as for the answer to your post is concerned I didivded it into two posts. One is dedicated to Henry Yin (he deserves by my oppinion special place in PCT) and other consists of answers to your view of PCT. My understanding and conclussions about PCT are Â»built-upÂ« from Bill’s knowledge (diagram LCS III) and Â»defitnitionsÂ« (B:CP) and now Yin article which I think incorporate 90 % of Bill’s knowledge that Â»Behavior is not controlÂ«. So if any issue will arise about this specific view in connection to mentioned Bill’s and Yin’s writings, I’ll discuss fuirther, otherwise I’ll not answer, speccially not on phylosophy.
From: Bruce Nevin [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 07, 2015 11:00 PM
Subject: Re: Behavior is Control (was Re: Behaviour and “Behaviour”)
[Bruce Nevin (2015.11.07.08:15 ET)]
Hi, Boris. A basic ground rule of conversation that I would like us to agree to is to assume good will. It causes as much trouble to take offense as it does to give it.
BN: I apologize for using an idiom that was unfamiliar to you. “Remember” was intended as a referential to a prior mention. In place of “Remember” please substitute an equivalent referential that does not offend you, for example maybe “As I wrote previously”.
HB: Sorry toÂ misunderstand you. I felt like you are patronizing…
BN: You may be unaware that some of your ways of expressing yourself can easily be perceived as abrasive, haughty, belittling, demeaning, and outright insulting. We are all capable of controlling these effects on purpose. We have found through long experience that doing so does not serve the collectively controlled perception of explaining, promoting, and spreading acceptance of PCT. Because I participate in that collective control, and because I control the above basic ground rule of conversation, now especially in light of your appeal to “stay on a cultural level of conversation”, I assume that I am perceiving accidental side effects of your control of English. I hope that you will be equally charitable to us.
HB: I’ll be glad if you tell me in the Â»spotsÂ« where you noticed the Â»side effectsÂ« of my control of English. We never stop learning.
BN : Boris, as I said earlier, if you and Martin want to avoid using “behavior” to mean “the process by which organisms control their input sensory data”, and prefer to use only “control” for that meaning, I think no one here will disagree.
HB : I don’t know what Martin thinks but I’m interested in explanation what does it mean to you Â»Behavior as a process…Â« ? But you are right. Everyone is free to beleive what he wants. It’s opened phylosohpy discussion, until we Â»hitÂ« the wall of physiological Â»factsÂ«.
BN : Limiting your definition of “behavior” to observable behavior is not a real problem, but I’d recommend qualifying it as “observed behavior” or “behavioral outputs” to avoid misunderstanding.
HB : I don’t know what could be other meaning of behavior beside Â»ObservableÂ« which is used in Bill’s diagram. It could be also Â»imaginedÂ«. But in that case anybody can understand behavior as wanted. So it’s O.K. with me that we use it in the sense you proposed Â»observed behaviorÂ« or Â»behavioral outputsÂ«. Afterall it’s in Bill’s diagram the same use. Maybe this is really the way how to avoid misunderstandings. Using Bill’s Â»defitinitionsÂ« and his diagram…and Yin articcle…
BN : Others here agree with Bill when he said “Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data” in the Preface of B:CP, and consequently interpret the title of B:CP as meaning exactly that.
HB: It would be nice if you give names who are those Â»othersÂ« on CSGnet who agree with Â»Behavior is process…Â« ? It seems to me that you are using your imagination to often.
BN : The fact that we disagree about these words is not a problem for PCT, because the words do not define PCT. They only attempt to explain it in relatively informal terms.
HB : I think that precise interpretation of words in PCT is what is defining it. If I recall right Barb said that her Dad carefully choosed words. Otherwise we can talk whatever we want about everything and it must be right. For ex. Elephant and dog is the same….
BN: I agree with Rick that a precise verbal definition of “behavior” is unimportant. A grasp of the nature of control is what is important. I don’t think it is possible to grasp the nature of control without at least an intuitive grasp of the mathematics.
HB : I think that precise definitions are very important to avoid misunderstandings. Anyway I think that words are used as means of control as any other Â»behaviorÂ«… So I think that Rick is controlling exactly what he wants to achieve : confussion, mess in terms so that he could write what he wants without any significant arguments. Well I’m against this sort of communication.
BN : Bill would have been the first to tell you not to quote his words as though they were holy scripture, or as though they were the Constitutional basis of legalistic definitions. A grasp of the phenomenon of control is what matters. That was always his emphasis, and especially in LCS III and MSoB.
HB : Bill never said to me something like what you are saying and I talked a lot with him. In contrary, he was very Â»sharpÂ« in using words, At least in our conversation. Speccialy on the field of physiology, where precise terms are in use. That’s how I learned PCT. Precise meaning for precise words. When you are saving lives with physiological knowledge, there is no place for phylosophical meanings. Resposability which physiology has for people lives dictate very precise understanding of organism and what we are doing to it.
I think you and Rick are trying to control in the direction of terms Â»being loosyÂ«, so to achieve that you would not be forced to agree with Bill’s Â»definitionsÂ« of PCT. That’s how I understood your attempts. But accepting these Â»definitionsÂ« (B:CP) means for me accepting the common ground (agreement) for talking about PCT and avoid misubderstandings. So I’m interested to Â»hearÂ« whether you AGREE or not with Bill’s definitions (B:CP) and diagram without Â»CVÂ« in the outer environment ?
Boris Hartman (Sun, Nov 1, 2015 at 1:40 AM)–
HB : it seems odd that you make a final conclusion based on so Â»ambiguousÂ« opinions about Â»Behavior is controlÂ«.
BN : My ‘final’ conclusion was that the term is ambiguous.
HB : It seems that something is not yet clear about PCT, because there is so much Â»doubleÂ« meaning.
BN : PCT is perfectly clear.
HB : You just wrote that : ‘final’ conclusion was that the term Â»behaviorÂ« is ambiguous. We are arguing about this problem for almost two weeks. So PCT is not clear about it. But it’s clear that Bill used one interpretation of behavior more times than other.
BN : Language is almost always ambiguous. Understanding the mathematics, at least at an intuitive level, is necessary. The words are interpretations of analogic computational processes coupled with cause-and-effect phenomena in the environment. Those environmental phenomena are described mathematically, using the tools of physics and chemistry, as the ‘environmental feedback function’.
HB : I’m not sure that I understand what you want to say. But if I recall right Martin explained that phenomena in PCT are not described mathematically but Â» algebraiclyÂ«. At least as theÂ knowledge of Rick was concerned. Any use of symbols or quantitative explanation can be Â»ambigousÂ« if it’s not clearly explained what’s the meaning. So any experiment with quantitativeÂ research must have qualitative explanation (words) to precisley define (subjective interpretation) what results and mathematics represent.
BN : In a typical PCT simulation, the code for control systems is relatively simple and compact, and the code for the environmental feedback function is long and complex.
HB : What kind of Â»complex mathematicsÂ« is used in PCT ?
HB : If most members will decide that Â»Behavior is controlÂ«, then I have no reason to stay on CSGnet. I could never prove with physiological means that Â»Behavior is ControlÂ« so I have nothing to do hear any more.
BN : No one can prevent you from throwing up your hands impatiently and walking away. Many have done so when they were unable to use words about PCT to control familiar perceptions in familiar ways.
HB : You are really kind person Bruce. You know how to comfort people. I was leaving PCT forum anyway even without your kind invitation. But if you have time I’d be glad if you reveal me names of people who areÂ Â»able to use words about PCT to control familiar perceptions in familiar waysÂ« ? I suppose you mean familiar as Â»Behavior is ControlÂ«. I’d really like some names ?
For me familiar use of words in PCT means to use generic diagram and Â»definitionsÂ« (B:CP) I exposed. AndÂ what is PCT familiar Â»use of wordsÂ« for you ?Â
BN : I understand physiology to be the study of living things, especially their parts and organs, as functional physical objects. One definition I see is “The branch of biology that deals with the normal functions of living organisms and their parts; the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions.” Like many specializations of science, physiology will be revolutionized by PCT. Does your interest in physiology mean that this is your field? If so, it would be terrific for you to help bring that revolution about. If not, could you explain why you are so concerned about the physiology of control?
HB : If you’ll try to understand physiology through dictionary or other Â»fast knowledge sourcesÂ« I’m afraid you’ll not understand much. Any study that involves underdstanding human organism is a long study (couple of years) as we have to understand resposability for human lives and health. So there is no room for phylosophical games. And physiology Â»discoveredÂ« control mechanisms a long before engineers did. It just wasn’t put in such a form. People simply have to deal with Â»controlÂ« cousciously or Â»unconsciouslyÂ« if they want to heal and save lives. They simply have to Â»understandÂ« what’s going on in organism. Nature forced them to act in Â»controlÂ« way otherwise they would have no success.
Partly I tried to Â»brightenÂ« the problem with physiological understanding in my comments about Yin’s article. Please see it.
I understand science as used for clearing up terms people ordinary use in all possible ways. One of posistive contribution of science is that it tries to understand Â»one term with one meaningÂ«. It’s important for example in physiology that when you are saving life that people do not mix terms and imagine under the same term different meanings and take wrong actions on that bases. They could kill people because of wrongly understood meaning. So precise use of terms with Â»definedÂ« meaning by my oppinion gives more credibilty to discussions.
BN : But you can’t investigate control exclusively by physiological means. In most cases, evidence about controlled variables and disturbances does not come from physiology, and the processes of defining and measuring the output quantity and the input quantity generally involves more than the physiology of effectors and sensors. The reference value and error signal are physiological only by inference in most cases because (except for Henry Yin) neuroscientists haven’t developed the perceptual input functions that would enable them to recognize and look for reference signals in e.g. so-called ‘mirror cells’.
HB : I agree that on this stage physiology has not all answers. But the frame is very clear. Henry Yin is not just exception.Â He is (at least for me) pioneer of Â»new ageÂ« in PCT physiological background. I’m looking fworard to meet him in person if that will be possible (ever). I’ll be honored.
BN : I hope it’s unnecessary to say that science proves nothing, and that proof is possible only in tautological systems such as logic and mathematics, whereas science is inherently provisional and open-ended.
HB : I’m not sure that I understand what you meant. If I understand right Â»proofÂ« can be only obtained by Â»wordingÂ« in phylosophical and mathemathical discussions ? Well I think that proof can be obtained also by perceiving.
But when you’ll be on the surgent table, remember your words and hope that science is not Â»inherently provissionalÂ« and Â»open-endedÂ«, but have Â»exact meaningsÂ« which works in practice. And that it’s not only tautology. It can decide whether you’ll live or not.
BN : PCT is a science which demonstrates how organisms control their perceptual inputs by varying their behavioral outputs precisely so as to counteract unpredictable environmental disturbances.
HB : It seems that you understand
BN : It provides a generative model of behavior which is far more accurate than any other proposal, with greater explanatory power, and which promises to far be more comprehensive than any other proposal. Its complete and radical vulnerability to test and verification provides an extraordinarily strong basis for intersubjective agreement. Intersubjective agreement is the definition of objectivity in science. That’s as close as science gets to proving something.
HB : I don’t agree in whole with you. I think that Â»intersubjective agreementÂ« is not only definition in science but also definition of Â»objectivityÂ« in any people interaction (conversation), speccialy in PCT (collective control).
HB : But I strongly advise that you get YIn’s opinion (if he is physiologist) or any opinion of any physiologist to confirm that Â»Behavior can be controlÂ«.
BN : The following is from p. 7 of Henry H. Yin (2014) “How Basal Ganglia Outputs Generate Behavior”, Advances in Neuroscience Volume 2014, Article ID 768313, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/768313 (highlighting added):
The term â€œcontrolâ€? means that posture stays the same, despite environmental disturbances. The naÃ¯ve assumption that whatever neural signals are sent to our muscles determine the effects we exert on the environment, that is, observable behavior, was demolished by Bernstein nearly a century ago . Bernstein wrote: â€œThere are no situations in which muscle shortening is the cause of a movementâ€? . The actual effect of the muscular contraction is not the product of our neural output. Behavior can never be equated with the output of the nervous system, because it is the joint product of unknown environmental influences and neural signals. To the motor neurons producing muscle contraction, even fatigue or slight changes in the properties of the muscles can become a major source of disturbance. Consequently, a measure of muscle contraction (e.g., electromyography) can never define the actual behavior or the posture. That the output does not equal behavior raises the question of how the neural output can be adjusted as unknown and unpredictable disturbances vary. This is the â€œcalculation problem,â€? the key problem that the nervous system must solve .
