A forward from Tom Bourbon

This is a forward requested by Tom Bourbon. One point that he neglected to
mention out of good taste was that he has been modeling these interactions
that has been discussed on the net recently,for 12 years, lest anyone starting
thinking that Marken's is breaking new ground with a model lacking actual
human performance data and a current 100-fold default difference in gain. I
will send the Appedix immediatley after this.
isaac kurtzer

<<
This is an open message to Bill Powers and Rick Marken. In light
of the tone and content of many recent posts on CSGNet, I believe
that what I say to you should be seen by others who read that forum.
I have also posted the message to Ed Ford's net, respthink.

Betty and I are in the last stages of unpacking and setting up house
after our recent move to rural Texas, from Houston. This is our fourth
major move in six years and our recovery is becoming a little slower
each time. For people who do not know the history of our moves, they
began in 1992, when I left a tenured position of 25 years as a
Professor of Psychology. At the university, I had taught about PCT
since 1973, and I began my limited amount of PCT modeling in 1986.
Most of my modeling is unpublished, but it was presented many times
at CSG meetings. The focus for most of my work was on interactions
in pairs of perceptual control systems, where the results always
depend on the reference perceptions of the two systems and on their
relative gains. I am happy to see that Rick Marken has begun to
replicate some of that work and to extend it. Rick is a far more
capable programmer than am I. In the light of recent discussions
on CSGNet, I think Rick and I might differ in our interpretations
of some of the results from models of interacting pairs.

Between 1984 and 1992, while I was at the university, I collaborated
on research at medical schools in Texas and that led to an offer of a
position from one of them in 1992. I accepted the offer and left the
university in order to carry the message of PCT into research
departments at the medical schools. By 1995, it was obvious that my
attempt to enlighten the medical schools about PCT was every bit as
successful as my 19 years laboring among psychologists. A person can
only enjoy a certain amount of that kind of success in one life time.

My family has paid dearly for my attempt to bring enlightenment to
medical researchers, but I do not regret it. I would do the same
thing again, were the opportunity to present itself. I say all of
this so that new readers of CSGNet will know that I am not just a
malcontent who is recently arrived on the scene. I am a malcontent
of long standing. Now to the main point of this message.

Bill, if it is not too late, I think you should direct your publisher
to excise my "Appendix" from your new book about PCT. In light of
recent posts from Rick and you on CSGNet, and remarks by both of you
in e-mail conversations on the side, it is obvious that the Appendix
is infected with messy ideas that are not compatible with recent
developments in PCT. I include a copy of the Appendix, so that people
who have followed recent discussions about coercion and RTP can see
for themselves that what I wrote is at odds with new interpretations
of PCT from Rick and you. Bill, I would not want your book to be
contaminated by my mistaken ideas. I am dead serious about that.

At one point in the Appendix, I said I had visited many schools where
people use Ed Ford's "Responsible Thinking Process" (RTP). I wrote,
"Let me describe a little of what I have seen." Anyone who reads the
Appendix, and who has also followed recent conversations about RTP on
CSGNet, will see immediately that what I *say* I saw is not at all like
the imagined scenarios that Bill and Rick describe. You describe
children who have been cowed into submission by coercive educators,
bent on controlling the children's actions. I have seen no such thing.
You say that the proof of coercion by teachers is that when the teacher
is away, the students will engage in a frenzy of previously coerced
"disruptive" actions. I have seen no such thing. You say that what
teachers do is no different from what the Nazis did when they
sent people to the death chambers, or than what the Soviets did when
they sent people to the Gulag. (You left out the Chinese. They also
killed about 20 million of their own people. Together, those three sets
of thugs accounted for about 53 million of the 57 million people killed
in organized genocide during this enlightened century. Doesn't a
teacher in an RTP school also deserve to be compared to the Chinese
butchers? ) Not only did I see no such thing, but I found those
analogies to be deeply flawed. They are also highly repugnant and
offensive to me. You say that if a student thinks RTP is beneficial,
or if a student intentionally refers himself or herself to the RTC
in order to work through a problem, then the student has been
"brainwashed." I never thought I would see a vacuous term like
"brainwashing" used in an explanatory role in PCT.

Then again, I never thought I would see the day when PCT would be bent
to conform with ideas from radical behaviorism ("Fear of punishment?"
Next it will be "learned helplessness." To quote a famous PCTer, "Get
real!"). Neither did I think I would ever see PCT distorted to embrace
the concepts advanced by people we used to identify as belonging on
the "Devil's List" -- people like Carver and Scheier and Lord and
Hanges and Locke and Hyland and Bandura and many others who wrote
about environmental and personality determinants of "giving up,"
as part of their version of "control theory." Their words were
different, but they were writing about a discontinuity in a curve that
they said relates performance to incentives. I believe you now call
that same phenomenon "the universal error curve." Be sure to give
credit to the people who were the first to describe the discontinuity
phenomenon. Maybe we should rethink that Devil's List: they are
certainly off, and I am probably on.

Friends, there are only two ways for me to interpret the present
situation. If your imagined events in RTP schools are correct,
then I did not see what I thought I saw, or I fabricated my
report in the Appendix. Which option do you think applies? (I
suppose they are not exclusive, the way I stated them, but I am
sure you get the idea.) Either way, it is clear to me that what
I wrote in the Appendix does not belong in the new book.

