Behavior IS the Control of Perception

[Bruce Nevin (2015.11.12.17:32 ET)]

Yes. You cannot separate actions from their purposes, you cannot sensibly talk about behavior without talking about control, even if you want to limit your talk to just what is observable you have to include the effects of the actions on perceptual inputs in combination with other effects on those perceptual inputs, and how the one purposefully opposes or augments the others. Behavior is the entire control loop.

···

On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 4:00 PM, Tracy Harms kaleidic@gmail.com wrote:

[Tracy Harms (2015.11.12.16:00 EST)]

Recent elaboration by Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532) leaves me with

the sense that we are in rich, even full, agreement.

T

On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 3:32 PM, Fred Nickols fred@nickols.us wrote:

[From Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532)]

Drat! I forgot to date-time this. Here it is again. My apologies.

I think I get it. I just thought out loud on paper so to speak. Here’s the

path I followed.

When we say “Behavior is the control of perception� different meanings can

attach to that statement.

The statement could be taken to mean that someone who is behaving is

controlling one or more perceptions. I think that’s accurate and I don’t

have any problem with it.

Similarly, the statement could be taken to mean that behavior controls

perception. This is the equivalent of saying that behavior serves to

control perception or that behavior is the means by which perceptions are

controlled. I think all of these are accurate and I don’t have any problem

with any of them.

And, the statement could be taken to mean that the term “behavior� refers to

the entire negative-feedback, control loop that undergirds PCT. I struggle

with that.

As I’ve thought and believed for years, one use of the term “behavior�

refers to the activity of an organism, most often to its observable actions

but not limited to those. It is my view that the actions of an organism are

the means by which it controls its perceptions. I see no conflict between

this view of behavior and the earlier statements, except for the one that

equates behavior with the control loop that enables the control of

perception. The loop includes behavior and it includes a lot more (e.g.,

reference signals and perceptual signals to name just two additional

elements).

So, for me, behavior is part of the loop and the entire loop is required in

order for behavior to control perception, but there’s more to the loop than

just behavior.

I can describe the loop’s functioning in action terms as follows:

1.    perceiving existing conditions,

2.    formulating desired conditions,

3.    comparing perceived conditions with desired conditions and, when

perceived and desired conditions are not a match,

4.    acting to align perceived conditions with desired conditions.

That list clearly indicates behavior permeates the entire loop and,

conversely, that the entire loop is involved in behavior.

What just dawned on me is that my notion of “the activity of the organism�

includes all the items listed immediately above. The activity of the

organism permeates the entire loop and is not limited to the output

quantity. The activity of the organism controls perception. The activity

of the organism is the control of perception. The activity of the organism

is behavior.

Behavior IS the control of perception.

Fred Nickols

I think I get it. I just thought out loud on paper so to speak. Here’s the path I followed.

When we say “Behavior is the control of perception” different meanings can attach to that statement.

The statement could be taken to mean that someone who is behaving is controlling one or more perceptions. I think that’s accurate and I don’t have any problem with it.

Similarly, the statement could be taken to mean that behavior controls perception. This is the equivalent of saying that behavior serves to control perception or that behavior is the means by which perceptions are controlled. I think all of these are accurate and I don’t have any problem with any of them.

And, the statement could be taken to mean that the term “behavior” refers to the entire negative-feedback, control loop that undergirds PCT. I struggle with that.

As I’ve thought and believed for years, one use of the term “behavior” refers to the activity of an organism, most often to its observable actions but not limited to those. It is my view that the actions of an organism are the means by which it controls its perceptions. I see no conflict between this view of behavior and the earlier statements, except for the one that equates behavior with the control loop that enables the control of perception. The loop includes behavior and it includes a lot more (e.g., reference signals and perceptual signals to name just two additional elements).

So, for me, behavior is part of the loop and the entire loop is required in order for behavior to control perception, but there’s more to the loop than just behavior.

I can describe the loop’s functioning in action terms as follows:

  1.   perceiving existing conditions,
    
  2.   formulating desired conditions,
    
  3.   comparing perceived conditions with desired conditions and, when perceived and desired conditions are not a match,
    
  4.   acting to align perceived conditions with desired conditions.
    

That list clearly indicates behavior permeates the entire loop and, conversely, that the entire loop is involved in behavior.

What just dawned on me is that my notion of “the activity of the organism” includes all the items listed immediately above. The activity of the organism permeates the entire loop and is not limited to the output quantity. The activity of the organism controls perception. The activity of the organism is the control of perception. The activity of the organism is behavior.

Behavior is the control of perception.

Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT

DISTANCE CONSULTING

“Assistance at a Distance”

The Knowledge Workers’ Tool Room

Be sure you measure what you want.

Be sure you want what you measure.

[From Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532)]

Drat! I forgot to date-time this. Here it is again. My apologies.

I think I get it. I just thought out loud on paper so to speak. Here’s the path I followed.

