A Program of Research for PCT

[From Rick Marken (2014.03.19.1915)]

RM: I was going to post a long description of what I think a research program based on PCT should look like. But I read Bill’s “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper in LCS I (pp. 167-219) for background and realized that, as usual, he already described such a program, and of course, far better than I could. So rather than duplicate Bill’s efforts I will just refer those interested in dong PCT research to that paper.

RM: I recommend reading the whole thing; it’s amazingly good (of course) and it even answers some other questions that have been recently discussed on CSGNet, such as whether all perceptions are under control. The answer is in the section on “Exploring the Hierarchy”(p.211). In that section Bill says “Each level in the hierarchy deals with a different class of perception. Furthermore, at every level there are many perceptions that are not under control” (Bill’s emphasis, p, 212). So, yes, there are many perceptions that are not controllable (they are called disturbances) as well as perceptions that can be controlled but are not being controlled at the moment. My guess is that higher level systems determine which perceptions are being controlled (or not) at any time based on whether or not they are needed for control of the higher level variable. But this is an aspect of the PCT model that could use some development.

RM: In that same "Exploring the Hierarchy"section Bill describes a “reaction time” method of exploring hierarchical relationships between controlled variables. He notes that hierarchical relationships between controlled variables can be mapped out by looking for “nested” reaction time “because lower level systems always operate on a faster timescale than higher level systems”(p. 211). I used a version of this reaction-time approach to map out the relationship between different types of controlled variables. This research is described in my book “More Mind Readings” (newview, 2002, pp. 85-112) and in a recent research paper describing a research project I did with Warren Mansell and Zahra Khatib (Marken, R. S., Khatib, Z. and Mansell, W. (2013) Motor Control as the
Control of Perception, Perceptual and
Motor Skills
, 117, 236-247).

RM: While I strongly recommend reading the entire “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper, Bill’s description of his vision of a research program based on PCT (which is the same as mine) really starts on p. 216. I’ll quote some highlights of that vision since they are relevant to the discussion we are having now about what a science of living control systems should look like. The section on “Gathering Data” (p. 216) starts out with this:

"The principal kind of data that is needed about any human being at any stage of development concerns what variables that person can control" (Bill’s emphasis again, p. 216).

RM: And shortly thereafter we find this:

“I envision not just a vast effort at reinterpretation, but a systematic test application for the controlled variable.”(p. 216)

RM: This and what follows suggests to me that Bill did not envision a PCT research program that was a vast effort at reinterpreting the data (and I’m pretty sure that included psychophysical data) found in the existing research literature of scientific psychology. I think he envisioned a program that was based on the application of the test for the controlled variable; a program aimed at determining what variables people control. I think the hierarchical model is Bill’s “going in” hypothesis about how living control systems are organized and PCT research should be aimed at testing this hypothesis.

RM: I read the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” years ago – long before it was published in LCS I – and apparently I took it very seriously because the PCT research program described in that chapter is the same as the one that I’ve tried to pursue since I started to “get” PCT (in about 1979, the same year that the “Cybernetic Model” paper was published). Since that time I’ve been hoping to have other PCT-wise scientific psychologists join me in carrying out this program; I’m not smart or capable enough to do it on my own, certainly not now that Bill is gone. So maybe that’s why I get a little upset when smart, capable PCT-wise scientific psychologists demur when I solicit their help in this effort.

Best regards

Rick

···


Richard S. Marken PhD
www.mindreadings.com
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

[From Adam Matic 2014.03.21 1120cet]

In my experience PCT research is vary hard to do. The segment that requires modelling especially so. Programming skills are a must, and they are only one part of creating valid experiments. I think we should try making it easier for people to do modelling, first easier for programmers, and then easier for non-programmers.

W. Zocher’s and Bill’s SimCon software, if I understood its purpose right, was to be such an environment. It’s a simulated analog computer, and with today’s programming languages can have a graphical interface instead of the old textual interface, and we could exchange models and compare how they perform, create different input and output functions and so on. Perhaps we could add additional functionality to it, such as ‘visualization’ of certain variables. Or ‘sounding’ of them.

Dag helped me locate the source code in the CSGnet archives. It’s on my list of projects to make a JavaScript version of SimCon, so it could be both online and offline, on multiple websites. I’ll make it a public project on github so anyone who wishes can contribute in programming.