Perhaps there is a third alternative that explains the disparity
between what I wrote, and what you believe happens in RTP schools.
Perhaps I was "brainwashed" by those clever educators. After all,
unlike their Nazi and Soviet (and Chinese?) predecessors, they
have coerced their victims so effectively that they show none of
the obvious signs displayed by those who suffered and perhaps
died at the hands of the worst mass murderers of recent times.
(We *must* include the Chinese. After all, they allegedly
"invented" brainwashing, back in the days of the Korean War.)

Gee, guys, just think about how much more the Nazis, Soviets and
Chinese could have done, had they only understood a little PCT and,
like RTP teachers, pretended that their intentions were different!
It boggles my mind to think about the possibilities, had they only
been as clever and devious as the educators I have seen in RTP
schools! Why, unlike those clumsy oafs who came before them, those
educators have convinced their victims that they are happy and free.
They have even convinced many victims that they are treated with
respect, often for the first times in their lives. I guess that is
why, in so many of those schools, when the school year ends, some
of the brainwashed kids who say they were helped by RTP begin to
cry and ask to be allowed to come to school during the summer,
rather than be forced to stay at home. Ah, but those darned
educators still find a way to coerce the kids into going home.
Are they good at their coercive trade, or what. If I ever get to
run a totalitarian state, or maybe a crime mob, I certainly want
them on my side. They can wash my brain, any time!

I write all of this with a sense of deep sadness and loss. Another day,
in another place, we can discuss your idea that one person, acting in
a vacuum or not even acting at all, can determine the nature of a
social interaction.

Here is the Appendix. I stand by everything in it, all of which was
approved by Bill and Mary Powers, back before PCT changed. I'm sorry,
old friends. On these topics, I have not changed along with you.

Tom Bourbon

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ยทยทยท

Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 13:51:12 -0700
From: Tom Bourbon <tbourbon@centex.net>
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From Tom Bourbon [160698]

Isaac,

May I impose on you to forward this message to CSGNet?

Thanks.

B.

This is an open message to Bill Powers and Rick Marken. In light
of the tone and content of many recent posts on CSGNet, I believe
that what I say to you should be seen by others who read that forum.
I have also posted the message to Ed Ford's net, respthink.

Betty and I are in the last stages of unpacking and setting up house
after our recent move to rural Texas, from Houston. This is our fourth
major move in six years and our recovery is becoming a little slower
each time. For people who do not know the history of our moves, they
began in 1992, when I left a tenured position of 25 years as a
Professor of Psychology. At the university, I had taught about PCT
since 1973, and I began my limited amount of PCT modeling in 1986.
Most of my modeling is unpublished, but it was presented many times
at CSG meetings. The focus for most of my work was on interactions
in pairs of perceptual control systems, where the results always
depend on the reference perceptions of the two systems and on their
relative gains. I am happy to see that Rick Marken has begun to
replicate some of that work and to extend it. Rick is a far more
capable programmer than am I. In the light of recent discussions
on CSGNet, I think Rick and I might differ in our interpretations
of some of the results from models of interacting pairs.

Between 1984 and 1992, while I was at the university, I collaborated
on research at medical schools in Texas and that led to an offer of a
position from one of them in 1992. I accepted the offer and left the
university in order to carry the message of PCT into research
departments at the medical schools. By 1995, it was obvious that my
attempt to enlighten the medical schools about PCT was every bit as
successful as my 19 years laboring among psychologists. A person can
only enjoy a certain amount of that kind of success in one life time.

My family has paid dearly for my attempt to bring enlightenment to
medical researchers, but I do not regret it. I would do the same
thing again, were the opportunity to present itself. I say all of
this so that new readers of CSGNet will know that I am not just a
malcontent who is recently arrived on the scene. I am a malcontent
of long standing. Now to the main point of this message.

Bill, if it is not too late, I think you should direct your publisher
to excise my "Appendix" from your new book about PCT. In light of
recent posts from Rick and you on CSGNet, and remarks by both of you
in e-mail conversations on the side, it is obvious that the Appendix
is infected with messy ideas that are not compatible with recent
developments in PCT. I include a copy of the Appendix, so that people
who have followed recent discussions about coercion and RTP can see
for themselves that what I wrote is at odds with new interpretations
of PCT from Rick and you. Bill, I would not want your book to be
contaminated by my mistaken ideas. I am dead serious about that.

At one point in the Appendix, I said I had visited many schools where
people use Ed Ford's "Responsible Thinking Process" (RTP). I wrote,
"Let me describe a little of what I have seen." Anyone who reads the
Appendix, and who has also followed recent conversations about RTP on
CSGNet, will see immediately that what I *say* I saw is not at all like
the imagined scenarios that Bill and Rick describe. You describe
children who have been cowed into submission by coercive educators,
bent on controlling the children's actions. I have seen no such thing.
You say that the proof of coercion by teachers is that when the teacher
is away, the students will engage in a frenzy of previously coerced
"disruptive" actions. I have seen no such thing. You say that what
teachers do is no different from what the Nazis did when they
sent people to the death chambers, or than what the Soviets did when
they sent people to the Gulag. (You left out the Chinese. They also
killed about 20 million of their own people. Together, those three sets
of thugs accounted for about 53 million of the 57 million people killed
in organized genocide during this enlightened century. Doesn't a
teacher in an RTP school also deserve to be compared to the Chinese
butchers? ) Not only did I see no such thing, but I found those
analogies to be deeply flawed. They are also highly repugnant and
offensive to me. You say that if a student thinks RTP is beneficial,
or if a student intentionally refers himself or herself to the RTC
in order to work through a problem, then the student has been
"brainwashed." I never thought I would see a vacuous term like
"brainwashing" used in an explanatory role in PCT.

