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B. F. Skinner Quotes

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B. F. Skinner Quote: “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying. ”

A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.

— B. F. Skinner



B. F. Skinner Quote: “The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.”

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.”

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences.”

Behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything.”

Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.”

A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.”

We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.”

The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The consequences of an act affect the probability of its occurring again.”

The consequences of an act affect the probability of its occurring again.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “What is love except another name for the use of positive reinforcement? Or vice versa.”

What is love except another name for the use of positive reinforcement? Or vice versa.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “A first principle not formally recognized by scientific methodologists: when you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study it.”

A first principle not formally recognized by scientific methodologists: when you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study it.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “That’s all teaching is; arranging contingencies which bring changes in behavior.”

That’s all teaching is; arranging contingencies which bring changes in behavior.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.”

If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Do not intervene between a person and the consequences of their own behavior.”

Do not intervene between a person and the consequences of their own behavior.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “We are only just beginning to understand the power of love because we are just beginning to understand the weakness of force and aggression.”

We are only just beginning to understand the power of love because we are just beginning to understand the weakness of force and aggression.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.”

We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is.”

I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “If you’re old, don’t try to change yourself, change your environment.”

If you’re old, don’t try to change yourself, change your environment.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The alphabet was a great invention, which enabled men to store and to learn with little effort what others had learned the hard way-that is, to learn from books rather than from direct, possibly painful, contact with the real world.”

The alphabet was a great invention, which enabled men to store and to learn with little effort what others had learned the hard way-that is, to learn from books rather than from direct, possibly painful, contact with the real world.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “An important fact about verbal behavior is that speaker and listener may reside within the same skin.”

An important fact about verbal behavior is that speaker and listener may reside within the same skin.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “I will be dead in a few months. But it hasn’t given me the slightest anxiety or worry. I always knew I was going to die.”

I will be dead in a few months. But it hasn’t given me the slightest anxiety or worry. I always knew I was going to die.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “I don’t believe in God, so I’m not afraid of dying.”

I don’t believe in God, so I’m not afraid of dying.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The major difference between rats and people is that rats learn from experience.”

The major difference between rats and people is that rats learn from experience.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The only geniuses produced by the chaos of society are those who do something about it. Chaos breeds geniuses. It offers a man something to be a genius about.”

The only geniuses produced by the chaos of society are those who do something about it. Chaos breeds geniuses. It offers a man something to be a genius about.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “A self is a repertoire of behavior appropriate to a given set of contingencies.”

A self is a repertoire of behavior appropriate to a given set of contingencies.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Science is a willingness to accept facts even when they are opposed to wishes.”

Science is a willingness to accept facts even when they are opposed to wishes.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Must we wait for selection to solve the problems of overpopulation, exhaustion of resources, pollution of the environment and a nuclear holocaust, or can we take explicit steps to make our future more secure? In the latter case, must we not transcend selection?”

Must we wait for selection to solve the problems of overpopulation, exhaustion of resources, pollution of the environment and a nuclear holocaust, or can we take explicit steps to make our future more secure? In the latter case, must we not transcend selection?

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Twenty-five hundred years ago it might have been said that man understood himself as well as any other part of the world. Today he is the thing he understands least.”

Twenty-five hundred years ago it might have been said that man understood himself as well as any other part of the world. Today he is the thing he understands least.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Some of us learn control, more or less by accident. The rest of us go all our lives not even understanding how it is possible, and blaming our failure on being born the wrong way.”

Some of us learn control, more or less by accident. The rest of us go all our lives not even understanding how it is possible, and blaming our failure on being born the wrong way.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process.”

A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “We admire people to the extent that we cannot explain what they do, and the word ‘admire’ then means ‘marvel at.’”

We admire people to the extent that we cannot explain what they do, and the word ‘admire’ then means ‘marvel at.’

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “We do not choose survival as a value, it chooses us.”

We do not choose survival as a value, it chooses us.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The juvenile delinquent does not feel his disturbed personality. The intelligent man does not feel his intelligence or the introvert his introversion.”

