Why I’m Getting Off Twitter – Reading from B.F. Skinner’s “Beyond The Box”

Yesterday I was feeling frustrated with the digital world and picked up a book that had just come in the mail:  Alexandra Rutherford’s “Beyond the Box: B.F. Skinner’s Technology of Behavior from Laboratory to Life, 1950s-1970s.” As I got to the chapter on token economies at Anna State Mental Hospital in Illinois, it all became crystal clear – the dopamine hits of social media are the tokens. They use them to program us.

So, I decided to back-off my social media footprint even further and rework what I imagine “success” to be. I keep telling myself it’s not a numbers game; it’s an intention game. My friend Cliff taught me that; he’s a smart guy, check out his channel. So now I have to have the gumption to put that belief into practice, even though I’ll admit it’s hard letting go of the idea that you have some big audience out there somewhere. None of it it is real, though, just a reflection.

I’m in the process of downloading an archive of my 20,000+ Tweets and will be deactivating @philly852 this weekend. Let people know if they wonder where I went. I do quietly hope some people will notice that I’ve gone despite the intense shadow-banning. Jason is working on a space housed on the blog where people who really want to unpack what I’ve been researching regarding mixed reality and gamified social impact finance can gather to compare notes. We’ll do a video about it once we have it up and running. I’m hoping we can store my tweets on the blog, because there are a lot of good links to primary source material for those who may be inclined to follow the trail we’ve been blazing.

The video below is a bit of a grumpy outpouring, but I do go on to read two of the chapters of the book aloud with commentary. The comment section is very lively, too! This is actually really important stuff and highly relevant. We don’t have to look to China or Tel Aviv or London – a lot of this mess was cooked up right in Cambridge, MA by the likes of Fred and his many colleagues intent on devising technologies to manipulate rats, pigeons, and beagles to do their bidding. Sometimes that involved steering bombs and being irradiated to death.

If you want to read it yourself, the link above is to a PDF of the book.

31 thoughts on “Why I’m Getting Off Twitter – Reading from B.F. Skinner’s “Beyond The Box”

  1. TJ says:

    Social Media is when everything started going wrong in the world. Like “End of the World” wrong. The constant drive for likes, shares, upvotes, karma etc is exactly like that feeling we all used to get in the 70s/80s/90s when coming home and checking our answering machine and finding messages. There’s a satisfaction there that (yes) hits with the dopamine bliss feeling every time. So it influences us to comment/interact in a way that will get us more likes/shares/upvotes. Life becomes a huge online Echo Chamber where everyone is doing everything they can to Fit In and be accepted. By the time people realized what a wrong turn human evolution, human society/culture/civilization has made by embracing The Internet and Social Media, it’ll be way too late.

    • Amy Odean says:

      TJ, It’s not an accident that our psychology is levered against us. Once we understand our own brains, mind, become conscious, this machinery is less compelling. Don’t you think so?

      • TH says:

        For real. Adam Curtis covers a lot of this too. His “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” proto-covered a lot of Alison’s info in this regard. The problem is that the most effective way to educate people about the dangers of Social Media is through Social Media. We become part of the evil we’re fighting against somewhat. But the Only Winning Move is Not to Play :/

  2. Roger Dawson says:

    Dear Alison. I am forever amazed by the amount of reading, talking, travelling and exploring that you do. I believe that you have something important to tell the world, and I sense your frustration in not getting the reaction that you properly deserve. I am a retired physicist who is very concerned about what is happening, and I keep an extensive database on all the articles that are significant to me.

    One of the objectives I have is to try and condense all this information down so that the average human being can understand what is going on without needing special training. My biggest problem is that there is so much new information pouring in on a daily basis that it is really hard work to live a semi-normal life and to have time to give the analysis sufficient attention. What I really need is an AI to do this for me, and a thousand staff to organise and interpret the conclusions. Of course this is exactly what the deep state do have, and as a result their power is increasing exponentially.

    You have a unique perspective and the energy and memory to do this far better than I, and I follow your adventures with interest and admiration. Thank you for the way that you are building your unique viewpoint of probably the most dangerous and troubling time in the history of humanity.

    Hang on . . it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    Roger

    • Amy Odean says:

      Roger, Well said! I agree. Keeping up with the maps Alison has indicated is a full time job. It’s great we’re not alone, so we have to speak up within our own spheres about militarism, control and domination. We Care.

