Promising paradise or threatening hell-fire is, we assumed, generally admitted to be unproductive. It is based upon a fundamental fraud which, when discovered, turns the individual against society and nourishes the very thing it tries to stamp out. What Jesus offered in return of loving one's enemies was heaven on earth, better known as peace of mind.
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Why did colleges make their students take examinations, and why did they give grade? What did a grade really mean? When a student "studied" did he do anything more than read and think- or was there something special which no one in Walden Two would know about? Why did the professors lecture to the students? Were the students never expected to do anything except answer questions? Was it true that students were made to read books they were not interested in?
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In the world at large we seldom vote for a principle or a given state of affairs. We vote for a man who pretends to believe in that principle or promises to achieve that state. We don't want a man, we want a condition of peace and plenty- or, it may be, war and want- but we must vote for a man.
Once in a while a new government initiates a program to put power to better use, but its success or failure never really proves anything. In science, experiments are designed, checked, altered, repeated- but not in politics... We have no real cumulative knowledge. History tells us nothing. That's the tragedy of a political reformer.
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One may take the line that metaphorical devices are inevitable in the early stages of any science and that although we may look with amusement today upon the 'essences,' 'forces,' 'phlogistons,' and 'ethers,' of the science of yesterday, these nevertheless were essential to the historical process. It would be difficult to prove or disprove this. However, if we have learned anything about the nature of scientific thinking, if mathematical and logical researches have improved our capacity to represent and analyze empirical data, it is possible that we can avoid some of the mistakes of adolescence. Whether Freud could have done so is past demonstrating, but whether we need similar constructs in the future prosecution of a science of behavior is a question worth considering.
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Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless. It enslaves him almost before he has tasted freedom. The 'ologies' will tell you how its done Theology calls it building a conscience or developing a spirit of selflessness. Psychology calls it the growth of the superego. Considering how long society has been at it, you'd expect a better job. But the campaigns have been badly planned and the victory has never been secured.
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Severe punishment unquestionably has an immediate effect in reducing a tendency to act in a given way. This result is no doubt responsible for its widespread use. We 'instinctively' attack anyone whose behavior displeases us - perhaps not in physical assault, but with criticism, disapproval, blame, or ridicule. Whether or not there is an inherited tendency to do this, the immediate effect of the practice is reinforcing enough to explain its currency. In the long run, however, punishment does not actually eliminate behavior from a repertoire, and its temporary achievement is obtained at tremendous cost in reducing the over-all efficiency and happiness of the group. (p. 190)
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The most effective alternative process [to punishment] is probably extinction. This takes time but is much more rapid than allowing the response to be forgotten. The technique seems to be relatively free of objectionable by-products. We recommend it, for example when we suggest that a parent 'pay no attention' to objectionable behavior on the part of his child. If the child's behavior is strong only because it has been reinforced by 'getting a rise out of' the parent, it will disappear when this consequence is no longer forthcoming. (p. 192)
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The severest trial of oppression is the constant outrage which one suffers at the thought of the oppressor. What Jesus discovered was how to avoid the inner devastations. His technique was to practice the opposite emotion... [a man] may not get his freedom or possessions back, but he's less miserable. It's a difficult lesson.
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The majority of people don't want to plan. They want to be free of the responsibility of planning. What they ask for is merely some assurance that they will be decently provided for. The rest is a day-to-day enjoyment of life. That's the explanation for your Father Divines; people naturally flock to anyone they can trust for the necessities of life... They are the backbone of a community-solid, trust-worthy, essential.
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Fame is also won at the expense of others. Even the well-deserved honors of the scientist or man of learning are unfair to many persons of equal achievements who get none. When one man gets a place in the sun, the others are put in a denser shade. From the point of view of the whole group there's no gain whatsoever, and perhaps a loss.