Books, Film, Rhetoric

Rats in a cage

Question: is it better for a human to choose to be bad than be conditioned to be good?

The American psychologist B. F. Skinner believed that human behaviour was determined by environmental variables rather than free will, and that by systematically altering those variables human behaviour could be modified. In this way humans could be conditioned to display good, rather than bad, behaviour. He developed his theory of applied behavioural analysis from experiments he conducted in the 1930s on rats. He invented and constructed an enclosed soundproof cage with food dispenser that a rat could operate by pressing a lever, called a ‘Skinner box’. Continue reading

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Absurdism, Books, Law

A second year in blogging, a retrospective

A love of irony is a sign of health; everything absolute belongs to pathology
Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

Language is an urgent political affair.
This year I have written posts from the battle lines of the language frontier:

  • Eminent speakers were silenced by self-righteous university student moralists;
  • Cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were shot for writing satire;
  • Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s play The Witch of Walkern was pulled because its language offended;
  • Petitions to Parliament tried to make various human behaviour (and speech) criminal acts;
  • The Holocaust was asserted to be too reverent a subject for the language of comedy.
  • Writings of the sociologist Emile Durkheim were excluded from the A-level syllabus for fear it could trigger harmful reactions in student readers; Continue reading
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