable end we strive to achieve. It takes a knowledge of absolute to answer this question.

So we can skip the notions of both absolute freedom or determinism, as useless, in terms of ways of pure thought, if we want to be pragmatic of philosophy, but wait. Let us look at all the harm both Skinnerians and the free-willers have caused in their adamant insistence that their way is the right way and that the other way is the wrong way, and necessarily so!

Therefore, given that absolute freedom is false belief, as described here, that absolute determinism is unknowable belief, and that relative freedom is a very different, yet real, known, and worldly phenomenon, let's look at what this means down here on planet Earth when we do understand these differences and when we don't.


All three of these styles of belief or knowledge generate real-world consequences.

Over the millennia, predominant Western literature has shifted its general outlook on the source cause of human behavior from Homer's meddlesome gods, to the freedom of choice or willpower derived from the Catholic soul. In the Twentieth Century Skinner, with all his philosophical AND ethical flaws (Altier(i), February 26, 2015), made his foray into this way of thinking, unfortunately, and hopefully it will pass like a piece of dust and land on the floor forgotten forever some day in the future.

The following section outlines this history of freedom and control by way of significant, influential literary events.

A Brief History of Freedom and Control

Altschuler et al. (2013) analyzed Homer linguistically and "estimate(d) a date of approximately 710–760 BCE" for the Homeric epics. Throughout the Iliad and the Odyssey, mortal heroes had limited power over their actions whenever their quarrelsome deities chose to interfere with their affairs.

Then Plato (1892, pp. 159-194) set Phaedo in "399, the final day of Socrates’ life, in his prison cell"(Anderson and Osborn, 2009, p. 261). There Socrates discussed the ideal, metaphysical, timeless, space-less forms. So the perfect form of the ideal chair or other object or of the Good existed out there beyond our reach somewhere. Unless we thought like philosophers, we could not comprehend the forms.

Epicurus was an Ancient Greek who lived between 341 and 270 BCE. He was cited as the original source of an argument called the "logical problem of evil." Since evil exists, he was said to have claimed, an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God cannot possibly exist. (Wikipedia, Logical problem of evil).

The Catholic Church was established and Augustine of Hippo (AD 354–430) led it away from Epicurus with his antithetical "theodicy" argument. While citing Augustine's Confessions (VII.x.16)Mendelson (2012) said, "It was the books of the Platonists that first made it possible for him to conceive the possibility of a non-physical substance."

According to Wikipedia, Augustine asserted that 1) humans are born with the Original Sin of Adam; 2) sinful acts follow from Original Sin; 3) sinners will suffer just spiritual consequences for their actions; 4) free will exists in the human soul; 5) God is perfectly good; 6) Evil is the absence of Good, so Evil is negative, unmade; 7) Humans are imperfectly good, corruptible; 8) so He didn't make Evil; and 9) therefore, God exists. (See Augustinian theodicy citing Menn, (2002), Bennett, Peters, Hewlett and Russell (2008, p. 126), and Svendsen and Pierce (2010, p. 49).)

Augustine, therefore, solidly transformed the Homeric belief in a shortage of self-determination due to godly intervention to the Catholic belief in the absolute free will to choose actions, a power which abides human souls. So this non-physical entity attached to the soul called the mind was suddenly able to move objects, plant seeds, reap harvests, and knock a man out with a billy club. When the choices were sinful, God would punish, but they sinned on their own, so sinners were completely responsible for their own bad behaviors and punishment was necessary, not because they would learn how to behave here on Earth through the lessons of punishment by going to hell. Hell is not Hades. There's no returning to Earth. God punished man's free sinful choices, under which God had no responsibility, because he was a bad man who deserved what he had coming to him.

Jumping ahead about 850 years, Thomas Aquinas (AD 1225-1274) bolstered theodicy by claiming that "God is goodness and that there can be no evil in him... (and) the existence of goodness allows evil to exist, through the fault of humans," and so did John Calvin (1509-1564) support theodicy by saying that "evil is the result of free will and (he) argued that sin corrupts humans, requiring God's grace to give moral guidance." (Augustinian theodicy)

Leaping ahead to recent times, Skinner (1953/2014, p. 10) said, "The conception of a free, responsible individual is embedded in our language and pervades our practices, codes, and beliefs."

He discovered and reported in Behavior of Organisms (1938) the effects of consequences to behavior on the future emission rates of rat behavior. Humans eventually came to be known as one of those species whose behavior was subject to experimental explanation, prediction, and control, so Skinner (1971) wrote Beyond Freedom and Dignity and declared a scientific independence from the vice grip of absolute freedom. Behavior then was not a free choice; it was determined by the interplay of the genetic and worldly history of the organism with its environment.

Skinner (1971, p. 42) also said, "Man's struggle for freedom is not due to a will to be free, but to certain behavioral processes characteristic of the human organism, the chief effect of which is the avoidance of or escape from so-called 'aversive' features of the environment."

He called the mind an "explanatory fiction," a weak explanation of the causes of behavior. When people ask why someone does something they dislike, the "mentalist" might say, "She has a bad attitude," or "His mind wasn't working." According to Skinner, the explanation stops there. Mentalists block themselves from analyzing the true causes of behavior, such as how a consequence contingent upon the emission of a response can increase the probability that the response will re-occur. (See Skinner, 1953/2014, Chapter III, "Why Organisms Behave," pp. 23-42, especially, the chapter section, "Psychic inner causes," pp. 29-31.)

Today, however, people still often claim the environment does not influence the occurrences of behaviors. We allegedly have the perfect ability to invoke our will-powers, our absolute freedom of choice, and make ourselves respond autonomously. So when "bad" people do "bad" things, they must hold them "responsible" for the choices they freely make, marching in lockstep with the Catholic Church's damnation of sinful souls. They must pay the price. They must suffer consequences.

Unfavorable Consequences of the Catholic-Based Belief in Absolute Freedom

Generally speaking, the end results of absolute freedom are negative, such as the non-stop flood of unwarranted sentences to fill an ocean of prison cots, and of the relative styles, as seen below in this paper, the results are more positive, such as a logical foundation for disabled advocates to support their arguments for the right to dissent from the punishments of people-with-more-power who often have no idea how their punishments feel if and when they supply them to autistic children without ever "tasting their own medicines."

As it has played itself out, mentalist language has evoked human calamity. When people accuse others of crime, they cry out for revenge. "Punish the bastards! Lock them away! Let them fry in the electric chair!"

Undoubtedly, such words have provoked the mass incarceration of USA citizens and immigrants. False charges often lead to guilty verdicts, including murder and rape. The Judicial Branch prosecutes drug "offenders " because of their medical problems, substance addiction, but they survive in prison with insufficient medical attention. The prison system, with its cruel and unusual, almost endless solitary confinements, also known as "time out seclusion," but a corrupted version of the behavioral strategy, makes no decent attempt to rehabilitate.

Generally speaking, incarceration only makes things worse for everybody, especially the children of people in prison. While some people who are "formerly incarcerated" advocate for each other in a constructive manner on www.WBAI.org and their 99.5 spot on the New York City FM dial (Listen to "On the Count: The prison and criminal justice report."), others may leave the prison environment having learned some lessons in more serious criminal behavior than the original ones they were accused of committing. It's not their fault, however, because, as behaviorism teaches, we do what we do because of the past and because of the stimuli in the current environment where behaviors takes place.

Disproportionately, dark-skinned people are imprisoned much more than light. The prison/judiciary industry and its brethren corporate sponsors of corporate television commercials profit immensely when they fill up their beds in their unjust, discriminatory manner. They depend upon the public's belief in free will. With the appeals for retribution supporting them, politicians enact the so-called "get tough on crime" policies we have witnessed. So "when it bleeds, it leads" on the eyewitness news, their ratings stay high, and they provoke their viewers to call out for revenge in the name of "justice." A student of Skinner, however, would understand how punishment causes escape and retaliation and it does not teach a responder what he or she should to do in lieu of the punished response.

It is not necessary, however, to subscribe to the faith that non-physical entities can cause physical events to take place. A different kind of freedom suffices to explain what is really happening down here on earth, relative freedom.


This section includes complete excerpts from Altier(i), (November 21, 2015):

The atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan were "effective" in ending World War II?

It appears as though ABA agrees with Malcolm X that justice is served when they cause change "by any means necessary."

But "the ends don't justify the means." This maxim was a crucial part of my Georgetown University Jesuit priests' morality training.

Bush (September 16, 2001) in his White House South Lawn Remarks by the President Upon Arrival:
We need to go back to work tomorrow and we will. But we need to be alert to the fact that these evil-doers still exist. We haven't seen this kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and then emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft - fly U.S. aircraft into buildings full of innocent people - and show no remorse. This is a new kind of -- a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I'm going to be patient.

The crusades Medieval war campaigns of Christians against Muslims. So Bush did kill his target, Saddam Hussein, by any means necessary, quite effectively, according to his plan.

Unfavorable Consequences of the Skinnerian Belief in Absolute Determinism

People, for example, who call themselves "Board Certified Behavior Analysts" (BCBAs), follow B. F. Skinner's (1971) absolutely deterministic belief system. That causes problems, too. See also Skinner (1981, especially, p. 504, final sec.).

BCBAs usually misjudge harmless, atypical "self-stimulatory" autistic behaviors such as hand-flapping upper body-rocking as "problems of social importance." In the meanwhile, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) has opposed ABA coercions and held stim-ins when ASAN told its members, "Have fun while educating people about autism access needs.... You can gather community members together to enjoy cool stim toys and good company while hearing presentations on how to accommodate the access needs of Autistic community members." So ABA demands of its "autistic subjects" "its game of quiet hands" (Astrid Âû, January 15, 2016) when flapping-hands don't even make any noise.

Moreover, the blogosphere is full of anecdotal evidence of ABA-provoked Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). See the PTSD clearly apparent in their own recollections of ABA maltreatments in Kosovskaya and Altier(i) (June 11, 2015), and in Astrid Âû (January 15, 2016 (a) and (b)).

This corroborates the hypothesis (See Popper, 1935, ch. 10.) that ABA is a pseudoscientific cult. Research reveals that the first to publish the argument that cABA a cult was a parent of an autistic child allegedly abused by ABA, Virgynia King (ca. 2008) of Children Injured by Restraint and Aversives (CIBRA), and confirmed by Astraea (private message from King and King) of Astraea's Politics and referenced in Stillman, 2009, p. 188.

Judge Rotenberg Center's "School of Shock" is an ABA institution (Gonnerman, 2007). The following block quote comes from JRC's second Executive Director in charge, Mrs. Glenda Crookes, on her JRC-marketing-to-shock-consenting-parents and even to their eventually-dissenting-from-shock-and-other-coercive-JRC-techniques-children public webpage (JRC History, retrieved August 2, 2016):
JRC Founder Matthew L. Israel, Ph.D., studied psychology under the late B.F. Skinner from his undergraduate years through his time as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University. He received his doctorate in psychology at Harvard in 1960. Dr. Israel became confident that the basic behavioral principles and technologies that Skinner had developed or refined could be fruitfully applied in the treatment of a wide variety of behavior disorders. Behavioral principles appeared to be extraordinarily successful in both explaining and managing behaviors.
Read throughout "Heroic Anna Kosovskaya (2015) escapes the Judge Rotenberg Center of Applied Behavior Analysis electroshock 'treatment/torture.'" See how ABA's JRC marketing deceptions allegedly caused her to agree to enter JRC in the first place, how when she turned 18 JRC allegedly tricked her into signing her adult freedom over to her mother by coercing her into signing an okay for her mother to be her guardian, and how she eventually escaped ABA's JRC, before JRC sent staff to her New York City apartment to capture her and take her back to JRC, when she instead defended herself from their attack, when they went back to Canton, Massachusetts without her, and how she eventually found an autism agency she was happy with. Anna reports in the interview with Altier(i) how she constantly questions herself and feels like she was the one making the poor decision to enter JRC and sign away her freedom to her mother. This is clearly ABA induced PTSD, when the victim of ABA abuses is blaming the victim herself.

