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May 20, 2004

Skinner's Box


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Eeks -- Lauren Slater, psychologist , journalist, author, mother and mental health consumer has written a new book, "Opening Skinner's Box" . It seems to have enraged the psychological community. I almost missed the whole hubbub because I've been focusing on the wedding section for the last few Sundays.

The book is about famous psychological experiments, and their later ramifications. In it, Slater describes the experiment, interviews subjects and investigators, talks about the long term ramificatons, tries to duplicate results herself, and pays personal visits to bigwigs.

Here's a good summary by Beatrice of what's been going on. Be sure to start at the bottom and read all the clickies.

Slater seems to have insulted a few honchos, by noting their pecularities. They are retaliating with their fine tooth combs and acid academic acumen.

Deborah Skinner, B.F.'s perfectly sane, living daughter is also furious. She feels that Slater's attempt to locate her for an interview was feeble and propagates a common, if untrue rumor, among psychology students that she was psychotic, before she killed herself, due to being raised in a box by a mad scientist and his compliant wife. The current contraversy will, no doubt, serve to dispell this rumor.

This is exactly why it's tough to be famous or even slightly influential (look what happened to B.F. and Lauren) Also it is why I worry about my own cavalier descriptions of things psychological. Not that I am in any such danger.

Isn't it interesting that all this came to my awareness (via an outdated NY Times Book Review strewn the bathroom) just as I was blogging about fame, intermittant reinforcement and John Money (and the disasterous results of some of his research, thank you Margaret )? I just love it when that happens.

Photo note: This is as close to a Skinner Box that I could find in my archives. I am handicapped at the moment, since I cannot download my camera, or I would have rushed out to find a box to photograph. Oh well.

Posted by Dakota at May 20, 2004 10:33 PM