One of the first things that Skinner says as he opens up his last address to the American Psychological Association is that he had his first meeting in 1932, and he continues to make a joke saying that is before most of the audience was born. It is good to know that the man that most of our class is centered around has a good sense of humor. He also says that the meeting was about schedules of reinforcement. It is interesting to think about some of the information developed in that meeting is still what we are learning today.
He goes on to mention all of the ways the APA has helped him and all of the awards he had previously received from them. He seemed very grateful for their help and support along the way. He, of course, brings up psychologists and how they look inward to their thoughts and feelings to explain behavior. He says that this is not a very satisfactory process. This sounds like some of the comments I have heard from Dr. Moore throughout the semester. Skinner also talks about how theories are very hard to confirm.
He then talks about how most psychologist resort to brain science. He poses the question is the brain responsible for behavior. He argues that the brain is simply a part of a system of what is to be explained. It can only be explained by looking to the outside. Three factors can be used to study this: natural selection, operant conditioning, and culture. The three external circumstances can explain what the body does according to Skinner.
He continues on to talk about speaking or vernacular. He says that this is how humans communicate with each other. Skinner says that vernacular refers very richly to feelings and states of mind. He also suggests that the terms used in vernacular have double meanings. If a person says they are hungry, they believe they will get something to eat. The vernacular is really referring to contingencies of reinforcement about the world and about its affect on people. He says...
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