    • thequieterone says:

      You don’t need to condense all of it down for it to be valuable work. Just take the bit you understand most clearly and rewrite it for us now! Just the bit that relates to you and your world, your neighbourhood. Your way of thinking. Not everything we read has to be as detailed, long and complex as what we read here on Alison’s pages.
      It’s been my experience – since you’re a physicist – that it is easier to learn complex mathematical theories from a clutch of modern textbooks, than to read original papers. The rewriting, reframing, condensing and clarifying is a collective process of small, imperfect steps. We need a plurality of articulations. We’d be in a much happier place if everyone just launched directly into the little bit they can do instead of setting impossibly high bars and doing nothing. There are hundreds of bloggers analysing, reporting and recycling jab data and studies now. Why is there no such ecosystem for turning over and tickling *this* information, too?
      Every new framing of these ideas is valuable. It’s tricky for me to relate to education in Texas when I live in Europe and don’t have kids. Blockchain has no bearing on my life directly that I am aware of, not yet. There’s a wealth of information on this site about social impact finance but I really got it when I read a piece by Paul Cudenec (which referenced this site, naturally!) To anyone reading this who has been discussing any of this material elsewhere: where can I read or hear your voice? For some, it will be your analogy, your perspective, your connection of experience to research, that causes the penny to drop.

  3. David Elliot says:

    Dear Alison- My first response ever, but I’ve been following your work for some time now.
    You have opened my eyes- this despite the fact that I consider myself an independent
    thinker and not one to blindly follow the herd. It is mainly if not entirely due to your work that
    I have any concept of the spying/blockchain/social credit nightmare presently unfolding.
    I’ve been down quite a few ‘rabbit holes’ recently. Others also see the impending descent
    into slavery, but few seemingly grasp that this asylum is indeed being run by the inmates
    (pun intended), or more precisely, this nasty new digital economy is being orchestrated
    by wealthy, morally decrepit, compulsive gamblers, ever seeking that next adrenaline rush.
    Business plan: big profits through the control and degradation of humanity. These are some
    pretty degraded human specimens in their own right, with the repulsive Harari being their
    ultimate spokesman and poster child, in my estimation.

    That was a long presentation at nearly 3 hours, but ultimately worth it, as you make your
    point through the words of a writer on behavioral psychology (ugh!) Point well taken IMO.
    I better grasp what you are saying due to your dragging us, of necessity, through the
    snake pit of Skinnerism. An ugly but necessary reminder, I’d say. Right on target.
    To put a finer point on it, I think you almost uniquely have pointed out the aspect of
    *financial investments in social capital*- an emerging Betting Market with a very strong
    resemblance to a crap shoot, but with the added precision of AI and computer
    modeling. (cough! gag!)

    Back in the day, my gut told me there was something amiss with the popular social sites
    and their like. I studiously avoided Google mail, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and a host
    of others. I’m user of tech- old tech- but I knew to avoid like the plague any smart phones.
    I’m willing to live with any ‘inconvenience’ of not having that ‘ball and chain’ ever nipping
    at my heels and spying on me- and betraying me. I think you are making the right decision
    so far as letting Twitter go, even though it helped you get the word out. There are plenty
    of backwaters on the internet. Emailing and your blog are good examples. In the fullness
    of time, I find that my seemingly Luddite avoidance of Twitter et al have been vindicated-
    in spades! Either seek out some online oases or become one yourself! There are quite
    a few out there, actually.

    Above all, I write simply to validate your work, give thanks, and encourage you to
    continue with it. It’s ultimately not about how large an audience, it’s about the quality of
    that audience. I think that if you do reach the humanity in others, they might be awakened
    enough to spread the word. Clearly your hope, mine as well.

  4. Terry says:

    I really hope you can find a way to take a break from twitter while leaving your content up for us to review and continue to learn from. It’s such a gold mine of information. Thank you.

    • hello says:

      I had a twitter, but what I did, was use it as an archive for others to write their own stories. They best one can do is simply take that information and use it to write their own stories about the technocracy and how it is effecting them personally and locally. Life isn’t social media/Intterwebz, but so isn’t reading.

  5. Amy Odean says:

    Getting off various social media is a great thing to do. Real friendships need real time, real contacts are completely different from platformed “conversations”.
    It is difficult to understand the reasons, functional variables, people refuse to acknowledge the steady march toward the global brain, the loss of our Sacred Being on the Earth.
    The findings you and the real friends you have are relating, Alison, are absolutely powerful. My innate awareness knows there is something terribly wrong with the pervasive worldview that Care is subjective, or non-existent, is poisoned.
    The specific network, ubiquitous, managed, economically supported that you identify is driven by so many people, working day by day, unconsciously, automatically, incrementally.
    Thank you for your generosity and Care. We’re not alone but we are being drowned out so we have to watch the rising BS and keep our awareness, face, voice.

