Saturday, April 23, 2016

Here's Reward and Consent's amended Serenity Prayer.

Michelangelo: Creation of Eve

Here is the original Serenity Prayer as probably written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Wisdom is the hardest part to learn. It comes with age, through trial and error between the acceptance and the courage parts, carried out in order to learn from feedback whether or not a change in a certain situation was warranted. It comes with ethical and psychological analyses and with study and contemplation.

Here is the Reward and Consent Cognitive Behavioral Ethics amendment:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, wisdom to know the difference, and wisdom to know the things I should not change even if I could.
I believe we all possess the fortitude to solve enormous cases of injustice, and we should do so when we find the energy. Much of this involves keeping a keen lookout for the good things in life and then to dwell in them and to praise them authentically, though not to change them, for who needs to change the Good?

After all, this is what I do as I set out to help break the world's addiction to punishment run amok, even if I may not see the changes in my lifetime. See the introduction to this blog, please, over in the right-hand column of the stable section of the landing page.

It should go without saying, what Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) fails to grasp, is that 1) if you set out to modify someone else's behavior, you always need the consent of the recipient of the mod, whether or not it's a fully informed consent, and furthermore, 2) any behavior modifier must always consent to reasonable attempts by others, no matter how cognizant and able the counter-controllers happen to be or not to be, to modify their behaviors in return. ABA doesn't get the second maxim either.

Just because we know how to obliterate cities with nuclear bombs in a so-called "effective" manner, that does not mean we ought to drop them. ABA assumes that we ought to change things, even when things are perfectly fine. Then it brags about how "effective" it is in making us pass as non-autistics. ABA does conversion therapy to gays. Gays hate it. It's the same thing with ABA's "autistic conversion therapy."


Related posts

Friday, April 15, 2016

Here's some history, ethics, politics, behavioral analysis, technology, and trends of the new BUYcott consumer movement.

The chart gives a Google analysis of the historical popularity of the word BUYcott.

[April 15, 2016. Tax day. Editorial note. Uh oh. This is an old article never published until today. It's still a rough draft. I hit the publish button by accident. Don't want to hit the button "Revert to Draft." Afraid I might lose it. This article was never finished. I was onto a lulu of a post had I finished it. Enjoy. I figure out what to do about it later. I had more research to do on the origin of the word. Never finished it. That's why I decided not to publish it back them. Dave Jersey]

I'm tooting my own horn a bit here in this blog post, but only because I would like to offer a personal anecdote as a primary source among several others on some of the earlier history of the use of the word "BUYcott."

About the BUYcott

A buycott is akin to the opposite of a boycott. Instead of withholding money from public or private entities because consumers disagree with their policies, they remunerate them because they agree with them.

"Buycott"is excluded from, and

As of June 10, 2014, Googling "buycott" retrieves "about 140,000" web pages. Its first website usage was 1989. A read of the documents in Google Books indicates that the word was first printed, more than once, in 1940, in context according the definition used here. It commences in Google Books Ngram Viewer in 1926, but that is an error. Those incidents were retrieved from the "buycott" search mainly because Google misread "boycott" as "buycott" in the old print of a few documents they had scanned into their database. One incident before 1940 retrieved the phrase "buy cotton."

BUYcott in print hovered

My behavioral interpretation of the buycott philosophy derives from my readings of B.F. Skinner and many of his followers, people who demonstrated experimentally, mostly on individual subjects rather than through broad statistical samples, that positive reinforcement is a better strategy than punishment in the management of human behavior. They would interpret a boycott as an aggregated form of negative punishment. This contingency involves the removal of a positively reinforcing stimulus upon the emission of a response.

Positive punishment involves the presentation of aversive stimulus upon the emission of a response. People who punish become conditioned aversive stimuli. Aversive stimuli cause escape, avoidance, or counter-aggressive responses. (That's why people avoid the police. They carry a baton and they swing them to hit.)

Aversive stimuli presented with the intent to punish "wrong-doers" do not teach anybody what "good" behaviors are expected. They can only indicate which behaviors the more powerful people deem to be labeled "inappropriate" and punishable.

Installing video cameras teaches criminals to discover sneaky ways to continue the crime and avoid surveillance. The drive-by-shooting with recordable license plates, becomes the ride-by-shooting of a young man wearing a hoodie on a bicycle.

Periodically spending money made contingent upon the statement of a favorable policy, such as "I support gay marriage," will cause a high frequency of such a response, especially if presented immediately after its emission. The spender is associated with money, a generalized reinforcer, and also becomes conditioned as a reinforcing stimulus, somebody whose presence is desired. Therefore, people who boycott make more enemies and people who buycott make more friends. As reported below, however, people who buycott are sometimes cruel to others.

