Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Next Great Experiment: You Are Rat!

Coming to an Administration near you!

...The New York Times recently reported that Obama may hire economic psychologists “specifically charged with translating the lessons of the behavioral revolution into real-world policies.” One proponent of this approach, Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan, told the Times, “The issues we struggle with today are inherently behavioral as never before. It’s impossible to think of the current mortgage crisis without thinking seriously about underlying consumer psychology. And it’s impossible to think of future regulatory fixes without thinking seriously about that issue.” Excited by the prospects, the Times concluded, “The promise of behavioral economics is that it can help create a better government, one that wastes less money and does more to improve peoples’ lives. That’s hardly a modest goal.”


It should come as no surprise that the 1970s radicals taking over the Federal Government in January are promoting this brand of economics because the hero of their youth was the leader of America’s behavioral revolution, B.F. Skinner...Behaviorists like Skinner argue that psychology should be limited to observations and tenets related to behavior. As epistemological descendants of Descartes, they attempt to sever any connections between the study of man and philosophy, by methodologically denying the existence of the mind and the scientific validity of philosophical psychology in the Aristotelian and Thomistic sense.

Well, THAT makes it simple!!

And doesn't it all make sense?

Skinner and his followers deny the existence of the mind and reduce human psychology to the mere study of intersubjectively demonstrable events – that is behavior. Consistent with Cartesian reductionism, qualitative differences are denied by behaviorists. By recognizing nothing beyond the perversely simple materialistic continuity derived from mere quantitative reductionism, behaviorists boast they can study rats to draw conclusions about man. Skinner emphasizes that man is no more responsible (nor laudable) for his creative accomplishments in music, art, literature, economics, science, and invention, than is the warthog for his warts. Accordingly, there is then no essential difference between modern “objective” psychology and rodentology, or between man and rat.

One suspects that even the more rabid LeftoBlogathingy types might resent that comparison; I mean, even lawyers resent it at some level, (I think).

But now, ALL of us can be rodentologized under the Great Obama.

HT: The Catholic Thing


Beer, Bicycles and the VRWC said...

"Behavioral Economics" is just a Red Herring to disguise the concept of Central Planning. According to American Leftists, the only reason Socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because they haven't been doing it.

Unknown said...

There's nothing frightening about behaviorism. It's a powerful (if limited) way of predicting the behavior of any animal with the capacity to learn. The fact that the Obama administration is looking to learn soemthing from psychologists about the economy isn't a surprise, nor should it be alarming that these psychologists are of one school of thought or another--and it certainly doesn't mean that Obama or anyone else has fully embraced some kind of neo-Skinnerian governing philosophy. Let's at least attempt not to be paranoids here.

Deekaman, you're a prime example. People like yourself have been shouting that Ameirca is on the very verge of turning into some kind of scary communist hell hole. We're a very long way even from the social democracies of europe. Even instituting a program of tax-funded national health insurance (which we desperately and obviously need) wouldn't put us on par with, well, anyone.

Beer, Bicycles and the VRWC said...

Scott: I'm glad to hear you think we are not moving toward Socialism (we are). Not on a par with the Socialists of Europe? Good. Healthcare from the same kind, caring compassionate people who brought us the IRS? No, thanks. It's the only thing that could be worse than what we currently have.

Unknown said...

Nothing in the first world is worse than what we have.

Beer, Bicycles and the VRWC said...

You're wrong on that, but that's ok.

Dad29 said...

Skinner's theory is flawed; it's determinism by another name. Same as any other prejudice, at its root.

No, I don't claim that O has "embraced" Skinner's theory of behavior modification. But practitioners bear watching.