B. F. Skinner - Quotes

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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? ---->>>

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

I did not direct my life. I didn't design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That's what life is.

I did not direct my life. I didn't design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That's what life is.

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

The consequences of an act affect the probability of its occurring again. ---->>>

Properly used, positive reinforcement is extremely powerful.

Properly used, positive reinforcement is extremely powerful.

Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless.

Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless.

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

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. ---->>>

I won't say that I'm an agnostic, since agnosticism maintains that one cannot know... but I'm not averse to the idea of some intelligence or some organizing force that set up the initial conditions of the universe in such a way that ultimately generated stars, planets and life.

I won't say that I'm an agnostic, since agnosticism maintains that one cannot know... but I'm not averse to the idea of some intelligence or some organizing force that set up the initial conditions of the universe in such a way that ultimately generated stars, planets and life.

No theory changes what it is a theory about; man remains what he has always been. ---->>>

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

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

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

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

The people who control the condition in which we live have no reason to think beyond more than the next five or 10 years. ---->>>

If you insist that individual rights are the summum bonum, then the whole structure of society falls down. ---->>>

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

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. ---->>>

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

I never really expected to be controversial. ---->>>

I would be opposed to any kind of totalitarian control. ---->>>

The environment shapes people's actions. ---->>>

What is sought can never produce the seeking. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Religions work for their own aggrandizement - strengthen the church and so on - and they use reinforcers of one kind or another to get obedience and so on from their communicants. ---->>>

Great scientific contributions have been techniques. ---->>>

I am opposed to the military use of animals. I am also opposed to the military use of men. ---->>>

I don't know whether I want to improve religion or not. I prefer to get rid of it. ---->>>

I'm very pessimistic. ---->>>

Reinforcement is being right. ---->>>

We have not yet seen what man can make of man. ---->>>

I believe that I have been basically anarchistic, anti-religion and anti-industry and business. In other words, anti-bureaucracy. I would like to see people behave well without having to have priests stand by, politicians stand by, or people collecting bills. ---->>>

I don't think my mother and father ever had any doubts about what I was to be punished for or not. My parents come from a very strictly defined culture. ---->>>

I remember when I was a freshman in college, I was still somewhat bothered by... worried... about religion. I remember going to this professor of philosophy and telling him that I had lost my faith. ---->>>

I think my novel, 'Walden Two,' has made people stop and look at the culture they have inherited and wonder if it is the last word or whether it can be changed. ---->>>

Those few people who do respond to the dire conditions of the future - journalists, environmentalists, behavioral scientists - tend not to be powerful. ---->>>

Biography

Nationality: American
Born: 03-20, 1904
Birthplace:
Die: 08-18, 1990
Occupation: Psychologist
Website:

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990), commonly known as B. F. Skinner, was an American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974. Skinner considered free will an illusion and human action dependent on consequences of previous actions (wikipedia)