Two Important Truths (Negative Reinforcement/Extinction)

This post refers to a behaviorism concept called negative reinforcement. I first discussed and defined the concept of negative reinforcement here, in the context of the Bob Woodward recordings. At a minimum, please know it is not the same as punishment (the media always gets that wrong. 😭).

With that in mind, two important truths should be acknowledged now, IF we want science, objectivity, and fact (and compassion, love, and care) to lead in the next four years (and beyond)

1.) If someone has objectively committed a crime, that person must be held accountable for their crimes, regardless of any exterior factors that may make that “difficult” (which is ultimately an emotion that must be separated from the behavior, in this specific context). This is because of negative reinforcement. We cannot ignore crimes and claim to value and uphold science. The science of negative reinforcement supports our judicial system; we can’t have it both ways.

2.) The “media” (for this post, “media” is very broadly defined: independent journalists, freelance, mid-size companies, podcasters, bigger corporations, etc.) must remain “vigilant” on a continual and consistent, 100% basis. What do I mean by this? I mean … you know that vigilance they managed to display that week of the election? You could tell they were a bit more careful with their coverage, right? More cautious about what they report? That needs to be the standard, all the time—no less.

On a lesser scale, not reinforce any… well, “trolling” from the right-wing sector of the population. This is not because of negative reinforcement (though there are elements of NR involved in this scenario, for sure), but, rather, because of something called “extinction.” Again, this needs to be done as close to 100%, or you run the risk of intermittently reinforcing behavior. (For reference, gambling is addictive (partially) due to intermittent reinforcement. It is the hardest “reinforcement schedule” to “break.” I Will explain further.) ✨

 


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