Humanistic Cesspools”

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytDay 31: Skin­ner Hor­ror Files

The ulti­mate trou­ble with Skinnerian 
“sci­en­tif­ic, research-based” standards,
out­come-based methods,
and “com­mon core” results


Who were these children?  How were they the subjects of a "scientific, research-based" study?[1]

Who were these chil­dren?
How were they the sub­jects of a “sci­en­tif­ic, research-based” study?[1]

If we as par­ents and cit­i­zens believe that the same “sci­en­tif­ic, research-based” standards[2] applied to research in edu­ca­tion and psy­chol­o­gy are those applied to med­i­cine, geol­o­gy, or engi­neer­ing, we are sad­ly mis­tak­en. If we believe that objec­tive cri­te­ria are employed when eval­u­at­ing edu­ca­tion­al cur­ricu­lum or behav­ioral analy­sis, we are like­wise mis­tak­en. There­fore, when pre­sent­ed with pro­pos­als in aca­d­e­m­ic cur­ric­u­la that pur­port to be found­ed in “sci­en­tif­ic, research-based” eval­u­a­tion, we should take them with a grain of salt!

The bot­tom line for under­stand­ing this con­flict between sci­ence and psy­chol­o­gy is that the appli­ca­tion of sta­tis­ti­cal meth­ods to human behav­ior in the name of sci­ence is mis­di­rect­ed and inap­pro­pri­ate. When we mea­sure nat­ur­al phe­nom­e­na, we get results that will vary depend­ing upon the envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors affect­ing the thing being mea­sured. For exam­ple, we can mea­sure the speed at which a rock falls from a cer­tain height. Although the rock’s speed may be affect­ed by exter­nal fac­tors, such as air resis­tance, there is noth­ing the rock can do, no deci­sion it can make that will change the speed at which it falls. How­ev­er, when we attempt to mea­sure a person’s atti­tudes or opin­ions, that per­son can change his or her atti­tude, opin­ion, or belief at any time—often because of a con­scious, delib­er­ate deci­sion to do so, as an act of will. Such delib­er­ate asser­tion of a person’s will is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult, if not impos­si­ble to measure.

Rat child
The social “sci­ences” and psy­chol­o­gy have long yearned for the respectabil­i­ty of sci­en­tif­ic dis­ci­plines, and have tout­ed them­selves as sci­ence for many decades. How­ev­er, both fields emerged from the same human­is­tic cesspools of the last century.

In dis­cussing the mas­sive par­a­digm shift over to adopt­ing a mod­ern “nat­u­ral­is­tic” or “mate­ri­al­is­tic” sci­ence, and post­mod­ern pseu­do-sci­ence, the late Dr. Fran­cis Schaeffer[3] warned:

When psy­chol­o­gy and social sci­ence were made a part
of a closed cause-and-effect system,along with physics, astron­o­my and chemistry,
it was not only God who died.
Man died.
And with­in this frame­work love died.
There is no place for love
in a total­ly closed cause-and-effect system.
There is no place for morals
in a total­ly closed cause-and-effect system.
There is no place for the free­dom of people
in a total­ly closed cause-and-effect system. 
Man becomes a zero. 
Peo­ple and all they do become only a part of the machin­ery.[4]Schaeffer

1. The graph­ic image at the top of this post is from WWII. These beau­ti­ful chil­dren were part of Dr. Men­gele’s so-called “sci­en­tif­ic” research.This pho­to was retrieved from the YouTube film footage of “Romani chil­dren used in Nazi racial stud­ies,”
2. This post is excerpt­ed from the entry in my book, p. 121–123, cit­ing FOUNDATIONS OF BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH, Sec­ond Edi­tion by Fred N. Ker­linger of New York Uni­ver­si­ty (Holt, Rine­hart and Win­ston, Inc.: New York, 1973)..
3. See yes­ter­day’s post “Shap­ing Mankind’s Behav­ior” for more quotes from Dr. Scha­ef­fer. “Fran­cis August Scha­ef­fer (30 Jan­u­ary 1912 – 15 May 1984) was an Amer­i­can Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian the­olo­gian, philoso­pher, and Pres­by­ter­ian pas­tor.”
4. Anoth­er View of Phi­los­o­phy and Cul­ture: Back to Free­dom and Dig­ni­ty by Fran­cis Scha­ef­fer (Cross­way Books: Wheaton, Ill.,