  6. Jeffrey Strahl says:

    Thanks for your work, Alison. It is possible to be on social media and survive as a sane person, but it takes a big effort, and i can easily see concluding such an effort is not worth it, especially when you have this platform as a way to reach people. Best of luck, i will be on the lookout for the forum.

    One hopeful note: Everyone knows about Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. What people don’t widely know is that one day, a pipe burst in Pavlov’s lab, creating a flood during the overnight hours. When Pavlov and his time arrived for work, they discovered the flood. And, they discovered that their dogs had defied their training to not jump up on top of tables, which they did as the survival instinct overwhelmed their conditioned reflexes. Living things are not black boxes. That sort of thinking comes straight out of the worst forms of the “thinking” created by the mechanistic materialism paradigm which has dominated science for the last several centuries, a paradigm whose metaphor for understanding all real world phenomena is that of the machine or mechanism. Living things are NOT that, they are processes in the making, with lots of feedback between variables, many not known, many more not measurable, with outcomes being indeterminate, contingent upon total context. The best-designed black box will fail given the right circumstances.

  7. Freelance_Philosopher says:

    It’s probably small solace, but your humble Philosopher has shared your frustration over the last couple years, since discovering your material. As you say in your introduction here, it is confounding and infuriating that no other outlets have picked up even the broadest thrust of your narrative (which, to me, is irresistibly persuasive). At the time I found your stuff, I was a member of the Corbett Report chat board, or “the Corbettariat” as I now call it. I promoted and linked wrenchinthegears pretty heavily for almost two years in Corbett’s comments section, and while some of the other members were or became familiar with your stuff, neither the Corbettariat-at-large nor the editorial voice of the site never integrated it to any degree. It was particularly surprising that Corbett never picked up your findings on the Japanese “Moonshot” program, given that it should hit close to home for him (since he’s based in Japan). Ultimately, it became clear that Corbett’s editorial slant was just hard-wired with the neo-Bircher, techno-libertarian worldview, where technology is always “just-a-tool” and that technology will always be the indispensible means of all social and political progress.*

    Jared Diamond has a fabulous theory in Guns, Germs, and Steel that early humans were only able to domesticate animals because the humans were not present in the environment in which the animals evolved. Therefore, the animals did not evolve to perceive the humans as a threat, so when they first encountered humans, rather than running or attacking, they 1.) stood their ground, and 2.) yielded to directive nudging. Dodo birds walked up to humans to be clubbed into extinction. Horses and oxen could be attracted by offered food, or they could be herded by physical nudging, until they were penned, bred, and domesticated. They simply didn’t recognize the threat humans posed. This same principle applied to indigenous humans’ failure to recognize the threat posed by European invaders upon first encounter. Aborigines simply lacked the language and concepts even to imagine mercantilism and imperialism, let alone assess the threat of such abstractions.

    Now, humans (European and otherwise) are being domesticated by a Machine intelligence, because, in the same way as their animal cousins, they simply can’t perceive the threat. Humans are basically like proto-horses, standing their ground and blinking dumbly at the advancing walls and appendages of cybernetics, as the Machine perfects its modalities of coercion and manipulation. Eventually, humans will be carefully ensconced in pods where they can be harvested of their bioinformatic data, much like hogs or chickens in a high-density feedlot. But for now, the malcontent minority among us who are capable of apprehending such a threat are simply dismissed by the masses, because the masses lack the imagination, self-awareness, and suspicion even to conceive of such outcomes. This includes, as we have found, even all the dissident, skeptical commentators who are otherwise occupied with critical inquiry. As it turns out, even the “alternative community” are only able to perceive threats posed by other humans, such as foreign armies or (at most) corrupt politicians. You can’t force them to envision life as a domesticated animal any more than you can explain the business of ranch operations to a steer.

