Monday, September 26, 2016

June 3, 2015

June 3, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader, 

The following writing is my response to the paper “Radical Behaviorism and Buddhism: Complementarities and Conflicts” by Diller and Lattal (2008). It is in the middle of the night and I am in a meditative mood. I am quiet and I like to be up at this time. The moon  lights the garden, it is pleasantly cool and I sit with my legs crossed on the soft carpet.

I always like to give a response to the abstract of a paper. Based on my reading of the abstract, I have an idea of what this paper is going to be about and I begin to formulate what I am going to write. However, one thing is always certain. Regardless of how I am going to respond to this paper, I will write about Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB).  I only read papers like this to be able to write about SVB. I already disagree with the authors who hope by discerning the communalities between Buddhism, and Radical Behaviorism to enhance each philosophy. 

 I am not into enhancing Buddhism, but I am into enhancing Behaviorism. Although at this point hardly any behaviorist recognizes my work, my writings about SVB are meant to enhance behaviorism. I consider myself a behaviorist and I consider SVB a behaviorist concept. My goal is to extend Skinner’s work on Verbal Behavior with two subsets of verbal behavior he  or other behaviorist haven’t talked about,, namely, SVB and Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB). I can’t imagine he wasn’t aware of them or didn’t consider them, because SVB and NVB create contingencies for behaviorism or for mentalism. 

The reason that paper was written was obviously because the authors felt behaviorism was missing something which presumably could be found in Buddhism. I would never attempt to enhance Radical Behaviorism with something as rotten as Buddhism. The authors think Buddhism may enhance Behaviorism because they still believe in this superstitious nonsense. It is because I have been rejected by many behaviorists for not being behaviorist enough that I make a big deal out of this. Buddhist mumbo jumbo is not scientific.

I would never characterize radical behaviorism by saying it “ sought to articulate the principles by which the control of human and nonhuman behavior might be understood, emphasizing the role of environment in this control.” (underlining added). Since radical behaviorism succeeded in defining these principles ,it is odd that these authors use the word “sought” which comes from “seeking” and which directly relates to the mentalistic world of mysticism. Unlike so-called seekers of enlightenment, and truth, radical behaviorists didn’t look inside themselves, for the causation of behavior and were able to identify environmental variables which cause the behavior. 

Control of human and nonhuman behavior is not a matter of chance, of whether it “might “or “might not” “be understood”, it has been understood! This kind of writing makes an uninformed reader think as if only some haphazard attempt was made, which didn’t entirely succeed.  All this only to mollify the reader for the good stuff behaviorist s might  be able to learn from the less assuming, humble, but pre-scientific Buddhism. I take offense with the word “might” which questions the empirical facts which are well-established. 

Any wise behaviorist must immediately be thinking about the lack of reinforcement when he or she reads that the supposedly enlightened Buddha “suggested first and foremost that there is suffering inherent in life”.  Supposedly, this suffering is caused by the individual or rather, by his or her karma. To give these two mutually exclusive world views equal footing and to cover up the undeniable fact that the authors are pandering to religion,, they are treated as different philosophies, which might have something in common . “

At first glance radical behaviorism and Buddhism seem like disparate philosophical entities; one is a philosophy which informs a science; the other is a philosophy which informs a religion.”   Really? We are asked to look further, and deeper into the supposedly profound meaning of Buddhism?  Moreover, we are asked to look for communalities between science and religion “because it may result in fewer competing demands on followers of each.”   I firmly believe there should be competing demands on the followers of each: science is the end of religion! It is meaningless to write about any religion that it is about “ authenticity, rigor and logic.”

One of the main reasons we don’t have SVB is because we keep buying into NVB thinking that it is SVB; old wine in new bags.  If one knows what SVB is one cannot be fooled, but as long as one doesn’t know what SVB is,, one will be befooled,  regardless of whether one is befooling others or is befooled by others or whether one is a radical behaviorist or not. Someone who knows SVB is neither befooled by others nor is he or she trying to befool others. Only those who continue to have NVB are swayed by the overrated vague spiritual " quest for truth." 

