There are many reasons I felt the need to title this book “Life in a Skinner Box.” I’m sure many are apparent, or at least I hope they are. But, there’s one or two I want to state explicitly because they are most important to me. Namely, it pains me to think that some of the most compassionate and brilliant people—such as B.F. Skinner and many of the people I have loved the most—have been misunderstood and misjudged. I simply hoped to tell their stories in a way that shows the value they hold for me and others. In doing so, I hope to inspire people to look deeply into the hearts and minds of others. Those are the places where I’ve found the most joy in life.
Besides that, and especially now that I’m a mother, the kind of behavior we reward in this society bothers me—money, external beauty, power, bullying, status symbols, and the accumulation of material possessions, etc. I’ve seen far too many people equate these things with happiness, and inadvertently teach their children—using rewards, threats, and punishments—to perform for and ultimately desire those same things. However, DO those things really bring happiness? I bet if you asked a small child, they would say they just wanted their parents’ time, attention, and recognition. I know first-hand that the most rewarding experience on the planet is to be captivated in play with someone who loves and enjoys you. Yet, so many people spend their best energy away from their loved ones in order to show their loved ones how much they love them.
For a society that largely repelled Skinner’s philosophies, isn’t it ironic that those are the very people who can’t seem to make themselves jump off the “rat wheel?”