    The bad outcomes that wrenchinthegears is trying to warn about are simply beyond the comprehension of almost every single human on Earth. You can describe what you envision and they won’t understand. You could show them a picture, and like the “hosts” on Westworld, they’ll just say, “It doesn’t look like anything at all to me.” They won’t appreciate the threat even after they have been devoured by the metal maws of the Machine, and find themselves being digested by solvents in a vat. Hell, they’ll step placidly right into the vat upon the promise of an “achievement token.” Much like cattle being herded into the abattoir, humans too will largely meet their fate as a last step in a series of cybernetic nudges that began with their first encounter with technology—a “Skinner corridor,” if you will. This is because humans evolved in an environment where machines weren’t eating their descendants. Cro-magnon man was spearing wooly mammoths, not battling terminator armies. They are therefore incapable of being afraid of something they cannot imagine. Instead, they will simply follow a chain of cybernetic carrots and sticks that were custom-designed to the architecture of their nervous systems.

    Anyway, congratulations on quitting Twitter. I’ve never used it, but I can tell it’s garbage.

    * It was only after quitting the Corbettariat chat board that I came to appreciate the depths of Corbett’s techno-evangelism. I recently found that as early as 2017, he was aggressively (and manipulatively) promoting the adoption of blockchain cryptocurrency (BitCoin) by giving it to his members if they set up a “wallet”. (The comment section of this page displays Corbett’s shameless, euphoric, huckstering and shilling for BitCoin: https://www.corbettreport.com/who-coined-the-term-useless-eaters-questions-for-corbett-034/ )

    • Roger says:

      I agree with much of your sentiment, and I would like to add that it is not just the inability of humans to perceive the threat, there are other major forces at play here: fear, avarice, and the lust for power to name a few. Many will be blinded by these common human failings, even if they can imagine the potentially disastrous consequences. These weaknesses are also driving those that wish to enslave us, and amplified a million times by the rise of AI and other technologies.

    • Jeffrey Strahl says:

      I would like to say that Raul Diego and Leo Saraceno at Silicon Icarus and Sebs Solomon, who blogs at gnomes4ttruth dot com, are pursuing this line of inquiry as well. And Cindy Niles has made good videos about the topic, see her Odysee channel. Not disagreeing with you in substance, just wanted to thank these people for contributing.

    • lokssaa
      heelo says:

      >>>Corbett’s editorial slant was just hard-wired with the neo-Bircher, techno-libertarian worldview, where technology is always “just-a-tool” and that technology will always be the indispensible means of all social and political progress.*

      Anyone who knows his past saw through it from a mile away. My only worry about your ‘philosophical’ analysis is that you make the fallacious claim that the things “wrenchinthegears is trying to warn about are simply beyond the comprehension of almost every single human on Earth.”

      They’re not. It is rather easy to understand if you take out all the techo speak gobbledygook. All of the well placed scum in power want to make money and keep capital flowing, and they’ll use us and our children to do so, whatever it takes. They are the definition of parasites in an unsustainable, financialized retail corporation.

      “You can describe what you envision and they won’t understand. You could show them a picture, and like the “hosts” on Westworld, they’ll just say, “It doesn’t look like anything at all to me.”

      While that might be true, and there certainly is an element of ideological subversion and demoralization, such are the the words of Thomas Schuman, a soviet defector who merely exposed what all intelligence agencies conduct, both state and private; the level of comfortability will determine the willingness to open up and see the larger picture. Denial can only last so long in the prison they’re building. The real revolution will come from the humble and poor, from the indigenous and those wronged both physically, mentally and medically.

    • Luz says:

      I agree with you regarding JC and the chat board comments. It used to be fun to read them when a certain commentator going by the name of FC was there. When he first pointed out the reasons why CJ wouldn’t mention Alison at all–since it was obvious how relevant her work is to his own investigations and research, I was suspicious at first and disappointed at the end- I certainly share much of that guy FC’s philosophy and was often motivated to dig a bit further regarding his thoughts about “the machine” and his overall take about current affairs and especially about the JC reports. I wonder where I would find postings from this “famous” FC…wished I had asked him some questions that were on my mind then, before he disappeared.

  8. peninsolar
    Ian says:

    Couldn’t agree more about your decision to get off Twitter. I felt liberated many years ago deleting that account permanently. Like you said, it’s all an illusion the notion that a person actually has some kind of colossal following or something mattering absolutely zero when it comes down to the fundamental basis of a legitimate reality. They are in the very business of keeping people trapped on their dopamine tokenism platforms & free speech iron maidens…

  9. TH says:

    The Internet / Social Media is an absurd Tar Baby that taints and corrupts everything in contact with or participating in it. I totally get it (your desire to leave Twitter) and even applaud it but I fear you will go back. Th lr System has made us all Geek. Again, the Only Winning Move is Not to Play. I would be as happy (and possibly even happier) with text based email “bulletins” from you every few days instead of sites like this. The absurdity of what we’ve embraced, tech-wise, makes even talking about it sound crazy. When Smart TVs first came on the scene, many folks were like “but it’ll know what you’re watching!” Now, EVERYTHING is watching us, monetizing us, demographizing us, commodifying us. Griping about stuff like this makes one sound like a crank or “tinfoil hat”-type but this stuff is legitimately a threat to what it is to be human. The tech/science worshippers have the primary voice on their primary tool (Social Media) and it is entirely about control/management in varying degrees. The Internet of Things, tech/science as the New Religion, et al is gonna Once-Ler the world and all of humanity to boot.

