... and on....

From Greg Williams (930330 - 2)

Bill Powers (930330.0700)

A person who chooses to play the role
of passive spectator and commentator is not obviously controlling
anything, so there is little to push against. However, it's not
hard to see the resistance to being drawn into conjecture, so I
assume that you have a low reference level for indulging in
conjecture (or introspection). This, I will admit, does make the
challenge a little harder (although I submit that the foregoing
analysis captures some of the situation -- is that right?).

Gee, Bill, it sounds so REASONABLE! But do you really want to stake a
science's reputation on introspectively determined reasonability? I
don't have problems with the hypothesis that "everything is
perception" and so one cannot escape the subjectivity of individual
judgments (including one's own), but I think it would be a lot MORE
reasonable to perform tests aimed at understanding (by experimenter
and subject alike) one's behavior which are not COMPLETELY dependent
on possibly fallacious subjective reports. Appropriate use of the Test
for Controlled Variables needn't be so dependent on subjective
reports, I think -- or am I wrong? (It seems obvious that the Test
could be applied to non-human animals -- not over the net very easily,
of course, as you so wittily pointed out yesterday.)

But (a big "but," I think), the Test cannot be applied to behavior
which happened in the past (at least not with current technology), and
the Test, as you have noted, is difficult to apply in field
conditions. The point I think (but don't know!) I'm trying to make NOW
(not necessarily when I first issued the challenge) is that
understanding (and especially predicting) complex individual human
behaviors in the field by using The Test looks to be much more
difficult than laboratory tracking experiments. Rick, especially, is
prejudging a quite open issue: how significant PCT's contributions to
the aims of behavioral scientists in general will ever be. Granted
that statistical description of population measures (if nonfallacious)
cannot result in understandings of individual behaviors, it is at
least possible that, IN PRACTICE, PCT won't be able to generate
population measures which some behavioral scientists will continue to

Back to the challenge.

It remains to be seen what credence I'll assign to my
impressions related to the challenge.

This suggests that you're waiting for something to reach a point
at which you will experience a definite impression one way or the
other. As long as there is no definite impression, you will
continue to feel that the challenge has not been resolved. It
also suggests a higher level, such that when some impressions
actually do occur, they will not be taken at face value, but will
be judged against some other criterion and only then given
credence or not. Do I interpret your meanings correctly?

I can't presume to say that your interpretation is "correct" or not.
It SOUNDS reasonable. How can either of us know when reasonability
equals correctness?

That's what I meant -- too easy to be convincing, even to me.

Previously, when I asked questions about what you wanted, you
said that you had no contact with your inner motivational
structure and therefore didn't know, or could only guess. This
time, when I asked what you want, you gave a clear YES answer to
two of the questions, and when asked about success or failure
preferred to predict some degree of success between the extremes.

With regard to the first two questions, do the YES answers still
stand today?


If so, we would seem to have a glimpse of two controlled
variables: (1) a perception that I am questioning you in a
particular way, and a reference signal specifying that this
perception should continue rather than cease, and (2) a reference
signal specifying that a perception of a valid outcome of this
process would be desireable, and (judging from the fact that you
have not yet accepted the success of the process), a perception
that the outcome is not yet perceived as valid. The implied error
signals mean that you are not yet ready to judge that the
challenge has been met and will continue participating.

Again, that all SOUNDS reasonable. Now, assuming that the reference
signals and implied error signals are as you say (heck, the reference
signals are "implied," too), why are they as they are, and not

As to the third question, you indicated a preference for an
answer somewhere between absolute success and absolute failure.
May I correctly interpret this as a reference level regarding the
concepts of success and failure, indicating that you prefer a
continuous scale over a binary one in this case?


This is, of course, a model-based interpretation as are all my
interpretations. You're the only one in a position to say whether
the interpretations fit what you observe. How about it?

I don't think I'm in that position. It doesn't feel like I'm
introspecting about reference signals and such when I am behaving,
except when the behavior is introspecting about reference signals.
What if when I think I'm introspecting about reference signals I am
deluding myself? Applying the Test "directly" to the behaviors which
you want to understand would get around this problem; too bad the Test
works well only in circumscribed situations (at least, that's my
hypothesis, based on the evidence to date).

As ever,


P.S. Did you e-mail me the NEW Simcon? May I have the new primers,
also? Thanks in advance.