[From Bill Powers (990901.0346 MDT)]
Kenny Kitzke (990829.2200 EDT)--
What would be an example of an intrinsic reference level that was not
associated with a variable important to the physiology of the organism?
Speculatively, a sense of order or consistency, or a sense of beauty. But I
assume that whatever these perceptions relate to is as important to
continued life as are the strictly physiological variables. All I really
have to say is that we have no basis for restricting "intrinsic variables"
to the strictly physiological states of the body.
any scientist or physiologist identified precisely what physical entity in
humans maintains internal temperature? Where in the body is this temperature
The control system itself is located in the hypothalumus, and the sensors
are in the carotid arch of the arteries carrying blood to the brain. The
output functions, multiple, are driven by autonomic nervous system signals
that dilate and contract peripheral blood vessels, that produce sweating
(for cooling) and shivering (for heating), and in some animals, that
produce panting (for cooling).
There are dozens of such known control systems concerned with maintaining
the body in a specific state both physically and chemically. For some
reason, mainstream biologists and biochemists have energetically resisted
thinking of these systems as control systems, but many scientists have
recognized them as such and have written books and published papers about
<The reorganizing system is responsible for "seeing" that the appropriate
perception matches each intrinsic reference level.>
Do physiologists agree? Is there any scientific evidence of how this
mysterious reorganizing system "sees" internal temperature? Have
physiologists proven such a system exists in all living things or even any
living thing, like a one-celled organism?
The simple answer is yes; these intrinsic control systems are well known
(although see later -- their role in reorganization has not been widely
recognized). In the last century, Claude Bernard showed that these systems
maintain the "milieu interieur" -- the internal state of the body -- in a
constant state despite disturbances, and in the 20th Century, Walter Cannon
wrote "The wisdom of the body" in which he carried this understanding even
further. A great deal of modern cell research is involved with tracing out
biochemical control loops at many levels, all the way down to the
functioning of genes. Of course they don't call them control systems,
although there is a little loosening up in that regard -- you will see
"regulation" talked about.
<The reorganizing system accomplishes this by building a learning-based
Now, this is truly an amazing system. It not only somehow "sees" what is
happening to a set of undetermined intrinsic internal variables, it now
"builds" a learning-based control hierarchy. Does it build new synapses?
Yes. During initial growth of the brain, new synapses are formed as nerve
cells send axons out, seeking sources of chemicals given off by other
nerve cells. Even in the adult human brain, which was once thought to be
unchangeable, old synapses are lost and new ones are formed, and the
"strength" of existing ones changes continually.
Does it build new memory cells for new intrinsic variables?
No, not as far as I know. We are born with the systems for maintaining body
temperature, and as long as we live those neural systems go on maintaining
body temperature. The same is true for all the basic biochemical control
systems. We share these systems with some other organisms, but not all --
lizards, for example, cannot regulate their internal temperature n the way
we do, but must move around, in and out of sunshine for example, to stay at
the optimum temperature. Dogs pant to cool off, but cannot sweat.
New neural circuits?
Does the mysterious reorganization system do this itself? How?
This part we know little about. What we do know is that any basic kind of
learning _must_ involve changes in the synaptic organization of the brain;
if the brain did not change, it would operate in the same way once it
matured until it died. Only in recent decades has it been proven that there
are massive synaptic changes in the adult human brain.
Does it tell other human organs what to do? How?
Yes, it is well-known that the brain sends neural signals to _every_ organ
in the body, which increase or decrease the activities of all the organs.
Through the hypothalamus, it sets what we can now see as reference levels
for hormone systems with comparators residing in the pituitary gland. One
of the longest-known examples is the loop that controls circulating
thyroxin in the bloodestream. Signals from the hypothalamus enter the
pituitary, where they cause the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone,
TSH, which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroxin. The
concentration of thyroxin feeds back to the pituitary to strongly _inhibit_
the production of TSH (this makes the signals from the brain into reference
signals). The result is a control system that so strongly controls the
level of circulating thyroxin that direct infusion of thyroxin into the
bloodstream (in an attempt to raise its concentration) simply shuts down
the thyroid gland ( which, to the surprise of doctors and the detriment of
patients, eventually results in atrophy of the thyroid gland).
Now, this amazing reorganization system attempts to construct a new
perception for the hierarchy, have the hierarchy try to control it for a
while, and then determine whether the controlling the hierarchy does
eliminates what the reorganization system saw as error in an intrinsic
Again, you are asking about a mechanism on which essentially no research
has been done. My proposal that error signals in these intrinsic control
systems are linked to changes in brain organization has not been accepted
by the scientific community. It hasn't been rejected, either -- hardly
anybody even knows about it. There is, or course, some evidence that this
link exists. It seems to be demonstrated by the fact that both animals and
people are "motivated" to learn under conditions where we would expect
large error signals to exist in these basic physiological and biochemical
control systems: hunger, thirst, pain, poisoning, excess cold or heat,
illness, electric shock, and so on. All higher animals including human
beings will acquire new control abilities when deprived of things they
need, including basic physical needs.
And, if the reorganization system is not content with the error
reduction it sees, it abandons that new perception and constructs more new
perceptions for the hierarchy to try? It would appear to be quite an
intelligent system to mastermind all this construction with repeated trial
and error and the building and abandoning of totally new perceptions.
No, it's a very dumb system, possessing a powerful kind of output function:
one capable of making _random_ changes in synapses. Remember that this
speculative control system is meant to operate from birth or before, prior
to the appearance of organization in the brain that could be described as
"intelligent." The logic is somewhat hard to grasp, since learning or
change in organization follows not from occurrance of positive events, but
from cessation of processes that cause changes.
If you search a cathedral at random, you will eventually find the hidden
penny. It may take thousands of years, but you, or a descendant carrying on
your work, will eventually find it. However, if there is something to tell
you whether you're closer to or farther from the penny, you will find it
very quickly: even just "hot" and "cold" will (relatively) quickly take you
to it, even if you just change directions at random when you hear "cold."
This is the basic principle of reorganization that I propose. When error
exists in intrinsic control systems (fairly large and long-lasting error,
perhaps), I propose that a process of random change begins in the brain,
which ceases only when the intrinsic errors driving the changes are
removed. The point of this process is not to create any particular
organization in the brain, but only to correct the intrinsic error -- to
correct, say, a prolonged depression of body temperature below its
inherited reference level. The existence of a sufficiently large error,
which the inherited control system cannot correct, is proposed to cause
reorganization to commence. Any change in the brain that results, however
indirectly, in a decrease in intrinsic error (an increase in body
temperature) will slow the rate of reorganization of the brain, meaning
that the existing organization that produced the decrease in error will
persist longer before the next reorganization. In the end, _anything_ that
the brain ends up doing that corrects intrinsic error -- that brings body
temperature back to its inherited reference level -- will be retained,
simply because the disappearance of intrinsic error will stop the changes
could this "system" possibly be? And, it really exists in all organisms?
Are we sure?
That, pardon me, is a silly question to ask a scientist. You are asking the
same questions the scientist would ask himself; if an answer were known,
don't you think he (or I) would have told you what it is? Or do you think
you're the only person to whom such questions have ever occurred? Science
is a process of posing questions and then trying to figure out ways of
answering them -- and then, of course, rigorously testing the proposed
answers. At the boundaries of science there are always unanswered
questions. As old questions are answered, new questions are asked and
become possible to answer, otherwise science would cease. The whole trick
in science is to think up questions stated so there is some hope of
answering them, and not to waste time on unanswerable ones until they
become answerable. There is always plenty to do with the answerable questions.
There are lots of unanswered, and for the moment unanswerable, questions
relating to my proposals concerning reorganization. We don't know where the
system responsible for it resides in the body or brain, or even whether it
is distributed over all the cells. We don't know what confines
reorganization to relevant parts of the brain, or what directs
reorganization to those parts (although there have been almost-untestable
speculations). While we have proven that random reorganization can be used
to achieve some highly-organized results (like solving a system of 50
linear equations in 50 unknowns without using algebra), we don't know
whether some other inheritable process might not work better.
The idea of reorganization is an attempt to explain observed changes in
human organization, and observed links between certain bodily states and
such changes. It provides a new kind of answer: not the strengthening of
successful behaviors, but cessation of changes that do away with
unsuccessful behaviors. With time and work, this idea will evolve into
something more sophisticated and more directly testable.
Is there any way a person's inadequate reorganization system itself could be
improved or stimulated to try harder using external methods or inputs to the
How do you "try harder" to reorganize randomly? All you can do is
reorganize slower or faster, and that already happens. I am suspicious of
all interventions that are not based on a thorough understanding of the
system you're trying to "improve" -- how do you know what constitutes an
actual improvement, if you don't even understand how the system works? I
have no sympathy with the "try it and see what happens" school of
"scientific" research. That may have been good enough once, but it's not
Now we have the amazing reorganization system not only establishing new
perceptions for the hierarchy to control intrinsic error, but insuring that
the new hierarchal control loops it finally builds to do this are the
simplest way to keep these loops resistant to demolition by yet to be
developed systems. Gasp!
I guess your surprise comes from not understanding how such a conclusion
could be reached. I can't help you with that any more than I've been trying
The spirit nature of man that Ken argues for is there at the start; just like
the intrinsic variables and imagined reorganization system for which Bruce
argues are there. Take your pick. There is no science -yet- in either
Fine. Having made these proposals, we would like to know which, if either,
we should retain. The way we find out is to test them. The way we test them
is first to assume they're true, and then to deduce on that basis what we
ought to observe. Since not all possible predictions can be tested by
passive observation, we must devise actions which, according to the
proposed concept, should have certain consequences. We then take those
actions, and see whether the predicted consequences occur. If the predicted
consequences don't occur, we drop the concept, or modify it if the failure
is only partial (for example, the right kind of consequence occurs, but too
much or too little of it relative to the prediction).
You seem to want to stop with the first step: assuming your proposal is
true. What happened to the rest of the process? That seems to be where you
bring "faith" in. You just believe the proposal, without all the fuss and
expense of testing it. Heck, I can do that, too. The reorganizing system
exists because I _believe_ it exists. What's wrong with that, Kenny?
<If this were a natural component of the hierarchy it would arise as a result
of reorganization and involve a new combination of perceptual inputs from
systems lower in the hierarchy.>
I have heard about bizzaro PCT. Now I have experienced it. The spirit level
of reference perceptions would be built by the spirit nature of man, not by
man's physical body and brain natures from which your hypothesized
reorganization system builds the rest of Bill Power's imagined hierarchy of
control loops and reference perceptions.
<Ken wants this level to be constructed by divine intervention.>
Bruce wants to put intentions in Kenny's words. Sorry, Bruce. I can and
would rather speak for myself, thank you. I would think any PCTer would be
wiser than to say what you said.
Let me try to say what I suspect. My hypothesis is that the spirit level
loops exist and are built up by the spirit nature in man in a manner similar
to how the body and mind build up the first 11 levels of perceptual control.
I contend all humans have this spirit nature and a Twelfth Level without the
need to determine whether it got there by evolution or by divine
intervention. Its just there. Just like the reorganization system you
propose is just there.
<In order to make such an option "attractive", it would be necessary to rule
reorganization as a mechanism.>
This does not follow. It is not necessary to rule out the totally
speculative and amazingly mysterious reorganization system to believe there
is a Twelfth Level which is not built up or controlled by the reorganization
system (even if the Eleven are) but by the spirit nature of man.
<This will not be easy because reorganization cannot yet be observed.>
You believe in what you cannot observe and further some system you also
cannot observe which accounts for what is unobservable? This is science?
This is the subject of scientific texts like B: CP and this forum? Is this
psuedo-science why Isaac's reorganization system gave up and his organism
left this forum? I think I'll ask him to find out.
<Many stories of religious conversions at least sound as if reorganization
might be at work.>
The "stories" you cite are experiences of real human beings. They are every
bit as real to them as your cognition of a reorganization system story
apparently is to you. And, I doubt theirs come from the reorganization
system you describe.
<Of course we cannot rule out the possibility that reorganization is not a
Finally, we agree on something. It could all be hooey like the sun rising
and setting in the sky, depending on your perception.
<Perhaps all learning requires divine intervention.>
Not my speculation at all.
<We don't lose sleep over this possibility because science is constrained to
seek naturalistic rather than supernaturalistic mechanisms.>
If you mean pure scientists like you who are unaware of and reject
out-of-hand any spiritual nature within them, I am happy you don't lose sleep
over supernaturalistic mechanisms. Are you bragging about that?
I would be complaining about living in a world where only what I can
physically sense in my body and brain matters. That would make me just a
little more evolved, or perhaps about the same, as the apes swinging from the
trees. They sure don't lose any sleep about how the world they experience
got there or whether there was any purpose to their existence or if it was
just an accident of the environment they live in.
Many of the world's greatest pure scientists accepted a spirit nature in
themselves. They all recognized what science can do and what science can't
do. They are multifaceted beings who own up to their inherent differences
and are much the better for it, in my experience. For you, I guess it will
take a "reorganization" to find a spiritual nature. It is not my concern
whether you ever experience one or not. Sleep sound.