Rescorla-Wagner, Skinner, QM and a rant about the ‘building blocks’ model going around.

Thank you for bringing up Rescorla-Wagner. You brought me back: My interesting in behaviorism stopped at Skinner and usual extensions of interest are more Skinner-ish – but I remember Rescorla-Wagner now.

Even with his flaws, nobody could question that Skinner was doing some excellent science. Awkward and uncomfortable and yes, I believe he went too far in a number of areas (opinion), nevertheless, the dude has my respect.
I love QM – a number of my friends are working in the field (hint: not many jobs), working on their doctorates (hint: won’t be many QM jobs but businesses LOVE ppl with Theoretical Physics degrees over MBAs.. and happily pay for it) – and the thing is:

it cant handle many bodied systems. Even few bodied systems it struggles with.

The “building blocks” model is a model of wish and hope at present.

I see a lot of attempts to reinvent the wheel by finding quantum mechanical explanations for things that ALREADY have fantastic working theories that are function…. and here comes SOMEBODY always publishing a paper saying, “yeah yeah, your old theories ain’t quantum so let’s just get rid of them” – which is fine to try… but it does the public a disservice because here come the press reports “Quantum holds the key to understanding [something-something] in biology]” and you read it and it’s like, “ok, dubious and existing theories IN BIOLOGY work fine and great. Go away QM and stick to your own field”.

But it gets the press. Makes everybody want to be theoretical physicists and nobody want to be biologists. SOMEBODY’s gotta go out there and catalog undiscovered species. Sometimes I want to shoot the science channel for pushing the LEAST scientific of scientific disciplines and saying THIS IS REAL SCIENCE unlike the others that are only playing…

except they’re not playing.


Indeed. I look at it this way:
It’s good for what it’s good for, and it’s not good at what it’s not good at.

Crossing fields _can_ be useful at times – but behaviorism isn’t equipped to study cognition in depth in the way that psychology (now Cognitive Psychology – we have such great tools now, although even the fMRI needs improvement) can.

Hence, different foci, different fields.



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