Sunday, 26 June 2011

Unwelcome ideas - part X

The above clip follows on from an earlier posting here. Among other things, Skinner finds it necessary to deal here with a number of widely-circulated lies about his private life, all connected with one of his daughters. It was said that she was psychotic, had committed suicide, was suing her father. Why would anyone invent such vicious lies about a mild-mannered academic psychologist, pacifist and life-long opponent of all forms of punishment?

It was because of the things he said, the problems he resolved, the way his ideas undermine such a huge number of vested interests. For some, that's a good enough reason to invent a few lies, to pass them on in the hope of causing lasting damage. 


Demetrius said...

Decades ago I read Skinner and found much of interest. These days I am a little out of touch with this field. At the time I was not really aware of the back drop, but I am not surprised that others may have reacted very badly.

A K Haart said...

I think Skinner pretty well resolved the human condition at the level of an individual's daily life. We can use Skinner to understand ourselves and other people and that's the problem.

Societies function in part via fantasies. The fantasies are socially important and Skinner destroys them.

James Higham said...

Comment, AKH?

A K Haart said...

JH - Chomsky presumably lambasts Skinner because his (Chomsky's) linguistic theories were challenged by Skinner's book 'Verbal Behaviour. Personally I don't rate Chomsky, but of course many do.