Inspiring quotes


In God we trust but everyone else had better bring data. (Autism Training Solutions)


Data rather than debate will show the way. (Sidman)

Boy with blocks 2 

Being a Behaviour Analyst in the ASD industry is like being a Darwinist in the Vatican. (Unknown)


Those who fall in love with practice without science are like a sailor who enters a ship without a helm or a compass, and who never can be certain whither he is going. (Leonardo da Vinci)


On feelings: Feelings occur at just the right time to serve as causes of behaviour, and they have been cited as such for centuries … but … both the behaviour and the collateral conditions felt are to be explained. After all, why did he act “and” feel angry? (Skinner, 1974)


It’s not rocket science; it’s behavioural science and there is still a need for learning technical stuff. (Jones)


On a science of behaviour: To have a science of behaviour at all, we must adopt the fundamental postulate that human behaviour is a lawful datum, that it is undisturbed by the capricious acts of any free agent-in other words, that it is completely determined. (Skinner, 1947)


CoBoy with blocksgnitive psychology is to understanding causes of behaviour as Creationism is to understanding the history of life on earth. (Jones)


On helping people: When we are helping people to act more effectively, our first task may seem to be to change how they feel and thus how they will act, but a much more effective program is to change how they act and thus, incidentally, how they feel. (Skinner, 1974)


On knowing & knowledge: We say that a newborn baby knows how to cry, suckle, and sneeze. We say that a child knows how to walk and ride a tricycle. The evidence is simply that the baby and the child exhibit the behaviour specified. Moving from verb to noun, we say that they possess knowledge, and the evidence is that they possess behaviour. (Skinner, 1974)Girl with hands


On self-awareness: Self-knowledge is of social origin. It is only when a person’s private world becomes important to others that it is made important to him. (Skinner, 1974)


On education: Much of education is instruction in verbal behavior. The student is told how to “use words” rather than how to use an accelerator or brake. In neither case is he given knowledge; he is told (taught) how to behave. (Skinner, 1974)


On language: Relatively late in its history, the human species underwent a remarkable change: its vocal musculature came under operant control… Language was born, and with it many important characteristics of human behaviour for which a host of mentalistic explanations have been invented. (Skinner, 1974)


Boy with blocks 3On language: If the structuralists and developmentalists had not confined themselves so narrowly to the topography of behavior at the expense of the other parts of the contingencies of reinforcement, we should know much more about how a child learns to speak. (Skinner, 1974)


On word meanings: dictionaries do not give meanings; at best they give other words having the same meanings. We must come to a dictionary already provided with meanings. (Skinner, 1974)


On word meanings: The meaning of an expression is different for speaker and listener; the meaning for the speaker must be sought in the circumstances under which he emits a verbal response and for the listener in the response he makes to a verbal stimulus. (Skinner, 1974)

3 kids thumbs up 

On Radical Behaviourism & ABA: … it is important for ABA practitioners to understand the field’s conceptual framework because it avoids problems resulting from the mentalistic framework implicit in everyday language.  This colloquial perspective is endlessly at odds with the way behavior actually works.  It explains behavior in ways that are not only incorrect but that suggest solutions that will usually be unsuccessful…  However, the task of discovering all of the ways in which our colloquial dialect has infected our understanding of behavior is more daunting than it might seem…  After all, you have had decades of exposure to the colloquial dialect.  (Johnston, 2013)


Quote me all that you like because I have originated nothing; my behaviour is merely the product of my experiences to date and many of those have involved listening to others speak or reading what they wrote. (Jones)


Behavior is a difficult subject matter, not because it is inaccessible, but because it is extremely complex. Since it is a process, rather than a thing, it cannot be held still for observation. It is changing, fluid, evanescent, and for this reason it makes great technical demands upon the ingenuity and energy of the scientist. (Skinner)


Boy with hatIf antecedents don’t get you, consequences will, so behave. (Aravamudhan, 2015)


My friends from the prison, they ask unto me, how good, how good, does it feel to be free? And I answer them most mysteriously, are birds free from the chains of the skyway?  (Bob Dylan, ‘Ballad in Plain D’)


Instead of “memory”, we should say “remembering”; instead of “thought” we should say “thinking”; instead of “sensation” we should say “seeing, hearing,” etc.  But, like other learned branches, psychology is prone to transform its verbs into nouns.  [Reification occurs.]  Then what happens? We forget that our nouns are merely substitutes for verbs, and go hunting for the things denoted by the nouns; but there are no such things, there are only the activities that we started with, seeing, remembering, and so on… It is a safe rule, then, on encountering any menacing psychological noun, to strip off its linguistic mask and see what manner of activity lies behind. (Woodworth, 1921) 


Problems are gifts when they can be solved by oneself or with help from family or friends. (Marshall L Dermer)HomeBases


Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off. (Paul Brodeur, 1985).


It is better to go without answers than to accept those that merely resolve puzzlement. (Skinner, 1987)


Whereas developmental psychologists wait for behavior change to unfold, study group behavior, and postulate psychological structures (cognitive and emotional) to account for behavior change, behavior analysts do not wait for behavior to change, but actively investigate behavior change procedures, experimentally study the behavior of individuals, and account for behavior change in terms of operant and respondent contingencies. (Rosales-Ruiz, 2005)

4 kids 

The natural, logical outcome of the struggle for personal freedom in education is that the teacher should improve his control of the student rather than abandon it. The free school is no school at all. (Skinner, 1973)


. . . when you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study it.  (Skinner)


The scientist might be defined as a person whose indulgence of his curiosity is also the means by which he earns his living. (Murray Sidman)


Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done. (Amelia Earhart)Coloured smoke 3


The road to wisdom? Well, it’s plain and simple to express: Err and err and err again, but less and less and less. — Piet Hein


Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion. (Unknown)


Coloured smoke 8The plural of “anecdotes” isn’t “data”.  (Unknown)


My people don’t cite real facts. They recite what they have absorbed from the atmosphere. Theirs is an intellectual life consisting of things that sound right, a blend of modern folk wisdom, cliché, talk radio, and Christian radio babble. (Joe Bageant)


Coloured smoke 5Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana. (Groucho Marx)


The ultimate criterion for the goodness of a concept is not whether two people are brought into agreement, but whether the scientist who uses the concept can operate successfully on his material, all by himself if need be. What matters to Robinson Crusoe is not whether he is agreeing with himself, but whether is getting anywhere in his control over nature” (Skinner, 1945/1972)


It’s trial and success learning, not trial and error. (Israel Goldiamond)


All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. – Schopenhauer


A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying. (Skinner, ????)


Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. (Vince Lombardi)


Humans have a very poor appreciation of their own motives, logic, and other forces driving their behavior. They cannot analyze the processes that lead to their behavior nor are they aware of any part of their mental activity except the final outcome. When their introspective explanations agree with independent measures, it is often coincidental or based on a priori predilections, prejudices, and opinions.” (William Uttal)


An enormous number of teachers, of course, do a wonderfully effective job. They are excellent teachers, however, not because they themselves have been taught well but because experience has taught them what works. They are good not because of but in spite of their own education. (Sidman, 2010)


All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. — attributed to Schopenhauer


In an American school if you ask for the salt in good French, you get an A. In France, you get the salt. — B. F. Skinner


Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.  (Galileo Galilei)


The vain presumption of understanding everything can have no other basis than never having understood anything. For anyone who had ever experienced just once the perfect understanding of one single thing, and had truly tasted how knowledge is accomplished, would recognize that of the infinity of other truths he understands nothing.  (Galileo Galilei)