My Involvement in the BUYcott Project, 1996

In 2001 the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition and it's non-profit partner, The Personal Liberty Fund, presented me with the Lesbian and Gay Achievement Award at their Honor Awards banquet at the Sheraton Hotel in Edison. I selected my mother to receive the Wind Beneath My Wings award. My main accomplishment had been the founding and operating of a popular coffeehouse gathering in Red Bank, New Jersey. Out of concern for the ties between the gay rights movement and the alcohol industry and some evidence of a high rate of alcoholism and drug abuse in the gay community, we promoted the coffeehouse as an "alternative to the bars." Apparently we struck an unmet demand and individual gatherings grew to as many as 120 people arriving from all across the state. Our head count showed an average of seventy people every Wednesday in weekly succession, for two full years, 1999-2001, except the first few months occurred bimonthly. In one little town we had met thousands of healthy happy gay people coming out from their hideaways in the dimly lit bars.

The Coalition also recognized me that night for my involvement in their BUYcott Project. In 1996, before the coffees, and along with my long-term mentor, now deceased, Nate Cotler, we co-chaired the BUYcott Committee of the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition. We published a directory of gay-friendly businesses in New Jersey.

Apparently we tapped into another unmet need because the sole issue of the directory probably generated over $2,000 in ad and booklet sales for the Coalition, as I recall now. In our solicitation letter we asked businesses whether or not they would treat gay, lesbian, bisexual, and possibly transgendered people in the same friendly manner as they treated all their other patrons. If they answered "Yes" in a return envelope, we automatically gave them a free listing. Unfortunately, I do not have an original copy of the booklet. If anyone in New Jersey has saved one, I'd like to make a copy. Please email me, Dave, at

Before publication, Nate and I had a disagreement about how to capitalize the Coalition's use of the word. He favored BUYcott and I favored BuyCott. Tom Limoncelli, then the President of the Coalition, favored BUYcott, and we used it ever since. It seems the pronunciation and spelling of buycott and boycott are similar, and therefore generalizable as equivalents in some incidents of verbal behavior, so we wanted to give speakers and listeners of the word a spelling that would assist in the visual discrimination between the two.

Earlier Uses of the BUYcott

In 1880 the word "boycott" was named after Charles Boycott, a land agent for Lord Erne, whose tenants wanted Boycott to lower their rents. Eventually, "Laborers refused to work for him; his walls were thrown down and his cattle driven about; he was unable to obtain provisions from the neighborhood, and the ordinary necessaries of life had to be conveyed to him from a distance by steamer. He was hooted and spat upon as he passed in public roads, and only with great difficulty received letters and telegrams.... The word 'boycott' first came into use at the end of 1880. In the 'Daily News' of 13 Dec. it is printed in capitals." (Boycott, Charles Cunningham, Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement.)

"Buy-cott" first clearly appears in text in the Tide of Advertising and Marketing, 1940. The authors say, "Buy-Cott. Latest trick of San Francisco's famed retailer-dominated Employers Council turned up in last fortnight's 'Frisco papers."

Searching Google Books for "buycott" between 1879 and 1930 indicates Google reads these early books incorrectly, returning "buycott" results when the author was saying "boycott", substituting the author's intended "o" in boycott with a "u" in their false buycott results. Google also returns books with "buycott" in combinations such as "buy cotton." "Buycott" itself does not appear in the context of an anti-boycott in any of these books during this time.

If it's a reliable source, Google's earliest finding of websites containing "buycott" shows it was first used on the internet by the ACLU of southern California in 1989 (from a Google search of sites using "buycott" between 1900 and 1990 retrieved June 19, 2014). The ACLU started a "Buycott of TV programs," including "Midnight Caller," "Knots Landing" and "Tour of Duty" in response to a Christian-led boycott of (the sponsors of) programs containing "high incidents of sex, violence, profanity and anti-Christian stereotyping." Meanwhile the ACLU sought to "back the Mennen Co. and Clorox Corp. through a supportive letter-writing campaign and a buycott, in which members (were) urged to go out of their way to buy the companies' products." (Snow, 1989)

The Coalition was not the first to publish a gay-friendly buycott directory. We were inspired by a previous one in Tampa, Florida. (See Roberts, 2005.) In the late 90's, Dvd Avins, an active member of the Coalition, told me he had Googled "buycott" and found it occurring outside New Jersey and Florida.

Recent Uses of the BUYcott

Tea Party activists ran a buycott of Arizona whose goal was to "render boycotts ineffective" (Creno, 2010). They were supporting businesses who could provide documentation that they supported Arizona's 2010 anti-immigration law, SB-1070. (Sanchez, 2010). "The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment." Then the U.S. Supreme Court "The court struck down these three major provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal offense for an undocumented immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants without warrants." (Sherman, 2012)

Sanchez, 2010 said a website called was publishing a list of "the businesses which want their support of SB-1070 to be documented." Ms. Sanchez said the front page of the website had featured an inflammatory anti-immigrant YouTube video by the publisher of AZ Tourist News. She quoted him as saying, "Let me tell you something, there’s gonna be procession down into the border South when you see a lot of illegal criminals knowing they are going to be compelled to be ID’d or thrown in jail, you’re gonna see them disappear back south like a bunch of cockroaches." (As of June 10, 2014, these two links from Sanchez, 2010 are now dead; Nill, 2010 also quotes dead links which had been saying "illegal criminals" will "disappear like cockroaches.")

BUYcotts can emerge in response to boycotts that activists oppose. For example, there is a buycott of Israel to counter the Palestinian BDS Movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel. I do not know enough about this complicated problem to speak with any authority on its ethics. Starbucks was also "hit with a boycott and a buycott," from opposing sides, because of allowing unconcealed guns in their establishments (Murphy, 2012). From what I've heard about guns, accidents kill more gun owners and their children than they kill unwelcome household intruders. I don't want them rampant in the streets, legally or not, and the threat of their use is running amok, all the way through the national territory.

Some BUYcott Ethics

What does a typical BUYcott hope to accomplish and how to they go about doing it? Some philosophers would automatically object to the statement: "stop the undocumented immigrants by any means possible." They say, "The ends do not justify the means". To take another example, if they were privacy advocates, followers of this philosophy would also object to the massive NSA surveillance of every citizen on the globe, innocent or not, even if it might catch a few terrorists.They could argue there are better ways to prevent terrorist attacks. The behaviorists would support them.

How we behave and how we communicate are equally as important or more important than the goals and objectives of our endeavors. A screamer can force an individual to give him some space and leave the premises. A polite request for alone time can accomplish the identical result. The harm is in the philosophy: "by any means possible."

It is possible to analyze the ethics of a consumer campaign without including its goal in the evaluative equation. In and of itself, the BUYcott is more ethical than the boycott. Utilitarians promote the greatest good for the greatest number, and all other things being equal, the BUYcott maximizes positive reinforcement and minimizes punishment, while the boycott does the opposite. We are drawn to reinforcers and repelled by aversives. Therefore, the former is good, the latter is bad, and the boycott is better than the boycott.

In addition, ethical means for unethical ends is also wrong. BUYcotting Arizona for racist reasons is a bad use of the buycott.

Some BUYcott Politics

Liberals had led conservatives in the development and early use the buycott. Conservatives discovered the value in the strategy, caught up with the liberals, passed them by, and they hold their lead. If the Tea Party agenda was more civil and less threatening, as in their staunch defense of a so-called right to pack a gun in plain sight while sipping on a latte, then their use of positive reinforcement would be commendable.

Liberal Misuse of the Buycott Application

There is now a company called Buycott, Inc. They own the domain, Ethically, they appear to provide a neutral technology. User campaigns can be good or evil. Starting a boycott or a buycott is up to the members. However, given their title, the developers seemed to have favored the buycott when they first developed their application. At this point, however, their technology is generating more boycotts than buycotts. They state: "With Buycott, a campaign can be quickly created around a cause, with the goal of targeting companies with a boycott unless they change their position, or buycotting a company to show your support. When you use Buycott to scan a product (with your smartphone in a store), it will look up the product, determine what brand it belongs to, and figure out what company owns that brand (and who owns that company, ad infinitum). It will then cross-check the product owners against the companies and brands included in the campaigns you've joined, in order to tell you if the scanned product conflicts with one of your campaign commitments."

The liberal users of the buycott application are massively missing the boat. As of June 10, 2014, the campaign against Monsanto had 134,877 members, while the campaign to "Demand GMO labeling" has 191205 members. It is now the fastest trending campaign, but it merely targets companies who have opposed GMO labeling. Why can't they simply promote the companies who do have non-GMO labels? This application is perfectly tailored to such a campaign. I don't want to eat genetically modified salmon either. I'd be happy to see a non-GMO label on a good fillet of fish. (This does not mean that eating fish is sound, as vegetarians are dietetically more ethical than me.)

So cultural inertia corresponds with behavioral momentum and it looks like the boycott still occupies almost all the rage at the moment, despite its practical and ethical inferiority to the BUYcott. Tea Party members have become more aggressive BUYcotters, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, if only they could be kind to everybody, but that's a big leap.

Early this century I had a friend whose politics skewed far to the right. He was a graduate student in a typically progressive university. He warned me that liberals are not as nice as they might appear to be. He called them hypocritical. 