Anyhow, Massachusetts Attorney General Healey (2011) forced Israel to resign when:
DEDHAM - The founder and Executive Director of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) has been indicted on charges of destroying evidence and misleading a witness in connection with a series of events at JRC's Stoughton facility where two students were injured as a result of improperly administered electric shock treatments. On May 20, 2011, a special grand jury in Norfolk County returned indictments against Dr. Matthew Israel on charges of Accessory After the Fact, and Misleading an Investigator or a Witness. At Israel's arraignment today in Norfolk Superior Court, he entered into a sentencing agreement for pretrial probation. Under terms of his probation, Israel is required to resign from his position as Executive Director of the JRC as of June 1, and is also prohibited from working for the JRC or serving as a member of its Board of Directors. He was ordered to serve probation for five years. Should Israel violate the terms of his probation he could be further prosecuted.
Juan E. Méndez (2013, p. 85) concluded in his "report of the special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of the United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council" that JRC's extremely painful ABA electro behavior control skin shock devices coupled with ABA/JRC's immobilizing restraints during its so-called "scientifically effective ABA shock treatment" is "torture." This is not psychiatry's ECT brain shock, whose purpose, unlike ABA/JRC's GED devices, is not to cause pain, which indeed, researchers claim, can treat chronic pain problems.

[Trigger Warning: ABA JRC skin shock and restraint to four point board face down screams of pain by a teenage autistic boy. Do not watch if this will disturb you. Cheryl and Andre McCollins settled a lawsuit against JRC personnel for an undisclosed amount.]

[Trigger warning. The following CBS Evening News extended interview with JRC skin shock survivor Jennifer Msumba is very sad and disturbing to hear her recount. She texted this blogger (ca. July 15, 2016), that lawsuit against JRC was still ongoing. Her attorney, reportedly, is the same Ben Novotny, Lubin and Meyer, Medical Malpractice specialists, Boston. FDA regulates JRC's GED's as the only remaining USA court approved ABA skin shock devices which the FDA calls "ABA's neurological, medical, noxious, aversive conditioning Electrical Stimulation Devices (ESDs) for ABA behavior control (Transcript of Proceedings, 2014, p. 10)."

Altier(i) (July 12, 2016) reported that JRC purchased its first ESD, the SIBIS, from a company associated with ABA's "most prolific author," which Brian Iwata himself co-engineered, as he himself reported. Iwata sat on the Neurological Devices Panel meeting as a non-voting member and spoke against the full FDA's currently proposed ESD ban when the slight majority of the panel voted in favor in the ban and sent the matter up to the full FDA. of Dr. Israel's first]:

Msumba, June 3, 2014, survivor of the ABA's Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) extremely painful electric skin shock GED devices, says JRC is a cult before Altier(i) (November 21, 2015) was a late-comer to the old argument that "ABA is a cult." When a commentator to his post argued clearly that ABA is not a cult of science, as Altier(i) was arguing, rather, ABA is indeed a pseudoscience! See DeanM (Nov. 2015, comment below post) and Altier(i) (Nov. 2015, top [bracketed] edit note).

ABA's much-cited-in-their-literature standard bearers, Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) used the popular norm of the day standard to indirectly accuse gays and directly accuse disabled people as being "deviants" worthy of fixing through non-ECT extremely painful electric skin shock, precisely as in Risley (1968). The father of ABA, Lovaas, started ABA on its misguided shock to autism path by "treating a young autistic girl" as some kind of a freak of nature, making her stand in his UCLA lab barefooted upon an electrified floor (Grant, 1965). Now today in 2016, all of ABA, including its "most prolific" author Brian Iwata (Altier(i), July 12, 2016) supports more and more painful non-ECT-psychiatry-brain-shock, but ABA-extremely-painful-behavior-control-skin-shock-devices. Kosovskaya and Altier(i) (June 11, 2015), Altier(i) (July 31, 2015, April 13, 2016, and June 28, 2016)

So then, unfortunately, BCBAs have always deemed themselves to be "highly effective" prosecutors, witnesses, judges, jury members, and executors of harmless autistic behaviors, among other classes of behaviors, such as aggression, which is actually self-defense half the time, which they provoke and then "treat." There is no end in sight. This is nothing less than ABA's problematic "control-freak" behaviors as stimulated by a chain of "scientists'" behavioral manipulations under which B.F. Skinner, under belief only, and not guided by the universal set of scientific facts necessary to claim knowledge of complete determinism, decided that human action is determined by three causes, 1) the genes of the human organism, 2) the life history of organism acts on the environment, which acts upon us, and 3) the current situation where we find ourselves behaving.