"On further analysis it may be possible to conceptualize aspects of Buddhism as variants of behavioral philosophy, thereby building yet another bridge between the latter and other great intellectual traditions.” There is no need to build a bridge between behaviorism and outdated ways of thinking. To call them “great intellectual traditions” is to praise the emperor without clothes. What is needed, however, it a clean break from our superstitious past, but this break is only going to come about in a conversation in which we explore the great difference between SVB and NVB. 

Our superstitions continue because of NVB and are extinguished by SVB. Supposedly, an “understanding of how these entities operate similarly may permit a better understanding of the behavior of the followers of each”. Furthermore, “this understanding may be important in terms of communicating between disciplines or groups of people; with better understanding, communication between areas may be enhanced.”(underlinings added). The authors seem to be thinking that understanding improves our communication and that bad communication is due to a lack of understanding. In SVB we find out that it is not a lack of understanding which prevented communication, but a lack of experiencing. Moreover, in NVB the need for understanding is endlessly emphasized, while nobody is experiencing anything. NVB is dissociative in nature because our reality is so aversive and hostile. In SVB, on the other hand, we find out that communication is immediately improved due to appetitive stimuli.   

Morris (2003) has commented on the “benefits of consilience of knowledge across different intellectual domains” ,but Buddhism and behaviorism are not different intellectual domains just as biology and physics. SVB is the only language of consilience.Without doing anything about how we talk nothing changes. Williams seems to recognize this as he “discussed the necessity of removing the dualistic framework that dominates colloquial verbal behavior in understanding both Buddhism and radical behaviorism.” I claim that this “dualistic framework that dominates colloquial verbal behavior” is kept going by NVB.  The subject - object distinction is really about the speaker-listener distinction in everyday verbal behavior. In NVB there is a difference between the speaker and the listener, but in SVB the speaker is his or her own listener. 

These “different frameworks” always come to us as a speaker comes to a listener. The question is whether the speaker is controlling the behavior of the listener with an aversive or an appetitive contingency. In the former, we will continue with our NVB, but in the latter we achieve SVB.  There is no discussion between “schools of thought” there are only individuals representing these “schools of thought.”   As we will discover, NVB continues our separate “schools of thought” but these schools will merge and become irrelevant into the consilience produced by SVB.

June 2, 2015

June 2, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader, 

Referring to the verbal distinction between structure versus function Catania concludes “we have a static as opposed to a dynamic psychology” (1973),. However, it was never the difference between a behavioral and cognitive perspective which side-tracked “inquiry from the actual interactive process between organism and environment.” What happened was that people, (behaviorists and cognitivists alike) were trapped by Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB).  This so-called “inquiry from the actual interactive process” between organism and environment” always involved individuals, who were either talking at or with each other. In the former, they have NVB, in the latter, they have Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB).  In the former, there is no real conversation, but in the latter, there is inquiry, and the communicators investigate the conversation while talking.

It never had anything to do with whether “there is no such thing as a conceptual understanding of the world”, or whether we have  an awareness “about problems based in the way we use language.” Our so-called “attachments to both words and worldly possessions” never prevented us from being or “staying in touch, with, or under control of an ever-changing environment.” Words themselves were never the reason for mentalism,, but NVB was, and yet, we haven’t even began to talk about it. We can only talk about it once we have SVB , once we are scientific about talking itself.

“Semantics seem to emphasize the concealing/limiting features of language”, but it is NVB which is “concealing/limiting”, Only SVB  can transcend “this same language which is itself infused with repetitive forms and person as initiator, subject-predicate, structure” and prevent us from getting bound by “the necessity to use standard syntactical structures.” The reason we don’t know about this, is because we haven’t had enough SVB, but once we have more SVB, it becomes apparent that talking about the functional perspective requires us to be able to maintain SVB.