Recently I received a bulk email from Democracy for America and Robert Reich in partial confirmation of my friend's suspicions. Barack Obama had appeared at a Walmart establishment to praise them for what he considered to be a good environmental record. According to Democracy for America, Howard Dean's organization, Mr. Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, said, "What numbskull in the White House arranged this idiotic appearance?" (Progressive behaviorists would probably support this Obama move. Shaping good behavior comes one step at a time. If Walmart takes a step in the right direction, they would tell us to praise them for now, and then praise them again for successive approximations on the way toward a target goal of complete support for the 99 percent.)

I worked for the citizens of the ARC, formerly called the Association for Retarded Citizens. They told me their feelings are hurt when someone uses the i-word, idiot. I asked Mr. Reich in a Facebook message, "How would you like it if someone called you a midget?" He never answered. I said to Howard Dean's organization, "How would he feel if someone derided his baldness?" I left a half dozen messages to all the incoming voice mail boxes in the Democracy for America phone system, including one for Howard Dean's office. I told them I would like to educate them on the stigma of intellectual disabilities. They have yet to return my calls. 

How often are liberal niceties superficial? Time can tell through a long-term analysis of the statistics as to whether they engage their major consumer campaigns contingent upon the boycott or the buycott. Still, as yet today, I prefer their politics to the dominant Republican approach.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Association for Behavior Analysis International officially "approved" extremely painful Applied Behavior Analysis electric skin shock "torture" once again, after autistic advocates demanded they stop approving it.

Actually autistic advocates have demanded the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) stop endorsing Dr. Israel Hurt's Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) of extremely painful ABA electric skin shock, but ABAI has officially done it again. Here's how it happened:

After learning from the Reward and Consent blog (May 20, 2015) that ABAI officially "approved" the JRC as being "aligned" with ABAI's "mission," the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) (May 22, 2015) replied with its reprimand of ABAI:
The ASAN strongly condemns ABAI for their decision to feature JRC at their 2015 annual conference [sic - It was a convention.] ASAN demands that ABAI renounce the reprehensible torture of disabled students at the JRC, remove the JRC as a sponsor, vendor, and presenter, and bar them from future conferences [sic].  
Then toward the beginning of April, 2016, the newly formed ABA Leaks investigative team tweeted its first results. Evan Anderson, an independent journalist who specializes in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA - pronounced FOYA) requests, gave this blogger, founder of ABA Leaks, a copy of a spreadsheet that the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission's (DPPC) Counsel Levrault released to him. It contains 410 complaints by JRC survivors in a ten year period, averaging one every ten days. It includes reports of sexual abuse and of burns from JRC's skin shock devices.

These are not the ECT of psychiatry's brain shock. Unlike ECT, ABA designs its shock devices with the full intention of causing pain. Pain in autistic and disabled children and adults is what ABA wants to cause in order to try to stop the "emission" of behaviors it wants to eliminate.

This blogger called ABAI about the spreadsheet and left a message. Maria Malott, CEO of ABAI, never returned his call.

April 13, 2016, ABA Leaks downloaded the recently released May, 2016 ABAI Chicago Annual Program Book. It says Rotenberg is a "Premier Exhibit Sponsor" (p. 31). It also says,
ABAI Convention Sponsors have been approved by the Organizational Review Committee as being aligned with ABAI’s mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice (p. 23).
ABAI must know that the United Nations called JRC a place of "torture." (Méndez, 2013, p. 84-85).

Here is a video of JRC/ABA skin shock taking place, "ABA Aversion Therapy," what ABA calls "effective treatment." ABAI must be aware of this film. Trigger alert: Teenage boy tied to a restraint board, shocked, screaming in pain:

Here is the extended CBS Evening News interview of ABA/JRC skin shock survivor Jennifer Msumba. She describes how during shock she felt like she was in hell, tortured, beaten up, cold, sweaty, nauseous, and floating in an unreal world Maria Malott.

To date there have been six deaths at BRI/JRC (Davies, 2014).

Will ASAN issue another condemnation of ABAI now that it's been shown that ABAI does not listen to Autistics Speaking? When will ABAI ban JRC from its annual conventions?


See Altier(i) January 7, 2016: A smart schoolboy says Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is bad to him and his friends.

See also Altier(i) (January 22, 2016): [Edit note: I was wrong to praise them.] United Kingdom PBS advocates shun ABA skin shock pain.

See also Altier(i) (May 4, 2016): The Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) sends ABA Leaks a database of 410 severe abuse allegations at Rotenberg in a recent ten-year time span, averaging one charge per every ten days.

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sent is not responsible for links on the site. For example, I use keywords "Operant Conditioning" in the YouTube search field for the videos displayed below the archives on the left. Google selects the videos and the results change from time to time. Please email me if anything is not educational and germane to the subject and I will reevaluate the search.

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.