HB : I answered separatelly about this issue.
HB : My other arguments why it’s not good to keep the definiton Â»Behavior is ControlÂ« are :
HB : 1. First I think that introducing Â»Behavior is ControlÂ« into PCT, PCT becomes cheap Â»self-regulationÂ« theory, where Â»Behavior is ControlÂ« is mantra. Please read Mary Powers about PCT and Â»self-regulationÂ«.
BN : I do not see how that is a necessary consequence. Anyone who comes to understand control will not make that mistake. Mary’s comment was about people who did not understand control. People who don’t understand control will make their perceptions of our words about PCT consistent with their words about whatever ideas they have learned. If they understand the mathematics, at least at an intuitive level, they will not be able to fit PCT into their preconceived ideas. The result, often, is that they run away so as to avoid perceiving a change to cherished ideas as a threat to their reputation and livelihood.
HB . Sorry to notice but you are talking about things you know too little about. That’s also one problem in communication when people who have Â»poorÂ« information about Â»realityÂ«,Â fulflill Â»picturesÂ« with their imagination. I thnk that you don’t know Â»peopleÂ« about whom Mary talked about. There are exact names. So I think that if you would know them, you would not give such a statements. It seems that you are filling Â»holesÂ« in knowing about issues that you talk about, with your imagination.Â
Carver and Scheier leading Â»self-regulationÂ« theoriest were Bill’s Â»studentsÂ«. They learned PCT from Bill. I was mediating beetwen Bill and Carver, because i was interested why he didn’t take Bill as reference when they used his diagram in their central book (Â»On the Selfregulation on behaviorÂ«, 1998). Instade of Bill, the references used were Wiener and Ashby. While they talked to me, Bill told me about their knowledge of PCT, but also how they changed their view on Control through centuries. While they took Bill as full reference in their book 1981, in the book from 1998, they used him as a reference only for the hierarchy. So the Â»self-regulationistsÂ« are not just good informed about Â»controlÂ« they are also good informed about PCT. I also noticed through my conversation with Carver and through reading his articles that he is more than familiar with term Â»controlÂ«. Ask Vancouver why Mary didn’t like him ?
Your judgement about how Mary’s comment was about people Â»who didn’t understand controlÂ« is simply not right. You can try to talk to Carver like I did and read his books and articles as I did and than I’m sure you’ll make more Â»objectiveÂ« conclussions and oppinion about it.
Carver for sure understands Â»ControlÂ« at least on the level Rick does, that Â»Behavior is ControlÂ«. But he doesn’t understand how organisms function. And the same is with Vancouver.
HB : 2. I see also a problem in interpreting everyday activites. Do we eat, drink, drive, walk, etc… with Â»Controlling our hands, legs…Â« ?
BN : At the lower levels of the hierarchy, to accomplish such activities we control perceptions such as arm, leg, and finger joint angles, by means of controlling lower-level perceptions down to intensity signals from tendon tension sensors and skin pressure sensors.
HB : Right. We control perception of limbs. We control Â»Perception of behaviorÂ«. Could you be so kind and explain this to Rick ?
BN : Saying “Behavior is control of perception” does not imply that we control our behavioral outputs. Quite the opposite.
HB : I don’t know why we are conflicting each other if we think the same. If Â»Behavior is Control of perceptionÂ« imply opposite meaning than it’s enough to say that Â»Behavior is not control of behavioral outputsÂ« or Â»Behavior is not control of perceptionÂ« in the meaning that Â»behavioral outputs are not controlÂ«. That’s it. We agree. Now we have only to explain this to Rick.
BN : On the other hand, whenever we can perceive our behavioral outputs as such, we are capable of controlling those perceptions. An example is dancers practicing while perceiving their behavioral outputs by means of a mirror and controlling a perception of conformity to their perception of the teacher’s behavioral outputs.
HB : Right. We are controlling Â»Perception of behavioral outputsÂ«… Here I don’t see any conflict. You understand it perfectly.
