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The Least-Reinforcing Scenario 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The Least-Reinforcing Scenario

What do wild animals and humans have in common? Both need training.

If you’ve ever been to one of those wild animal theme parks where trainers manage to get creatures with big bodies and teeth to perform on command, you may leave wondering just how in the world those trainers managed to get Shamu to jump through a hoop or splash the crowd on command. And while you might enjoy the show, you also might wonder about what goes on behind the scenes at rehearsals. What happens, for example, when a large carnivorous mammal starts behaving badly? What does a trainer do when, say, a beluga whale spits a lugie at him, a tiger takes a growling swipe at her, or a monkey decides to whip unspeakably gross bio material at one’s head?

While we might immediately dial back to cartoon images of a lion tamer with a whip and a chair in such scenarios, it turns out that the techniques that good animal trainers use don’t involve the application of force. When faced with a wicked whale or a foul-tempered feline, the best response to bad behavior is, well, no response at...

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