Back to phenomena

[From Bill Powers (940609.0910 MDT)]

I will check the mail one last time at 10:00 MDT and then send a
NOMAIL to the server. So this is the LAST.

Martin Taylor (940608.1840)--

I believe that your estimates of "potentially controllable degrees
of freedom at the sensory input" are too high by a factor of 10^4 or
10^5, and your estimates of degrees of freedom at the output are too
low by a factor of 10. I believe you have failed to understand my
argument that many control systems for which the controlled variable
seldom departs from its reference level (such as as "no touch on the
neck") can be left fully operational and connected to the motor
outputs without any effect on the "output bottleneck." I believe
that ordinary-language terms like "alerting" belong with other terms
like "affinity" and "humors," and that concepts like "attracting
attention" belong with the idea that a vacuum "sucks air in." I
believe that giving certain perceptions special powers, such as
"alerting properties," is a vestige of S-R thinking. In short, I
don't think highly of the arguments in this post, either as to
content or as to method.

My friend Sam Randlett, a teacher of concert pianists, said "You
always have enough fingers to play the piece." We always have enough
outputs to control the inputs that matter to us and that are
potentially controllable. Most of the world stays as it is for long
periods of time; most of it neither requires any action nor is
potentially controllable whether we sense it with a bandwidth of 1
Hz or 100 Hz. If we don't have enough outputs in a given situation,
we create new outputs or multiplex those we already have, or act on
the situation to simplify it or postpone or eliminate the need for
control. If the board keeps falling over while we're trying to paint
it, we drive a nail through it. The possible methods of control are
vastly greater than imagined in any idealized and simplified
philosophical or mathematical system.

When I get back, I hope we can resume this discussion on a basis of
explaining phenomena, with emphasis on verifying that there is a
phenomenon to be explained in the first place.


No time for more. Back with you all at the end of June.
Best to all,

Bill P.