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from [ Marc Abrams (990714.1551) ]

In working with the CSG archives last night I came across this post. This
was a post from Rick to CSGnet, addressing a post Bill wanted sent to
Martin Taylor privately but instead posted it to the Net. Bill was trying to
mediate a discussion between Martin and Rick. Please note the date. Also I
believe "monomaniacal tenacity" is a trade mark of Rick's :slight_smile: I posted this
because I believe it gives an insight into _why_ Rick sometimes acts as he
does. I am not condoning it. I Think it makes it _much_ easier to take when
you understand ( or try to ) how important this is to him and the biases he
brings to the party. I think this is the "reflective" Rick that I
appreciate. Forget the individual words. Try to grasp _where_ _Rick_ is
attempting to go.


[From Rick Marken (940302.0930)]

A post from Bill Powers to Martin Taylor that was mistakenly placed on the
net gives me an opportunity to explain why I am pursuing this IT vs PCT
argument with such monomaniacal tenacity.

Bill said:

Between you and Rick, I assign a good part of the blame to Rick, in some

respects the >greater part.

In addition, I assign it all to me. Heck, I am the one who is chomping down
on this IT stuff full tilt. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Bill continues:

He has, I think, simplified your views; instead of saying, as I do, that I

don't understand >your approach, he feels (unjustifiably, in my opinion)
that he does understand your >approach and knows that it is wrong for PCT.
He has turned your rather indefinite >statements (as they seem to me) into
definite, and much simpler, statements which you >did not make.

I think Bill is being a bit generous to Martin here. In fact, I have only
responded to statements that are quite specific and quite specifically
wrong. The claim that there is information about the disturbance in
perception was shown clearly wrong. The claim that control systems base
their outputs on information about the disturbance in perception was shown
wrong. The latest claim is that "the derivatives [of the disturbance] are
not independent [of the derivatives of the perceptual signal], at least not
for a correct value of the time delay associated with the perceptual input
function". [Regarding this last claim, Martin said to me, in a private post
"Ask Bill P. It's the way he computes the best value of model delay for our
tracking studies. Works fine. Makes sense to me, if not to you." Well, I
asked Bill P. (though I didn't need to) and found that there is a comparison
of the derivative of the output to the derivative of the disturbance but, of
course, no comparison of the derivative of the disturbance with respect to
the derivative of the perceptual variable].

All of Martin's SPECIFIC mistakes are made in the service of preserving a
belief in information theory -- a theory of human behavior that Martin was
attached to prior to discovering PCT. Perhaps, now that he has presented
specific calculations that can be performed to obtain these information
measures, Martin will see that they are completely useless as a basis for
understanding anything about control. However, given the results of our
demonstrations that there is no information about disturbances in
perception, I am not particularly optimistic.

Which brings me to the question "Why am I such an asshole"? The reason is: I
want to show the "nothing but" syndrome in action. I have no illusions about
changing Martin's mind (or anyone else's, for that matter) about the
relevance of their previously held theories to PCT. People who come to PCT
usually come with a prior commitment to some theory; they see PCT as
consistent with that theory (indeed, that's usually why they come to PCT in
the first place; they see PCT as consistent with what they already
believed). The problem is that these previously held theories ALWAYS (so
far) contradict PCT in some way or another. Martin's mistaken beliefs about
how control works are just a particularly clear (and public) example of this

Believing that some existing behavioral theory is consistent with PCT is
just version of the "nothing but" syndrome (as described in BCP). It keeps
people from doing real PCT and it makes PCTer's who point out the
inconsistencies between existing behavioral theories and PCT look like
assholes -- ergo, I am probably perceived as an asshole. In addition, why
not. Here are people who are enthusiastic about PCT (and PCT needs all the
friends it can get) and what thanks do they get for their loyalty?; what
kind of welcome to PCT? A kick in the teeth from Marken the fanatic. I would
say that that is being an asshole, all right.

The problem is, I like being an asshole (I'm so deluded, I actually think I
am just being honest -- like the little creep who ran around saying that the
emperor had no clothes on) . I have been doing PCT for almost 20 years now.
During that time I have seen many people become enthusiastic about PCT; but
they have almost always been the Carver's and Scheier's and Hyland's and
Locke's and Heise's and so on. None of these people have made ANY
contribution to the development of PCT science -- because none of these
people would go "all the way" and admit that PCT was COMPLETELY NEW, even
though it had vague similarities to "goal theory" or "drive theory" or
"cognitive theory", etc.

I am an asshole, all right, but I am not doing it to change the minds of
those who will remain committed to their pre-PCT theories. I know that they
will not change their minds (probably not, anyway). I do it for the sake of
the people who are the real hope of PCT -- the students who are not yet
committed to a particular point of view. I do it for the youth. I do it to
let these young people know that PCT is a whole new ball of wax; that you
cannot understand PCT from the Procrustean perspective of existing theories.
I want these young people to know that it is IMPORTANT to learn about past
attempts to understand human behavior -- to learn about Mead and Dewey and
James and Hull and reinforcement and information theory, etc -- not in order
to learn about human behavior from these theories (do we learn about physics
from Aristotle's theories?) but to learn what we had to go through to get on
the right track -- PCT. The potential gain of one young person who can
really do PCT is worth (to me) the risk of alienating lots people who do not
like to be wrong.

Dan Miller (940302.1000)--

in an earlier post (I lost it somehow) Rick made the assertion something
like, PCT means never having to invent facts. Do you really believe this?


How do facts happen if they are not constructed (invented)?

I do not understand what this means. Facts are perceptions that we can have
under certain well specified (is that what the constructed part means?)
conditions. In the post you lost, Martin Taylor (940301 12:00) made the
following claim:

Over any reasonable period, the VALUE of the disturbance is more or less

independent of >the VALUE of the perceptual signal, as we all know. But the
derivatives are not >independent, at least not for a correct value of the
time delay associated with the >perceptual input function.

Martin is describing a perception that one could have under certain well
specified conditions: the perception is of derivatives of the perceptual
signaling being DEPENDENT on the derivatives of the disturbance a some
delay. Martin claims that such dependence exists; that it is an observable
fact. Now that he has tons of data he will be able to make the required
observations; he will then find what Tom and Bill and I have already found;
that there is NO such dependence. Therefore, Martin's statement above is an
example of an INVENTED FACT. It is NOT a FACT at all. It is equivalent to
saying that when you drop a ball from the top of the leaning tower it
instantly reaches terminal velocity and proceeds at that velocity until it
hits the ground. If it is "scurrilous" to point this out, then I suppose I
am not just an asshole; I am a "scurrilous asshole".


Date: Wed Mar 02, 1994 12:23 PM PST
Subject: Why I am such an asshole

from [Bruce Gregory (990714.1617 EDT)]

Marc Abrams (990714.1551)

I posted this
because I believe it gives an insight into _why_ Rick
sometimes acts as he
does. I am not condoning it. I Think it makes it _much_
easier to take when
you understand ( or try to ) how important this is to him and
the biases he
brings to the party.

I find that the best approach to dealing with Rick is to treat him as a
Stimulus-Response system. If Rick gives you any trouble, its because you
provided the wrong stimulus. You might think this explanation is at
variance with PCT, but I assure you, it isn't.

Bruce Gregory