Logical Analysis of Blind Trials – A Rare Commodity

blindfoldIn the war of positive vs. negative training there is something sadly missing – logical analysis. This is ironic because the people most responsible for “positive” training call themselves “behavior analysts.” These are scientists who claim to use scientific investigation to learn how to predict and control behavior. They have lots and lots of statements about aversive control that sound incredibly wise and are supposed to be the result of objective research – but they aren’t. They are actually ideological statements that reveal an underlying philosophy that is anything but scientific. I know that because of something that is totally missing from their arguments – blind trials. (Note: There is no such thing as “negative” or “punishment-based” training. Those are simply pejorative terms used by “postiive” trainers to limit objective discussion and vilify evidence-based trainers) Continue reading

Articulate Brutes with Cattle Prods: Waldo has left the picture

image_t6But don’t applied behavior analysts use electric shock and other forms of physical punishment?

“Throughout his career, Skinner opposed the use of all forms of punishment; he advocated positive ways of changing behavior.
Standards for practice in applied behavior analysis severely restrict the use of electric shock and other forms of physical punishment. For example, it can be used only when other methods have failed, and when the behavior involved is a threat to the safety of the individual or others.An autistic child who repeatedly hits himself in the eyes with his fists, for example, is likely to cause blindness. If other forms of treatment (e.g., positive reinforcement, extinction) are unsuccessful, the child might be sprayed in the face with a water mister each time he hits himself. This mild form of physical punishment is usually effective in reducing the frequency of self-injurious behavior. Stronger forms of physical punishment, such as brief and mild electric shock, are seldom used and then only as a last resort with severe behavior disorders that have not responded to gentler procedures.” Continue reading

DRO – Differential Reinforcement of “Other” Behavior:

DRO stands for “differential reinforcement of ‘other’ behavior”. You can shorten it to “teach something different.” It is a widely recommended means of fixing behavior problems. For example, if a dog jumps up on people, teach it to lie down, instead. There are variations on DRO, such as DRI (teaching an incompatible behavior) and DRA (teaching an alternate behavior) In essence they all mean the same thing – teach the dog something new to replace an existing behavior. Despite the popularity of these tricks the reality is that they are not suggested because they are the most effective way to stop unacceptable behavior. They are suggested because they avoid considering punishment. This is often attributed to being the “scientific” way to solve behavior problems. It’s not. Continue reading

Aversive Control: A biological and evolutionary perspective. Part 1

 Punishment is generally considered the human application of naturally occurring forces that influence behavior. That’s about all you can say about the subject before hitting a fork in the road: the traditional, colloquial use of the term and the attempts by science to describe the phenomenon. Both roads, guided by good intentions, lead to perdition.
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Aversive Control: A biological and evolutionary perspective. Part 2.

(Note: Part 1 is here… http://clickandtreat.com/wordpress/?p=388)

To refresh your memory about the topic, I have presented a case for the idea that punishment is innate in humans and a key survival behavior of both individuals and groups. For millions of years this fact has not been questioned.

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