HB : 3. I think that Â»BehaviorÂ« can’t be “Control”, because we don’t know what is “behavior”. At the best shot we know what is “Perception of behavior (output)”. All is perception. In this case “Perception of behavior can be controlled”, as Martin mentioned many times. It depends from observer in whatever view we take perception (internal or external view). It’s subjective. That’s how individuals make their own interpretation of behavior, what depends on their references. If you and Rick observe behavior you will say that it is “control”. If I observe it I would say that “Behavior” just affect environment, makes changes to my perception. People who do not know anything about Control Theory, would probably make interpretations of their own perceptions in whatever they believe what is happening.
BN : There are at least three issues here.
First, if we don’t know what “behavior as control” is because all we have is perceptions, the same objection applies “observed behavior” or “behavioral outputs”. As the word “observed” implies, those are perceptions too.
Second, individuals recognize only those perceptions for which they have developed the necessary perceptual input functions, which they control according to reference values that their control hierarchy has established. They will do this regardless of how “behavior” is defined, and until they develop the necessary perceptual input functions and reference values they are liable to be obtuse about PCT.
Third, lurking behind this is the notion of objectivity. The definition of objectivity in science is intersubjective agreement. Scientific method aims to provide a well-defined and principled basis for intersubjective agreement.
HB : It seems that we understand the same terms with the same meaning. I agree with all three issues. J
I think that we could start collecting "commonÂ« understanding in PCT not opposite.
BN : The Test for the controlled variable (TCV) establishes intersubjective agreement between the investigator and the observed organism. “Behavior” as observed activity is a subjective perception. Defined as control of perceptual input, and specified by means of the TCV, it is objective; that is, it is a matter of intersubjective agreement in the best spirit of science.
HB : There are a lot of others and more efficient Â»testsÂ« for esablishing intersubjective agreements.Â If you define Â»BehaviorÂ« as Â»Control of perceptual inputÂ« it has many Â»intersubjective agreementsÂ« or Â»conflictsÂ« and it is far from being Â»objective. But it can be Â»intra-subjectiveÂ« agreementÂ like in Rick’s case.
HB : 4. In any of Bill’s “definitions” I exposed in my previous post, I can’t see that “behavior” could be any kind of control or that “behavior” is involving control. So if you put in definition that “Behavior is Control” or at least that “involves control”, you’ll have to change at least some “definitions”. But would Powers ladies agree with this ? Wouldn’t it be better that we left “definitions” as they are, but you and Rick make your own theory based on “Behavior is Control”.
BN : Bill used the word “behavior” in both senses. (You have provided quotations for one sense, I have provided quotations for both senses.) The word “behavior”, like practically everything in language, is ambiguous. Fortunately, most of the time we have means to eliminate inappropriate meanings. These means are a special case of the general phenomenon of collective control.
HB : I’m inclined to beleive, that what Bill meant with Â»Behavior is Control of perceptionÂ« is Â»Behavior is (consequence) of Control of perceptionÂ« what match with what is presented in Bill’s diagram. Control works only in the part of organism. And we agreed that Â»we can’t control behavioral outputÂ«, so there is no control in the outer part of control loop.
Considering Rick’s statements Bill’s generic diagram has to be changed, because he wants to put in the generic diagram “CV” in the external environment which is “controlled” by behavior. Do you think also that generic diagram has to be changed so that Â»CVÂ« is put into oueter environment ?
BN : Some years ago, Martin introduced the term “environmental controlled variable” or ECV for the variable in the environment. The ECV is perceived by the observer as well as by the subject. In designing and running the Test for the Controlled Variable (TCV), the observer is controlling an imagined perception of how the subject perceives the ECV. Success with the TCV enables the observer to devise a measurement of the state of the ECV, as perceived from the point of view of the subject. That measurement is taken to represent the input quantity qi. A transform of qi is taken to represent the perceptual signal p. If the actual firing rate in the relevant nerve bundle were to be measured, then we could reverse-engineer the transformation from qi to p that is performed by the sensory organ and the perceptual input function. This level of physiological detail is not necessary at this stage. The transform function on the output side (the output function) is symmetrical with that on the input side, for obvious reasons.
HB : This is probably adressed to Martin ?
