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Skinner was no kind of extremist. His beef with Psychoanalysis and the like boiled down to a distaste for hypothetical and untestable entities like ego, id, oral fixations, Oedipal complexes, etc. His basic idea was, 'Rather than entertaining notions about invisible, inaccessible figments, why don't we focus on what we CAN observe.'

The man never disavowed thoughts or mental processes. He wrote a long time ago that someday, neurological science would likely render most of his work obsolete. But not all of it. He also wrote, rightly, that we had yet an enormous amount to learn about behavioral conditioning that we'll only ever learn through long, slow slogging.

Watson said crazy things. Doesn't matter at all. I've heard (mostly younger) behaviorists occasionally parrot the sentiment. Young people like radical proclamations. Irrelevant.

Relevant, is the enormous contribution to society that has been made by Behavioral Analysts. Consider just the field of Autism. Millions of kids. The only effective methodology? ABA. It's a far cry from perfect, but the difference is can make, can floor you if you care.

[Note: 50% of the autistic have no means of communication, verbal or otherwise. There goes 'talk therapy'. CBT? Wouln't mean a thing. Nor change their state or neurological diaorder. And good luck using algorithmic or empathic models to 'understand' their thoughts or feelings. The gap is great, and has taken years off the lives of many a heartbroken parent.]

Meaning, that was me for some years. Also 'at risk' youth. Which is possibly even more gut wrenching and disspiriting than the other. But, what progress I was able to fascilitate would never have been possible without my 'comedic' training.

Attend a conference or two. Visit a school or 3 using (mainly) ABA to teach autistic kids. Spend enough time in such places, and you'll wonder long on just how sure you are about 'inner states' 'causing' your actions outside the invisible, pervasive pervue of conditioning over a lifetime. I'm a very emotional, reactive, impulsive kind of guy. But I didn't have to be, necessarily. Where does conditioning become epigenetics? How does it go towards the development of say, structures of the mid-brain?

And once damage is done, how strange is it that meditation can somewhat mitigate 'hair trigger' responses to certain 'threat/like' stimuli? To the extent meditation makes me feel good, how much of this process is about conditioning? How much a biological mystery? How much 'cognitive' amelioration?

I don't pretend to know. I doubt they can be unvaveled.

Behaviorism is bigger today than it ever was, by an order of magnitude. To me, it's honest, hard, gritty, and useful. I ignore the egos, the promoters, the media hounds, and so help me, any work of fiction featuring an autistic kid; the compulsion to stop a train with my face will doubtless overtake me.

May you be kicking a moderate degree of ass in whatever field you've wandered into. If it's AI of some variety, then that's just too cool.