DID YOU KNOW?
IN 1963 TOP EDUCATORS ADMITTED THAT COMPUTERS CAN CHANGE VALUES
From my book “the deliberate dumbing down of america”:
THE ROLE OF THE COMPUTER IN FUTURE INSTRUCTIONAL SYSTEMS WAS PUBLISHED AS THE March/
April, 1963 supplement of Audiovisual Communication Review (Monograph 2 of the Technological
Development Project of the National Education Association [Contract #SAE9073], U.S.
Office of Education, Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare: Washington, D.C., 1963). James
D. Finn of Los Angeles was the principal investigator and Donald P. Ely was the consulting
investigator for this project. (Donald Ely also became project director for the U.S. Department of
Education’s Project BEST: Basic Educational Skills through Technology, which will be discussed
in a later entry in this book.) Excerpts from a chapter entitled “Effortless Learning, Attitude
Changing, and Training in Decision-Making” follow:
Another area of potential development in computer applications is the attitude changing machine. Dr. Bertram Raven in the Psychology Department at the University of California
at Los Angeles is in the process of building a computer-based device for changing attitudes.
This device will work on the principle that students’ attitudes can be changed effectively
by using the Socratic method of asking an appropriate series of leading questions designed
to right the balance between appropriate attitudes, and those deemed less acceptable. For
instance, after first determining a student’s constellation of attitudes through appropriate
testing procedures, the machine would calculate which attitudes are “out of phase” and
which of these are amenable to change. If the student were opposed to foreign trade, say,
and a favorable disposition were sought for, the machine would select an appropriate series
of statements and questions organized to right the imbalance in the student’s attitudes. The
machine, for instance, would have detected that the student liked President Kennedy and
was against the spread of Communism; therefore, the student would be shown that JFK
favored foreign trade and that foreign trade to underdeveloped countries helped to arrest the
Communist infiltration of these governments. If the student’s attitudes toward Kennedy and
against Communism were sufficiently strong, Dr. Raven would hypothesize that a positive
change in attitude toward foreign trade would be effectively brought about by showing the
student the inconsistency of his views. There is considerable evidence that such techniques
do effectively change attitudes.
Admittedly, training in decision-making skills is a legitimate goal of education in this age of automation, but the problem remains—does the educator know what values to attach
to the different outcomes of these decisions?… What about students whose values are out of
line with the acceptable values of democratic society? Should they be taught to conform to
someone else’s accepted judgment of proper values? Training in decision-making is ultimately
compounded with training in value judgment and, as such, becomes a controversial subject
that needs to be resolved by educators before the tools can be put to use.