Walden Two | Study Guide

B. F. Skinner

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Walden Two | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

The group's discussion with Frazier continues outdoors. Castle is interested to know if success at Walden Two relies on indoctrination. Frazier denies this, saying any form of propaganda would lead to the failure of the community. He states, however, a counterpropaganda experiment could test the community's citizens to see if they indeed prefer life at Walden Two to alternatives. This idea disturbs Burris and Castle.

Analysis

Frazier continues to defend Walden Two's practices, even to the point of admitting an experiment on its citizens might test their loyalty or devotion to the community. Such a counterpropaganda experiment would entail offering criticism against Walden Two to see if inhabitants still preferred it. He feels communities like the Buddhists or Amish rely on indoctrination but do not really succeed because the modern world leaves them behind. In these instances, though, that is partly the point of their existence. Frazier is not convincing in his argument against indoctrination. In fact, the actions taken at Walden Two suggest subtle means of indoctrination permeate the community, although it is instead called behavioral engineering.

Skinner's scientific background leads him to have the character Burris question Frazier on the scientific basis for indoctrination. There would need to be a control in order for the experiment to be valid. The purpose of a counterpropaganda experiment would by its nature attempt to eliminate bias in favor of the scientist, in this case Frazier and his colleagues.

The theme of wisdom is a concern in this chapter. If one's values and insights are to be appreciated, how can indoctrination reconcile that? This, of course, is the root of Castle's objections.

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