The Peter and Mary Fund

"B. F. Skinner was a lighthouse in the murky terrain of psychology. Not always right, but typically brilliant, enlightening what seemed recondite problems to let us, time and again, see that they were mere culs. He called our attention first to the data, and always back to the data. He has passed, and it is now our turn to carry his light.


The promontory on which his lighthouse resides is called ABAI. It provides a footing for the torch, but has no candlepower itself. That will come from the next generations who might find grounding on its reaches, to build new different and more powerful searchlights. But like any outreach, ABAI is exposed to the tides and seasons. It needs to be maintained.


Because Fred said things that gave me new insight, because he changed the world view of so many of my undergraduates, because he gave a direction and challenge to my graduate students, because he showed the way to therapies that worked, I am in his debt. My wife is not a behaviorist, but an academic administrator. She attributes her success to what I have told her about behaviorism: Attend to behavior; attend to its context and consequences; and put data on the table. The best way to show our appreciation is to carry that message forward to each new generation. And when one has finished that phase of his or her life, the next best way to pay down our debt is to help maintain the society of behaviorists, personified in ABAI. That is why she and I gave what, in that context, is not a tithe but a tittle. Perhaps you can do better."