Kohn, Alfie.  Punished by Rewards
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
ISBN 0395650283
Page 14

It is not by accident that pop behaviorism has come to suffuse our lives. There are identifiable reasons to account for its popularity, beginning with the belief systems already in place which it complements. One of these I mentioned earlier: our pragmatism, and specifically our tendency to favor practical techniques for getting the job done as opposed to getting bogged down with theories and reasons. A nation of busy pioneers and entrepreneurs has no time for figuring out the source of a problem; much more compatible with the American spirit is a simple declaration that would seem to assure results: "Do this and you'll get that."

Ironically, rewards and punishments not only lie at the core of faith but are central to our idea of rationality as well, particularly as it makes its presence felt in economic choices. Rational decision-makers, by definition, are said to seek what is pleasurable and to avoid what is aversive or costly. Rationality, in turn, is central to what it means to be human, at least to many Western thinkers. A number of writers have recently challenged both steps of this argument, but pop behaviorism makes intuitive sense to us as a result of the assumptions built into our economic system.

O. Domenico
10/96 Journal of Family Life
Volume 4, Number 1, 1998
Page 7

     Free Period

With delicate FM piano lingering
     In shimmering fluorescent air.
I sit facing a room of empty desks,
     Assorted, dilapidated, dingy, plastic, cheap,
They stare back, crooked rows,
     Pink, green, butterscotch, battered brown.
Across the room, paint peeling,

     Smudged windows dividing the space
Between pedagogy and the real, misty
     Gray world out there. World of
October drizzle, cool dismal, and free.

     Here the desks are held prisoner.
The books are indentured servants.

     The floors support us reluctantly.
The drop ceiling is bored with holding itself up.
    Nothing is here by choice.

Orr, David W., “Speed” in Annals of Earth
Volume XV, Number 3, 1997
Pages 8 – 11

Several years ago the college where I teach created an electronic “quick mail” system to reduce paper use and to increase our “efficiency.” Electronic communication is now standard throughout most organizations. The results, however, are mixed at best. The most obvious is a large increase in the sheer volume of stuff communicated, much of which is utterly trivial. There is also a manifest decline in the grammar, literary style, and civility of communication. People stroll down the hall or across campus to converse less frequently than before. Students remain transfixed before computer screens for hours, often doing no more than playing computer games. Our conversations, thought patterns, and institutional clock speed are increasingly shaped to fit the imperatives of technology. Not surprisingly, more and more people feel overloaded by the demands of incessant “communication.” But to say so publicly is to run afoul of the technological fundamentalism now dominant virtually everywhere.