Sunday, September 02, 2007

More nonsense from Sklansky

I don't know where he got the article, but has reprinted some nonsense written by Sklansky and Shoonmaker, two of poker's shallowest thinkers, making a list of all the social benefits of poker.

The whole thing is just intellectually empty. Everything they say in the article is still true if you replace poker with "crossing the street" so the same arguement they try to use to legalize poker as special form of gambling could be used to argue against jaywalking laws.

Just look at that belly button. Stare at it. Keep staring, eventually it will look like a doughnut.

Lou Krieger, who should really know better, seems to actually think the sklansky/shoonmaker clown act actually has meaningful content in that empty article. It's really embarrasing for so many poker types to be so empty of intellectul talent.

Just to give a flavor of how empty the article is let's look at it from sentence one.
Many people have argued that poker should be considered differently from gambling in general. This argument has been made in discussions of legalization and related topics. Their argument is usually that poker is a skill game, while other gambling games are much less dependent upon skill.

Well, I guess they start of with something that's accurate. People have made that claim. The problem with the arguement is almost always that they never make a clear statement about what it actually means to be a "skill game". And that's where the Sklansky/Shoonmaker teams slips off the track.
We agree, but believe that they have not gone far enough in explaining many of poker's unique attributes. Poker does not just require skill. It demands and develops many skills and personal qualities which are essential for making all types of decisions, such as choosing a career, investing money, performing a job, and buying a house.

While it's certianly true that poker can be used to develop attributes which can be helpful in other aspects of life, it's simply delusional the think that poker has any unique attributes along those lines. Lot's and lot's of people get along just fine in life without ever playing poker and without ever even thinking about poker. There's nothing unique about poker as an avenue for learning life skills, not one damn thing.

It gets worse. They then make the astoundingly ignorant claim
Research clearly proves that people tend to repeat rewarded actions and to discontinue punished ones.

Research does no such thing.

First of all, proving things isn't part of science anyway, that's a math concept, not a science concept. Science looks for evidence, not for proof. In fact, the way science gathers evidence is by trying to find counter-examples, not by trying to find proof. Failure to find evidence of not P is taken as evidence of P. But it's not proof.

Also, the Father of that branch of Behaviorlism, BF Skinner, did his research with birds, not people (maybe some of it was with people). And what he found isn't as simple as what the Sklansky/Shoonmaker team claim. Here's one description of what Skinner thought about operant conditioning.
Skinner believed that positive reinforcement was more effective than punishment in the long run. He also stated that any reinforcement must come immediately after the behavior so as to not confuse the organism.

That actually doesn't sound to me like the kind of reinforcement that comes from poker. The kind of reinforcment that tends to come from poker is the kind that opponents of gambling argue is bad for people and teaches people bad habits.

And, those opponents are right. That's what makes gambling games so good for those who don't need the kind of reinforcement that the game provides naturally.

Sklanksy is basically an uneducated buffon. I don't expect much better from him. Shoonmaker actually has a PhD in industrial psychology. He should be ashamed of himself for spouting this kind of nonsense.

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Blogger Dr Zen said...

Sklansky simply doesn't like to think he makes his living from a game. He is this genius who did not do anything great with his life, in his view.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

Maybe if he'd have finished jr. college he'd have amounted to something.

I actually like the guy, but I think he's an intellectual lightweight.

5:17 PM  

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