Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

The two major themes that run through most of my guest blogs here are the idea that we are being manipulated by a Corporate Oligarchy, whose aim is to re-establish Feudalism in an American format. The second theme is my belief that their method of control is perpetrating this revision of America through manipulation of the National myths to which we have all been exposed. They have worked hard and somewhat successfully to take the myths and turn them into memes. One myth that I’ve recently written about is the “American Dream” that all of us have an equal chance of fulfilling all our aspirations based on our innate abilities and hard work alone. One meme that has been developed from this is that our Elite 1% are entrepreneurial heroes, who are the only “job creators” worth mentioning. The truth is that most of the 1% inherited their wealth, like the Koch Brothers or Donald Trump, while many others were born in privileged settings and rose in the world through their contacts with others from the same background.

Gene Howington, a friend and another guest blogger, has approached the same territory with his four part series of discussions of propaganda methodology. Gene and I are running on parallel tracks getting at the same thing and interestingly both of us set out on our parallel paths independent of discussion with the other. Gene and I have both touched on the mechanisms that are being used and in Gene’s case eve the science of the manipulation, but I think both of us have missed the specific science that has been adopted by corporations and used to perform this attempt to control. Today I came across an article at Alternet.org http://www.alternet.org/  that flashed the proverbial light bulb in my brain. When I read it my thought was, of course……. .Why haven’t I as someone trained in mental health seen this connection before? I will present extensive quotes from the article and then link it. I think it is important enough that everyone who visits here should read this article through.

“The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals. In psychologist B.F. Skinner’s best-selling book  Beyond Freedom and Dignity  (1971), he argued that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society.”

“During the height of Skinner’s fame in the 1970s, it was obvious to anti-authoritarians such as Noam Chomsky (“The Case Against B.F. Skinner”) and Lewis Mumord that Skinner’s worldview—a society ruled by benevolent control freaks—was antithetical to democracy. In Skinner’s novel Walden Two (1948), his behaviorist hero states, “We do not take history seriously,” to which Lewis Mumford retorted, “And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.” As a psychology student during that era, I remember being embarrassed by the silence of most psychologists about the political ramifications of Skinner and behavior modification.”

This article is titled: “Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?” and it is written by Bruce E. Levine . After some explanation of the methodology used to manipulate us, Mr. Levine goes on to provide the background of the Psychologist who most influenced B.F. Skinner and surprisingly, or perhaps not, this man gave up his profession to become an Executive with the famous J.Walter Thompson advertising Agency in the 1940’s.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Walter_Thompson_Company

“[B.F.]Skinner was heavily influenced by the book Behaviorism (1924) by John B. Watson. Watson achieved some fame in the early 1900s by advocating a mechanical, rigid, affectionless manner in child rearing. He confidently asserted that he could take any healthy infant, and given complete control of the infant’s world, train him for any profession. When Watson was in his early 40s, he quit university life and began a new career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson.

Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies that achieved tremendous power in the 20th century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.”

How exactly do we get from B.F.Skinner’s psychological theories to an anti-democratic manipulation?

“For Skinner, all behavior is externally controlled, and we don’t truly have freedom and choice. Behaviorists see freedom, choice, and intrinsic motivations as illusory, or what Skinner called “phantoms.” Back in the 1970s, Noam Chomsky exposed Skinner’s unscientific view of science, specifically Skinner’s view that science should be prohibited from examining internal states and intrinsic forces.

In democracy, citizens are free to think for themselves and explore, and are motivated by very real—not phantom—intrinsic forces, including curiosity and a desire for justice, community, and solidarity. What is also scary about behaviorists is that their external controls can destroy intrinsic forces of our humanity that are necessary for a democratic society.”

The “conditioning” of many Americans, the fruit of which we’re now seeing starts with our children:

“Behavior modification can also destroy our intrinsic desire for compassion, which is necessary for a democratic society. Kohn offers several studies showing “children whose parents believe in using rewards to motivate them are less cooperative and generous [children] than their peers.” Children of mothers who relied on tangible rewards were less likely than other children to care and share at home.

 How, in a democratic society, do children become ethical and caring adults? They need a history of being cared about, taken seriously, and respected, which they can model and reciprocate. Today, the mental health profession has gone beyond behavioral technologies of control. It now diagnoses noncompliant toddlers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and pediatric bipolar disorder and attempts to control them with heavily sedating drugs. While Big Pharma directly profits from drug prescribing, the entire corporatocracy benefits from the mental health profession’s legitimization of conditioning and controlling.”

I hope my quotations have given you enough of a taste of this article to cause you to follow this link and read it in its’ entirety, with the various backup evidence it offers. It will take perhaps 5 minutes of your time, but I think that time will be well worth it to you. http://www.alternet.org/why-are-americans-so-easy-manipulate-and-control?page=0%2C2&paging=off

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

 

82 thoughts on “Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US

  1. Woosty’s Still A Cat:

    You may have mis-interpreted my post?

    I do not “live a constant state of fear and self induced terror.” I do not fear anything or anyone, including terrorists, death, etc. That is a key point.

    And, I do not trust anyone…

    It’s another way of “looking at freedom,” and being very free, too.

    Obviously, it is not a modus vivendi for most, which is probably why so many need to attend church and get weekly instruction on how to cope?

  2. “Once looked to as the starting place for imparting principles of freedom and democracy to future generations, America’s classrooms are becoming little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens. The moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed and snooped on.”

    AnonP,

    The treatment of our students today is indeed a means to make them docile and complacent. Growing up in the 50’s and graduating H.S. in the early 60’s I must admit that school chafed my natural rebellious self, but while there was an effort to rein in my non-conformity, it never rose to a serious matter. Today I would have either wound up arrested for fighting, or diagnosed with ADD and medicated. The too the education I received in history and social studies far exceeds what is being taught today. I began to see the de-emphasis on being educated from a Civics perspective, in the curriculum and textbooks for my two children as they progressed through public school in the 80’s and 90’s. They, however, attended public schools in what was considered to be an excellent school district, so I can imagine the rest of the country’s educational systems.

    With the new century and 9/11 the steps taken to control students have become quite draconian. The excuse is to keep them safe and incidents like Columbine are referenced as justification. Many Progressives, Bill Mahrer is one, ascribe the passivity of the American population to some fault in the people. That perspective is not only elitist, but definitely is not helpful towards change. My belief and I assume yours, is that people have been manipulated into docility. Until we who would change things, fully explore and understand that the people aren’t “sheeple” but suffering from the “Stockholm Syndrome”, we won’t be able to find a solution to deal with the deterioration of our country.

  3. “It’s timely that you write these two articles on the same weekend because I see a clear connection in manipulation and the acceptance of double jeopardy (of a sort) in popular media and thinking. Popular media feeds the notion that justice is hard to come by and the need for extra judicial agents and means are necessary to achieve justice.”

    Lotta,

    Yes you understand the train of thought that led me to write these two pieces this weekend. The rest of your comment was brilliant and clearly parallels a train of my thought that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time and that you’ve obviously been pondering. The proliferation of “crime dramas” on TV has basically dominated the airwaves for perhaps forty years. Generations have been reared on them and they are indeed specifically aimed propaganda.

    One meme that you illustrated so well is that criminals are hard to catch, so that the Law needs extraordinary means to catch them. The truth is that most criminals are amazingly stupid and get caught regularly. No doubt there are exceptions, like serial killers and investment bankers, but it is hard to discern if it is because they are so smart, or the LEO’s are so incompetent and/or corrupt.

    Another meme is that all of us are in danger, all of the time, especially for someone killing us. That the crime rate and murder rate has been consistently falling for a number of years is belied and disbelieved by a population who have been taught to see horrible danger at every turn.

    Yet another meme is that our LEO’s and prosecutors are all highly principled individuals, whose only desire is to bring the “bad guys” to justice.
    Just being a long time reader of this blog gives lie to that myth.

