In which B.F. Skinner totally geeks out over the box he built for his baby


Oh by ALL MEANS one should touch a child as little as possible. The blasted things are naturally FILTHY.



In the article, Skinner actually writes that as the other way around. Other people (and, especially, older children) are filthy and should probably keep their paws off the baby. This is not an endorsement. Just clarifying his argument.


Skinner was so wrong about so many things. He was an awful scientist.

When people start talking about “Skinner’s box” it’s often hard to tell whether they are talking about this incubator (a la Tarnier), the operant conditioning chamber, or the big yellow sense-dep thing in his lab that he liked to nap in.


I used to sleep in a large crib with a hinged lid, covered in window screen, which I later realized was an antique from the days of “sleeping porches.” It went away fast when I got big enough to push the lid open because it slammed open with crash like an old style screen door.

Pop-culturally, they seem to get all squashed up into one horrible thing. Thus, the rumors of Deborah Skinner’s suicide.

Ironically that’s exactly what protects babies from diseases - shared immunity via exposure.

Well, depends. In terms of hygiene hypothesis, then theoretically, yes. But remember that we’re also talking about a time period before mass vaccination, here. There are some things the older kids are carrying around that you really wouldn’t want the baby to acquire.


Step 1: Cut a hole in the box.
Step 2: Put your kid in the boxxx…


Unfortunately I haven’t read all his work. Can you point out the things he was wrong about? His work on operant conditioning (which I think modern political types call “grooming”) is rather remarkable, scientifically.

Skinner’s kind of like Freud in modern popular culture. People love to trash them, but not so much read or study them.


The roller sheets are genius.

he may not have literally kept his kid in a box, but skinner was still a dick for knowingly contributing to the use of psychology as a tool of social control.

“…'cause Thursday’s your night in the barrel.”

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I’m a layman. I think the biggest fallacy the Skinner promoted is that humans are born as a mental blank slate. Chomsky argued that there has to be an inherent genetic process for human mental development. Skinner refuted and argued against Chomsky’s position.

There are many Chomsky vs. Skinner videos on youtube.

What I don’t understand is the vitriol about Skinner being wrong on some things. I mean, it’s not like Chomsky hasn’t had his share of theories that haven’t panned out as well as he might of hoped. Being wrong is part of being a scientist.


By Ford, that is a good start – I would add an appropriate sound system for hypnopædia and perhaps a soma dispenser.

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I think most of the vitriol is political. Chomsky’s primary criticism was that Skinner’s theories were unscientific. I agree.