Skinner expresses mostly SVB and “acknowledges the interdependence or mutuality of control.”   If   a scientist is “being as much under control of the laboratory animal as vice versa”   then behaviorist s should have SVB in which speakers become listeners and listeners become speakers. “Thoroughgoing integration of the students with their environment” involves turn-taking in the conversation. We lost the “dynamic interdependence of the three components – discriminative stimulus (or antecendent), response and reinforcement/punishment ( consequence)” while we speak, because someone is supposedly only the speaker/stimulus and someone else is only expected to be the listener/ response/reinforcr. Since the “vital feature of the interdependence of these three components lies in the integration of environment and organism” we must realize, while we talk, that we are each other’s environment. I agree with Williams “a comparison is warranted with artists who are controlled more by the immediate reinforcement of what they see as the brush is moved on the canvas than by the question of who will buy the canvas. “  That immediacy is needed to have SVB. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

May 31, 2015

May 31, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader, 

This is the second part of my response to “The Ontogenetic Selection of Verbal Capabilities: Contributions of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior Theory to a More Comprehensive Understanding of Language” by Douglas Greer (2008). In a couple of hours my wife will return from her holiday. I ate a terrific salad from a big wooden bowl. In it was also the left over quinoa and it tasted delicious. I like to make my own food for a change and have enjoyed these couple of days of doing things on my own. I have noticed this before, it is very clear that things are incredibly different when I am by myself. I enjoy having my own rhythm, but I realize I have gotten used to all the things Bonnie does. I also appreciate her and will be happy when she is back again. I have cut a few roses from our garden and put them in vases to welcome her.

I was thinking how weird it is that no behaviorist has caught on to the fact that there is such a phenomenon as Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB). It shows that even the vast majority of behaviorists, who consider behavior as caused by environmental variables, are unknowingly trapped by Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB). Like most people, even behaviorists didn’t succeed in achieving the behavioral cusp in which they listen to themselves while they speak. Although separately evolved listener and speaker behaviors  became somewhat “joined” and created at least some sense of connection between their “observing” and “producing” responses, this connection never resulted in what I would call SVB: speaking in which speaking and listening happen at the same rate and intensity level. In my view the so-called “joining of speaking and listening behavior” in behaviorism is half-hearted. 

Although Skinner has emphasized that language always “involves the joining of observing and producing responses: responses categories that are initially independent’”(Skinner, 1957), in day to day conversation it is quite apparent that even among behaviorists this is mostly not the case. If the “producer-as-own-observer” would be reinforced all the time, we would be having SVB continuously. Unfortunately, we mainly have NVB as only specific instances of the “producer-as-own-observer” are reinforced under specific circumstances, while most instances are neither observed nor reinforced.

Against all odds I was able to go on with SVB, not because it was so often reinforced, but because of what Skinner called “ostensive learning”, that is, “automatic reinforcement” or “Pavlonian second order conditioning.” How did that work? I heard people sounding friendly, patient, calm and peaceful and I felt better producing such a voice than being unfriendly, impatient, stressed and negative. Although for a long time I believed that I was causing my own behavior, because of my discovery I studied behaviorism and found out that I wasn’t and couldn’t be causing it. A child doesn't decide to learn English, it simply learns English from the members of his or her verbal community.

My wife’s domineering mother has left again and the atmosphere is much better now. After she had left I felt relieved and my wife and I were talking with each other in an entirely different manner than was possible when her mother was there. We go on with our way of relating and talking, because we feel better that way. In SVB we talk with a different kind of sound than in NVB. This sound of our voice is a conditioned stimulus, which makes many other new experiences available. 

