My brother-in-law is always sending me political quips. This latest one really caught my attention. It not only applies to politics. Almost every long-term trend in society is based on the “Five Monkeys in a Cage.”
When I was in college, I had to take an introduction to psychology course — Psych 150. It was based on B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning theory, a more sophisticated version of Pavlov’s theories and experiments. “Skinner invented the operant conditioning chamber, or ‘Skinner Box,’ in which subjects such as pigeons and rats were isolated and could be exposed to carefully controlled stimuli.”
Skinner believed that what worked with animals would work with humans because he believed that humans are merely highly evolved animals.
We used Skinner Boxes in our class. The rats had no idea they were being controlled by outside forces. Their little rat brains were so focused on getting water (from which they had been deprived for 23 hours), that they would do almost anything to get a little drink.
Politicians are not rats. They operate at a higher level. Even so, there is a form of group-think that keeps them doing the same things over and over again for the rewards of power, prestige, control, and financial gain. They don’t want to be shocked by the media and special interest groups, so they keep doing the same things over and over again.
All newly elected officials promise to change the system when they get to Washington. They are placed in a cage with other politicians who have learned not to rock the boat. Here’s how it works…
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