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Posts Tagged ‘reinforcement’

I wonder if I can break from the flow in this blog to posit a response on the CNN article

When any argument used results in the personification of the brain as an entity that ‘does’ things, the value of your verbal behavior to others gets minimalized. Brains are cellular matter that behave according to cellular chemistry and physics without any agency toward purpose, function, or order.”

Please don’t follow the crowd and use words as if they don’t matter. Furthermore, avoid the crowd’s focus on monocausality, absolutes and Newtonian cause and effect chain-link logic. You are involved with an organ that has roughly 100 billion neural cells with 10 million attachments to each one. Noodle that if you will! The number of permutations for what is going on in the brain as a billion fibers fire in and out of synchrony with other patterns is difficult to deal with. Using simplistic metaphors is what the crowd does. Metaphors may sound succinct but they reduce the reader’s ability to grasp the enormity of the problems involved in every aspect. Behavior::neural activity::genetics::the environment and their reciprocities are complex. The subject matter has a “wow” factor but it also has a history littered with charlatans, elixir salesman and worse. Don’t follow the crowd but instead, select the empirical path rather than the path of myth, magic and dualism.

No, these observations reported by CNN don’t abstract well.  They don’t do much but imply that a correlation is as good as a ‘cause.’ Pity. Correlations are the basis of fMRIs.

The brain doesn’t show that people fear being different. The brain shows patterns of firings that people with letters and research project numbers after their name interpret one way or another. You still have to listen and read and evaluate what they say, write and interpret.

  • How did the brain come to fire the way it did (in that area, at that amplitude, and pattern)?
  • What impact did neural plasticity have on the firings?
  • What do the fMRI readings represent?
  • Is the same firing pattern seen in Budapest or Pogo to that stimuli?
  • Is it true of Paraná tribe members and Malaysian sea nomads?

We are like others in groups or organizations because we are both reinforced and punished over time for our behavior in relation to their behavior. We recognize similarities (selectively) and as long as they don’t conflict with our other (selected) valued belief systems, we “relate” to that group. We diverge from social group convention for the same reasons. What is constant are the changes in the flow of what we value or what we relate to in those and other groups we attend to…which is also conditioned.

To show the degree that things are controlled by consequences, invite a Shiite to speak at your church mission group or invite a goyim to participate in the next Hasidic  law review. Watch the group behavior.  Of course these are extremes to show an effect.  But there are subtle abstractions as well… Bring your close friends, the ones who love you for who you are… to a Monster Truck Rally.   Social contingencies are powerful!  

That is one way to explain why some people are Green Bay Packer fans and some are Oakland Raider fans. Each sees things they value in their group and don’t value in the other’s group. Those ‘things’ are also conditioned by the contingencies the different fans were exposed to in the past.

How else does one explain being a Raider fan?

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I was going to title this “Not found @ 2009 Consumer Electronics Show…” but I’d get punished.

People invest in training for their education, work, entertainment and even lifestyles. The society as a whole invests billions in training and education for all its children and encourages more of it after high school. Collectively, corporations spend hundreds of billions of dollars on training of all levels; from simple tasks (MS Office) to the ultra complex (Billings fMRI certification). Training can be hands-on, case studies, role-play, webcasts, podcasts, virtual, instructor led, eLearning, Learning communities and even blog solutions groups. Then there is mentoring for individuals to complement sales training, technical training, service training, partner training and vendor training.

Professional athletic organizations spend billions of dollars globally each year to train not only the muscles of their athletes but the way they think about themselves, their competitors, and how to handle work-life balance issues that can be anything but normal. The ‘natural’ athletic ability of athletes like Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, Paton Manning, Dana Torres, and Mario Williams comes at the price of eight+ hours of practice a day for years in order to be an over-night success. People watch super athletes perform a bevy of athletic feats and too frequently ascribe their behavior to a “natural ability” rather than to intense training in multiple areas that is required to do what they do. The US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, has classes for athletes on handling the media, food, injuries and anger. Organizations also spend millions more to learn new methods of training world class athletes for elite competition in every sport imaginable from both forms of football, baseball and basketball to lesser but intensely played X-games, tennis and ping pong.

All this time, all this money and all these people invest daily in what they can learn today that will take them to the next level tomorrow. They are all committed to acquiring whatever will improve performance, profit, presentation or information that will serve them in the pursuit of what each of them is organized to value.

