Why I am starting a @WeHateSpoons troll account

We all know there are lovers of Applied Behaviour Analysis and haters. Everyone is entitled to their own views and most people can accept some people think differently to them.

Today I have been having a very interesting chat with a twitter account by the name of ABA Controversy UK – @abaukdiscussion It really doesn’t matter what I said it would be replied with anger and challenge.

Their hatred towards ABA is so deep rooted that they have set up a twitter account to facelessly troll anything pro-ABA out there. If there is anything out there anti ABA it is circulated as gospel. Anything pro ABA is hung up as ridicule. Any questions raised responded with anger and hostility and no clear answers when questions to them are made. This gets people who agree with them to reinforce what they say, and avoids negativity from any other perspectives there may be out there so they are self assured they are right. Another good angle taken is to respond to tweets as “we…” so as it looks like a group of people are pressing the keys. Sadly this is the reality for most of us on twitter. We read what people who think the same as us think and therefore are reassured we must be right. If we don’t like what people say we unfollow or block.

To dedicate so much time and effort into shouting down ABA there must be a driver. Some tweets are suggesting that they may have autism themselves. Perhaps they have had personal experience of ABA that they didn’t like. I don’t know. I’ve tried to approach my discussions with them with an open and inquisitive mind but they seem polarised. To be dedicated to something you really believe is one thing, but I’ve never seen being dedicated to a disbelief with such commitment (anyone who is dreaming of starting a “there is no Santa” group right now should be ashamed of themselves)

I get that there are divides – religion, nationality, gender are the common headline ones. We might disagree about which political party we prefer, brexit or remain, BCFC or Villa, Take That or East 17. Whatever it is, there are common divides. The usual standpoint is my thing is better than yours. This account isn’t that, it’s just “your thing is rubbish”. Isn’t that akin to what bullies do? They are arguing against something but what are they arguing for? (I am still waiting for an explanation of how why is different to function)

What makes me really sad about this is that it is a complete extreme view about ABA. It’s not unique to this account but it is very sad.

ABA is nothing more than the science of behaviour. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s not angelic, it’s not evil. It’s just a way of understanding behaviour. It’s just a thing.

4765B9C2-19BB-49E7-AE0D-E9EBB366211EA spoon is just a thing too. Generally spoons do good. They stir your tea, help you eat yoghurt, soup, cereal. You can balance them on your nose. See yourself upside down in them, play music with them. Generally a very useful thing.  Sometimes spoons can be used for evil. If you don’t believe me just ask Richard Gale

Now if you have seriously just wasted 10 minutes of your life watching that as I have you will now understand why I am starting my @WeHateSpoons troll account. If that is my only perspective on spoons then spoons are evil and I want to make sure the world knows about it.

The truth is the spoon isn’t evil. There might be some people who use spoons to do evil things. But there are plenty of people out there who use spoons for good every day.

ABA is no different. ABA is just a thing. Yep you can find examples of people doing bad things with ABA. Yep some people might disagree with Some ABA approaches and they are entitled to that view. But ABA is much bigger than these things. It is all around us. It is behind every advertising campaign, underpinning what every teacher does in school, every parent does raising their child. There is use in mental health treatments, addiction therapy, pet training, organisation management, it’s behind the healthy eating programmes in all schools now and underpins recycling and green policy initiatives. There are many different interventions that are either solely underpinned by ABA or ABA is key to its working – Positive Behaviour Support, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Organisational Behaviour Management, dialectical behaviour therapy and so on.

I’m not denying people have had bad experience of ABA. I’m not saying that people are wrong when they disagree with what they understand ABA to mean. My point here is only that ABA is just a spoon. It is neither good or bad. If your experience of ABA is bad then who am I to say your view is wrong. But that bad experience of ABA may not be everyone’s experience of ABA. Some people use spoons differently.

Join the Conversation


  1. thank you jonathan, its always good to be open to a weekness and open to critism…..for me, you’ve shown that and you always pioneer finding better ways in the persuit of excellent support for people with learning/intellectual disabilities. I share your passion that ABA is currently this path and we all need to be aware and open to the weekness of ABA and know that must be challenged. PBS does this, challenge it and lets progress evolve and improve. Lets hear what the critics find so challenging about ABA and present our thought. PBS4 is amazing! And we need more Jonathans.

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