    “Admittedly I have always been a fan of television police shows but now many of them just make me shake my head in disgust.”

    The two genres that I have regularly read since a child were SciFi and mystery stories. The problem I have with the TV crime dramas is that one hour is far too short a time to develop a good mystery. I fact with many of these shows you know the “bad guy” from the beginning and with the fact that you know that the “good guys” must win, it is very hard to develops suspense. Reading Sherlock Holmes and Raymond Chandler as a boy, a crime drama without a real mystery to puzzle out, is ultimately boring. What we both know is that the television crime shows are ultimately less interested i a good mystery drama and far more interested in introducing memes that help to keep the people docile.

    Maybe my perspective is skewed but ultimately I have to side with the Bill of Rights. For instance the RICO law aimed at organized crime is to me unconstitutional. John Gotti was never convicted at five trials, until at the sixth, trumped up charges kept his excellent criminal lawyer Bruce Cutler, from representing him. Was Gotti a bad man, probably so, but then so were the people who took down our economy through fraud, or the Administration that killed hundreds of thousands of people in needless wars. As mere pawns of the machinations of those who would control our minds, actions and lives, we must find the means to protect ourselves by having a strong
    Bill of Rights upheld. To accomplish this we need to continually work to expose people to the reality of how they’re being controlled. Ironically, in such a macabre way, freedom is not defined as the freedom to make product choices in the market place.

  4. LK,

    That story of a man who brings justice to an unjust situation has been around a long time too. Perseus was, after all, fighting against the capriciousness of evils done upon the good of the world even if his criminals were technically gods. Justice will always be imperfect, but that is all the more reason to strive toward the aspiration of a just and equitable society. The benefit is in the journey even if the destination always remains slightly out of our reach.

  5. Gene, You’re right of course, the stories are all as old as humanity. From the point of view of a life-long laborite the story of Prometheus bringing fire to humanity was really the the first story of class warfare/civil rights. Why should only Gods have fire, what’s up with that? That’s the short take anyway, the long form is way more complex and subtle admittedly.:-)

    (Total non sequitur: considering some of the sub-text in the latest installment of the Alien franchise the title “Prometheus” was a good choice; I expected more elaboration on that theme though.)

  6. LK,

    Well hopefully Ridley will elaborate more in the forthcoming sequel that is in the works which allegedly about Dr. Shaw and David’s trip to the progenitor world, picking up somewhere along the journey started at the end of Prometheus. Knowing Ridley though, that is subject to change and I’m not sure if the Blade Runner sequel he is working on will become before or after. If before, that gives him just that much more time to change his mind.

  7. Mike S: “Maybe my perspective is skewed but ultimately I have to side with the Bill of Rights. For instance the RICO law aimed at organized crime is to me unconstitutional. John Gotti was never convicted at five trials, until at the sixth, ….”

    —-
    RICO, like the various conspiracy statutes can mean pretty much whatever a prosecutor wants. I recall that an elderly organized crime figure that the feds had never been able to put behind bars was eventually incarcerated using RICO. He and several friends were arrested during their regular, weekly card game. A friendly game among friends that had been ongoing for years. I forget the OC guy’s name, he was a bad man among many bad OC guys in St. Louis history, but characterizing the card game as an ongoing criminal enterprise was dirty pool.

    The conspiracy statutes have been used to punish dissent before, and I’m sure we’ll see the terrorism statutes used the same way.

    I wondered if there was an unelaborated bridge in your thinking between your two articles, they seemed to work so well together.

  8. wgward 1, October 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

    idealist707: a response, in a nutshell: we can “cooperate and defend ourselves through joint action” and still not trust anyone. One learns to always maintain an awareness and to rely on oneself, on one’s own instincts. Human nature being what it is, however, it can lead to paranoia in weak-minded individuals: the antidote? Know what “paranoia” is and don’t go there. As for me, my father laid “it” on me on my way to Vietnam, many years ago: it bothered me, at first, but in time, I realized the exceptional value of the principle…to this day.

    And, as for “fear,” well, it is an emotion/concept that is created by a person (e.g., a boss, a minister, a terrorist…) to aid in that person’s “control” of you/others; the antidote? Stay informed, maintain your self-reliance and self-resolution, etc. and do not let “fear” control your life in any way. Stonewall Jackson said it best, “Do not take counsel of your fears.”
    =====================================================
    I heard somebody else say, fear will keep you alive.

  9. I’m a behaviorist in the Skinnerian tradition and I wanted to clarify a couple of things, if I may. First, most behaviorists think that Skinner’s views on societal control were naïve, at best, and almost no one takes them seriously. Skinner was an incredible scientist, but most of us think that he went ahead of himself and started promoting views that were not supported by evidence. His views, as presented in Beyond Freedom and Dignity, are for most of us a bona fide attempt to help to the solution of many societal problems, even if they are wrong or even stupid.
    That being said, I also think that many attacks on Skinner as presented in this article and in many comments are a straw man argument. Skinner’s main point, which I don’t think was understood in the article, is that as humans we are always controlled, regardless of how anarchist we consider ourselves to be: biological needs control us, but more importantly we are always controlled by other people (just think of religion…). Even the most laissez-faire parent controls her/his child by the mere fact of not doing anything to control them… this just shifts the control of what the child does, but it does not eliminate control. So, Skinner argues, if we are always controlled anyways, why don’t we, instead of wasting our times trying to eliminate control, try and benefit from it and use it to alleviate societal ills? This is, I think, an extremely naïve view, and again I think Skinner went ahead of evidence, but on the other hand is far away from authoritarianism. Many of the people waving their torches against Skinner here don’t even know that he was completely against the use of punishment, physical or otherwise. He opposed it even beyond evidence.
    The other point I wanted to argue for here is Skinner’s influence. Can you mention anyone who explicitly recognizes the influence of Skinner’s views on their own ideas about social engineering? Neither do I, and I’m a behaviorist… so, blaming the guy is in my view using him as a scapegoat. Things like he proposed are far from new, and have been around for centuries and centuries (e.g., the views of Aristotle, Bacon, Dewey, and many others). Furthermore, some attempts at societal control have been quite successful. Take for instance the use of behavior modification by a previous major of my hometown to reduce the number of deaths of pedestrians by reckless jaywalking… the guy used mimes (yes, mimes) to make fun of jaywalkers. It worked in an incredible way and many lives have been saved ever since.
    I seriously understand anti-authoritarian views and actually share many of them. Nevertheless, if there was no authority whatsoever what would prevent anyone from getting into my house, robbing all of my food, etc.? Without control and authority, what would prevent slavery from happening all over again??

    • “Skinner’s main point, which I don’t think was understood in the article, is that as humans we are always controlled, regardless of how anarchist we consider ourselves to be: biological needs control us, but more importantly we are always controlled by other people (just think of religion…).”

      Squab,

      You make an assumption which I think is not supported by what I wrote, or indeed by my own thinking. Skinner’s main point was indeed that we are all controlled. As you point out this belief in one form or another has bee in play in human debate for thousands of years and so is not unique to Skinner, so my use of it was hardly a “straw man”. What I was pointing out was that Skinner, with his imprimatur as a serious scientist, helped put in motion the study of Behavioral Science by those forces within the Corporations, Military and the Plutocrats, as a means of controlling our society. You’ll not that I referenced John B. Watson’s 1924 book “Behaviorism” as having a profound impact on Skinner. That Watson switched careers at mid life and began to work for one of the world’s largest
      advertising agency’s is telling as to the points I made in my blog. Some behavioral scientists have indeed enlisted in the cause of social control of human beings. To say that this is nothing new is to beg the question I’m raising.

      Mr. Levine’s article which I extensively quoted offers this proposition:

      “The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals.”