However when any of these individuals, groups or organizations are presented with the learning and conditioning rules that apply to their training there is push back and denunciation conditioning. While even a grade school track coach knows how the Krebs cycle affects a ‘kick’ at the end of a 440, they know next to nothing of the methods of reinforcement and avoidance, chaining and fading, discrimination training or schedules effect those they train. Even the arguments against the use of conditioning and learning techniques as being relevant are learned using the very contingency management they deny is involved.

So, am I missing something? Did we all learn to read blogs by reflex? Was divination involved in finding the right partner to marry? Was it always their ‘motivation’ or was it due to a ‘calling’ he turned that MBA from University of Colorado into a creative design position for www.getgreen.com?

The value for us is that learning and conditioning is everywhere. It is harder to find a behavior that didn’t come about due to past consequences than it is to keep up with pop logic that eating chocolate is good for me or that purging is a disease. Please! The effects of learning and conditioning are everywhere; drug cartels, congressman, Joel Osteen, Rev. Wright, moms, brothers sisters and you too.

Maybe we ought to take the rules of learning seriously in order to understand the big stuff about what the heck is going on in the world. Then we can start on the tough stuff.

Find me a behavior that was acquired without conditioning and I’ll pay you money.

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‘Thinking’ as a class of potential behavior is hard to study and thus, makes it ripe for speculation and interpretations beyond the data. As things are today, thinking is made more significant because it is presumed that humans are the only ones that do it making is a signature feature on what is human and what isn’t. “Mind”, “consciousness”, thought and all sorts of covert related properties are offered as evidence that humans are different and somehow more substantive than other animals. The past and existing organizations of what is going on inside the ‘vault’ [read: brain, head, mind, neural node, CNS] have been dismal. Answers are as elusive as they were 2000 years ago and are made more mysterious for some by being out of reach.

We have made no progress in regards to our understanding of what goes on there and how those things relate to subjective or empirical states of man or our institutions, including governance and law. They have suffered most while we hack away at deciphering the muddled mess of metaphysics and logically indefensible postulates that are put forth to explain how man behaves and why.

the verbal community has not yet been able to connect with what is going on that the community cannot experience. Any reinforcements that are delivered are not contingent on specific behavior because they can’t be seen in time or space. This comes to create a response class that looks like behavior that is reinforced on a VI schedule independent of a specific response on the part of the target organism. Yes; the prime requisite for development of superstitious behavior is non-contingent VI delivery of a reinforcer.

thinking may occasion in a person a fixed gaze, unblinking or reduced eye blinks, change in gate, or time insensitivity to many external stimuli, changes in galvanic responses and lowered heart and breathing rates. However, these are not thinking per se but may be part of what is inferred to be happening when one is doing any covert behaviors including thinking. All are part of other behaviors as well as behaviors with parameters of their own.

In describing thinking there is a lack of external conformation possible that any observer or the free-floating reinforcements can access. Thus, there is no connection between a specific covert behavior and a potential reinforcer. Thus, there is no way to show an increase in the future probability of occurrence of a target covert behavior occurring when the potential reinforcer was delivered.

Our covert behavior [including thinking] has several problems as a behavior class.

  1. it is not sensed and can’t be verified or falsified
  2. it does not have standard units of measurement
  3. results will depend on the way it is measured
  4. it is experiences through filters that transducer it to something else based on history and context
    1. vocabulary
    2. environment context
    3. culture
    4. in articulation of aspect (what parts are of interest – dreams, impulses, value, etc.)
    5. unknown empirical properties

Ultimately, the products of processes generated from within the ‘vault’ of the listener are routed and locked there. Everyone will continue to investigate how and what is going on there with whatever methods that can be mustered. Today the neurosciences are taking their shot at deciphering the relationships between what is going on inside our head and what we experience. To that end they are using 19th century models of man and behavior mixed with decrepit autonomous man inklings and sophisticated 21st century technology and chemistry. For some there is value in how they postulate the working of man and his mind. Those values are the same as postulated 2000 years ago and haven’t benefited our species as much as science methods have benefited biology, chemistry and anthropology. The value to science will depend more on changes in approach to man than the power of the magnet used in a portable fMRI.

Any set of the things related to what happens when someone is thinking is all just that, related to thinking for that person and not thinking itself. All the covert events can be related to things associated with other behaviors done when a person is not thinking as well as when some are thinking. The set of responses become associated as events related to a state that may be referred to as ‘thinking’ for that person who, when asked, “What are you doing?” or “Why don’t you answer me?” may report, “I was thinking…” and otherwise communicate something the other person will probably relate to as a set of private covert actions (events) that can be arbitrarily called ‘thinking.’

