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[Xmca-l] Re: BBC: Mind Changers



Mike is a survivor of the long night of behaviorism in twentieth century
psychology, and weirdly enough I had a walk on (or perhaps a crawl on) part
in it myself. My mother, who had previously been a graduate student in
physics and chemistry and then one of the first computer coders, began
studying child psychology at the University of Minnesota as a way of wiling
away the long hours I spent in their nursery school, which back in the
early sixties was the only place that you could really get day care. I
remember having to do rat-maze experiments and getting rewarded with M&Ms,
and my dad says that it was only his personal intervention that prevented
me from being raised in a Skinner box. But my point stands: behaviorists
were never divided over the question of whether ALL behavior was inherited
or ALL behavior was conditioned. It was always a matter of determining how
much.

It is interesting that the the Arden House experiments and the Harlow
experiments have diametrically counterposed codas (one hesitates to draw
them as conclusions). One argues that being taken care of is life denying,
while the other finds it life-affirming. Not only does it never occur to
the programme presenters that these two things might both be true at
different developmental stages (since Arden House takes place at the close
of life and the Harlow experiments are supposed to deal with the
commencement), it doesn't even appear that they have noticed that they are
in contradiction.

The third programme, on the Hawthorne effect, is even more hilarious. I had
always assumed that the Hawthorne effect was for psychology what the
placebo effect was in medicine. But that's not the case at all. It's the
late 1920s. There's a gigantic plant for manufacturing telephone relays on
the outskirts of Chicago. The bosses want to find out how to increase
productivity--increase the room temperature, decrease it, increase
lighting, decrease it, more breaks, fewer breaks, what have you. It turns
out that the answer is...what have you. No matter what the bosses do,
productivity goes up.

And no wonder. When two girls do NOT increase productivity, they are
removed from the study on suspicion that they have "gone Bolshevik".

David Kellogg



 and

On Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 3:31 PM, larry smolucha <lsmolucha@hotmail.com>
wrote:

> Message from Francine:
>
> Hi David,
>
> In regard to the BBC's crediting Harlow with making a breakthrough in the
> nature-nuture debate:  XMCAr's who where not educated in American
> psychology departments in the post WWII era don't realize how peculiar the
> intellectual climate was back then.
>
>  B. F. Skinner's Behaviorism dominated American psychology from the 1950's
> through the 1970's as a rigid Stimulus-Response Psychology. So much so,
> that American psychologists were proclaiming a Cognitive Revolution in
> psychology  in the 1980's - not realizing that Vygotsky had already
> pioneered the study of  cognitive processes mediating between stimulus and
> response. In 1924, when Vygotsky first presented his theory, he had then
> credited Pavlov's later writings on the second signal system. Since Mind in
> Society was first published in 1978, American psychologists were only
> beginning to understand Vygotskian theory - and just beginning to think in
> terms of dialectical psychology (such as nature-nurture interactions).
>
> In my pre-Vygotsky days, as a graduate student at the University of
> Chicago during the 1970's
> Skinnerian behaviorism dominated the field, Piaget's theory was the
> hottest new theory
> (imagine cognitive developmental stages !!!), and Humanistic Psychology
> was the third Force
> in psychology as an alternative to Behaviorism and orthodox Freudian
> Psychoanalysis.
> I knew there had to be something more - gradually I discovered books on
> ego psychology
> (neo-Freudians) that the School for Social Work Administration  assigned
> as texts for their courses. Then in 1976, when I was hired full-time as a
> community college professor, I found two books in that library that were
> just awesome - Klaus Reigel's Dialectical Psychology - and Werner and
> Kaplan's Symbol Formation. One of my professor's at U.C. actually told me
> that I did think like an American psychologist (meaning that I don't fit in
> the department) - he said  "you think like a European psychologist." In
> 1984-1985 I translated the three Vygotsky papers on the development of
> imagination and creativity and became a Vygotskian (or neo-Vygotskian,
> whatever).
>
> And now American psychologists are just waking up to the fact that the
> rest of the world
> has never used the American Psychiatric Association's DSM system for
> diagnosis of psychiatric or psychological disorders. Effective this October
> the ICD 10 (International Classification of Diseases) has to be used to be
> in compliance with HIPAA - I wonder what will happen to all
> those Abnormal Psychology textbooks that are based exclusively on the
> DSM's five axes
> categorical system.
>
>
>
>
> > Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2015 12:45:08 +0900
> > From: dkellogg60@gmail.com
> > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: BBC: Mind Changers
> >
> > I've listened to the first two (that is the last two) of them (Arden
> House
> > and Harlow's Monkeys) and I'm always impressed by how very IDEOLOGICAL
> they
> > are. I mean ideological with a capital I, in the sense of reinforcing
> > whatever idea happens to dominate the dominant minds of the dominant
> class,
> > and I also mean that both the experiments themselves and their
> > re-presentations by the BBC are ideological.
> >
> > So for example the in the Arden House experiments two graduate schools
> > devise an experiment that is designed to show how life-affirming and
> > life-enhancing consumer choice is and how life-denying and life-deadening
> > it is to be taken care of by people. Amusingly, the BBC then has to
> > re-present this experiment by gushing that the two graduate students had
> > absolutely no idea of what they would find (because of course even the
> BBC
> > understands that if an experiment simply reinforces our prejudices, it's
> > not very significant in the history of psychology).
> >
> > The programme on Harry Harlow's experiments follows more or less the same
> > model. Harlow designs an experiment to prove that "love" and "attachment"
> > (which are apparently sufficiently represented by a wrapping a
> terry-cloth
> > towel around a wire cylinder) are crucial to parenting. The BBC
> re-presents
> > this as an astonishing experiment by claiming that in the 1950s the big
> > debate in psychology was over whether behavior was entirely innate or
> > entirely learned, something that has not been true of psychology since
> > Pavlov. Then the Beeb includes some criticism of Harlow--but much of it
> > has to do with animal rights! The best critique came from Harlow himself,
> > who assessing his own work, remarked that he had succeeded, through sheer
> > sadism and at no inconsiderable government expense, in convincing
> > psychologists of something everybody else has known for thousands of
> years.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> >
> > On Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 11:20 AM, Martin John Packer <
> > mpacker@uniandes.edu.co> wrote:
> >
> > > This week the BBC has a series of interesting radio documentaries on
> > > classical psychological studies:
> > >
> > > <http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008cy1j/episodes/player>
> > >
> > > Martin
> > >
>