  10. greateralexander – Detroit, MI – Born in Binghamton, New York and raised in Athens, Greece, Alexander Vlachos (who goes by the moniker, Greater Alexander) now resides near Detroit, Michigan. He is an Alumnus of Wayne State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a Co-Major in International Studies. During his time at WSU, Alexander studied Music Technology and piano enthusiastically. Alexander started mixing sound for the WSU Jazz Invoice Ensembles and was newly inspired by Bossa Nova and Jazz tunes. While growing up, his parents consistenly played European artists like Georges Moustaki and Cat Stevens around the house. After graduating in 2004, Alexander spent numerous hours in his bedroom honing his guitar picking style and voice skills and just recently started seeding his own youtube page with cover songs in 2011.
    Alexander says:

    Yes. There is a way through this. There is a great guide named Kiera Laike that has been speaking about this for years to deaf ears. People have pounced against her, too.

    Ive been doing energetic development work and getting in tune with my frequencies in order to traverse the world of all these frequencies being pulsed into us on a daily basis. From my experience, the Sensology institute provides great lessons.

    https://www.sensologyinstitute.com/

  11. janamurray – North Carolina
    Jana Murray says:

    Having a son, now 25, labeled with schizophrenia, and many mental disorders, I really appreciate your reading of these publications. He started having issues after being tempted with LSD, and overdosing 5 years ago after a life of being addicted to gaming. The gaming addiction set him up for the LSD and marijuana binge behaviors. My husband & I, married for more than 30 years attempted to prevent and protect him, but society at large re-enforced this as normal, therefore, he remains in a vulnerable situation. I am saying this for the benefit of parents who are attempting to protect their precious children from an outcome like his. Thanks for all that you do to warn about the dangers of science and the cabals that control the world at large!

  12. lizhalloranfineart
    Liz says:

    I will continue to read your blog. I think it’s great that you are leaving Twitter for many reasons. I share your blog with anyone interested in the subject. I’m currently reading “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” and it’s all making perfect sense now.

  13. Tantramarshire – New Brunswick
    Kata List Productions says:

    Good for you Alison getting off Twitter – there are a lot of reasons to avoid cell phones, Facebook, etc.

    I’ve promoting #Tantramarshire where I live in eastern Canada in a university town – belly of the beast – its a push against their narrative — what else could I do?

    Abundance is our right and our liberty comes from our non-participation in their data hungry machinery.

    Never thought Youtube was my friend after I had five accounts deleted – used Bitchute for the past four years and just found an Odysee account – I think that platform will pick up your documents to open source share too and will also duplicate your Youtube account videos onto the platform when you join.

    good luck and happy Twitterfree lifestyle

  14. Anne says:

    Twitter has been blocking people from receiving posts if they don’t like what you are posting. They steer where the content goes, reduce the number of followers shown, etc. And what Elon Musk has been saying about the bots and fake accounts is no joke.

  15. hello says:

    HI Alice.

    I think a better option, at least for I, was leaving all the information I compiled on twitter but never signing in or looking at the information again. The idea is to use it as an archive for others to write their own stories. That’s my take. Love your work! And keep picking dandelions. There’s nothing better than eating the wild terrier and leaving more than you took.

  16. dentistdeb@protonmail.com says:

    got off twitter, facebook, telegram, youtube, paid off the house, put in a garden, withdrawing all funds from banks and credit unions. the system is going down with the dollar. China and Russia and Africa are working together to create a payment system outside the dollar. Time is running out.

  17. Tracy Smith says:

    I have followed since around 2020, then had to stop following not because I wanted to but weird things were going on with my twitter. Every few months I stop in to read your post. This evening I have this special file on my bookmarks but I have not had the time to go through them I bury that file all the time and forget where I put it as well. Anyways I recognized the bookmark and was like hell yeah I found it only to read the news. Please keep your blog alive.

Leave a Reply to thequieterone Cancel reply