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Skinner Calls for Centralized Behavioral Systems in Society


B. F. Skinner, Pierce Professor of Psychology, said last night that preparing for the future requires us to make sacrifices during the present.

Addressing a capacity crowd at Cambridge's Unitarian Church. Skinner said he is concerned with "how we can bring about change such that people begin to care about the future." He proposed that one controlling body -which he did not name - be instituted as the regulator of people's behavior.

Claiming that most people are content with "immediate gratification," Skinner said that we must "make sure that current reinforcers are not so powerful that we overlook the future."

He then noted that those with "genetic endowment," in which he included himself, 'could design a culture which would mediate behavior.

During the question and answer period, several members of the National Labor Caucus asked Skinner to "take responsibility for the implications of his theories," citing welfare incentive programs and "capitalist oppression of the working class."

Skinner replied, "All my life I've been trying to find alternatives to punitive measures. You can't expect me to go looking around for all the ways in which people misuse my theories."

When a Harvard student asked why Skinner doesn't teach any courses, Skinner told him. "You were born too late. The last undergraduate course I taught was in 1965."

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