Then again, I never thought I would see the day when PCT would be bent
to conform with ideas from radical behaviorism ("Fear of punishment?"
Next it will be "learned helplessness." To quote a famous PCTer, "Get
real!"). Neither did I think I would ever see PCT distorted to embrace
the concepts advanced by people we used to identify as belonging on
the "Devil's List" -- people like Carver and Scheier and Lord and
Hanges and Locke and Hyland and Bandura and many others who wrote
about environmental and personality determinants of "giving up,"
as part of their version of "control theory." Their words were
different, but they were writing about a discontinuity in a curve that
they said relates performance to incentives. I believe you now call
that same phenomenon "the universal error curve." Be sure to give
credit to the people who were the first to describe the discontinuity
phenomenon. Maybe we should rethink that Devil's List: they are
certainly off, and I am probably on.

Friends, there are only two ways for me to interpret the present
situation. If your imagined events in RTP schools are correct,
then I did not see what I thought I saw, or I fabricated my
report in the Appendix. Which option do you think applies? (I
suppose they are not exclusive, the way I stated them, but I am
sure you get the idea.) Either way, it is clear to me that what
I wrote in the Appendix does not belong in the new book.

Perhaps there is a third alternative that explains the disparity
between what I wrote, and what you believe happens in RTP schools.
Perhaps I was "brainwashed" by those clever educators. After all,
unlike their Nazi and Soviet (and Chinese?) predecessors, they
have coerced their victims so effectively that they show none of
the obvious signs displayed by those who suffered and perhaps
died at the hands of the worst mass murderers of recent times.
(We *must* include the Chinese. After all, they allegedly
"invented" brainwashing, back in the days of the Korean War.)

Gee, guys, just think about how much more the Nazis, Soviets and
Chinese could have done, had they only understood a little PCT and,
like RTP teachers, pretended that their intentions were different!
It boggles my mind to think about the possibilities, had they only
been as clever and devious as the educators I have seen in RTP
schools! Why, unlike those clumsy oafs who came before them, those
educators have convinced their victims that they are happy and free.
They have even convinced many victims that they are treated with
respect, often for the first times in their lives. I guess that is
why, in so many of those schools, when the school year ends, some
of the brainwashed kids who say they were helped by RTP begin to
cry and ask to be allowed to come to school during the summer,
rather than be forced to stay at home. Ah, but those darned
educators still find a way to coerce the kids into going home.
Are they good at their coercive trade, or what. If I ever get to
run a totalitarian state, or maybe a crime mob, I certainly want
them on my side. They can wash my brain, any time!

I write all of this with a sense of deep sadness and loss. Another day,
in another place, we can discuss your idea that one person, acting in
a vacuum or not even acting at all, can determine the nature of a
social interaction.

Here is the Appendix. I stand by everything in it, all of which was
approved by Bill and Mary Powers, back before PCT changed. I'm sorry,
old friends. On these topics, I have not changed along with you.

Tom Bourbon
                      Appendix A
                An application of PCT:
          The "Responsible Thinking Process"
                    by Tom Bourbon

Discipline programs for schools are a dime a dozen, and most of them aren't worth
one red cent. Discipline programs reflect the theories their creators believe, and
most of them believe that behavior is an effect produced by prior causes. People
who believe those cause-effect theories usually treat other people like objects
whose behavior is controlled by forces beyond their own control.
     That is certainly what we see in schools. People in one large group believe
that reinforcement from the environment controls behavior. They use discipline
programs that claim positive reinforcement allows teachers to control students'
behavior. People in a second large group believe that thoughts control behavior.
Some people in this group use discipline programs that claim positive aphorisms
and slogans, and "cognitive exercises," allow teachers to control students'
behavior. Others in this group use programs that claim teachers can control
students' behavior by meeting all of their "psychological needs." People in a third
major group believe that brain chemistry controls behavior. Members of that group
often use discipline programs that come out of a bottle, in the form of drugs that
experts say will control students' behavior.
     Perceptual control theory (PCT), described by Bill Powers in this little
book, is different from all of those traditional cause-effect theories. Powers
explains that behavior is the way a person controls his or her own perceptions.
There is a discipline program that reflects many of Powers's ideas. It is the
"responsible thinking process," developed by Ed Ford. I have been studying Ford's
program for the past year and a half. Let me describe a little of what I have seen.

Disturbances and disruptions

In Ed Ford's "responsible thinking process (RTP)," a disruption at school is
understood as an instance where one student, who is controlling his own
perceptions, disturbs perceptions controlled by someone else. Sometimes one
person intends to disturb another, but many times the disturbances are accidental;
they are unintended side effects that occur while the "disrupter" focuses attention
on the perceptions he intends to control. In either case, Ford says the problem is not
the disrupter's behavior, for, as Powers showed in this book, when people control
perceptions, they are often unaware of their behavioral actions. Instead, the
problems are the disturbance those actions cause for another person, and the
conflict that often follows the disturbance.
     Ford's RTP produces effects like some of those in the method of "going up
a level" that Powers described in this book. The RTP is designed to draw a
disrupting student's attention away from his immediate controlled perceptions, to
the consequences of his actions for other people, and to how his actions relate to
the rules for how people should interact at school. In RTP, the rules are guidelines
that let students know how they can control their own perceptions without
unnecessarily disturbing others, and how they can resolve conflicts that occur when
they do disturb others.