      Do you as “a behaviorist in the Skinnerian tradition” have any doubt as to the truth of that statement? I think not. While you might point out that working for those that seek to and currently are successfully controlling this society doesn’t represent everyone in the field that would again beg the question.

      Skinner argued in “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” (1971) “that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society.” To understand the effect of that one must look at its historical context. I was in my later 20’s at the time and had become involved in the field of Psychotherapy. I read his book about a year after its release, after having heard much discussion of his beliefs. Those were from a societal view tumultuous years, with a cultural rebellion occurring that was shaking the foundations of this country and certainly distressing those of the Elite that had been controlling it. Skinner’s beliefs were tailor made for this group who were seeing the rebellion of “their children” against their authority.

      “In Skinner’s [early] novel Walden Two (1948), his behaviorist hero states, “We do not take history seriously,” As Lewis Mumford wrote:“And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.”

      My point in writing this was as I stated to put into context the after effects of the works of some influential behaviorists, of which Skinner represented the most influential voice, that have aided in the creation of a “dumbed down” American populace that is being led through behavioral techniques back to an age of feudalism. I think that if you re-read my article and the article from Bruce Levine ““Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?”, you will realize that my focus is not one to attack Behavioral Science, but those within and without the field that are using the knowledge developed from that science to control of society with which I believe are nefarious means.

      In your comment you are clear to mention that this is nothing new and I agree with that. One has only to look at the history of NAZI Germany,
      Mao’s China and Stalin’s USSR to understand that the effects of scientifically based social control are in effect endemic to all who would set themselves up as the ultimate authority. From the political and sociological perspective that informs my writing the larger question is not
      that society/environment exerts control upon all of us, but who is to use that control and what are their aims? Perhaps you would consider me naive in thinking that although, no matter how iconoclastic I may be, I also suffer the effects of social control, yet seek to try to choose those who would exercise it. I can say quite strongly that someone like Skinner, no matter how benevolent his intentions, would be ultimately unqualified for that mantle in any world that I would want to live in.

  10. Well-defended, Mike S.

    A related article which may be of interest:

    “Does Surveillance Affect Us Even When We Can’t Confirm We’re Being Watched? Lessons From Behind the Iron Curtain

    By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/does-surveillance-affect-us-even-when-we-cant-confirm-were-being-watched

    “The brief also cites the historian Timothy Garton Ash, who has written about his own encounters with the surveillance state in East Berlin, and Anna Funder, who has written extensively about life under the Stasi. In East Germany, as Funder wrote,

    it was inconceivable that a person would ask a stranger, a total stranger whether they lived near the border. It was also inconceivable that the stranger would ask you whether you were thinking of escaping. . . . Relations between people were conditioned by the fact that one or the other of you could be one of them. Everyone suspected everyone else and the mistrust this bred was the foundation of social existence.

    This kind of social division and mistrust is one of the hallmarks of surveillance societies. When people can’t trust each other, they can’t cooperate or organize. Marton, too, described how socially isolating the surveillance in Hungary was.”

    “Of course, the point is not that the FISA Amendments Act is equivalent to the kind of surveillance that took place behind the Iron Curtain. Rather, it’s that there are things we can learn from the experience of extreme surveillance in Eastern Europe.”

    “We humans are inherently social animals, keen at all times to know how we are presenting ourselves before the eyes of others. Unless we feel entirely secure in our privacy, we will act in guarded ways—and that means, to a greater or lesser extent, we will not be free.

    Let’s hope that the Supreme Court recognizes that fundamental reality. Oral argument in the Amnesty case will be held on Oct. 29, with my colleague Jameel Jaffer arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs.” – article by Jay Stanley

    • AnonP,

      I think squab viewed my post as being specifically a critique of Skinner and Behavioral Science in general ad so missed that it was directed at the specific political use of the science to exercise control over people to their detriment. your two links eloquently speak to that. The problem with behaviorists of the Skinnerian ilk is that in their understanding of how to make the world a better place, they see themselves as the one exercising control. In their hubris they fail to grasp that they are in turned controlled by the people who hire them. The concept of democracy is indeed a flawed system to advance society, but if it were ever fully implemented it would fare
      better than an elite intelligentsia that believes only they have the answers.