“The speaker or the producer [of speech] may simply ‘parrot’ the responses of the caregivers, where the response itself reinforces repetition, much like how the emission of music is automatically reinforced” (Skinner, 1957). As a child, I preferred to echo the sound of my mother over the frightening, intimidating sound of my father. I was conditioned by the friendly sound of my mother. “When a child has acquired conditioned reinforcement for correspondence between hearing and saying the child is reinforced by her reproduction of what is heard.” Greer emphasizes that “parroting is not verbal. It becomes verbal only when the child behaves such that a listener mediates the speaker. This mediation function distinguishes the joining of the observing behavior and the producing behavior of language from the joining of other observing and producing behaviors.” My forceful father didn’t mediate my verbal behavior.

My mother was my primary audience, who mediated my speech and my verbal behavioral history has been affected by the experience of the sound of her friendly voice. The foundation for what would lead to my discovery of SVB was not created by my father, but by my mother’s reinforcement of “relations between production and the nonverbal world.” Moreover, “the capacity to match across seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling such that the capacity for sameness across senses was mastered”, could only be learned from someone who had this capacity. I often wondered why I was crying, but crying was my mother’s way of putting it all together. Although people have judged and misunderstood my tears as a sign of pathology, I felt them as restoring wholeness and relief. I used to cry openly, but learned to cry alone. I think that crying is a behavioral cusp and I feel fortunate to have learned it. 

My mother’s voice or anyone who sounded like her became an appetitive conditioned stimulus for me to which I was naturally attracted to, but my father’s voice or anyone who sounded like him, was an aversive conditioned stimulus I was in conflict with if I couldn’t escape from it. I was often scolded and humiliated by him because I wasn’t listening. I tried and I wanted to, but I couldn’t and I failed and was often rejected. The harder I tried, the more I failed. I often felt that if I could have my mother by herself, I would be happy, but that wasn’t possible. She often confused me because she allowed my father’s corporal punishment to be inflicted on me and her other children. My impatient father used to say that those who don’t want to hear, will be made to feel. What he meant by that was that if we didn’t do as he told us to, he would hit us and he often did. I wasn't able to learn much from my father as I was afraid for him. I only was able to learn from those who sounded good. Thus, the “auditory stimulus”, how other people sounded, “came to control multiple responses as a result of specific instructional or environment experiences.” 

May 30, 2015

May 30, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader, 

I am reading a paper by Douglas Greer called “The Ontogenetic Selection of Verbal Capabilities: Contributions of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior Theory to a More Comprehensive Understanding of Language” (2008). He considers “the joining of the speaker and the listener within the skin” – which happens after the “initial independence of speaker and the listener” – as essential for the foundation for an “empirically based theory of verbal development.” 

This is exciting as my theory of Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB) is based on this “joining of the speaker and the listener within the skin.” Moreover, this affects the sound of the speaker’s voice, which is then perceived by the listener as an appetitive stimulus. The crux of SVB is that the speaker listens to him or herself while he or she speaks. In Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB) by contrast,  in which the speaker’s voice is perceived by the listener as an aversive stimulus, the speaker is not listening to him or herself. Interestingly, we say that in NVB the speaker gets under the listener’s skin, that is, he or she coerces and forces the listener to listen to him or to her. 

Greer’s paper focuses on how language may have evolved.  Since by verbal behavior “we mean all the producing and mediating functions of language responses (speaking, signing, gesturing, Morse Code, smoke signals, drumbeats)”, we need to recognize that although “the term verbal is not synonymous with vocal or oral language”, it does include it. 

The sound of the voice of the speaker is either perceived by the listener as an appetitive or an aversive stimulus. If the speaker’s voice positively affects the listener, he or she will tact SVB, but if the speaker’s voice negatively effects the listener, the listener will tact NVB. We must learn to distinguish between SVB and NVB as this will help us to increase SVB and decrease or stop NVB. 

Since NVB negatively effects the listener, we should try to prevent it and replace it with SVB. By focusing the listener’s attention on the quality of the sound of the voice of the speaker, communicators increase their understanding of how the environment selects their verbal behavior. Although the sound of the voice which pertains to SVB or NVB is made by the individual speaker, it is definitely not caused by him or by her.