However, as New Jersey chemist and physicist Matthew Harbory said to this blogger (ca. 1996), humanity will never invent a computer big enough to analyze the movement of every atom and quark in the universe in order to decide whether or not human any action is completely free or determined.

So the BCBAs implement plans to modify harmless "self-stim" responses such as hand-flapping or allegedly problematic infrequent eye contacts and because parents of young autistic children hope they will eventually “fit in" better with their peers, they market themselves to these parents, move to make them into neurotypicals with parental signatories to behavior change contracts and then completely disregard any actually autistic child or deemed "incapacitated" adult who wants the BCBA to leave him or her alone, as expressed in resistance to BCBA coercions or in actual spoken dissent. Although the autistic dissenter may not be fully informed as to the consequences of his or her resistance, should the BCBA actually comply with dissent, as she ought to do, everybody has the right to say, "Leave me alone," to an abuser, fully informed or not!

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) uses simplistic linear-only, one obvious set of variables at a time, ABC (see the next paragraphs for the ABA caps guide: Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) behavioral assessment of behavior causes, and ABC manipulations of behaviors. ABA believes it can solve "autistic problems of social importance" by observing, by Cartesian -x and -y lines in algebraically graphed curves whereby BCBAs can analyze behaviors it deems to be good or bad.

Rate or frequency of Behavior is ABA's typical dependent variable which they claim indicates its golden "Behavior strength" target which it aims to "explain (or understand), predict, and control," as the grandfather of ABA often said. See, for examples, Skinner (1953/2014 , p. 26), Thyer (2009, abstract), and Cautilli, Rosenwasser, and finally Hantula (2003, p. 233), who said, for "Skinner (1953/2014) and (1974/1976), these goals were understanding, prediction and control."

Skinner (1938) discovered "Operant Conditioning," behavior control by rewards and punishments, when he put lab rats in his noise-blocking Skinner Boxes, "experimental chambers," and caused them to pull levers for pellets or grain, swatted their paws to suppress lever-pull rates, and electro-mechanically drew behavior rates curves by way of up-pips of a stylus pen on huge sheets of paper mounted on slowly revolving drums.

He conceptualized the Behavior Rate of lab rats as the effect of the environmental causes. He accidentally discovered the fast initial rate, the rate cusp, and then the rate decline to zero almost zero extinction curve, when he walked away from his actively automated rat experiment and returned to see his food dispenser had jammed. Compare this to what happens to a smoker who is feeding money into a cigarette machine, the only way of buying cigarettes in this case, when the lever-yanker jams. Skinner (1938)

ABA's usual beginning target population are supposedly unfree, human-being, autistic toddlers. So ABA strives to modify their rates of behaviors as a function of ABA modifications of environmental variables, which they claim are the causes the Behaviors: 1) Antecedent events (independent causative variables where and when behaviors occurs), and as a function of its immediate consequences (aversive, irrelevant, and positively reinforcing, or appetitive stimuli and events.


Ironically, ABA's flagship Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) only discusses PTSD twice.

Friman, Hayes, and Wilson (1998) said it is an anxiety disorder (p. 137), that "historically, anxiety has been a dominant subject in mainstream psychology but an incidental or even insignificant one in behavior analysis (p. 137), even though they neglected to mention all the anecdotal self-reports that ABA itself causes the very Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder it basically does not know how to treat. (pp. 148-150).

Cohen-Almeida et al. (2000) barely mentioned the PTSD of Dom when they reported:
Tangible preference assessments were compared with verbal preference assessments for 6 individuals with mental retardation, behavior disorders, or both. In the tangible assessment, items were placed in front of the participant. In the verbal assessment, participants were asked, ‘‘Do you want X or Y ?’’ and the items were not present. The two assessments yielded similar high-preference items for 4 of the 6 participants. The verbal assessment was typically completed in less time than the tangible assessment. Cohen-Almeida et al. (2000, p. 329, Abstract)
Tangible assessment. The tangible assessment used procedures similar to those described by Fisher et al. (1992). For each participant, eight consumable items identified by the teaching staff were used. All participants were familiar with the stimuli. On each trial two stimuli were placed in front of the participant. The position of the two items was randomized. They were placed approximately 0.3 m in front of the individual and 0.5 m apart, and each stimulus pair was presented for 10 s. Approach responses were defined and recorded for all participants, and resulted in the opportunity to consume the stimulus. Participants were allowed access to stimuli until they were consumed, except for Dom, who elected to save the items until the end of the session. (Cohen-Almeida et al. (2000, pp. 330-31)
In the same report, "Dom, age 18, 53 IQ, PPVT-R age-equivalent 7yrs. 3 mo. (had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) PTSD, ADHD, moderate mental retardation. Cohen-Almeida et al. (2000, p. 330, Table One)." The authors neglected to report the cause of Dom's PTSD. It is likely that ABA provoked it in previous "treatments" and misjudgments of his so-called "deviant" behaviors.

