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Extinction burst - Terrafactive Armageddon

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July 2nd, 2013

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12:32 pm - Extinction burst
I am choosing to see all the ugly sexism and racism that is floating around out there as extinction burst behavior. When a conditioned behavior is no longer rewarded, it often results in an brief and intense increase of that behavior before the realization that there is no longer going to be a reward sets in. So a pigeon who has been getting grain by pressing a bar, when the grain stops coming, will frantically peck at the bar for a while before giving up and moving on. So people who have in the past gotten away with sexist and racist behavior, as that becomes less and less acceptable, respond with a horrible outpouring of offensiveness, because it used to work, it used to get them what they wanted, it used to be socially rewarding in some way.

So I take a deep breath, and keep on keeping on, and truly believe that after a time the flailing and the crap-storm will pass. This doesn't mean sitting down, and it doesn't mean shutting up - on the contrary, it is vital to maintain a lack of reinforcement, it is vital that the social rewards for bullying and racism and sexism continue to diminish. The longer it isn't rewarding, the better off we all are, and the closer we are to the end of the burst behavior.

Now, I'm off to naively try to figure out how bad things have to get in places like Ohio and Texas before it is reasonable to call in Medicine Sans Frontiers for proper perinatal care and family planning services. They seem to be the ones to go to when the government breaks down and fails to provide appropriate medical care, yes? If we can get them involved maybe it will shock some folks into seeing how things have deteriorated. Well, I can dream.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 2nd, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
We can hope, right? There is good in all of this though -- while I am hearing about the outbursts of sexism and racism (with a smattering of good old-fashioned homophobia, of course), I'm also hearing a lot of very positive responses to it. I was at ALA in Chicago for part of the weekend and there was quite a bit of talk about it, including comments from some big name authors. Yeah, here's hope for all of those -isms becoming nothing more than a distant memory.

(I love the idea about calling MSF for Texas and Ohio.)
Date:July 2nd, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
I think you're onto something.

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