The juvenile delinquent does not feel his disturbed personality. The intelligent man does not feel his intelligence or the introvert his introversion.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “We have seen that in certain respects operant reinforcement resembles the natural selection of evolutionary theory. Just as genetic characteristics which arise as mutations are selected or discarded by their consequences, so novel forms of behavior are selected or discarded through reinforcement.”

We have seen that in certain respects operant reinforcement resembles the natural selection of evolutionary theory. Just as genetic characteristics which arise as mutations are selected or discarded by their consequences, so novel forms of behavior are selected or discarded through reinforcement.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Many instructional arrangements seem “contrived,” but there is nothing wrong with that. It is the teacher’s function to contrive conditions under which students learn. It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student’s life.”

Many instructional arrangements seem “contrived,” but there is nothing wrong with that. It is the teacher’s function to contrive conditions under which students learn. It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student’s life.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The simplest and most satisfactory view is that thought is simply behavior – verbal or nonverbal, covert or overt. It is not some mysterious process responsible for behavior but the very behavior itself in all the complexity of its controlling relations.”

The simplest and most satisfactory view is that thought is simply behavior – verbal or nonverbal, covert or overt. It is not some mysterious process responsible for behavior but the very behavior itself in all the complexity of its controlling relations.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Society already possesses the psychological techniques needed to obtain universal observance of a code – a code which would guarantee the success of a community or state. The difficulty is that these techniques are in the hands of the wrong people-or, rather, there aren’t any right people.”

Society already possesses the psychological techniques needed to obtain universal observance of a code – a code which would guarantee the success of a community or state. The difficulty is that these techniques are in the hands of the wrong people-or, rather, there aren’t any right people.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “I’ve often said that my rats have taught me much more than I’ve taught them.”

I’ve often said that my rats have taught me much more than I’ve taught them.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Unable to understand how or why the person we see behaves as he does, we attribute his behavior to a person we cannot see, whose behavior we cannot explain either but about whom we are not inclined to ask questions.”

Unable to understand how or why the person we see behaves as he does, we attribute his behavior to a person we cannot see, whose behavior we cannot explain either but about whom we are not inclined to ask questions.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at, unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn’t die out, it’s wiped out.”

No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at, unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn’t die out, it’s wiped out.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Let men be happy, informed, skillful, well behaved, and productive.”

Let men be happy, informed, skillful, well behaved, and productive.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Does a poet create, originate, initiate the thing called a poem, or is his behavior merely the product of his genetic and environmental histories?”

Does a poet create, originate, initiate the thing called a poem, or is his behavior merely the product of his genetic and environmental histories?

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The human species took a crucial step forward when its vocal musculature came under operant control in the production of speech sounds. Indeed, it is possible that all the distinctive achievements of the species can be traced to that one genetic change.”

The human species took a crucial step forward when its vocal musculature came under operant control in the production of speech sounds. Indeed, it is possible that all the distinctive achievements of the species can be traced to that one genetic change.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “Old age is rather like another country. You will enjoy it more if you have prepared yourself before you go.”

Old age is rather like another country. You will enjoy it more if you have prepared yourself before you go.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The one fact that I would cry form every housetop is this: the Good Life is waiting for us – here and now.”

The one fact that I would cry form every housetop is this: the Good Life is waiting for us – here and now.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The world’s a poor standard. any society which is free of hunger and violence looks bright against that background.”

The world’s a poor standard. any society which is free of hunger and violence looks bright against that background.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.”

The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “A culture must be reasonably stable, but it must also change, and it will presumably be strongest if it can avoid excessive respect for tradition and fear of novelty on the one hand and excessively rapid change on the other.”

A culture must be reasonably stable, but it must also change, and it will presumably be strongest if it can avoid excessive respect for tradition and fear of novelty on the one hand and excessively rapid change on the other.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “A disappointment is not generally an oversight. It might just be the best one can do the situation being what it is. The genuine error is to quit attempting.”

A disappointment is not generally an oversight. It might just be the best one can do the situation being what it is. The genuine error is to quit attempting.

— B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner Quote: “At this very moment enormous numbers of intelligent men and women of goodwill are trying to build a better world. But problems are born faster than they can be solved.”

At this very moment enormous numbers of intelligent men and women of goodwill are trying to build a better world. But problems are born faster than they can be solved.

— B. F. Skinner

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