Of course it is very true that if thinking were an operant the people in the examples above would not have to ask, “What are you doing?” or “Why don’t you answer me?” If thinking were doing something overt, the observer could learn from observing or measuring behavior and would know the answers to those questions after learning to discriminate what was/is thinking and what is something other than thinking.

Psychotherapists, bosses, clergy, spouses, friends, parents etc., all have a version of why we do what we do. They have a story about what relationships exist between us and the world around us; the environment. There is a good chance that, after some time experiencing a person, that each could be right. Of course their story is riddled with inaccuracies as well seeing how they only see what they were trained to see. Seems impossible but consider that each of us has a VERY broad and complex behavior repertoire. Our complex behavior allows us to behave differently and distinctly in the different environments and contexts of different people. Sometimes the people we are, how we behave, overlaps. Sometimes they don’t.

SUMMARY

Great thinkers as well as the delusional philosophers, pontiffs, despots and princes and even the man and woman on the street have been reinforced for reporting their internal covert musings in subjective and fantasy terms focusing on the exhaust of the human thinking process – emotions and feelings. These 3 thousand years of focus has outdistanced the empirical study of thinking by overlooking histories of the individuals and the use of the least productive research methods NOT found in 17th century science! In the not-so-grand scale of things, it is more interesting for the lay person and the scientist alike to be enamored by the fantasy than by the environmental contingencies. We pay for that interest every day we live on this earth.

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Like a flu virus in a preschool lunch room, the question comes up every 6 months or so as to “Why do children lie?” and “What does it mean?” and “What do you do about it?” The latest incarnation was on CNN/health in a Parenting.com article.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/11/12/why.kids.lie/index.html

There is huge divergence out there on the answers to the above questions. Even when the conclusions are correct, like Michael Brody, M.D. who correctly says “There’s nothing wrong with telling it [a lie]” he’s grossly mistaken when he says that, “Very young kids don’t know the difference between truth and fiction.”

And again later in the CNN article, when it states “It doesn’t make sense to punish toddlers for truth bending, since they don’t get that what they’re doing is wrong.” Right conclusion for the wrong reasons, again.

Alix Finkelstein in her book, Baby Name Tool Data Set and her article “Baffling Kid Behavior – Explained” subtitled “Why they say one thing and then do another — and how to know what they really want” concludes with the assessment that is chilling: “Kids are a bundle of contradictory impulses.”

So, what do the above proclamations tell us? Can these authorities with all these published works and fancy letters after their name be mistaken?

It is very clear; children can tell what contingencies are operating in different contexts as well as when those contingencies change. They understand counter-control before the parents are driven to pap in doctor office magazine racks for clues on what “counter-control” means.

Parents are the one’s that have been deceived and have not been told the truth. For instance, parents are told that the ‘Terrible twos’ is just a phase that the children go through, etc. That period boils down to the children learning rules – everyone’s rules, faster than the parents learning the children’s rules. They and teachers and ‘authorities’ see no inconsistencies with encouraging their children they can be President of the United States some day [or a princess or baseball player] with that same child also needing different strategies of how to navigate the politics of third grade.

The enveloping scheme here though is the different rule sets the parents have that conflict with the rule sets the child have.

Ask the 3 year olds living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro without parents if they know the difference between truth and fiction. Ask the four year olds working in the factories around the world if they can tell the difference between right and wrong, good and bad or about ‘truth’. Ask the five year olds in Bagdad, Darfur, Mexico City, NYC, Moscow and Rome if they understand the rules (contingencies) for telling the truth, lying and what is fiction. Consequences control behavior. Get over it and on with life.

We all live in a world of fantasy and reality. Telling the difference is not easy for children and it is not easy for adults who have been given license to be uncritical of what controls behavior. It is not made easier with superstition and traditions that foster fantasy masked as reality – Christmas – the Easter Bunny – grandpa is now sleeping in heaven – mommy is busy – when the child senses what is going on and it is not what is reported to be going on.

For a child to NOT pick up the differences on what is going on and what he or she is told defines a level of what all parents dread more than anything…the child is a dolt! For parents to NOT manage these relationships with communication supports the contention that parents don’t understand behavior –theirs or their children’s – any better than Finkelstein does above with her assessment that “Kids are a bundle of contradictory impulses.”

Here is a list of scenarios that lead to lying. Can you tell which are for children and which are for adults?

