Coordinates: Los Horcones is an intentional community located about 40 miles from Hermosillo, Mexico. It has described itself "as the only true Walden Two community in existence". The members of Los Horcones use techniques based on behavioral science to shape their own and each other's behaviors. They use those behavior-shaping techniques in politically coordinated ways and they do so in order to continuously improve themselves and their culture. They are striving to build a culture "based on cooperation, sharing, non-violence, equality and ecological sustainability."
Experimentalism and continuous improvement are two of the most important doctrines of a Walden Two community. Burrhus Frederic Skinner, author of the novel Walden Two, expressed this in the following way. He wrote:
"Comunidad de los Horcones"
A wooden pillar that divides into two branches can be described as being "bifurcated". A bifurcated pillar has a shape similar to the capital letter Y.At Los Horcones, bifurcated pillars are sometimes used to support a roof that protects a building's patio.
"The main thing is, we encourage our people to view every habit and custom with an eye to possible improvement. A constantly experimental attitude toward everything—that's all we need. Solutions to problems of every sort follow almost miraculously." Walden Two, page 25
The members of Los Horcones regard their community as a cultural laboratory and they regard themselves as cultural engineers. They will readily adopt new cultural behaviors when experimental evidence indicates that doing so will improve their lives. As a result of their cultural engineering efforts, they are unlikely to suffer from cultural lag.
An Experimental Community
Los Horcones can also be regarded as an "experimental community". When the members of Los Horcones encounter problems they design and conduct experiments to test possible solutions to their problems. Depending on the result of an experiment, they may collectively resolve to make an experimental behavior into a community-approved component of their behavioral culture. In this way, the Los Horconans exercise control over the evolution of their culture.
An experimental community does not claim to be perfect and it is a misnomer to describe a Walden Two community as a utopia (a perfect society). An experimental community thrives on its problems because its problems are seen as opportunities for experimentation. An experimental community can be thought of as a eutopia (a good place) in which there is always room for experimentation and improvement.
The Behavior of Organisms, B. F. Skinner's first book, was published in 1938. The research strategy that Dr. Skinner presented in that book was widely adopted and grew into a school of psychology named the experimental analysis of behavior. That school is today known as Behavior Analysis.
As Behavior Analysis grew larger, a growing number of scholars began to believe that Behavior Analysis had outgrown its place in Psychology and that it was time to establish a separate discipline. Makram Khalil Samaan gave expression to this belief in 1973 when he wrote, "It is time now for the scientific analysis of behavior to call for its own scientific discipline. It is contradictory to its function, objective, methods and content to stay within the realm of psychology." Mr. Samaan suggested that the scientific analysis of behavior become a separate scientific discipline named "behaviorology".
In 1974 the Los Horconans began using the term "behaviorology" to refer to "the natural science of behavior". Their summary of behaviorology reads as follows: "Behaviorology encompasses basic research, applied research and philosophy. Basic research includes (a) descriptive analysis of behavior (behaviography), (b) experimental analysis of behavior (experimental behaviorology), and (c) a theoretical or conceptual analysis of behavior (theoretical behaviorology). Applied research refers to behavior-analytic applications of the experimental analysis of behavior to the prevention and solution of social problems. As such, it includes (a) applied research in the form of experimental analysis oriented towards finding solutions to social problems and (b) behavioral technology, in the form of behavior-analytic procedures alone. The philosophy of behaviorology is that of behaviorism, which includes both, philosophical (or metatheoretical) assumptions and the philosophical implications of data obtained by the experimental analysis of behavior and its applications."
The International Behaviorology Association (TIBA) was founded in 1987. TIBA's purpose statement reads, in part, "TIBA is a professional organization dedicated to representing and developing the philosophical, analytical, experimental, and technological components of the discipline of behaviorology, the comprehensive natural science of the functional relations of behavior including determinants from the environment, both socio-cultural and non-cultural, as well as determinants from the biological history of the species".
In August 1988 three Los Horconans attended the first TIBA convention, which was held at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. The second TIBA convention was held at Los Horcones in January 1990. To accommodate that convention, the Los Horconans built a convention hall and several residential buildings.
TIBA subsequently changed its name and is today known as the International Society for Behaviorology (ISB). The ISB describes itself as "an organization of behavioral materialists who hold that: (a) evolution from nonhuman to human behavior is a continuous physical, biological, and behaviorological process; (b) contingencies evoke, shape, and maintain behavior and its processes with no implied or inferred agency playing a causal role". The ISB's twenty-first annual convention was held in Newport Beach, California. That convention opened on March 18, 2009 and closed 2 days later on March 20, after a "Memorial Dinner" that celebrated the birth of B. F. Skinner on March 20, 1904.
From a legal perspective, Los Horcones is a corporation. The corporation's full name is Comunidad de los Horcones. It was organized in 1973 and it operates under the laws of the State of Sonora, one of the thirty-one states that together make up the United Mexican States. Los Horcones is a particular type of corporation: it is a producer cooperative.
