We are now faced with a terrifying problem and it is us. How so, you ask?
We are creatures of habit. We have grown to like many things about our personal worlds. We can jump in the car and go somewhere simply on a whim. We can text our friends possibly by just talking into the face of our watch. Grocery stores now have thousands of different items to choose from. Our cars will soon be able to drive themselves as we watch TV and talk to each other. Microwave ovens now sense when the food someone else has prepared is ready to eat. Now, most people cannot cook and have little interest in learning how. Automatic dishwashers do most of the cleanup for us. We adjust our thermostats ahead of reaching home with our smartphone apps. And on, and on. Easy lives full of beautiful things. Yet when we arrive home from long days of doing things we find repetitious and without a durable purpose we are not likely to feel happy and fulfilled.
Yet we continue doing the same patterns of behavior. We continue to live in housing that is larger than we need, consume more calories than we expend in daily exercise. We go to the same work each day because it pays well and appears secure. We associate with the same friends because they have many of the same values we have. We continue to do what we do because it is more comfortable than changing.
Change is unsettling. We have to problem-solve and learn new things when our habits change. This takes time and effort. When we are tired and hungry arriving home, we are not about to face a horizon filled with necessary new adjustments.
Another problem is that we take our cues from others. We feel comfortable doing what others are doing. When no one else is boarding their house for a coming hurricane, why should we? What others think pretty much determines our values. We are locked into the values of our immediate culture. We want to be “with it.” When we do unusual things we are often asked to explain why.
“However difficult it may be, our primary task as a species this century will be to shrink the economy and rein in population while promoting human well being. We can do so as we minimize climate change by reducing energy consumption and by replacing fossil fuels with renewable resources, while also transforming agriculture and downsizing transportation and manufacturing. Otherwise we get climate chaos and an economy that collapses rather than adjusts.” Richard Heinberg.
“What is wrong with the West is not that it has too many reinforcers, but that the reinforcers are not contingent upon the kinds of behavior that sustain the individual or promote the survival of the culture or species.” B. F. Skinner
This website is dedicated to examining the reasoning behind Heinberg’s and Skinner’s conclusions. This is an evolving site on which the authors are currently working.
Feel free to return and also to contribute by going to the “contact” section.
If you are interested in programmed instruction tutorials about the field of behavior analysis try this site
More to come……..