  • Boredom – lack of stimulation and social attention
  • Anger over some broken rules by others

o Betrayal

o Frustration

o Their own rules conflict

  • Seeking material gain
  • Mimicry
  • Story telling to connect things that seem unconnected
  • They want the lie to be the truth
  • Escape / avoidance from aversive stimulation

I can’t tell either.

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Can you remember back to your days in 1975 while in Psychology 210: “Psych for the New World”?

A Negative Reinforcer is a stimulus or stimulus set that when removed or terminated increases the probability of that same response in the future.

Richard Fuld claims that ‘we’ made him and the others like him that have tetra dollar salaries and Mega stock and bonuses with parachutes the size of which could fund small nations… Well, he may be right. The contingencies that came together were those things that favored him doing what he did.

We did it or at least reinforced it when it happened. We got them there and we gave them the keys to the kingdom and told them all that we wanted order and profit – if not in that order, we still wanted it. Those that could claim [reliably] to be able to bring it were vetted, signed and installed.

Ugly isn’t it. Guess what…??? Fuld and those like him were the instruments of the body that didn’t want to face the clients, other boards, other nations, regulators and the zealots of legislature on the right, down the middle and the left. Fuld said he’d do it if they, the boards of directors, paid him. They did and he did.

Competition says what the compensation will be. In effect he responded. “You want more, pay me more. You want your assets and reserves and exchanges managed? Get a manager! I bring it to new levels by risking my reputation for the good of the investors and clients. Anything short of that you can get someone from GE to sit at the desk…”

That is what the board wanted to hear…

Now he is doing his job to escape aversive stimuli [career ending sanctions, indictments, loss of pensions, bonuses, and parachutes] which is reinforcing to him and his companies… it is as reinforcing to him as it is to you and I only his scale of success makes it seem more gluttonous. Perhaps you nick the IRS a bit, use the corporate cards for discretionary spending, turn in to corporate gas mileage for the trip to see sick Aunt Gert? Same difference…

We hail those who beat the system [– ironically, we’re the system]. Of course he is going to explain the run around that favors his position, just as we explain our positions favorably when it of value to us to do so…

Reinforcement is just one behavioral property that helps explain what is going on. It even explains the behavior of those tinkering to prevent it from happening again as they figure out how to restructure the economy to get our hats out of our butts.

Don’t think that it is possible to use negative reinforcement this way? Whattabet?

Those that consider this or that to be a result of single causes should bite your tongue and go take a “time out” while you consider how contingencies work; antecedents events, current state, shaped past consequences for similar behavior…

Consider this mornings Google News events from today.

FIND THE ARTICLE THAT IS NOT CONTROLLED BY CONSEQUENCES

10/6/08 Auto-generated 10 minutes ago

German Stocks Fall to Lowest Since 2006; Hypo Real Estate Drops
Bloomberg – 2 hours ago
By Michael Patterson Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) — German stocks fell the most in eight months, sending the DAX Index to the lowest since July 2006, as the deepening credit crunch forced the country’s financial industry to double a credit line for Hypo Real

Barack Obama accuses Republicans of distracting voters from the …
Los Angeles Times – 2 hours ago
‘TURN THE PAGE’: Obama in Asheville. His poll ratings have risen recently, even in red states such as North Carolina. John McCain wants to ‘distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance,’ the Democrat says in Asheville, NC,

Northern California bus crash leaves 10 dead
The Associated Press – 48 minutes ago
WILLIAMS, Calif. (AP) – A casino-bound charter bus flipped over about 10 miles from its destination, ejecting passengers and crushing others as it rolled into a ditch.

UPDATE 1-RESEARCH ALERT-FBR raises Wells Fargo price target
Reuters – 46 minutes ago
Oct 6 (Reuters) – Friedman Billings Ramsey raised its price target on the stock of Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the fifth-largest US bank, by $5 to $25, saying the proposed merger with Wachovia Corp (WB.

ImClone Announces Merger Agreement with Eli Lilly at $70 Per Share
MarketWatch – 48 minutes ago
, , ) , pursuant to which Lilly has agreed to commence a tender offer for no less than a majority of the issued and outstanding shares of ImClone common stock at a net price per share of $70 in cash.

European countries ramp up deposit protection
Washington Post – 39 minutes ago
By MATT MOORE AP STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Nordic countries Denmark and Sweden moved Monday to bolster protection of bank accounts as stock exchanges across Europe opened lower and central banks pumped more money to cash-starved banks.

