Last Public Appearance by B.F. Skinner

Last Public Appearance by B.F. Skinner

B. F. Skinner
Source: Wikipedia

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History of Science

B. F. Skinner makes his last public appearance when he addresses the opening session of the American Psychological Association convention in Boston, Massachusetts. He also receives the first ever APA Citation for Lifetime Contributions to Psychology.

Skinner's paper is a retrospective of his work and thoughts about their future. According to Skinner, the search for an "inner self" with "free will" is simply the "creationism" of the psychological profession. He argues that human behavior is the byproduct of one's environment.

B.F. Skinner tells people:

"I think it's time we realized that the science that will be most helpful to us in the future is not the cognitive searching for the inner mind and self, but rather an understanding of selective consequence. ...

In my life, what I've been doing is trying to make that clear. If there is any endeavor that I've been successful in, that is what I'd like to be remembered for. ...

I'm very optimistic for certain kinds of psychology, the behaviorism that I practice. I'm attacking cognitive psychology. That's the usual thing."

Skinner also talks about his leukemia for a few minutes before his main presentation:

"It's a very interesting disease I have, but as long as I've got enough blood plasma I think I"ll be all right."

B.F. Skinner will die in eight days from complications related to his leukemia.


B.F. Skinner's Shaping Experiment (Skinner's Box)

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