B. F. Skinner

B. F. Skinner


Author Profession: US behaviorist
Born: March 20, 1904
Died: August 18, 1990
Birth Sign: Pisces


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B. F. Skinner quotes

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.

The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.

I never really expected to be controversial.

If you're old, don't try to change yourself, change your environment.

The feeling of being interested can act as a kind of neurological signal, directing us to fruitful areas of inquiry.

Give me a child and I'll shape him into anything.

Reinforcement is being right.

We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.

A person who has been punished is not less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.

I have to tell people that they are not responsible for their behavior. They're not creating it; they're not initiating anything. It's all found somewhere else. That's an awful lot to relinquish.

When you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study it.

Even the mundane task of washing dishes by hand is an example of the small tasks and personal activities that once filled people's daily lives with a sense of achievement.

Must we wait for selection to solve the problems of overpopulation, exhaustion of resources, pollution of the environment and a nuclear holocaust, or can we take explicit steps to make our future more secure? In the latter case, must we not transcend selection?

A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.

The environment will continue to deteriorate until pollution practices are abandoned.

The ideal of behaviorism is to eliminate coercion: to apply controls by changing the environment in such a way as to reinforce the kind of behavior that benefits everyone.

You can get along very well in this world by simply coming up with a quantity of reasonably valid statements.

Behavior used to be reinforced by great deprivation; if people weren't hungry, they wouldn't work. Now we are committed to feeding people whether they work or not. Nor is money as great a reinforcer as it once was. People no longer work for punitive reasons, yet our culture offers no new satisfactions.

I don't deny the importance of genetics. However, the fact that I might be altruistic isn't because I have a gene for altruism; the fact that I do something for my children at some cost to myself comes from a history that has operated on me.

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