Questions and the RTC

When a student disrupts, the teacher asks a few simple questions, in a calm and
respectful voice:

     "What are you doing?"
     "What is the rule?," or "Is that OK?"
     "What happens if you break the rule?"
     "Is that what you want to happen?"
     "What will happen the next time you disrupt?"

The questions afford a choice to a student who disrupts: either he can stop
disrupting and remain in the class, or he can continue to disrupt, and thereby
choose to leave the classroom and go to the "Responsible Thinking Classroom"
(RTC). For students who stop disrupting when they answer the questions the first
time, nothing else happens. After teachers use the RTP for a while, the first
question is often all they need. When they hear that question, most students who
are disrupting immediately stop and indicate that they understand what they are
doing and how it violates guidelines for the ways people should treat one another.
On the other hand, if a student continues to disrupt after hearing the questions the
first time, the teacher says, calmly, "I see you have chosen to go to the RTC."
     In the RTC, the same rules apply as in the regular classroom, and the RTC
teacher uses the same questioning procedure with students who disrupt. If students
disrupt the RTC, they go home. Schools cannot provide an infinite number of
places for students; either they are in class, or they are in the RTC. In RTP, the
choice of where to be always remains with the student.
     While they are in the RTC, Ford says students can sit quietly, or read, or do
homework, or sleep. They can do any-thing, so long as they do not disrupt the
RTC. Whenever a student decides she is ready, she works on a plan for how to
return to class.
     In her written plan, the student describes what she did to disrupt the class,
and works out a strategy that she thinks will help her avoid a similar situation in
the future. The idea is for a student to learn how to control her own perceptions
without unnecessarily disturbing other people while they control their perceptions.
Some plans say the student will sit somewhere else in the classroom, away from
her friends, or that she will ask a friend to help her through situations where she
has had problems. Other plans say the student will ignore students who try to
provoke him into disrupting, or that he will ask for a pass to go to the RTC
whenever he feels like he is "losing control." There are many kinds of plans, and
all of them are prepared by the students. The RTC teacher can help with a plan if a
student requests assistance. When a student decides her plan is ready, then the RTC
teacher looks through it to be sure it addresses all of the necessary subjects.
     When the RTC teacher and the student agree that the written plan is ready,
the student presents it to the classroom teacher, or to the person in charge of the
area the student disrupted. The adult reads the student's plan and the two of them
negotiate any points on which they disagree, or on which the teacher thinks the
student might want to consider other options. When both of them are satisfied, the
student returns to class.
     That is the core of Ford's program. It is used in schools in at least eight
states, and in Australia and Germany. It is used with students in grades from pre
kindergarten through high school. Some of the high schools are traditional, some
are alternative schools, and some are in prisons for juveniles. The only
consideration given to grade levels is that the questions and plans are simpler for
children in primary grades. Also, if they disrupt twice, younger students go to a
secluded place in the classroom, rather than to the RTC. The program is used
successfully with all students, including ones "diagnosed" with various intellectual
or emotional "disabilities."
     The RTP is used in schools where more than 90 percent of the students are
White, and others where more than 90 percent are Hispanic, or Native American. It
is used in schools where the largest percentage of students is Black, or Asian. It is
used in "tough," inner-city schools, in suburban schools, and in isolated rural
schools. It is used in affluent schools, and in schools where more than 80 percent
of the students qualify for free meals, or meals at reduced cost.

A brief review of results

Observations
A frequent comment from the faculty in a school where RTP succeeds is:
"Everything is so much quieter and calmer. Everyone is so much more relaxed"
That is exactly what I have seen during visits to schools.
     Before I started observing Ford's program, I spent 27 years in universities,
overlapping with 11 years in medical schools. I had no idea what I would see in K-
12 schools. When I visited the first several schools that used RTP, I thought to
myself: "They set me up. They picked schools that never had a problem." No
matter the time of day when I arrived, there were no students waiting to be
disciplined by administrators. Often, I could talk for an hour or more with the
administrator in charge of discipline, and not a single incident required the
person's attention. I saw that phenomenon many times.
     Before my visits, I thought many students might want to avoid regular
classes and spend all of their time in RTC, but instead, 95 percent to 98 percent of
the students who go to the RTC want to return to the regular classroom in the same
day. I also wondered if RTP might produce students who behaved like "mindless
robots," sitting stiff and silent in their seats. Nothing could be further from what I
saw in the schools. In cafeterias, on playgrounds, and in hallways, I saw students
who were animated and pleasant, but who did not fight or try to bother others. I
saw classrooms in which everyone was calm and "on task." I stood in hallways for
hours, listening for the shouting and yelling that everyone told me I would have
heard before the school started to use RTP. When someone did disrupt, I heard
teachers ask "the questions," calmly and inquisitively.
     Many teachers told me, sometimes with tears in their eyes, that they were
teaching their subjects for the first time in many years, or that they had been ready
to leave teaching before their school started to use RTP. Teachers and
administrators told me, excitedly, about how they have implemented curriculum
changes and innovative programs that they could not even talk about, when
discipline was a major problem in their school.
     I have talked with many students and read many student surveys, some
from very young children. In the language of a young child in Michigan, a common
theme is, "It (RTP) is good for kids. It helps bullies not be bullies any more, but
they don't really get in trouble. It helps them learn to be nicer." A young former
"bully" in Texas said, "It (the RTC) was good for me. Now I don't pick on other
kids at school and I don't fight at home anymore. My mother likes that." Many
students at a rough high school in Arizona said that, in RTP, they were being
treated with respect at school for the first time they could remember.
     I discovered another interesting way to gauge students' opinions about the
RTC. Most schools hold "parents' nights" or "open houses," when parents visit the
schools, often with their children. On those nights, I doubt that many students ever
take their parents to visit a detention hall or an in-school suspension room, but they
do take them to visit the RTC. One evening at an elementary school in Arizona, 25
students took their parents to RTC, to show them where they got help so they
wouldn't have problems at school. At a high school in a juvenile prison, nine
young men took their parents or guardians to RTC and told them, "this is where
they helped me straighten myself out." One young man who successfully worked
his way out of an alternative high school in Michigan brought his girlfriend back to
see the RTC and he told her, "this is where I finally got myself together." Those
unsolicited testimonials speak eloquently to the nature of what happens in the
RTC. Students might not want to go there, and they might say it is a boring place,
but they view the RTC as a "safe haven" and a place where they receive help.

