B. F. Skinner Thinks You’re a Terrible Parent

B. F. SkinnerHenrik Ibsen was born on this day in 1828. If it weren’t for him being generally a jerk, I would have given the day to him. He was a hell of a playwright though. I really appreciate Russian painter Illarion Pryanishnikov, who was born in 1840. Most people won’t care, but I have an unnatural love of the Nixon White House: John Ehrlichman was born in 1925. And Fred Rogers was born in 1928. What a group of people!

There are a lot of old people who are still alive. Vera Lynn is 96 today! Carl Reiner is 91! Hal Linden is 82. And there are other birthdays. William Hurt is 63. Spike Lee is 56. Holly Hunter is 55.

But I have to give this day to B. F. Skinner. It isn’t that I don’t think that he wasn’t largely a creepy guy. But he is the only major psychological thinker of the 20th century whose ideas were basically right. And more important: his ideas are actually helpful in a therapeutic setting. I know: most of it is like the Henny Youngman joke, “I went to the doctor and said, ‘Doc, it hurts when I do this!’ So he said, ‘Then don’t do that!'” But it is a hell of a lot better than the Freudian ideas of childhood sexuality or the Jungian ideas of cross generational haunting. (Note: I like Jung, I just don’t find him all that useful.)

So a big “Happy birthday!” to the strange Dr. Skinner.


I will use any opportunity to listen to this song:

No comments about the teeth!

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