The Empirical Reality of Walden Two of B.F. Skinner

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The Empirical Reality of Walden Two

B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two is the fictitious account of an eclectic group’s visit to a modern utopian community started by psychologist T.E. Frazier. Authors often depict “perfect societies” in novels, as the subject holds wide appeal and great creative opportunity. Aldous Huxley envisioned a Brave New World; Lois Lowry wove the tale of The Giver. What sets Walden Two apart from such books? Simply stated, Skinner’s work truly does not seem as if it belongs in the fantasy or fiction genre, as the others do. The novel reads as an actual experiment, albeit one performed in a text-only version of the world. The author perfectly follows the steps of a scientific investigation throughout the plot, meeting nearly all goals of the scientific enterprise. This approach leaves readers practically incapable of brushing the novel’s bold statements off as fiction: to do so feels equivalent to denying a proven reality.

For a positive future, it is only common sense that a generation of healthy children must be raised. A stable family unit and personal attention seem logical ways to rear successful young people. Yet statistics show that in 2003, approximately 37,000 marriages and 21,000 divorces occurred in Kentucky; other states showed very similar ratios, such as Ohio, with about 73,000 marriages and 40,000 divorces (NVSR, Pg. 6). Clearly, many students already have “broken homes” as obstacles, but the homogenous

treatment of children in schools adds even more difficulty. Despite pre-existing differences in personal preferences, subject aptitudes, and upbringings, for instance, the system calls for children to move along a determined national curriculum of academic acceptabilit...

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