Data
There are data to support my observations. Here are a few examples. Ford's RTP
was developed at a school in Phoenix, Arizona (4th -- 6th grade). In the first year of
the program, compared to the year before, physical assaults declined 62 percent,
possession of weapons declined 100 percent, fighting incidents declined 69
percent, and incidents of theft declined 27 percent. In the first year of RTP at a
school in Illinois (K -- 5th grade), "serious acts of misbehavior" declined by 65
percent from the previous year. During the last four months of the year, external
suspensions were an average 66 percent below the previous year.
     At a correctional facility (prison) for juvenile males in Arizona, the high
school began to use RTP in 1997. During the first four months of 1997, compared
to the same period in 1996, disruptions decreased 52 percent in the school and 42
percent in the remainder of the facility. During the first year and a half when a
"tough" high school in Arizona used RTP, there was a decline in disruptions and
vandalism on the campus, and academic performance increased.

Special Education
Ed Ford's RTP has been used successfully with many special education students
whose "diagnoses" are intended to imply that the children cannot tell right from
wrong, or that they cannot learn to "control their own actions." In a pre-
kindergarten class in Arizona, the children wear a wide array of diagnostic labels.
They learn to answer questions like, "What did my eyes see your hands do? Is that
OK? Is there a way you can play with the doll and not take it away from Tim?" At
another school in Arizona, a class with children between five and eight years old
also houses children with various diagnostic labels. The teacher uses augmentative
devices, like pictures on the wall or speech synthesizers, to help nonverbal students
identify what they did to disrupt the class, and to help them select a plan for how to
avoid disrupting again. Children who continue to disrupt go to the RTC, perhaps
accompanied by a private attendant and the equipment to meet their special
physical needs. There are no exceptions to the RTP program in that school.
     In schools that use RTP, very young students with special needs
demonstrate that they know when they took a toy from another child. They also
select plans that call for them to share toys, or to take turns playing with them.
Those students know when they have hit someone else, and they select plans that
call for them to keep their hands to themselves, or to move away from people they
might hit. What is more, the students are eager and proud to show the teacher, or
visitors, that they are following their plans. Those students do not conform to what
experts say they can and cannot do, or to what teachers were trained to expect from
them, or to what their parents came to believe were their limitations.
     At a school in Texas, many emotionally-disturbed students had spent
several years in special units, without ever returning to the regular classroom. A
few months after RTP was introduced into their units, some of those students were
in regular classrooms for three or more periods each day. At a school in
Mississippi, a young man diagnosed with autism and four other major disorders
was referred to a special unit that had just started to use RTP. When he arrived in
the unit, he disrupted his class so often that he made as many as six visits a day to
the room that was equivalent to the RTC. By the end of the year, the young man
went to the special room no more than once every two or three weeks.
     Time and again, teachers who use RTP with special education students
discover that the children can do much more than mental health professionals
believe. Often, it becomes clear that traditional diagnoses create expectations that
everyone helps the students meet. Thus, a student in Michigan, diagnosed with
"attention deficit hyperactivity disorder," was said to be "so out of control that he
cannot function unless the teacher stands next to him." In fact, the young man was
controlling the teacher's behavior by "making" the teacher stand where the student
wanted him to stand. When the student was treated like all others in the responsible
thinking process, he quickly "gained control over his own actions."
     Similarly, when a disruptive autistic student was allowed to go to the RTC,
he remained there quietly for a while. He decided to return to the classroom, and he
made a plan to do so. Had the staff tried to prevent that student from leaving the
regular classroom, he would have behaved as though he wanted to leave and to be
alone; he would have confirmed traditional ideas about what autistic children do
and why they do it.

Frequent flyers
After RTP begins to work well in a school, an interesting phenomenon appears.
Most students in the school never go to the RTC, and only a few students go there
very often. The latter are often called "frequent flyers." In some schools, many
teachers decide that frequent flyers prove that RTP does not work, and they revert
to using various rewards and punishments to control students' behavior. When they
do that, RTP is no longer in effect and discipline problems become more serious.
     There are some interesting data concerning frequent flyers. As an example
of the phenomenon, let us look closely at data from the juvenile correctional
facility in Arizona, during May 1997.

  Total youth in facility............ 132
  Youth who went to RTC.............. 58 (44% of all students)
  Total visits to RTC................ 122
     1 or 2 visits to RTC............ 33 students
                                      (25% of all students,
                                       37% of all visits)
     4 to 8 visits to RTC............ 7 students
                                      (5% of all students,
                                       30% of all visits)

During that month, seven young men accounted for 30 percent of all visits to the
RTC, and the staff knew about extraordinary circumstances for each of the seven.
The young men were using the RTC as a safe and stable place, where they could
control their perceptions of difficult circumstances in their lives.
     My data show that, when faculties become disturbed by "all of those
students who make frequent visits to RTC," they are usually talking about very few
students. At the school in Illinois, there are 700 students. During all of 1996-97, 15
students (2% of all students) made 32% of all visits to the RTC. A school in
Arkansas (K -- 6th grade) started using RTP in 1996-97. There are 615 students, a
majority of whom never went to the RTC. Only 15 students (2% of all students)
made over one-third of the total visits to the RTC. A middle school (4th -- 8th
grade) in Arizona started RTP in 1995. During 1996-97, there were 560 students in
the school, of whom 256 (46%) never went to the RTC. Only 16 students (3% of
all students) made a third of all visits to the RTC during the year.
     The way that faculty members deal with "frequent flyers" depends on how
well they understand the basic principles of RTP, and of perceptual control theory.
In some schools, the faculty literally destroys RTP in an attempt to "make all of
those students stop going to the RTC so often." Using the logic from cause-effect
theories of behavior, they believe RTP should "fix" the students, or the school, so
that no one will ever disrupt again. Those adults do not understand that everyone
acts to control perceptions, and sometimes they cannot avoid disturbing others.
They sacrifice the entire RTP program because they want to completely control the
behavior of the most troubled two percent to five percent of the students. In the
process, they ignore the large majority of students who do not disrupt at all, or who
disrupt only once or twice a year.
     When people understand the basic concepts of RTP, they interpret frequent
trips to the RTC as evidence that a student is trying to control perceptions of a
serious problem in his or her life. The adults then devote special attention and
resources to helping the "frequent flyer" make it through a difficult time. Ed Ford
recommends that frequent visits to the RTC call for an "intervention team" to
determine what is happening in the student's life, and how to help the student. The
intervention team comprises people who might offer insights into the child's life or
who might be able to help the child through a difficult time. It might include
people such as the RTC teacher, teachers or members of the school staff who have
detailed knowledge about the student or with whom the student feels comfortable,
the student's parent(s) or guardian(s), and resource people from the school (such as
a counselor or psychologist) or from the community (such as a probation officer or
case worker).
     Some of the problems uncovered by intervention teams are horrendous. A
student in an elementary school disrupted to go to the RTC as a safe place,
following weekends when his older brother had sold him as a sex toy to older men
  the same older brother had anally raped the young boy, some time earlier. The
courts decreed that a student in another elementary school should live with his
mother, but that his father should assist with the boy's schooling. The boy
desperately wanted to be with his father; he disrupted often, in order to create times
when his father would come to school with him. In another school, children from
one family made frequent trips to the RTC after their father murdered their mother,
in their presence. The children went to live with their grandparents. The next year,
they made frequent visits to the RTC after their grandfather murdered their
grandmother, in their presence.
     There are equally terrible stories behind many students who make frequent
visits to the RTC. Ed Ford's RTP helps identify students who are at special risk,
and it affords a process to help them regain control of their own perceptions during
extremely difficult times.

Conclusion
Many people wonder if it makes a difference to think about people as though they
were living perceptual control systems. From what I have seen in schools that
successfully use Ed Ford's "Responsible Thinking Process," it makes a big
difference.

From Bill Powers (980626.1903 MDT)]

i kurtzer (980626) --

This is a forward requested by Tom Bourbon. One point that he neglected to
mention out of good taste was that he has been modeling these interactions
that has been discussed on the net recently,for 12 years, lest anyone
starting thinking that Marken's is breaking new ground with a model

lacking >actual human performance data and a current 100-fold default
difference in >gain.

Patience. This will develop into real experiments. Tom's pioneering
multi-person models began as a speculative model which had to run before it
could be applied to any data. The conditions of his experiment involved
parties with approximately equal capacities and resources, conducive in
some cases to conflict but not to the unbalanced relationship we've been
calling coercion.

Tom Bourbon (980626) --

This is an open message to Bill Powers and Rick Marken. In light
of the tone and content of many recent posts on CSGNet, I believe
that what I say to you should be seen by others who read that forum.
I have also posted the message to Ed Ford's net, respthink.

You're jumping to conclusions, old friend, and misinterpreting my words. I
can't speak for Rick, but I certainly don't equate RTP with Stalinism or
Hitler's dictatorship, or any form of oppression or subjugation of
children. What I have been arguing is that RTP, like many other situations
in life, involves the necessity of one person's controlling his or her
perceptions of the behavior of another, which is the general category
within which coercion, bargaining, persuasion, and many other methods of
applying influence fall. The methods used in RTP are quite benign and they
are used within a framework of offering maximum respect for the will of the
children (as well as the others involved). They are a vast improvement over
any of the older methods of running schools such as behavior modification.

But to sing the praises of RTP and forbid considering any of the ways in
which it might be improved is the best way to turn it into a religious
cult. You don't want to do that and neither do I. I think that some of the
things that RTPers claim -- particularly that it doesn't involve the
control of children's behavior -- are somewhat overstated. Certainly there
is a lot less control of children's behavior than in any other approach I
know of, but I think we will be puzzling for a long time yet over how to
reduce the residual control that still exists -- or perhaps conclude that
this is the irreducible minimum, and simply work on making it as acceptable
as possible to everyone.

I am happy to see that Rick Marken has begun to
replicate some of that work and to extend it. Rick is a far more
capable programmer than am I. In the light of recent discussions
on CSGNet, I think Rick and I might differ in our interpretations
of some of the results from models of interacting pairs.

