Reinforcement is all around us, and reinforcers are contingent on all kinds of behaviors in real life. A good deal of the time those reinforcers are the events that make the world go ’round; they also produce accidents, errors, and catastrophes; on good days they produce humor, satisfaction, scientific discoveries, life-saving efforts, and joy. This paper will review the many examples of malfunction of the reinforcement contingency with consequences that go far beyond what they used to in days before computers and large corporations, yielding the conditions in which one person or one small group of persons wreaks havoc. I will review cases of radiation poisoning, eggs spreading salmonella, oil spills, cell phone malfunctions, and other blessings created by inappropriate reinforcement contingencies in our society. To make up for the bleak picture, I will suggest ways of correcting these malfunctioning reinforcement contingencies.
Review Kurt Salzinger’s biographical statement.