  11. I apologize for not writing before, hard week. Also, thanks for your kind and detailed reply. I want to emphasize my disagreement, nevertheless. Let me try and put it more precisely.
    Watson’s book (actually 1925) was indeed influential in Skinner, but not quite to the extent that you imagine. If you want to know what authors really influenced Skinner you would have to look at Bacon, Hobbes, Ernst Mach, and Jacques Loeb, and of course, Thoreau. Now, and more importantly, you are again attacking a straw man in Watson’s case. First, you have to understand the context in which he wrote his famous diatribe. Watson wrote against the idea in vogue in the psychology of his time that behavioral traits are hereditary, innate, and the like. This idea was used by some at the time of his writing (e.g., W. McDougall) to argue for racial superiority and eugenics, an idea that Watson strongly opposed. Hence he wrote: “I would feel perfectly confident in the ultimately favorable outcome of careful upbringing of a healthy, well-formed baby born of a long line of crooks, murderers and thieves, and prostitutes.” And one paragraph later: “I should like to go one step further now and say, ‘Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select (…) regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors’” Often omitted in this infamous sentence is the next sentence: “I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years.”
    I hope this will help you see Watson in a somewhat different light. Now, of course Watson switched careers. This, however, was not because he voluntarily went to the advertising industry to use conditioning to brainwash inadvertent customers. Actually, his departure from academy was a result of the scandal that followed the discovery of his affair with one of his students. All he did, successfully so, was to introduce the idea that emotions could be used to appeal to customers. Now, this is far away from control as you present it: I have seen countless commercials of young, beautiful, smiling people toying in the beach advertising cigarretes in a very Watsonian manner, and yet I have never smoked nor I probably will ever, and this of course has nothing to do with my willpower.
    You are blaming Skinner for promoting the idea that Corporations, Military, and the Plutocrats use such “forces” to control our society. Well, if you had read that Walden Two book (a terrible book, by the way…. no serious behaviorist has ever taken it seriously, except for some hippies in the 70s) you would have noticed that it refers to a self-governed community! Furthermore, as he emphasized many, many times, said conditioning does not leave the conditioner unscathed: the conditioner herself is controlled by the same contingencies she has established. Skinner never supported authoritarian views, and as I emphasized in a point that you did not mention, he opposed strongly any type of punishment. Actually, the whole point of something like Walden Two, and in general of Skinner, is that the control exerted by said Corporations, Military and Plutocrats for thousands of years has led to extremely negative consequences, not the least of which is the lack of happiness. Beyond Freedom and Dignity, naïve, repetitive, and wrong as it is, is actually a call for everyone to stop letting others control and just submitting, but rather to effectively and intelligently use it for the improvement of everyone’s life.
    This is, I think, antithetical to your suggestion that Skinner’s views motion people to accept control by authorities. Moreover, which are those techniques that psychologists and psychiatrists have provided that could control people? Reinforcement? Punishment? Well, those techniques have been used to control people for thousands of years, even if inadvertently! What is new in their use now? I don’t think that “corporatocracy” has embraced mental health professionals for this reason… they have always used them anyway! Brainwashing existed way before any psychologist started investigating it.
    Again, it is funny that you mention how Skinner’s ideas were tailored for the “Elite” to qualm the rebellion of “their children,” when you take into consideration that the only ones to try and enact Skinner’s ideas were communes like Twin Oaks or Los Horcones (which still exists and remains Skinnerian even today), that were much in the spirit of the rebellion of the time. And wasn’t that very same rebellious spirit in Skinner’s views that led him to say that history shouldn’t be taken seriously? Because that was exactly the context in which it was presented in the book… looking for answers in history is vacuous, because it is thanks to that history that we are experiencing the current negative results. Wouldn’t any good anarchist say the same? Ain’t history used as an argument against rebellion??
    Or, what about Skinner’s notions about responsibility which in plain terms argue that criminals should not be blamed for their behavior, as the burden is not in the person but in the environment that led them to be like that? That idea, sir, has never influenced any Corporation, Military or Plutocrat, to the best of my knowledge. On the contrary, I gave you one nice, real-life example of how behavioral modification can help in the solution of societal problems such as a high rate of mortality among pedestrians caused by jaywalkin.
    Contrary to what people tend to believe, behaviorism was never that influential. You can read the works of every single early behaviorist in the brief period of popularity it had in the 30’s and 40’s and find nothing that has anything to do with the use of behavioral techniques to dumb down people: C. Hull, E. Tolman, E. Guthrie, W. Estes, J. R. Kantor, W. Hunt, K. Lashley, E. Holt, A. Weiss. I can show evidence that Watson’s views were not influential even at that point, mere 10 years after his books were published. Skinner had a Time cover, sure, but that was due to the controversy generated by views as I presented in the last paragraph. No other behaviorist after him has tried to promote those ideas, and I know of no one who actively promotes them. Quite the contrary, modern behaviorists are skeptical at best, and highly critical at worst of Skinner’s notions of social engineering (e.g., J. E. R. Staddon).
    On the other hand, many supporters of behaviorism such as John Dewey, G. Santayana, and Bertrand Russell are ardent enemies of authoritarianism. Proneness to manipulation and control are not unique to Americans (I guess this is other example of American exceptionalism), and blaming behavioral science for it is preposterous. Skinner would argue that if you want people to avoid being manipulated and controlled by such powers our environments would have to be arranged in such a manner that we could learn to think by ourselves. How would such an environment be arranged? I can think of no other way but of an education on which critical thinking, reasoning, and argumented opinion are reinforced, which is completely compatible with Skinner’s position. Nothing in your article or reply has shown that you read any of Skinner’s works or even tried to understand his arguments, and hence I insist that you are attacking a straw man. I wouldn’t want to live in a world controlled by Skinner or most of his ideas either. He was extremely naïve, and at the bottom always thought that human beings are good by nature. He also went beyond his data and believed that all we needed is an effective control of consequences, which is of course false. Yet, as you might see, his ideas do not support or encourage plutocracy or corporatocracy, and actually it is quite the opposite.

  12. Mike Spindell 1, October 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    AnonP,

    I think squab viewed my post as being specifically a critique of Skinner and Behavioral Science in general ad so missed that it was directed at the specific political use of the science to exercise control over people to their detriment. your two links eloquently speak to that. The problem with behaviorists of the Skinnerian ilk is that in their understanding of how to make the world a better place, they see themselves as the one exercising control. In their hubris they fail to grasp that they are in turned controlled by the people who hire them. The concept of democracy is indeed a flawed system to advance society, but if it were ever fully implemented it would fare
    better than an elite intelligentsia that believes only they have the answers.
    ———————————————————————————————–
    I was a squab for four years. Went in an E1, came out an E5. I did cross the equator. That means I’m not a pollywog.

  13. Squab 1, December 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I’m still waiting for a reply…
    ——————————–

    Skinner would argue that if you want people to avoid being manipulated and controlled by such powers our environments would have to be arranged in such a manner that we could learn to think by ourselves. How would such an environment be arranged? I can think of no other way but of an education on which critical thinking, reasoning, and argumented opinion are reinforced, which is completely compatible with Skinner’s position.

    Avoid being manipulated or controlled? Who gets to arrange the environments?

  14. […] Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US Jonathan Turley (Chuck L). Not bad, but they are starting WAY WAY too late. Propaganda was already well established by the 1970s, see Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk out of Democracy (which goes back to 1907), the Century of the Self (to the 1920s) or the work of Walter Lippman and Eddie Bernays, who were apologists for propaganda after the American public learned it had been used on a massive scale to stoke hatred for Germany during World War I (see Creel Committee for details). […]

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