Feature Stimulus Class, the Monty Python Way.


I just happened to be reading on stimulus equivalence when Monty Python’s The Holy Grail  came on TV. Here is the script from scene #5 from the movie. I always get a laugh at this scene.

  BEDEMIR:  Quiet, quiet.  Quiet!  There are ways of telling whether
      she is a witch.

  CROWD:  Are there?  What are they?

  BEDEMIR:  Tell me, what do you do with witches?

  VILLAGER #2:  Burn!

  CROWD:  Burn, burn them up!

  BEDEMIR:  And what do you burn apart from witches?

  VILLAGER #1:  More witches!

  VILLAGER #2:  Wood!

  BEDEMIR:  So, why do witches burn?
      [pause]

  VILLAGER #3:  B--... 'cause they're made of wood...?

  BEDEMIR:  Good!

  CROWD:  Oh yeah, yeah...

  BEDEMIR:  So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?

  VILLAGER #1:  Build a bridge out of her.

  BEDEMIR:  Aah, but can you not also build bridges out of stone?

  VILLAGER #2:  Oh, yeah.

  BEDEMIR:  Does wood sink in water?

  VILLAGER #1:  No, no.

  VILLAGER #2:  It floats!  It floats!

  VILLAGER #1:  Throw her into the pond!

  CROWD:  The pond!

  BEDEMIR:  What also floats in water?

  VILLAGER #1:  Bread!

  VILLAGER #2:  Apples!

  VILLAGER #3:  Very small rocks!

  VILLAGER #1:  Cider!

  VILLAGER #2:  Great gravy!

  VILLAGER #1:  Cherries!

  VILLAGER #2:  Mud!

  VILLAGER #3:  Churches -- churches!

  VILLAGER #2:  Lead -- lead!

  ARTHUR:  A duck.
  CROWD:  Oooh.

  BEDEMIR:  Exactly!  So, logically...,

  VILLAGER #1:  If... she.. weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood.

  BEDEMIR:  And therefore--?

  VILLAGER #1:  A witch!

  CROWD:  A witch!

  BEDEMIR:  We shall use my larger scales!
      [yelling]

  BEDEMIR:  Right, remove the supports!

      [whop]

      [creak]

  CROWD:  A witch!  A witch!

  WITCH:  It's a fair cop.

  CROWD:  Burn her!  Burn!
 [yelling]

  BEDEMIR:  Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?

  ARTHUR:  I am Arthur, King of the Britons.

  BEDEMIR:  My liege!

  ARTHUR:  Good Sir knight, will you come with me to Camelot,
      and join us at the Round Table?

  BEDEMIR:  My liege!  I would be honored.

  ARTHUR:  What is your name?

  BEDEMIR:  Bedemir, my leige.

  ARTHUR:  Then I dub you Sir Bedemir, Knight of the Round Table.

They follow a very hysterical example of how to determine that person is a witch by establishing equivalent features of wood, a duck, and a witch. The knight, Bedemir even helps the villagers identify examples and nonexamples of common features to help them learn what constitutes a witch. What makes this a funny scenario is the outrageous connections they eventually make that lead them to determine that the young lady is indeed a witch. It is also a good lesson in making sure you are using good examples when you are teaching receptive and expressive identification by features, function, and class so your clients don’t make poor correlations. All that aside, it’s just a good laugh.

P.S. The preceding post was for discussion purposed only. I do not either advocate, condone, or even have the desire to burn witches.

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