BN : Yes, in the “Output Quantity” box in the PCT diagram in B:CP Bill wrote “[a] measure of [the] system’s physical output action or observed behavior”. In the Preface to B:CP, Bill wrote “Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data.” There is no contradiction. Observed behavior is that aspect of behavior (“the process by which organisms control their input sensory data”) which can be observed.
HB : In Bill’s diagram and his Â»definitionsÂ« system’s physical output is the means for making effects to outer environment. Â»Behavior is the process by which organisms controlÂ«, means by my oppinion that it’s the process of Â»observed behaviorÂ« (physical output action) which makes EFFECTS to environment and thus helpÂ organisms to control. Control is something that happens in organism. Behavior has nothing to do with control, it’s just a supporting Â»toolÂ« for control.
But in imagination people can observe behavior of other people as illusion of control. And there is physiological explanation why ? It’s described in Bill’s book B.CP and Yin’s article.
BN : It is limited to observable behavioral output; even more, it is limited to just those aspects of behavioral output that affect the state of the controlled input quantity qi and its transform, the perceptual variable p.
HB : You said it right. It AFFECTS the state of Â»qiÂ«. Not control. Here it seems that you understand the meaning as I do.
BN : … in the Preface to B:CP, Bill himself wrote "Behavior is the process by which organisms control their input sensory data.
HB : The problem is how you understand involvement of process of Â»behaviorÂ« into organisms control. If you’d understand some physiology you could also understand that Â»observed behaviorÂ« or Â»physical output actionÂ« is Â»control emptyÂ«. It’s just affecting environment. See Bill’s definition and Martin’s opinion.
BN : Yes, if you observe behavioral actions in the environment without understanding how they are part of the process of controlling perceptual input, it is impossible to make sense of them. This is why behavioral scientists have for so many years resorted to statistical measures over populations of instances of behavior and populations of behaving individuals.
HB : Behavioral actions are part of control loop which affect the environment and that’s what it’s function in control loop. No phylosophy needed.
BN: I believe I do understand the contribution of behavioral outputs to a control loop closed through the environment.
HB : It seems that your beleives are right. It seems that you do understand. But sometimes I have a feeling that you are opposing yourself.
BN : Probably all of us here do. It seems odd to have you trying to lecture us about it.
HB : Yes you all PROBABLY understood Â»the contribution of behavioral outputs to a control loopÂ«. Speccially Rick. Do you think that I’m an idiot who talked with no reason for 3 or 4 years that Â»behavioral outputs are not controlÂ« ? Please go back and read posts of Â»all of usÂ« here who PROBABLY understoodÂ contribution of Â»behavioral outputsÂ« to a control loop ??? Are you talking now on the bases of your imagination or experiences in reading (perceiving) what was happening on CSGnet in last years ?
If you put it in the way you did, our conversation is over. It’s the same problem I had with Bill, and “double” meaning of diagram on p. 191, B:CP, which new version was presented by Dag, stayed unsolved. And I think it will stay that way for next decade. Disqualifying people leads to their unwillingness to cooperate. And you reached the Â»bottom lineÂ« in my Â»intra-subjective agreementÂ«.
BN : When a “generic PCT diagram” is located within the hierarchy, what part of it is labeled “behavior”?
BN : I did not ask this question clearly enough. Please refer to Figure 6.1 on p. 71 of B:CP (2005 edition). At the top is the comparator of a relationship control loop. Its output function is labeled “Error-to-position”. Should it be labeled “behavior”? If so, what is the behavior? If not, is “behavior” (observable behavior) limited to the lowest output function, labeled “muscles”? Or, since it is observable, shouldn’t that label “behavior” (observable behavior) be limited to the place in the environment where we see the word “Force”? If not, why not? And in that case, why are none of the higher-level output functions labeled “behavior”?
HB : You are adressing questions to a wrong person. If you founded the problem in B:CP than there must be an answer. You know : Â»where is a trouble there is also a solution of troubleÂ«.Â So studying Â»defitnitionsÂ«, and generic diagram can’t do any harm. And I warmly advice the study of Henry Yins’ article. Maybe you’ll get the answers.
And maybe you could find an answer to my questions :
How do you see the solution in diagram on p. 191 in B:CP in Dag's version ? It's crucial for understanding how organisms Â»reallyÂ« work and how references are formed….Now it's a total confussion. I think that without physiological knowledge it can't be solved.