The corporation owns a parcel of land that contains approximately 260 acres (105 hectares). That parcel is approximately 1,312 feet (400 meters) above sea level. The members of Los Horcones live in buildings which are located on that parcel. Most of those buildings are grouped together on the southern half of the parcel (see aerial photograph). The parcel is bounded on its northern border by Mexican Federal Highway 16 (Carretera Federal 16). The drive from Hermosillo, capital of the State of Sonora, takes about 45 minutes.
References and notes
- Rohter, Larry (November 7, 1989). "Isolated Desert Community Lives by Skinner's Precepts". The New York Times.
- Lamal, Peter (2009). "From Rats and Pigeons to Cultural Practices: A Review of Beyond the Box: B. F. Skinner's Technology of Behavior from Laboratory to Life, 1950s to 1970s". Behavior and Social Issues, 18, pp. 175–177.
- "Los Horcones: Cultural Objectives".
- "Los Horcones: a Cultural Laboratory".
- Cultural engineering means the politically coordinated application of behavioral science to the establishment of cultural behaviors and to the manufacture of cultural materials.
- Cultural behavior means the learned behaviors that are shared by the members of a society.
- Communities Directory. Fellowship for Intentional Community, February 25, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2012. "We are a Walden Two community in the sense we apply behavioral principles in our daily life to learn communitarian behaviors. Being a Walden Two does not mean we are inspired by or follow the novel Walden Two (Skinner) but rather that we apply the science of behavior on which Walden Two was based".
- Skinner, B. F. (1985). "News From Nowhere, 1984". The Behavior Analyst, 8(1), pp. 5–14. "My name is Burris. I live in an experimental community called Walden Two". p. 5.
- Skinner, B. F. (1968). "The Design of Experimental Communities". International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Volume 16). New York: Macmillan, 1968, pp. 271–275.
- Skinner, B. F. (1938). The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: B. F. Skinner Foundation. ISBN 1-58390-007-1, ISBN 0-87411-487-X.
- Samaan, M. K. (1973). Behaviorology: The Humanist Alternative. Sacramento, California: California State University. p. 5.
- "Los Horcones: Behaviorology, The natural science of behavior.".
- Los Horcones, C. (1986). "Behaviorology: An Integrative Denomination". The Behavior Analyst, 9(2), pp. 227–228.
- Ledoux, Stephen F. (2002). Origins and Components of Behaviorology (PDF) (Second ed.). Canton, New York: ABCs. p. 95. ISBN 1-882508-08-4.
- Ledoux, Stephen F. (2002). Origins and Components of Behaviorology (PDF) (Second ed.). Canton, New York: ABCs. pp. 92–93. ISBN 1-882508-08-4.
- Ledoux, Stephen F. (2004). "An Introduction to the Origins, Status, and Mission of Behaviorology" (PDF). Behaviorology Today 7 (1): 30.
- International Society for Behaviorology: Membership Requirement
- International Society for Behaviorology: 2009 Convention
- "Aerial photograph of central building area at Los Horcones".
- Rudolfs, Harry (October 15, 2000). "Searching for Community". Ottawa Citizen (Weekly).
- Bjork, Daniel W. (1997). B.F. Skinner: A Life. American Psychological Association. pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-1-55798-416-6.
- Comunidad Los Horcones (2002). "Western Cultural Influences in Behavior Analysis as Seen From a Walden Two" (PDF). Behavior and Social Issues 11: 204–212.
- Harcum, Eugene Rae (1994). A psychology of freedom and dignity: the last train to survival. Praeger Publishers. pp. 148–151. ISBN 0-275-94744-0.
- Kuhlmann, Hilke (2005). Living Walden Two: B. F. Skinner's Behaviorist Utopia and Experimental Communities. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02962-2.
- Rakos, Richard F. (2006). "Review of Living Walden Two: B. F. Skinner's Behaviorist Utopia and Experimental Communities". The Behavior Analyst, volume 29(1), pp. 153–157.
- Lazaroff, Leon S. (23 February 1992). "Desert community 'ready to grow': Behaviorists experiment in positive reinforcement". The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson ed.). p. 1B. Factiva tucs000020011108do2n000ar.
- Negri, Gloria (16 August 1990). "B.F. Skinner nears death with few regrets". The Dallas Morning News. Boston Globe. p. 1C. Factiva dal0000020011207dm8g02brr.
- Rohter, Larry (7 November 1989). "Isolated Desert Community Lives by Skinner's Precepts". The New York Times (Late Edition - Final ed.). Factiva NYTF000020050421dlb700ert. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
- Rohter, Larry (19 November 1989). "Walden Goes South of the Border / Skinner's theories get their truest test in a Mexican commune". The San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday ed.). New York Times. p. 4. Factiva sfc0000020011117dlbj0056w.