Error Message

This just appeared in my inbox:

Dear Andrew Brown,

A friend has just sent me your review of Nature via Nurture, in the April 20th Mail on Sunday. I am the daughter B F Skinner put in a box, but it was certainly NOT a larger version of the ‘Skinner Box’ for studying animal behaviour, as you wrote, and your comment makes my father sound heartless and stupid. The baby box – or air crib, as he called it – was simply an enclosed cot, with temperature control, great visibility through glass windows and lots of space to move around. I only stayed in it when I was sleeping (or sometimes playing, as there was lots of room for toys) and it was in no way an experiment. I was a very happy and healthy baby and had a normal upbringing, in fact, with lots of nurturing.

My father never denied the importance of nature, either. He happened to think nurture was more important than most other people of his time. But apart from all that, he was a terrific father whom I loved dearly, and it hurts me when he’s put down in so facile a manner.

Yours sincerely, Deborah Skinner Buzan

I see I must apologise.

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2 Responses to Error Message

  1. David says:

    Isn’t it curious that eminent Psychologist Burrhus Skinner (what sort of a name is ‘Burrhus’?) also happened to be an expert creator of kiddies cradles (of the non-psychological type). Seems he had a second career there.

  2. Rupert says:

    Just goes to show — you shouldn’t pigeonhole people.


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