Greer writes “Scientific analyses of verbal behavior focus on investigations of the functions of verbal behavior including the control of the environment: an environment that includes the control exerted by the audience on the speaker and, more recently, the function of verbal behavior for the listener.” Since we are considering operant and respondent conditioning, we need to explore and trace back as much as possible, while we speak, the environmental variables on both sides of the skin, which set the stage for SVB or NVB, which are diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive. “Verbal behavior assumes that certain evolved physiological capabilities made it possible for the adventitious selection of language functions in cultures through social learning – social learning made possible by our capacities to benefit from respondent and operant conditioning experiences reflected in the basic principles of behavior”.

SVB is identified as “a higher order operant”, which provides “explanations of complex verbal functions and their ontogeny.” The social contingencies which select SVB are different than those which select NVB. SVB is characterized by equality between speaker and listener, but NVB is hierarchical; the speaker aversively controls the behavior of the listener. An new way of analyzing the function of language becomes possible because of the SVB/NVB distinction. From the verbal reports of those who have explored this distinction it is clear that SVB and NVB are two subclasses of vocal verbal behavior, which must have a different neurophysiological pathways. 

Greer identifies whether children “are missing certain verbal capabilities or verbal behavioral developmental cusps.” By trying to “develop interventions which are designed to supply these missing capabilities” he then traces the “environmental experiences that led to the verbal capabilities.” I extend his idea of “developmental cusps”, but offer SVB not to children, but to adults. I claim that as long as we remain entrenched by NVB, we will be without “certain verbal capabilities.” Moreover, if we don’t experience enough SVB, certain repertoires can never even be learned. Our lack of repertoire perpetuates NVB and without SVB, individual verbal behavior stops developing. People, that is, speakers are the environmental variables which lead to these developments. 

Lack of development of verbal behavior repertoire must have consequences for the workings of our brains. I hypothesize that onset of Alzheimer’s can be delayed by increased levels of SVB and am confident that those who have Alzheimer’s have higher rates of NVB than those who don’t have it. SVB is an adult behavioral cusp which most people completely miss out on. 

Rosales-Ruiz & Baer (1996) defined the behavioral developmental cusp as “a change that (1) is often difficult, tedious, or otherwise problematic to accomplish, yet (2) if not made, means little or no further development is possible in its realm (and perhaps several realms); but (3) once it is made, a significant set of subsequent developments becomes easy or otherwise highly probable, which (4) brings the developing organism into contact with other cusps crucial to further, more complex, or more refined development on a thereby steadily expanding, steadily more interactive realm.” (underlining added). SVB fits perfectly with this description. 

SVB seems difficult because not enough environments are available to make it happen. However, these environments are not difficult to arrange, but they will only be organized, stabilized and available, if we acknowledge our need for such environments. If it is too cold, we turn on the heather; if it is too warm, we turn on the air-conditioner. We can turn up the rate of SVB if we know what it is and what is needed to make it happen. I disagree with this definition which says that change is often difficult. We only say that because we lack an environmental perspective. Once we adopt the view that behavior is not caused by inner agents, but by our environment, SVB, or other behavioral cusps, are easy to accomplish. It is true, however, that NVB prevents the change involved in the cusp called SVB. 

Many other things would become possible, if we would arrange environments in which SVB could happen, which, by the way, are environments in which NVB couldn’t happen. These other developments come into view only when SVB is continued, but remain out of sight as long as NVB takes over again. The numbing and stunting effects of NVB are such that there is hardly any appreciation for the subtle complexities of SVB. Lastly, in NVB the speaker is talking at the listener and not with the listener. In other words, in NVB the speaker doesn’t interact or take turns with the listener. Actually, in NVB the speaker doesn’t really speak and the listener doesn’t really listen.