I don't think that the spreadsheet models now being explored -- mainly as a
pedagogical tool, by the way, and not yet as serious research proposals --
involve conditions quite different from those in your experiments. To
modify your experiments to show parallel results, one would have to do
something like link the two participants' joysticks physically together,
and then have one participant be a football player and the other a
five-year old child, or give one joystick 10 or 20 times as much influence
on the display as the other has.

These explorations are looking into a phenomenon that you didn't study, the
subjugation of one person by another, much stronger (or more ruthless)
person. This subject, however, did NOT come up in connection with RTP, or
more specifically with the implication that similar unfairness and
brutality takes place in RTP. It came up because when the subject of
coercion or control of behavior comes up, people always are reminded of the
examples of this sort of thing that are in everyone's memories, and which
still go on in the world. RTP aside, coercion and brutal control of the
behavior of others are still a way of life even in civilized countries --
look at the latest GM strike, or what is going on in the Middle East. I
think we all have at least some fear of becoming a victim of that sort of
thing, and I think we would all like to see it studied to see if there is
anything PCT can suggest about what to do about it.

Of course mentioning RTP in the same post with comments about concentration
camps or terrorism can suggest some unwanted associations, and I don't
blame anyone for objecting to that. I would object myself if I were viewing
these conversations from a greater distance. And if I express doubts that
RTP is as free of coercion or control of behavior as some of its
enthuisasts claim, I can see that my doubts might be exaggerated to become
some sort of indictment of RTP, which it certainly is not.

Bill, if it is not too late, I think you should direct your publisher
to excise my "Appendix" from your new book about PCT. In light of
recent posts from Rick and you on CSGNet, and remarks by both of you
in e-mail conversations on the side, it is obvious that the Appendix
is infected with messy ideas that are not compatible with recent
developments in PCT.

Nonsense. Pooey. Bad idea. And the book is on the brink of going to press
anyway. Or are you saying that you are going to insist on withdrawing your
Appendix because you can find things in the text of my book that you
disagree with? Do I have to see the world exactly as you do in order for us
to publish together?

To me, it is very important to know that PCT can be applied in the real
world, and that even an imperfect application can produce results better
than what any other method has been able to produce so far. I'm not upset
at seeing what I think are flaws in RTP. Just offhand, I can't say that I
have ever encountered flawless application of any idea including my own
application of my own ideas. Part of the idea of real-world applications of
theories is making allowances for the fact that people will not all
understand the theory equally well, or abandon favorite beliefs and
approaches just because they're incompatible with the theory. It's part of
the deal to keep looking at how the theory is being applied, and checking
to see that the more glaring departures are corrected. Isn't that one of
your main functions in RTP? So what's wrong with my re-examining the
classroom situation and the procedures applied, to make sure that PCT is
really being applied? What's wrong with saying that a teacher is
controlling the behavior of a student, when that is exactly what's
happening? It's not violent control, and the students don't seem to object
to it, and it isn't making anyone terribly unhappy -- what's the big deal?
The worst thing, in my mind, is to exert control and try to hide it behind
clever words. The best thing is to realize it's going on and make sure it's
always constructive.

At one point in the Appendix, I said I had visited many schools where
people use Ed Ford's "Responsible Thinking Process" (RTP). I wrote,
"Let me describe a little of what I have seen." Anyone who reads the
Appendix, and who has also followed recent conversations about RTP on
CSGNet, will see immediately that what I *say* I saw is not at all like
the imagined scenarios that Bill and Rick describe.

Right. The imagined scenarios that _I_ described, anyway, were gross
exaggerations because I had the feeling that nobody understood what I was
talking about. I was trying to get some acknowledgement of the principle,
and it seemed to require an extreme example before what I was saying was
even recognized. Of course that backfired; it came out sounding as if I was
saying that such extreme behavior went on in RTP classrooms. An unwanted
side-effect.

I hope that the people who have been following the "coercion" thread will
see the overall pattern in it. It began innocently, then escalated as
people searched for convincing and compelling arguments, and as opposing
viewpoints started to clash. Then it sort of crescendoed, and finally
started smoothing out as we brought actual models into the discussion. Now
that the models are the focus, a lot of the extreme stances will moderate
until we can finally agree that we're talking about the same real concepts.
Obviously a lot of strong feelings were involved; this subject was creating
30 or 40 posts a day for a while. Things got messy, but I think we will see
a resolution before too long.

You describe
children who have been cowed into submission by coercive educators,
bent on controlling the children's actions.

That's what I did to show what I meant by coercion -- I didn't mean to
imply that anything like that went on in RTP. And mostly I was talking
about NON-RTP schools I have seen and been in -- in other words, I was
telling horror=-stories about the kinds of situations that existed before RTP.

I have seen no such thing.

Not even in non-RTP schools?

You say that the proof of coercion by teachers is that when the teacher
is away, the students will engage in a frenzy of previously coerced
"disruptive" actions. I have seen no such thing.

Of course not -- not in a properly-run RTP program. But what was the school
like before RTP? Isn't it almost a cliche to say that teachers have to
control the children in their classroom to keep order? I offered that as a
test of the degree of coercion going on in a classroom. I would expect an
RTP classroom to show a reaction to lifting supervision showing that the
degree of coercion is very low, and a non-RTP classroom to show that it is
high. Are you against thinking up ways of testing predictions?

You say that what
teachers do is no different from what the Nazis did when they
sent people to the death chambers, or than what the Soviets did when
they sent people to the Gulag.

Wait a minute. I didn't say anything like that, did I? Sometimes it's
difficult to tell who is saying what in posts that are full of citations of
other posts, but I'm damned sure I never compared RTP with the Nazis or the
Stalinists. Some of our more excitable members might have spouted such
nonsense, but I deny having done so.

You say that if a student thinks RTP is beneficial,
or if a student intentionally refers himself or herself to the RTC
in order to work through a problem, then the student has been
"brainwashed." I never thought I would see a vacuous term like
"brainwashing" used in an explanatory role in PCT.

I'm sure I did take some exaggerated points of view in trying to drag a
minor admission out of someone -- probably Tim. My point was perhaps that
you can't tell just from watching the student's behavior what is actually
responsible for it. If I mentioned brainwashing, it was to point out an
alternative that had to be ruled out by evidence before you could assume it
wasn't happening. What I got back was indignation and a lot of flying
feathers, but no serious attempt to show that brainwashing wasn't
happening. I don't actually believe it was happening, but that's beside the
point. Indignation is no way to show it's not happening. What are you going
to do with people who don't start out on your side and are not impressed by
indignation?

Then again, I never thought I would see the day when PCT would be bent
to conform with ideas from radical behaviorism ("Fear of punishment?"
Next it will be "learned helplessness." To quote a famous PCTer, "Get
real!").

I find "fear of punishment" a perfectly good description, and a lot better
than "setting a low reference level for perceptions that result from
certain behaviors because of other people's trying to control me." If you
understand PCT you will understand that this is what fear of punishment is;
if you don't, you wouldn't understand the PCT jargon anyway.

Neither did I think I would ever see PCT distorted to embrace
the concepts advanced by people we used to identify as belonging on
the "Devil's List" -- people like Carver and Scheier and Lord and
Hanges and Locke and Hyland and Bandura and many others who wrote
about environmental and personality determinants of "giving up,"
as part of their version of "control theory." Their words were
different, but they were writing about a discontinuity in a curve that
they said relates performance to incentives. I believe you now call
that same phenomenon "the universal error curve." Be sure to give
credit to the people who were the first to describe the discontinuity
phenomenon. Maybe we should rethink that Devil's List: they are
certainly off, and I am probably on.

That's not what the "universal error curve is." But the accusations are
getting pretty wild here, and I don't think I'll play.

Friends, there are only two ways for me to interpret the present
situation. If your imagined events in RTP schools are correct,
then I did not see what I thought I saw, or I fabricated my
report in the Appendix. Which option do you think applies?

Neither, of course. If you re-read the posts in question, I think you will
see that the really bad scenarios were being applied to non-RTP schools,
and when that was not the case they were intended as descriptions of
POSSIBLE situations that had to be ruled out by evidence. Just being told
that it doesn't happen is not evidence, even if the reports are perfectly
true. You know that as well as I do. I believe you, because I know you, but
that's hardly scientific proof. What do you offer to people who don't know
you?

Perhaps there is a third alternative that explains the disparity
between what I wrote, and what you believe happens in RTP schools.
Perhaps I was "brainwashed" by those clever educators. After all,
unlike their Nazi and Soviet (and Chinese?) predecessors, they
have coerced their victims so effectively that they show none of
the obvious signs displayed by those who suffered and perhaps
died at the hands of the worst mass murderers of recent times.
(We *must* include the Chinese. After all, they allegedly
"invented" brainwashing, back in the days of the Korean War.)

Oh, stop with all that. You obviously don't believe me when I say I believe
you, and you're substituting your mistaken interpretations of my words for
what I actually do believe. You are overlooking a fourth alternative, which
is that my sins are mostly in your imagination.

Gee, guys, just think about how much more the Nazis, Soviets and
Chinese could have done, had they only understood a little PCT and,
like RTP teachers, pretended that their intentions were different!
It boggles my mind to think about the possibilities, had they only
been as clever and devious as the educators I have seen in RTP
schools! Why, unlike those clumsy oafs who came before them, those
educators have convinced their victims that they are happy and free.
They have even convinced many victims that they are treated with
respect, often for the first times in their lives. I guess that is
why, in so many of those schools, when the school year ends, some
of the brainwashed kids who say they were helped by RTP begin to
cry and ask to be allowed to come to school during the summer,
rather than be forced to stay at home. Ah, but those darned
educators still find a way to coerce the kids into going home.
Are they good at their coercive trade, or what. If I ever get to
run a totalitarian state, or maybe a crime mob, I certainly want
them on my side. They can wash my brain, any time!

Great tent-show rhetoric, but that evil guy you're exposing with your
clever words is made of rubber and you pumped him up yourself.

I write all of this with a sense of deep sadness and loss.

Sounds more like you're extremely pissed off with me.

Another day,
in another place, we can discuss your idea that one person, acting in
a vacuum or not even acting at all, can determine the nature of a
social interaction.

You mean you've never met a person who was nasty to _everyone_? And anyway,
why do you keep attributing Rick's statements, and others', to me?

Here is the Appendix. I stand by everything in it, all of which was
approved by Bill and Mary Powers, back before PCT changed. I'm sorry,
old friends. On these topics, I have not changed along with you.

PCT hasn't changed. You've just been piling up one misinterpretation on
another, until you've convinced yourself that we-all have turned into some
sort of evil cabal. Anyway, you _have_ changed. You have become more
willing to believe the worst of your friends, or so it seems to me.

Best,

Bill P.