A Fly in the Ointment?

[From Bruce Abbott (950526.1700 EST)]

Bill Powers (950526.1100 MDT)

The behaviors are sensory conditions, too. In fact these instructions
say nothing about the motor outputs that are to be produced. . . .

Of course! I think you've gotten the wrong impression.

This whole discussion is beginning to remind me of the following joke.
Johnny (who is six) walks up to his mother and says "Mommie, where did I
come from?" Mother calls Dad in and together they explain all the details
of sexual reproduction to Johnny. Looking very perplexed, Johnny finally
blurts out "No! Jimmy came from Cleveland. Where did _I_ come from?"

My description of how a fly lands on the ceiling is more like the answer
Johnny was looking for--superficial but adequate for the purpose. I'm not
offering an S-R explanation even if it looks that way on the short form.

Your way of describing the sequence of events is the customary way, the
way that behavior is most commonly described. But this level of
description is actually a barrier to understanding what is going on.

Not if you understand PCT. I tried to be clear and brief while providing
enough information about sensory input that one could imagine how a control
system model might be constructed (as Rick was able to do). I tried to
avoid the possible S-R connotation by suggesting (without elaboration) that
a more detailed account would appeal to a set of control systems. My
explanation was neither misleading nor inaccurate, as far as it went. Come
on, admit it--you now have the quick answer (Johnny's answer) to how flies
land on the ceiling, one you can offer to your friends if the subject ever
comes up. It's not wrong, it's just lacking in detail, detail I wanted to
avoid in what I intended to be a brief digression.

Bill Powers (950526.1230 MDT)

Rick, you brought out a point about modeling the fly's behavior that I
had overlooked. Of course Bruce's description is not useful for a PCT
analysis! It's a description of appearances from the point of view of a
human observer standing outside the fly.

Not exactly--I did hint at some of the perceptual variables involved, which
have been deduced from physiological studies, not by guessing what they
might be based on external observation. Many of the details I omitted ARE
useful to a PCT analysis; I hope my all-too-brief description did not give
you the impression that what I had to say is all that is known about the
systems involved.

Regards,

Bruce