Anatomy of a Skinner Box, and How The Left Broke It

Today we’re going to talk about an Operant Conditioning Chamber, and the fact you’re already in one. Well, several actually, but we’ll get to that later.

Invented in 1930, as part of the studies of one Burrhus Frederic Skinner, he managed to distil a complex societal phenomenon into a simple laboratory experiment. A rat is placed in a box with 2 lights and two levers. When the green light comes on food is ready, and pressing the corresponding lever will grant the rat a food pellet. When the red lights comes on it means the floor will shortly become electrified and the rat must push the second lever to disable it. The rat learns that green means pleasure and red means pain. The rat begins to act accordingly to the point where even if the corresponding reward/punishment is removed, it will carry on pushing those levers.

Control can be achieved through both positive and negative stimulus. Ultimately the end goal of the experiment is the same. Get the rat to do the thing. Whether it means pulling a lever to receive a food pellet, or avoid a shock the outcome is the same. The rat pushes the lever.

The consequences of an act effect the probability of it’s occurring again

-B.F.Skinner

This was by no means an original concept, just a useful apparatus for proving the theory in a swift and repeatable fashion, building on the fundamentals of conditioning set forth by Ivan Pavlov and his famous dog and bell trick.

Okay, all very interesting, but you said I was in one of these right now.

You are…in order to control large populations one needs more than a simple electrified floor and food pellets. To control the everyday actions of billions of people, from the minor transgressions through to major societal issues, you need a complex web of consequences, all pushing people down a simple path. You provide the illusion of variety and agency while ultimately predeterming the consistent beats in each life story.

 

  • Be Born
  • Start Growing
  • Get an education
  • Get a Job
  • Find a partner
  • Have kids
  • Impart what wisdom you have in the time you have
  • Retire
  • Die

If you can keep those points consistent in the majority of people’s lives, the machine keeps working. You can have the ability to have those little life experiences that we all cling to so dearly, but you can never really change anything. Faults in the machine need to be dealt with swiftly. Be it imposition of state power through the legal system, societal shunning for abhorrent behaviour or the incentivizing of good behaviour. You will either play ball or you will simply be removed from the field.




But somehow this has begun to break down. We see fewer people consistently hitting each of the beats. We see hard-working young men and women getting jobs and finding they simply cannot afford to have children, while others (particularly in Europe) have litters of kids and avoid the Job beat altogether, because they get a better standard of living on welfare. Those who work and don’t have children are funding the incoming migrant waves that will ultimately be their replacements. Good breeders who will benefit European populations with millions of future tax payers (in theory). They will save us from the current oncoming storm of “the pensions crisis” by turning it into an even more apocalyptic crisis decades down the road…

Many would argue that it was the media that pushed this narrative. Told you not to have kids, that having it all meant being childless and single in your 30s. But here’s the dark little secret that no one ever wants to own up to. You let it happen. We all did.

 

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting

​​​​​​​​-Sun Tzu

Society-wide engineered conditioning is commonplace, we see the manipulation of the media at scale and miss the smaller plays it makes in the early stages of a narrative being set. We miss the warning signs due to the constant churn of 24 hour news cycles and the illusion of perfect information available to those without a good enough bullshit filter. Narratives start small and gradually pick up steam over time.

Who knew subtle pushes on Facebook’s trending lists would turn the death of one man into a national movement? That you’d witness cities burn and racial tensions boil back up to levels not seen since the LA Riots. You are pushed down a path and presented with the illusion of choice. Either you support the movement and become a stormtrooper for it, or you oppose and face societal shunning/possible legal consequences for speaking out against the prevailing narrative. Regardless you either become a part of the establishment and you do its bidding, or you become a warning to others who would seek to step out of line.

However, there are a couple of faults in this machine that offer the opportunity for exploitation. The best part? The enemy has already begun doing the work for us.

Their greatest failure is in maintaining a consistent outcome. The box works on the basis that depressing the lever results in either the halting of pain, or the reward of food. We can see this across the west at the moment and Europe is a perfect test case. We see migrant rapists set free because their wives didn’t speak good enough English, while white males are sent to prison for putting bacon on a mosque door. We are told that only white people can be racist, we are told that the actions of our forefathers are the responsibility of the current generation. We are told that our societies are pushing for equality all the while marginalizing the former majority.

We are commanded to endure this with a smile, and this breeds resentment. Societal checks like the words “bigot” or “racist” have been broadened to the point where it is impossible to predict whether an action will trigger the punishment response. In these cases the reinforcement fails HARD and the rise of identitarian movements in Europe can attest to this. Likewise, the rise in rape statistics that feminists are currently gushing over, MAY have something to do with broadening the definition of that particular crime to include anything short of written consent.

The key to surviving the box is entirely down to strength of will and a refusal to compromise on moral principles. If enough of you refuse to take the food, or refuse to shut off the electricity you will eventually die. But in doing so you end the experiment. This is because the experiment requires your participation. It is all voluntary. They can test your ability to resist pain, or go without food, but they cannot simply kill all of you. Minor pockets of resistance will stop nothing. There’s always more room in jail for the few and the extreme. But if the country as a whole declares that they will not play the game anymore, they are forced back to the negotiating table.

Here’s where the machine breaks down: The societal contract, in order to be so far-reaching and complete, needs to be voluntary on some level. This is not to say that a person can simply choose to ignore laws, but they do get a release valve. They get to choose who makes the laws in the first place (at least in theory). The rat gets to pick which scientist experiments upon him. It’s that element of self-determination that the human brain requires to feel that it is still in some form of control.




We are faced with a 2 party system for a good reason, humans think in binary terms. This is why we so often see relatively even societal splits on major issues such as abortion/welfare/healthcare/military spending. You are taught to think you are either one thing or the other, with anything vaguely independent being either ridiculed or shunned. An in-group mentality is fostered and the hierarchy that put it in place reinforces it from the top down: “You must support the party otherwise the other guy might get in!”

Sometimes supporting the party means cutting out the rotten beams and replacing them. It means taking stock amid the constant raging “war” of red vs blue and looking for the cancer which is killing you from within. There is no ultimate solution to the skinner box, it is a necessary societal evil. But you have the right to demand a consistent outcome from it. You have a right to demand that you are treated in an ethical manner.

Over the coming weeks we will come back to these points again. We must find and support those candidates willing to honour the will of the people. We must reshape the Republican Party from within.

And if we must accept the skinner box, we shall demand a fairer, more consistent one.

Pave Darker is a political activist and contributor to New Media Central. You can follow him on Twitter @darkpaver




  • Blue Drache

    Well spoken.

    • Pave Darker

      Thank you

  • This reminds me of when Jordan Peterson talks about playable versus non-playable games. A functional society must be a playable game that can iterate over time.