Sony Expands E-book Reader Range
PC World – 9 hours ago
Sony is introducing a second electronic book reader to its range in the US that comes with upgraded hardware and will go on sale in November.

IBM Expands Cloud Computing Offerings
CRN – 1 hour ago
By Rick Whiting, ChannelWeb IBM expanded its cloud computing efforts Monday, debuting new on-demand services for ISVs and customers the company said would make it easier for businesses to adopt cloud computing practices for improving collaboration,

Facebook co-founder Moskovitz leaves to start group collaboration …
VentureBeat – 5 hours ago
Facebook co-foudner Dustin Moskovitz (left) and colleague Justin Rosenstein (right) said this weekend they are leaving Facebook to start their own company.

McCain, Obama campaigns trade barbs
The Associated Press – 38 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AP) – Officials with the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama are trading fresh accusations of mudslinging a month before voters choose George Bush’s successor.

Under Financial Restraints, McCain Drops Michigan
ABC News – 1 hour ago
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN The electoral map shrank for John McCain Thursday as he abandoned his campaign in Michigan, raising the stakes in other battleground states such as Ohio.

‘SNL’ Keeps It Political
New York Times – 7 hours ago
Once again, “Saturday Night Live” led off the weekend’s show with Tina Fey, above, the Emmy Award-winning creator of “30 Rock,” as the Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska.

‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ tops weekend box office
Los Angeles Times – 4 hours ago
A nation of Chihuahua dogs living in the Lost City of Techichi. in the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” The Disney film does better than expected, grossing $29 million and knocking ‘Eagle Eye’ into second place.

OJ Simpson jury: Tapes did football legend in
New York Daily News – 5 hours ago
BY NANCY DILLON Jurors, including Dora Pettit (with mike), say they set aside personal feelings and based guilty OJ Simpson conviction on facts.

Yes, it is sort of a trick question but it explains all you are seeing in Washington, DC, Wall Street and Main Street…

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Phone rings. I pick up the phone without call identity.

A voice I don’t recognize asks for me. “This is John” I reply.

“Hi, this is Mike C…” The phone goes silent for a second or two that seems to be a lot longer. “Damn,” I respond, “it is good to hear your voice Mike, C… [repeating his name as if to reassure myself I heard it right] …Where the hell have you been?”

A little background:

We last saw each other in the early 70’s. We were raw, immortal, and passionate about everything. Bright guys who were luckily stupid or stupidly lucky…or both. We had nothing but everything in front of us and we saw clearly those who had a cloud around themselves and those that had the wind at their backs. We did things we weren’t suppose to do and we didn’t do what we should have done. He taught me early on to “go fast” – also our special word for our favorite controlled substance – and the value of ‘wishing’… “John, you can wish in one hand and spit in the other and you know which one will fill up first!” To this day my kids don’t use the term “wish” very much.

Then, for no apparent reason we went separate ways after an ice climbing experience where our friend slipped and fell several hundred feet down a razor runway of ice. We all laughed about it when we got back down but we all knew we had escaped another bullet.

Back on the phone we go back and forth to catch up on what has been 30 years of experiences. I had not seen or talked to him or his lovely wife Jane for a long time although I thought of him during that time on many occasions. We also had common friends around the country. I met people in business that knew Mike and just smiled when his name was mentioned, making sure that I knew him as well as they thought they knew him prior to sharing with me their ‘adventures’ with him. Our ice climbing friend in San Francisco recently sent his email over with his email address and I pinged Mike in the hopes of connecting again. It worked.

Jobs, adventures of my own, wives, divorces, remarriages and more adventures – both positive and those less so. We went down the check list of catch-up:

  • Children (mine, not theirs)
  • Home – past and present
  • Speed bumps encountered
  • Jobs – past and present
  • Common friends –
  • Current passions –

In all too short a time the call was over with commitments to exchange data on current locations, etc. and to keep in touch – probably with email due to his travels… Jane would follow up in the next few days while he was on his latest adventure.

I hung up and it started.

“What he hell just happened…?”

In the past we were connected in so many ways and now we were reminiscing. It was not getting older that rubbed me wrong… I was jealous that he was who he was right now… leaving me with some explaining to do to me on why that was so.

So here is the question set:

1. What was the reason for the jealousy?

2. What data was I processing that made me want to say more and listen less?

3. Did I really know him today or was he a figment of the past intense experiences?

So give me your answers…

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