Adam

···

On Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 3:15 AM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2014.03.19.1915)]

RM: I was going to post a long description of what I think a research program based on PCT should look like. But I read Bill’s “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper in LCS I (pp. 167-219) for background and realized that, as usual, he already described such a program, and of course, far better than I could. So rather than duplicate Bill’s efforts I will just refer those interested in dong PCT research to that paper.

RM: I recommend reading the whole thing; it’s amazingly good (of course) and it even answers some other questions that have been recently discussed on CSGNet, such as whether all perceptions are under control. The answer is in the section on “Exploring the Hierarchy”(p.211). In that section Bill says “Each level in the hierarchy deals with a different class of perception. Furthermore, at every level there are many perceptions that are not under control” (Bill’s emphasis, p, 212). So, yes, there are many perceptions that are not controllable (they are called disturbances) as well as perceptions that can be controlled but are not being controlled at the moment. My guess is that higher level systems determine which perceptions are being controlled (or not) at any time based on whether or not they are needed for control of the higher level variable. But this is an aspect of the PCT model that could use some development.

RM: In that same "Exploring the Hierarchy"section Bill describes a “reaction time” method of exploring hierarchical relationships between controlled variables. He notes that hierarchical relationships between controlled variables can be mapped out by looking for “nested” reaction time “because lower level systems always operate on a faster timescale than higher level systems”(p. 211). I used a version of this reaction-time approach to map out the relationship between different types of controlled variables. This research is described in my book “More Mind Readings” (newview, 2002, pp. 85-112) and in a recent research paper describing a research project I did with Warren Mansell and Zahra Khatib (Marken, R. S., Khatib, Z. and Mansell, W. (2013) Motor Control as the
Control of Perception, Perceptual and
Motor Skills
, 117, 236-247).

RM: While I strongly recommend reading the entire “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper, Bill’s description of his vision of a research program based on PCT (which is the same as mine) really starts on p. 216. I’ll quote some highlights of that vision since they are relevant to the discussion we are having now about what a science of living control systems should look like. The section on “Gathering Data” (p. 216) starts out with this:

"The principal kind of data that is needed about any human being at any stage of development concerns what variables that person can control" (Bill’s emphasis again, p. 216).

RM: And shortly thereafter we find this:

“I envision not just a vast effort at reinterpretation, but a systematic test application for the controlled variable.”(p. 216)

RM: This and what follows suggests to me that Bill did not envision a PCT research program that was a vast effort at reinterpreting the data (and I’m pretty sure that included psychophysical data) found in the existing research literature of scientific psychology. I think he envisioned a program that was based on the application of the test for the controlled variable; a program aimed at determining what variables people control. I think the hierarchical model is Bill’s “going in” hypothesis about how living control systems are organized and PCT research should be aimed at testing this hypothesis.

RM: I read the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” years ago – long before it was published in LCS I – and apparently I took it very seriously because the PCT research program described in that chapter is the same as the one that I’ve tried to pursue since I started to “get” PCT (in about 1979, the same year that the “Cybernetic Model” paper was published). Since that time I’ve been hoping to have other PCT-wise scientific psychologists join me in carrying out this program; I’m not smart or capable enough to do it on my own, certainly not now that Bill is gone. So maybe that’s why I get a little upset when smart, capable PCT-wise scientific psychologists demur when I solicit their help in this effort.

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
www.mindreadings.com
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

[From Rick Marken (2014.03.21.1020)]

···

Adam Matic (2014.03.21 1120cet)–

AM: In my experience PCT research is vary hard to do. The segment that requires modelling especially so. Programming skills are a must, and they are only one part of creating valid experiments. I think we should try making it easier for people to do modelling, first easier for programmers, and then easier for non-programmers.

RM: Absolutely true! My experience is that PCT research is, indeed, hard and modeling is essential!! What you plan to do, in terms of developing tools (like Wolfgang Zocher’s wonderful analog control system emulator) to help non-programmers do PCT research is a really great idea!! Of course, modeling is the basis of all scientific research; it’s certainly the basis of current conventional psychology but it’s usually “hidden” in the guise of statistical analysis. When psychologists use a statistical package, like SPSS, to analyze their data they are actually seeing how well their data is fit by the general linear model (GLM), which (as I constantly argue) is really the current basic model of behavior in psychology.

RM: I think what you are planning to do is equivalent to developing a “statistical package” like SPSS for analyzing data from experiments on control. Of course, your modeling package would not be statistical but I think it could work in a similar way to statistical packages like SPSS. Instead of different options for types of regression analysis (multiple linear, polynomial, logistic, etc), for example, your control theory package could have different options for type of control model (one level, two level, proportional, integral, etc). The only problem now is to figure out a catchy name (and acronym) for the package.

Best

Rick

W. Zocher’s and Bill’s SimCon software, if I understood its purpose right, was to be such an environment. It’s a simulated analog computer, and with today’s programming languages can have a graphical interface instead of the old textual interface, and we could exchange models and compare how they perform, create different input and output functions and so on. Perhaps we could add additional functionality to it, such as ‘visualization’ of certain variables. Or ‘sounding’ of them.

Dag helped me locate the source code in the CSGnet archives. It’s on my list of projects to make a JavaScript version of SimCon, so it could be both online and offline, on multiple websites. I’ll make it a public project on github so anyone who wishes can contribute in programming.

Adam


Richard S. Marken PhD
www.mindreadings.com
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

On Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 3:15 AM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2014.03.19.1915)]

RM: I was going to post a long description of what I think a research program based on PCT should look like. But I read Bill’s “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper in LCS I (pp. 167-219) for background and realized that, as usual, he already described such a program, and of course, far better than I could. So rather than duplicate Bill’s efforts I will just refer those interested in dong PCT research to that paper.

RM: I recommend reading the whole thing; it’s amazingly good (of course) and it even answers some other questions that have been recently discussed on CSGNet, such as whether all perceptions are under control. The answer is in the section on “Exploring the Hierarchy”(p.211). In that section Bill says “Each level in the hierarchy deals with a different class of perception. Furthermore, at every level there are many perceptions that are not under control” (Bill’s emphasis, p, 212). So, yes, there are many perceptions that are not controllable (they are called disturbances) as well as perceptions that can be controlled but are not being controlled at the moment. My guess is that higher level systems determine which perceptions are being controlled (or not) at any time based on whether or not they are needed for control of the higher level variable. But this is an aspect of the PCT model that could use some development.

RM: In that same "Exploring the Hierarchy"section Bill describes a “reaction time” method of exploring hierarchical relationships between controlled variables. He notes that hierarchical relationships between controlled variables can be mapped out by looking for “nested” reaction time “because lower level systems always operate on a faster timescale than higher level systems”(p. 211). I used a version of this reaction-time approach to map out the relationship between different types of controlled variables. This research is described in my book “More Mind Readings” (newview, 2002, pp. 85-112) and in a recent research paper describing a research project I did with Warren Mansell and Zahra Khatib (Marken, R. S., Khatib, Z. and Mansell, W. (2013) Motor Control as the
Control of Perception, Perceptual and
Motor Skills
, 117, 236-247).

RM: While I strongly recommend reading the entire “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper, Bill’s description of his vision of a research program based on PCT (which is the same as mine) really starts on p. 216. I’ll quote some highlights of that vision since they are relevant to the discussion we are having now about what a science of living control systems should look like. The section on “Gathering Data” (p. 216) starts out with this:

"The principal kind of data that is needed about any human being at any stage of development concerns what variables that person can control" (Bill’s emphasis again, p. 216).

RM: And shortly thereafter we find this:

“I envision not just a vast effort at reinterpretation, but a systematic test application for the controlled variable.”(p. 216)

RM: This and what follows suggests to me that Bill did not envision a PCT research program that was a vast effort at reinterpreting the data (and I’m pretty sure that included psychophysical data) found in the existing research literature of scientific psychology. I think he envisioned a program that was based on the application of the test for the controlled variable; a program aimed at determining what variables people control. I think the hierarchical model is Bill’s “going in” hypothesis about how living control systems are organized and PCT research should be aimed at testing this hypothesis.

RM: I read the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” years ago – long before it was published in LCS I – and apparently I took it very seriously because the PCT research program described in that chapter is the same as the one that I’ve tried to pursue since I started to “get” PCT (in about 1979, the same year that the “Cybernetic Model” paper was published). Since that time I’ve been hoping to have other PCT-wise scientific psychologists join me in carrying out this program; I’m not smart or capable enough to do it on my own, certainly not now that Bill is gone. So maybe that’s why I get a little upset when smart, capable PCT-wise scientific psychologists demur when I solicit their help in this effort.

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
www.mindreadings.com
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair