Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Perils Of Clicker Training

I have written several articles here and elsewhere regarding the Theory of Operant Conditioning. I have said it is an obsolete theory, especially when applied as Clicker Training. The reason I say it is obsolete is because it is incomplete regarding the spectrum of learning and modification of animal behavior. The theory ignores the emergent properties of behavior, especially regarding higher life forms such as mammals. A few years back, we saw a killer whale kill one of the trainers. No one, except maybe me, questioned the training methods being used on these big sea mammals. Maybe there's something wrong with the theory... but instead I got attacked. I have said the same numerous times regarding the negative effects of clicker training on some dogs. And I've been attacked on that, as well. 

Here is another example... 

A female zookeeper was recently killed by one of their elephants. Previous reports had said, "Jumbo is responding well to her operant conditioning and protected care management. The program allows keepers to manage her through a protected wall, and is based solely on positive feedback. She is responding well by presenting feet for care, all parts of her body for washing, rub downs and other health care procedures." Hmm... Someone dies, yet no one is asking about the methods being used. Yes, the article mentions this elephant had a rough prior history. But, even so, this woman is now dead and no one is questioning the methods used to manage this elephant.

No comments: