Alice in Behaviorismland

[From Rick Marken (961125.0820)]

Bruce Abbott (961124.0940 EST) to me:

Evidently you resort to sarcasm when you don't have a reasoned response
available. If my nice little story is incorrect, how about proving it?

I resort to sarcasm as an alternative to going over basic PCT with someone
who has been on CSGNet for over two years. Your little story is incorrect
because a control system must learn how to _vary_ acts (or actions) -- that
is, they must learn a transfer function -- in order to control a result (the
arrival of "reinforcement" in this case). Your little story describes a model
of reorganization that learns to control by setting _specific_ references
(for acts) -- references for the acts that are followed by reward. Your
little story is just an attempt to use PCT _language_ (reference signals,
perceived results) to describe a "selection BY consequences" process. The
problems with your little story are so basic that it is impossible for me to
deal with them (given my current level of immaturity) with anything other
than sarcasm;-)

Bruce Abbott (961124.1020 EST) --

What control theory provides is a mechanism through which one should be able
to explain the functional relationships established by these [Applied
Behavior Analysis] methods.

Yes. One _should_ be able to do this. But one can't because these methods
are not based on an understanding of organisms as control systems so there
are no tests for controlled variables. Moreover, the data itself is now
suspect (it is likely, for example, that there is no variation in actual
response rate across different reward schedule conditions).

Bruce Abbott (961124.1205 EST) --

The common but erroneous perception that this area [behavior modification]
is all about manipulating persons has been repeated so often that it has
taken on the status of a well-estabished truth.

So you still think behavior modification is a humane approach to dealing
with living control systems? My, we've certainly come a long way in the last
two years, haven't we :wink: