Appearing to enjoy behavior modificiation is not meaningful

One common response to criticism of ABA is to claim that people subjected to it enjoy it:

  • “My child loves his therapist and asks to go to sessions!”
  • “All of my clients smile and have fun!”
  • “My ABA is play based!”

What people forget is that affect is a set of behaviors, and that behavior modification methods work as well on affective behaviors as they do on anything else:

  • You can reinforce people to look happy
  • You can reinforce people to praise therapy
  • It doesn’t have to be an explicit part of the behavior plan to happen
  • And it can keep happening even after you fade direct prompts or direct intentional reinforcers

ABA programs give the therapist massive power over the person. That power in itself can cause people to look happy, through a more subtle reinforcement mechanism than takes place on a behavior plan:

  • If you have power over someone in the way that behavior therapists do, they’re going to be highly motivated to please you
  • If they figure out that you want to believe that they are happy, they are very likely to act like they are
  • If you treat them better when they display the affect you want or praise you, they’re likely to act happy.
  • It doesn’t mean they’re actually happy
  • Or that what you’re doing is good for them

(Also, affect often is an explicit part of someone’s behavior plan. It is not at all uncommon for ABA programs to involve actively ignoring distress and withholding attention and rewards until someone looks happy. It is not at all uncommon for ABA programs to involve teaching people to smile, to hug, or to otherwise do things that would out-of-context indicate happiness, enjoyment, or affection. It doesn’t have the same meaning if it’s prompted or trained.)

Also, programs based on positive reinforcement involving controlling someone’s access to stuff they care about:

  • The first step in a program based on positive reinforcement is to find out what someone most enjoys or cares about
  • (This is called a preference assessment or a reinforcement inventory. Here’s an example.)
  • And then making sure they have no access (or limited access) to those things outside of sessions or other situations in which someone is actively reinforcing them to do something
  • Of course if someone’s only access to everything important to them happens in sessions they will ask for sessions
  • That doesn’t mean they like the fact that someone has that level of power over them
  • (No one likes being manipulated that way.)
  • That doesn’t mean they like the things that the therapist makes them do
  • That doesn’t mean the power dynamic is harmless
  • That doesn’t mean ABA is a good approach to teaching

People who can’t say no, can’t say yes meaningfully. Looking happy isn’t meaningful if you’re rewarded for affecting happiness and punished for looking visibly distressed. Making the best of a bad situation isn’t consent.


I need more of Danny dancing right now.

No, Hydra and the Empire/First Order Are Not Interchangeable

Every time I mention on Twitter that the enthusiasm with which fandom has embraced Hydra as fun/funny/cool really creeps me out, I promptly get a small flood of people either demanding to know why I am trying to censor Star Wars fans, or using what I said about Hydra to castigate people who cosplay the Empire/First Order/Whoever.

No, and no. 

This is the difference, or at least the difference as relevant to this conversation:

Is there any risk that someone who glimpses your 501st or Kylo Ren costume from a block away might be survivor of the Jedi massacre or someone who was drafted during the Clone War? 

That would be a no.

Hydra, on the other hand, is a fictional entity situated firmly–in both narrative and popular perception–in an actual real-life genocide within living memory.

For me, this renders certain issues fairly black-and-white. For instance:

I don’t think it is ever okay to publicly cosplay in an outfit that is reasonably mistakable from any distance for a Nazi uniform, or which employs symbols easily mistakable for Nazi iconography. Period. 

As far as the rest of Hydra fandom: I don’t think that shit is funny, but I also recognize that it exists in a much grayer area than what I’m talking about above. I don’t think “Hail Hydra” memes involving Sesame Street characters are cute, and I will not respond positively if you tweet them at me or whisper “Hail Hydra” to me at a convention. OTOH, I found Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra pretty charming. Like most humans, I am a creature of not entirely consistent passions. *shrug*


  • Yes, I am aware that the swastika was a Buddhist and Hindu symbol before it was a Nazi symbol. Yes, I am aware that there are subtle differences between those versions. Yes, I agree that it is totally unfair that genocidal fascists can appropriate and permanently ruin someone else’s perfectly innocent religious symbol. My heart goes out to you. Don’t wear swastikas.
  • And yes, if you are in the United States, you have the legal right to go outside in not only a Hydra costume or a Buddhist swastika, but full Nazi regalia, should you so choose. That does not make it an acceptable thing to do. There are plenty of things that are perfectly legal and also total dick moves.

  • If you are about to argue that Hydra isn’t really a Nazi thing, or it’s not that Nazi, or it’s more of a Nazi thing in the movies than the comics, please take a minute to consider whether “there is a medium in which they are maybe a little less actually Nazis but still kind of actually Nazis” is actually the hill you want to fight and die on. (No.)
  • There is probably an interesting and lively conversation to be had about the implications, ethics, and history of fandom focused around fantasy fascists. This is not that conversation.

dalish elf tali'zorah, wielding a crossbow and deadly at close range

her vallaslin cover her face and she has tattoos all down her back and arms

in keeping with her clan’s traditions she strikes out on her own, looking for something to bring back to her family – some new method of making weapons, or poultices, or a map of the uncharted wilds

what she finds instead is a new family, led by a grey warden named shepard.

Why isn’t there a male pride parade? A men’s awareness day? Male history month? Feminazis won’t stop until every brother is on their knees.
—  Junior History Major
Please do not use the search function on tumblr! The Kris fans in China are trying to defame Exo’s members’ image on Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter by flooding the tags with false information and reposting them repeatedly.

At the moment they are targeting all Exo members’ individual tags, not just Tao, to spread false information that could defile Exo’s image. They are trying to bring the Exo group down. They have started photoshopping images to create lies because they don’t any bad information about the Exo members to be working on.

How you can help:

-           Firstly, please do not reblog, like, or believe the information being posted. They are false, and there are posts clearing up the fake information. Please reblog and spread these so more people will know.

-          Report the user if you see them posting these fake information. Reporting works on Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter as well. Do not argue with the person posting them. Most of them are newly created accounts purely used to spread these false information, the websites will remove them if enough people report them.

-          If you see any of your friends/followers believing these information, please explain the situation to them.

-          Create new posts – of photos, drawings, rants, or videos – with the members’ tags. Use the photos from the fansites and don’t forget to credit them.

Finally I want to apologise on behalf of the Chinese Exo Fandom for what is happening. The Exo fans in China are working very hard to clear up the Exo members’ tags, please can you help. If you have Instagram and Twitter as well your help would be very much appreciated. Thank you very much! Please help us spread the words!!

The Story of the Statue

So, anxiousaclassi made this post and once again I could not resist:

what if instead of fading due to grief, elves turn to stone. in the middle of dale there’s a statue of the long disappeared elvenking, and no one looks at it because of the look of sheer loss and pain on his face. little do they know that bard died there decades ago, and the statue isn’t a statue.

The Story of the Statue

There was a fairystory, a folktale, popular among the people of Dale. They told it to travellers and to their children and grandchildren. They all knew the story of the statue.

Once upon a time, many years ago, there used to be a huge Elven kingdom in the forests of Mirkwood, ruled over by a cold and beautiful king, though his name has been lost to time. He defended his own lands and people ferociously, but he cared little for the suffering of others; “Other lands are not my concern.” The king would say, dismissing all who came before him.

All but one.

The fabled Dragonslayer, a simple bargeman who took down Smaug the Terrible with only one arrow, who re-founded Dale and saved their ancestors in ages past.

He was the one who thawed the heart of the cold Elvenking.

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