Don’t do that

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Giving airtime to X reinforces X. If X is a negative behaviour or a negative behavioural pattern, X gets reinforced, even if the intention is to stress ‘don’t do that’. I am a collector of ‘don’t do that’ signs from public and private places8 as a way of understanding what behaviours are likely to be around.

You can see some picture examples on the previous page. The one at the top left is from an airport. It contains almost apocalyptic warnings about abusing staff. What it actually tells me is that abuse surely must be quite common around there or they would not have bothered to put up the (dozens of) posters.

The top right image is from a hospital where one is warned in all corridors about the ‘zero tolerance’ policy regarding violence to staff. Those corridors must have been very violent at some point.
The bottom left is equally apocalyptic and also from a hospital where abuse of nurses may have been a sort of sport, to say the least, given the size of the letters.

The bottom right picture, once more from a hospital, educates us about the detrimental effects of duck faeces in the garden (‘Duck faeces cause infections and pollution’). This clearly shows us that there must be lots of ducks and lots of faeces around, because otherwise why would they bother with this unsolicited education about the physiological habits of the animals?

For more visit