10/12/06
A while back on the Fuselage, someone said, “The Island is a Skinner Box.” I thought at the time this is too simplistic. Though perhaps they did have the basis for what’s going on.

For anyone who may not have stayed awake in Psychology class: (from Wikipedia)
Burrhus Frederic “B. F.” Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) was an American psychologist and author. He conducted pioneering work on experimental psychology and advocated behaviorism, which seeks to understand behavior as a function of environmental histories of experiencing consequences. He also wrote a number of controversial works in which he proposed the widespread use of psychological behavior modification techniques, primarily operant conditioning, in order to improve society and increase human happiness; and as a form of social engineering.

Now the most obvious example is the Bear Cage food reward contraption that Sawyer is so proud to have solved. But look at the larger picture. If Sawyer, Kate, and Jack were to cooperate together and manipulate their captors, playing them off each other (as the Others are doing to our Losties) they could escape and get the upper hand. The Rube Goldberg food system and all the stations so far, bear a strong resemblance to the “do this, then that, then go here and do this, and back there and do that again, and something will happen to further your aims over here” method of solving puzzles in Myst (or in a Goldberg machine). We have heard that the writers are Myst fans among other things. So it all points to the whole Island set up to be a giant puzzle. A contrived expirement, and so are ALL the people on it. Rats in a maze. Cool. Doesn’t make the story any less interesting, just one explantion for why they are all there.

However, the writers ARE furthering much abused rumor about Skinner. He did not advocate punishment as a form of conditioning. Though he did believe in the possibility of an utopian society brought about by rewarding a certain kind of behavior. The “Skinner Box” reference is from this: A book was written that said Skinner put his own baby daughter in a Skinner Box to raise her, and when she came out she sued her father and committed suicide. She WAS raised in special air conditioned crib-box, but she denies to this day, the suit, and obviously, the suicide. Skinner did use boxes (similar to the bear cage) in his research with animals.

Then there’s this: Skinner is popularly known mainly for his controversial books Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity. Walden Two describes a visit to an imaginary utopian commune in the 1940s United States, where the productivity and happiness of the citizens is far in advance of that in the outside world due to their practice of scientific social planning and the use of operant conditioning in the raising of children. (The Others took the children “for their own good”)

But: The Church of Scientology often repeats the rumor about Skinner raising his baby in a box. Freedom Magazine and its online incarnation report that Skinner used a Skinner box on his baby, writing under his picture, “B.F. SKINNER created experimental ‘Skinner Boxes’ — small, enclosed containers for animals, with signaling levers and food chutes — even fashioning a ‘baby box’ version to monitor and modify his own infant daughter’s behavior.”[3] The Church of Scientology also has a “Psychiatry and Industry of Death Museum” in Los Angeles, California that repeats the claim about Skinner raising his baby in a Skinner box.[2]

OK. If I find out that the show is written or produced by Scientologists, I may have to stop watching. And encourage others (no pun intended) to stop also.
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In another line of thought, who didn’t see the Oz references in this last ep? Stay with me here. When Benry brought out the TV, and we see Jack desparately eating up the BoSox game with his eyes. Benry is smiling evilly in the background. Who didn’t feel they had seen that scene before? Why yes. It was Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West looking in the crystal ball. “Aunty Em! Aunty Em!” Benry could be both the Witch and the Great and Powerful Wizard in his duplicitous punish/promise tact. “I can take you HOME Jack.”

And I was trying to place Juliet’s beatific smile at Sawyer…of course, it’s Glenda, the Good Witch of the North. (With a psychotic twist.) And three of them went off to see the Wizard! ha ha. You gotta love the puns. They really enjoy playing with us don’t they?

Now click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home…”

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