Despite ABA's typically misguided "treatments" of people like Dom, who was actually a full-grown, adult human being, ABA saw him as equal and on par with a seven-year-old boy.

So it appears that ABA consistently refuses to recognize that people like Dom now do in fact have the ethical AND the legal right to self-determination as balanced with the obvious, commonplace dominant neuro-typically claimed right to have someone look after his or her welfare and self-interest.

Now ABA is clearly not telling the truth about the PTSD it obviously often causes. ABA, therefore, is a pseudoscience cult, as more evidence mounts in favor of this position, because cults are well-known to silence dissent within its ranks:
Early (JRC) History: Rhode Island and California. The Judge Rotenberg Center was established by Matthew Israel in 1971, as the Behavior Research Institute (BRI). During college, Matthew Israel had studied the behaviorist ideas of B.F. Skinner, and then began trying these ideas out on children, first on a 3-year-old child. This convinced Israel that he should start a school, so he founded the BRI, first in Providence, Rhode Island; in 1976, he opened another branch of BRI in Van Nuys, California. The institute began as a school whose students were mainly autistic people and people with intellectual disabilities. “Treatment” at the school consisted of many different forms of punishment, including spraying children in the face with water, forcing them to smell ammonia, pinching them, slapping them, subjecting them to painful muscle squeezes, spanking them, forcing them to put hot peppers on their tongues, and forcing them to wear a “white-noise helmet” that emitted static (Gonnerman, 2007, “School of Shock”). Israel did not believe in medication as therapy and therefore did not use this in students’ behavior plans. Due to the aversive therapies Israel and BRI staff were employing, both of the Behavior Research Institutes were heavily criticized very early on. The California Department of Health originally rejected the application to operate a group home as residential facilities for the California BRI facility, with harsh criticism of the aversive techniques Matthew Israel used, as well as for Israel not following California regulation. The department stated that “[t]here is unsatisfactory evidence that you are ‘reputable and responsible’ in relation to the operation of a licensed facility and/or that you have the ability to comply with applicable regulations. First, you have shown a disregard for the law by operating your program without obtaining a license from this Department to do so. […] Also, you are apparently engaging unlawfully in the practice of psychology without securing a California license” (Kahn, 1985). The Department of Health threatened to close the California branch. Parents of BRI students took over the facility and said they were running it as a co-op, forming a new corporation independent of the BRI in Rhode Island. BRI of California was able to receive a license for their group home, as well as one to use physical aversives, the only license allowing the use of physical aversives ever granted by the state of California (Kahn, 1985). Although the Rhode Island and California branches were formally separate, they were still linked. The organization in California still exists, now called Tobinworld. The BRI of California was revealed to have severely abused students, after the abuse of Christopher Hirsch was reported in the media. Christopher, who was 12 years old, had been subjected to severe pinching, and the skin on his feet was completely removed. Doctors described his body as not having any part that was not covered by a bruise (Kahn, 1985). After another student, 14-year-old Danny Aswad, died in the BRI of California facility while being strapped face down to a bed, the California Department of Social Services (DSS) compiled a 64-page accusation of the program (Gonnerman, 2007, “School”), much of which consisted of over 100 violations of the BRI’s license regulations (Bersinger v. Behavior Research Institute of California, 1982). In 1982, the BRI of California facility settled with the state and was banned from using physical aversives within California (Gonnerman, 2007, “School”). (Davies, 2014, par. 2).
Furthermore, Altier(i) (April 13, 2016) showed that for each of its previous four annual behavior control specialist conventions, ABAI consistently and officially "approved" JRC skin shockers as being "aligned" with ABAI’s "mission." ABAI endorsed JRC skin shock after two United Nations Special Torture Rapporteurs called it "torture" and after the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network demanded it bar JRC from its conventions.

Physics in its entirety is indeed a scientific system. ABA is not. Here’s why. It is well known that physics does not hide the fact that it developed the atomic bombs the President Truman used to "effectively" save the lives of USA soldiers by ending the Pacific Ocean part of World War Two. Physics is responsible, in this fully disclosed manner, for the decision that incinerated the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Hiroshima and Nagasaki babies. Science does not hide from the public the fact that it’s work is used in what ethics can call a highly unethical manner, as hostile and aggressive leaders seek to achieve their ends "by any means necessary."

So JRC has an entire ABA "research" website called EffectiveTreatment.org. ABA claims it's very "effective" in changing autistic people's behavior patterns, but achieving a desired effect is nothing much to brag about.

So Altier(i) (May 20, 2015) exposed to the internet how ABAI endorses shock "torture." He also exposed the fact that ABAI repeated its bad behavior and endorsed torture again and again, even after the actual autistics ordered ABAI to ban them (April 13, 2016). Applied Behavior Analysis and the Association for Behavior Analysis International Facebook ok groups with 10,000+ members each. The admins of both of these groups permanently banned Altier(i) immediately after his May 20, 2015 post. He asked their representatives, but none of these "leaders" have ever explained to him exactly what he said that caused them to ostracize him.

Emily Williquette (2015-16) probably hosts the only large, lively, ABA internet forum where ABA does not censor its opponents. In the comments, he challenges ABA therapists to report any lesser ABA organization which specifically opposes ABA/JRC skin shocks. Since Positive Behavior Support is, in theory, anti-aversive LaVigna (Affidavit v. JRC, 2013, p. 3, #4) and ABA is pro-punishment (BACB, 2012, "Task List"), PBS IS NOT ABA. Therefore, there is no known ABA institution that specifically opposes skin shock "torture."

Furthermore, JABA has never published a single ABA/JRC report. Therefore, ABA is indeed a bogus-science cult. Case closed.

Now the advocates move in force to #CloseTheJRC for good now that the FDA is probably poised to ban all of ABA’s skin shock devices. Public commentary is now closed. They wait. This time, hopefully for the last time, for ABA to stop its shock torture for good.

ABA has egg on its face once again, as it always has had since Pavlov ripped holes in the cheeks of his salivating dogs. Will ABA ever learn how to behave? Of course not. ABA only counts what it can see and manipulate directly. Autistic feelings as directly felt under the skin of autistics can never ever be included in the reports as any manner of ABA's prized "data" it pinpoints for behavior control purposes.

Common sense logic shows how this opposes Jesus' Golden Rule of Ethics flipped: "Don't do to others what you don't want done unto yourselves," as though BCBAs are not heavily populated with alcoholics with control problems who marry BCBAs, divorce, and raise troubled children. Therefore, ABA opposes half of Jesus' two most fundamental commandments: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself, for he also said of this command, "Do others as you would have them do unto others." So as much as love is an action verb as well as a feeling, ABA is utterly incapable of loving.

Favorable Consequences of the Knowing Belief in Relative Freedom

One need not reject a respect for the freedom and dignity of the behaving individual when we embrace the notion of relative freedom. It is quite different from metaphysical, absolute freedom. Relative freedom is a real part of the real world.

Skinner said, "Almost all living things act to free themselves from harmful contacts (1971, p. 26)." The Supreme Court recognized the relativity of free speech when they decided we have no right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater. A man chained to a bed in a prison cell has less freedom than an unchained man in the same cell. Along these lines, Mortimer Adler (1958) said in his "Dialectical Examination of the Idea of Freedom" that "Circumstantial freedom” is "freedom from coercion or restraint." (From Wikipedia, Problem of Evil).

This dual freedom context, absolute vs. relative freedom, allows an advocate for disabled people to generate behavioral language in support of the right to autonomy, also known as self-determination. In relative terms, "incapacitated" people should have more power than they do have to dissent from the implementation of decisions to punish their behaviors. Teams of professionals who follow scientific and philosophical literature on behavior analysis commonly judge the actions of autistic children and others as "problematic."

