Monday, February 20, 2017

B. F. Skinner made scientific discoveries, but Sigmund Freud did not, according to a reading of Karl Popper, philosopher of science. Nevertheless, Skinner was cruel, in subtle ways.


This picture shows a modern version of B.F. Skinner's experimental chamber, or "Skinner box." Skinner (1953, Ch. 12) opposed punitive techniques, for the most part, but oddly, in Deitz (1985) he praised Dr. Matthew Israel's "courage." This was Skinner's Harvard PhD, while Israel was forcing his victims to sniff ammonia. Soon after Skinner praised Israel, Israel bought his first skin shock device from Applied Behavior Analysis' (ABA's) allegedly "most prolific author," Brian Iwata and company. In his 1938 book Skinner only struck the paws of his rats to punish them. ABA likes to say that old ABA was bad, but new ABA is good. Here we see quite the opposite. Old ABA, when Skinner discovered what came to be called ABA, used a mild aversive stimulus, the paw slap. But see how today, they will thoroughly analyze extremely painful electric skin shock on rats, in order to learn how to do what ABA calls "effectively" and painfully shock autistic children and adults.
[Edit note to the counter-controllers to the ABA controllers. It's worth the effort to study this. Let me know if it's not clear or if you have questions or need me to elaborate. This is how I completely annihilate Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in ethics debate. I speak their language fluently and then I say, "Do it to yourself." They never do. The ethics part is simple, in this respect, though there are many other ways to bury them for their flimsy use of ethical methods and aims. That's why they won't talk to me any more, as they have banned me from their big groups without any specific explanation of what had been my big mortal sin that offended them so much and then they pretend to ignore me as I see them reading my blog in droves when I post to their other minor groups, for example, though Google Stats does not say exactly who does the reading.]

B. F. Skinner made scientific discoveries, but Sigmund Freud did not, according to a reading of Karl Popper, philosopher of science. Nevertheless, Skinner was cruel, in subtle ways.

Popper (1935) maintained an impeccable argument in the first few chapters I read in his "Logic of Scientific Discovery." Then Popper (1962) used his 1938 argument, that what marks science off from non-science is his notion of "falsifiability," to claim that Freudian psychoanalysis was non-scientific.

God might be real, but we can never falsify any argument that says S/He is real. There's no way to disprove it. According to Popper, and others have challenged this part of Popper well, we can never prove a scientific theory. We can only corroborate hypotheses as very well supported through a long history of affirmative results. But if it is possible to falsify a hypothesis, even though the falsification may never occur through repeated tests, then we have science, since here we have falsifiability.

Skinner (1938) showed, by inventing sound-proof operant chambers (which came to be called the Skinner Boxes) where he said he kept constant all potential confounding variables, external noise, for example, that under-weight (hungry) rats will press a lever more often while presses produced food than how often the rats had previously pressed the levers during non-reinforcement baseline conditions. Rate of behavior is the effect, the dependent variable, which was his favorite way to signal behavior strength, or the probability of future responses, or the propensity to behave under similar conditions in the future.

This was falsifiable because if lever press rate did not increase while his device delivered food for lever presses, then this would have falsified or disproven his discovery. But it didn't. He kept on corroborating his thesis with more positive findings the null did not appear.

In human terms, we drive to our favorite Italian restaurant more often (the effect), Italian, for example, more often, because the food we ate there (the cause) satiated our hunger and because we choose this Italian over others, a less favored Chinese restaurant, for one, let's say, when we have such options.

So Skinner discovered what he called the operant conditioning of human and non-human "organisms" as we act to operate upon the environment, and then the environment reacts to the organisms' operations and delivers consequences, presentation and removal of food-type reinforcements in Skinner (1938), and also his punishers added and subtracted, slaps on the paw in this book. The more immediate the consequence, the greater the behavior modification.

Had Skinner's underfed rats pushed a lever while exploring the chamber during the food delivery condition, then if the lever push tripped the chamber's food delivery mechanism, had the rat eaten the pellet, and then if in this hypothetical scenario the rat did not learn, or it did not show a lever press rate increase, as seen if the rate of lever presses had not increased, well then this would have falsified his operant method. Skinner electro-mechanically drew the "cumulative record" line of the behavior curve with an attached a pen stylus that moved up a pip on the paper with each lever push. The pen marked a behavior rate curve over time on a big sheet of paper he mounted on a slowly revolving drum. So Skinner was confident that his rats activity did not falsify his findings and he tested out his equipment to see what would happen. Skinner was then science, falsifiable, under Popper, philosopher of science. He had said he didn't need a theory to prove or disprove. He just rigged up his tinker toys and saw what the rats did, much to his surprise, no doubt.

On the other hand, psychoanalysis by way of Sigmund Freud claimed to know there were invisible unconscious parts of the psyche, never directly observable, the Id, the primal instincts to go get sex, the Superego, the part of us that gives us guilt and tells us, "You better not do anything naughty," and the Ego, which I suppose is the place where we work out the conflict between Id and Superego. Since we can never directly observe these parts of the unconscious mind, however, though they might be real, as God might be real, we can never disprove or falsify Freud's internal structures, and neither can we falsify the existence of a God who may or may not exist.

So Freud is not science, but Skinner is, according to deduction, rather than induction, the usual way scientists present their systems (more on this later).

*****

Ethically, conditioning is like a gun. Just because we know how to do it, that does not mean we should. ABA uses this knowledge in a by-any-means-necessary highly-unethical manner to reach what it calls its "effective results," which we know is the forced submission of autistics to pass as non-autistic, just as gays can pass as non-gay and conceal their identities, pretending to be non-gay and suffering trauma for it. Behavior control is a way of life for them. An actually autistic special education teacher this month has confirmed what I've suspected for a long time, namely high rates of divorce among the ABA crews she knows throughout North Jersey where she works. It should be obvious that those who live a lifestyle of behavioral control and manipulation unquestioned in its ethical flaws, because the cult silences dissent from within and refuses to hear its actually autistic survivor criticisms, are going to try to modify their husbands behaviors and not let on how intensely she can do it until after she owns her big rock attached to her mid fingers. The poor guys. Hey dudes. If you're reading this and your pal is dating a student of ABA, do him a big favor. Jeez. Show him this post before she lures him in with phony charms and all kinds of desirous reinforcers that you heteros can figure out what kinds of alluring pleasures she give him before the marriage, only to withhold them to make him obey her commands, after the honeymoon is all spent dry and the roses have wilted not so fresh as a daisy any more.

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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.