Like all good things, the Aubrey Daniels Institute website in its present iteration must come to an end. For the past four years it has been my pleasure and honor to first help create and thereafter oversee this website and its varied activities. My duties have included not only writing biweekly commentaries for the Behavior Watch and From the Field sections of the Institute’s website, but also inviting commentaries and book reviews (and writing a few myself) from valued colleagues, helping select recipients for student research awards, recognizing outstanding research in our discipline, and developing and maintaining the web’s only virtual museum dedicated exclusively to behavioral research apparatus. It is not possible for me to select one activity from among these that I have enjoyed the most. The virtual museum displays many items from the real apparatus collection that I have assembled over the last twenty years at West Virginia University, and it has allowed me the opportunity to explore many of those items in more depth than one can do in a real display. It is often said that if you really want to learn a subject matter, teach it. Writing all of those commentaries has given me the chance to consider issues that I otherwise likely would not have learned nearly so much about. It has forced me to tackle issues of application that I normally don’t consider in my other life as a basic scientist in behavior analysis, as well as issues that are as familiar as the back of my hand! I have appreciated the Institute’s tolerance in letting me have a little fun with readers at Halloween and, especially, last April Fool’s Day, when I for a moment was able to hoodwink more than a few readers with my blatantly false piece about B. F. Skinner’s twin brother.
None of this would have been possible without the Aubrey Daniels Institute and its raison d’être and chief sponsor, Aubrey himself, and the organizational genius behind it all, my best friend and lifelong companion, Darnell Lattal. Darnell provided sage advice every step of the way in the development of the Institute, spearheaded the legal footwork and provided the organizational skills necessary to establish it, and encouraged, guided, and shaped the website’s development. Without her none of this would have happened.
As the Institute has evolved over these past four years, it has increasingly focused on education in America and how behavior analysis can contribute to our educational systems. This has required a reallocation of resources within the Institute, so the current website activities will be curtailed as it pursues this new focus.
It has been my honor and pleasure to be associated with the Institute through my deep involvement with this website. I am most grateful to Aubrey for the unparalleled opportunity, to Darnell for her support, wise guidance, and gently analytic eye on the website and its content, to Julie Terling for her advice and general administrative support in first organizing and then maintaining the website, to Sandy Stewart for her excellent help with all kinds of Institute matters, and to Cindy Ashworth for several years’ worth of careful proofing, wit, and her good editorial eye. The website never would have looked as good as it has without Lisa Smith’s technical skills, keen sense of esthetics, great sense of play and humor in selecting the fantastic artwork that has accompanied each commentary, and her easy ways of working with me to create and maintain a website of which all of us have been most proud. Many of my colleagues, as I noted above contributed commentaries and other items to the site, and to them I also am most grateful. And last but certainly not least, thank you all, dear readers. Without your behavior of reading, commenting, cajoling, correcting, and reinforcing, my behavior would not have sustained.
In summing up his professional life, the prominent learning theorist Edward Chase Tolman famously observed that “[i]n the end the only sure criterion is to have fun. And I have had fun.” Although my professional life with the Aubrey Daniels Institute has been much shorter than Professor Tolman’s with the University of California at Berkeley, I certainly resonate to his observation. So, thank you Aubrey, Darnell, Julie, Cindy, and Lisa for making the past four years with the Institute such great fun.
– Andy Lattal
Note: Although this is the my last entry on the site, the virtual museum will remain active, and there will be a few more posts to Behavior Watch and From the Field that we have been holding in the queue before those sites cease operation. So please continue to visit for the next couple of months to see what we’ve been working on. Visit the virtual museum anytime (and bring your friends).