Loving B.F. Skinner

Loving B.F. Skinner

Colleen Abel

You might think it wasn ' t easy. Husband who refused to say I love you

to his wife, thanking her, dear, instead for positively reinforcing me today.

Father who caught his child in a box he called the heir conditioner

, his toddler ' s fat hands pressed in photos to the Plexiglas, ignorant of hot, or sharp, or damp. You might even think the rats, if they could hate, would hate him, god of the cages, god of the food, which came at bewildering intervals rattling through its metal chute if they could learn to nudge a lever with their paws, five times, or ten, or fifty.

But look at yourself, fool-daughter, fool-wife, the way you love those who protect you from the world, the way you love those who take the glass shard of your will from your clenched hand. You know what Skinner sought for years to find: those rats who ' d stopped receiving unlearned asking, knowing requests pushed with their pink feet would go unanswered. But those who were rewarded even one time in a thousand never quit, hardwired for the luckless lottery, loving the god of the cages who, next time, surely, would send the benevolent crumbs clattering down.

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COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning