If you want to attract an honorable lady, be an honorable man.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Walden Two: Review

I have read a decent amount of good books in my lifetime. I have read a few bad books in my lifetime. I have read few really good books in my lifetime. 

This book, is a mind-blowing combination of all three.

This book also gave me the hardest mental workout of any book I have ever read. Seriously. 

I have never done a book review before, but this one was worth it, due to the magnitude of its ideas and the effect it will have on people if they try to implement it. 

Before I really get going however, let me make one thing clear. 


So....why am I doing a review on it? 
Well, let's get down to business. 

Walden Two is written by renowned atheist, behavioral scientist, inventor, social philosopher, and author, B.F. Skinner. 

When I picked up this book for school, I had no idea what I was in for. 

Skinner was a bright guy - brighter than I expected or had experienced to this point, and it took some real mental fist-fights to work through and see through his masterpiece of social design. 

It is written in novel format, but it is mostly a dialog between various characters describing and arguing over the nature of a earthly Utopia that has been set up in modern day America in the country outside of a major city.

A skeptic professor, a college philosophy teacher, two soldiers just come home from the war in the Philippines, and their respective girls, head to a fabled place in the rural country side that a former colleague of the skeptic professor has set up  - a.k.a. Walden Two. Walden Two is fabled as Utopia, and the travelers have mixed feelings among themselves. The soldiers, seeing the war, are wanting to make peace and happiness, and this fabled heaven sounds exactly like what they were wanting to set up. The philosophy professor is excitedly interested, and the skeptic professor, from whose perspective the book is written, is skeptic and not sure what he is in for. 

What they find is a wonder that is hard to describe without actually having you read the book. 

This is the basic gist of it.

One thousand people live in a farming type community that is like no other. The average person works no more than four hours a day to earn "work credits" with which they pay for their food and keep. Male and female have equal standing in the community. Young people get married and are having kids by the age of 16. Through brilliant genius, they have a very efficient, economic system of food, clothes, and sustainability so that no person is ever rushed, over worked, or stressed, and each person can rest and do as he pleases in this community of people. The whole system is run by a few people at the top, who, for the good of the community, decide everything. Literally. What happens in the society, who gets what jobs when, what programs and activities happen, how the care and the scientific research of the children of the place (who are raised by the experts, not the parents,) is to be ran, etc. Literally, Communism.

The child care is the hinge pin of the whole book in my eyes, because through experimental training and trial and error processes, they have learned how to train the kids to almost perfection of mind and spirit at a very young age.

This society stays intact due to the knowledge that they are far superior to the outside world. They know they have a better economic system, a better education (where the daily life on the farm and the massive library at everybody's disposal is the only method of education for the majority of the people), and a much better way of life.  In other words, they are kept there by almost sheer snob appeal. They know this way of life is the best, and that they are the happiest here, sharing all things in common (there is no private property in this community), needing nothing else than what they are given and what they can make and do for themselves.

That is another aspect of Walden two that took serious dueling. The author describes happiness as a state of knowing that you have everything you need and nothing you don't. A case of pure rational mentality based solely on reason and good circumstances. It isn't a state of mind, it's a type of knowledge. All the people say they are happy, and when asked why, say that they are well fed and have good surroundings and things are otherwise perfect. They have been told they are happiest this way so often, that they believe it without much mental resistance.

The guests to Walden Two are beyond skeptical, and it produces massive amounts of heated and controversial dialog throughout most of the book.

 (Side note: Walden Two happens to the be the second Walden - this certain type of society. They have up to Walden Seven in other places in the world in this story.)

In the end, half of the people stay at Walden Two for the rest of their lives, the others reject it due to not being able to be shaken from their irrational (or as it is shown to be) infatuation with the outside world and its way of life, not accepting the "obviously" better choice of this earthly Utopia.

The designer and originator of this paradise has arranged this whole place as a laboratory to study and make a science out of human behavior, and to learn how to control it, and ultimately make people do as the elite wishes, or make people who will do as the elite wishes. This is the dangerous and humanistic field of "Behavioral Modification" that Skinner was up to his neck in, and this book, in his own words, is not a bad start to head towards change for good.

The designer of this society believes he is pretty close to God, and has done better than God did, if He exists, on making a peaceful society. After all, look at the turbulent world, and look at his society. The more peaceful and happy world is obviously the better designed one, due to the better designer.

This book was a massive mental struggle for me. Not because I liked it and it was battling against my Biblical worldview of society, but because Skinner was a downright genius in laying out his society and building up all his arguments for it. Skinner makes it sound so perfect through the book, it was a massive mental fight to figure out why on earth it wouldn't work. I have my own ideas on peace and prosperity, and these didn't look a thing like it. All of Skinner's dialogs do a fascinatingly good job of dismantling the skeptics arguments, and showing them how "infinitely superior" his society is compared to the outside world.

Skinner however, has one chink in his armor, and the button located behind it dismantles the entire seemingly perfect suit of armor. He is dead wrong on his assessment on the nature of man.

Dead wrong.

Although he never outright says it, (he gets pretty close and says it in every other way possible) he is a firm believer on the natural goodness of man, and over and over slanders the Christian religion and Jesus in particular, calling Him a man who thought he was God, who just so happened to stumble on some good ideas.

That is why his system won't work. Man isn't good AT ALL.

His theory, that the elite at the top will never do bad for the people, and only good, because they are looking out for the good of the community, will never work. Man naturally is sinful and will try to take as much power as he can however he can.

His theory, that all young kids need is to be shown how bad emotions are not good for them, and show them the reasonableness of virtue, and then that makes them basically perfect angels, will never work, because small children have the same problem as the adults with even less self-control.  A massive sin nature.

That was one major giveaway ( I thought) through this book that Skinner was never married and had kids of his own. He had NO IDEA about what children are like and their nature and such. I'm not even married and even I could tell he had no idea what he was talking about. Which in actuality is kinda odd, since I did some research and found that he was married and had two daughters of his own. He must not have used them as case studies for his research.

His entire book and theory was based off the goodness of man, but he hid it so cleverly that it took major digging to find that. Skinner was no idiot, and he knew how to make his theories and a complete socialist system of government look good and make the people under it look happy.

His armor turns out to be paper, and his terrifying fortress of humanism turns out to be no more than a castle in the clouds  - a pipe dream of his own imagination, trying to make a world where no God or His attributes were necessary.    

The sad thing folks, is that it is this type of book that has led the modern study of behavior and child rearing, and it is these ideas that are held by most big-wigs of the philosophical world. To them, all man needs is the right surroundings, the right training, and the right situations, and he, through a ruling elite over them, can set up heaven on earth.

That is why I reviewed this book. This is where our culture is at, and this is what it believes.

This is also the very thing we need to be aware of and teach and train against in our families in our sphere of influence in the world.

Situations and training will never save man. Only Jesus and his grace will. Period.

I heartily recommend this book as an awesome and engaging read read to anybody who is up for a real mental war to defend their position of Biblical society, but they had better be ready to put up a bigger mental fight than they have ever before. Skinner is good. Real good.

Fortunately for us, God and his wisdom is better.


  1. Impeccable synopsis!!! Definitely a fun, engaging, and FRUSTRSATING read...but so worth it when you finally find the downfall. Highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a mind stretching read ;)

    1. Mind stretching - now that is a good description! :D

  2. Great review! I am now very interested in reading it. :D

    Wow! I think it is hilarious that his book is based on man's goodness! I guess he really isn't a good human observer. :) Your review was well-written, and you give some good thoughts on the authors viewpoint. I appreciated how you didn't spoil the story, too!

    Have you ever read "The Giver"? Sounds like a similar story line- but I will have to read Walden Two before I say that!!!

    P.S. I have enjoyed reading your blog- you have some great thoughts! Keep sharing!


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