These teams do approve restraint, holding the "patients" down or mechanically restricting their movements (contingent upon self-injurious behaviors, for example.) See the official policy Statement on Restraint and Exclusion of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI, 2010). They also try to reduce or eliminate non-harmful autistic behaviors labeled as stereotypical, hand flapping or body rocking, for example.

ABAI (2010) suggests to its members that "duly formed treatment teams" should include the voices of the recipients of their interventions. Should they give them a seat at the meetings? Do they sit at the head of the table? The document doesn't say. If they really do allow these persons to speak in their meetings, it is difficult to fathom how the objections of children or incapacitated adults to professional plans that allow institutional staff to immobilize them would hold any weight in the outcome of these decisions, especially when such people are deemed incapable of making informed decisions. (People with more power can never understand the exact nature of a punishment, such as so-called "electric shock therapy" in the ostensible name of Applied Behavior Analysis, unless they know precisely how it feels and voluntarily subject themselves to the identical punishments they "incorporate" upon people with less power.) The punishees may "cooperate" with the punishers in the midst of these behavior change meetings out of fear of further punishments. The best time to listen to their dissent is after the meeting, while they're holding them down and they shout, "Let me go! Leave me alone!"

Unfortunately, however, in more restrictive environments, it looks like punished children or adults with disabilities have very limited power to stop punishments once they're set into motion. The behavior change "team" may claim it acts in the best-interest or the welfare of their "client," but their punishments devalue the right to self-determination.

The behavioral scale of justice should balance the right to childhood dissent, the right to self-determination, with the right to have a parent or guardian look after one's own best interest, but it leans heavily in favor of the decisions of the surrogates and their paid professionals, who do make severe mistakes.

Screaming and squirming to escape from restraint is a clear form of free speech. So how does the staff of an institution listen to dissent when they carry out "well-informed" decisions to bind these individuals? Do the organizations who write restraint guidelines consider the freedom to speak for one's self a part of one's own best interest? They should. The natural born right to manage our own lives is part and substance of our own welfare, no matter how "incapacitated" we might happen to be.

In the landmark disability featured Civil Rights Case the NJ Supreme Court (1994) saw people like Dom (see above) in a decidedly non-ABA, highly-ethical manner. The Matter of M.R is a landmark Civil Rights case for all kinds of disabled people. M.R. was also 18 and with Down’s Syndrome.

She had been living with her mother. She was more strict than Dad. They both loved her. She turned 18. She told her Dad he wanted to live with him. She wanted to date boys. Mom wouldn’t let her. Dad sued Mom in probate court.

The court remanded the case back down to the lower appealing court. It said she had the right to make up her own mind in decisions that affect her own life. The lower court undoubtedly wrestled with the balance of rights over what would happen if she got pregnant.

However, an ethical approach to Cognitive Behavioral Teaching (CBT) would have no problem teaching M. R. and her partner how to use a condom as demonstrated and practiced by both on a dildo under their consent to relations and condom lessons, just as Frank (ca. 1995) did for Altier(i) and his peers. See Altier(i), (August 20, 2011) "On Gaining Consent".

Frank was then the main Asbury Park, NJ HIV/AIDS prevention counselor for the gay community. He ran safer sex workshops in the early evenings for groups at the Talking Bird, which was also Asbury Park’s after-drinking-hours, late-weekend-night, sober-up cafe located at the east end of Cookman Avenue where the old-time 1930’s-1970’s Fun House with Tilly used to stand.

The next video shows was a man objecting to Donald Rumsfeld's and George W. Bush's version of warfare by any means possible -- Drum up a fake reason to go to war in Iraq, scare the citizenry with color-coded heightened terrorist alerts, (Remember them?), pretend they're going to attack us with weapons of mass destruction when it's not true. Then slaughter the Muslims in the midst of the Bush "crusade" against terror.

1 comment :

  1. I posted a blog on Determinism and Free Will that may be helpful. It's at


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I am an advocate for people with disabilities certified to teach special education with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I am not a Licensed Psychologist or a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. When in doubt, seek the advice of an MD, a PhD, or a BCBA. My ability to analyze the ethics of ABA stems from the fact that I am disabled and ABA interventions are often done to people like me, which I voluntarily accept, but only when I alone am the person granting consent, and not a parent, sibling, guardian, or institution.