When we say “Behavior is the control of perception” different meanings can attach to that statement.

The statement could be taken to mean that someone who is behaving is controlling one or more perceptions. I think that’s accurate and I don’t have any problem with it.

Similarly, the statement could be taken to mean that behavior controls perception. This is the equivalent of saying that behavior serves to control perception or that behavior is the means by which perceptions are controlled. I think all of these are accurate and I don’t have any problem with any of them.

And, the statement could be taken to mean that the term “behavior” refers to the entire negative-feedback, control loop that undergirds PCT. I struggle with that.

As I’ve thought and believed for years, one use of the term “behavior” refers to the activity of an organism, most often to its observable actions but not limited to those. It is my view that the actions of an organism are the means by which it controls its perceptions. I see no conflict between this view of behavior and the earlier statements, except for the one that equates behavior with the control loop that enables the control of perception. The loop includes behavior and it includes a lot more (e.g., reference signals and perceptual signals to name just two additional elements).

So, for me, behavior is part of the loop and the entire loop is required in order for behavior to control perception, but there’s more to the loop than just behavior.

I can describe the loop’s functioning in action terms as follows:

  1.   perceiving existing conditions,
    
  2.   formulating desired conditions,
    
  3.   comparing perceived conditions with desired conditions and, when perceived and desired conditions are not a match,
    
  4.   acting to align perceived conditions with desired conditions.
    

That list clearly indicates behavior permeates the entire loop and, conversely, that the entire loop is involved in behavior.

What just dawned on me is that my notion of “the activity of the organism” includes all the items listed immediately above. The activity of the organism permeates the entire loop and is not limited to the output quantity. The activity of the organism controls perception. The activity of the organism is the control of perception. The activity of the organism is behavior.

Behavior IS the control of perception.

Fred Nickols

[Tracy Harms (2015.11.12.16:00 EST)]

Recent elaboration by Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532) leaves me with
the sense that we are in rich, even full, agreement.

···

--
T

On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 3:32 PM, Fred Nickols <fred@nickols.us> wrote:

[From Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532)]

Drat! I forgot to date-time this. Here it is again. My apologies.

I think I get it. I just thought out loud on paper so to speak. Here’s the
path I followed.

When we say “Behavior is the control of perception�? different meanings can
attach to that statement.

The statement could be taken to mean that someone who is behaving is
controlling one or more perceptions. I think that’s accurate and I don’t
have any problem with it.

Similarly, the statement could be taken to mean that behavior controls
perception. This is the equivalent of saying that behavior serves to
control perception or that behavior is the means by which perceptions are
controlled. I think all of these are accurate and I don’t have any problem
with any of them.

And, the statement could be taken to mean that the term “behavior�? refers to
the entire negative-feedback, control loop that undergirds PCT. I struggle
with that.

As I’ve thought and believed for years, one use of the term “behavior�?
refers to the activity of an organism, most often to its observable actions
but not limited to those. It is my view that the actions of an organism are
the means by which it controls its perceptions. I see no conflict between
this view of behavior and the earlier statements, except for the one that
equates behavior with the control loop that enables the control of
perception. The loop includes behavior and it includes a lot more (e.g.,
reference signals and perceptual signals to name just two additional
elements).

So, for me, behavior is part of the loop and the entire loop is required in
order for behavior to control perception, but there’s more to the loop than
just behavior.

I can describe the loop’s functioning in action terms as follows:

1. perceiving existing conditions,

2. formulating desired conditions,

3. comparing perceived conditions with desired conditions and, when
perceived and desired conditions are not a match,

4. acting to align perceived conditions with desired conditions.

That list clearly indicates behavior permeates the entire loop and,
conversely, that the entire loop is involved in behavior.

What just dawned on me is that my notion of “the activity of the organism�?
includes all the items listed immediately above. The activity of the
organism permeates the entire loop and is not limited to the output
quantity. The activity of the organism controls perception. The activity
of the organism is the control of perception. The activity of the organism
is behavior.

Behavior IS the control of perception.

Fred Nickols

[From Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1603)]

Thanks, Tracy. That's great. It's also given me some more ammunition for dealing with my behaviorist brothers and sisters.

Fred Nickols

···

-----Original Message-----
From: Tracy Harms [mailto:kaleidic@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2015 4:00 PM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Behavior IS the Control of Perception

[Tracy Harms (2015.11.12.16:00 EST)]

Recent elaboration by Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532) leaves me with the
sense that we are in rich, even full, agreement.

--
T

On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 3:32 PM, Fred Nickols <fred@nickols.us> wrote:
> [From Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532)]
>
>
>
> Drat! I forgot to date-time this. Here it is again. My apologies.
>
>
>
> I think I get it. I just thought out loud on paper so to speak.
> Here’s the path I followed.
>
>
>
> When we say “Behavior is the control of perception�? different meanings
> can attach to that statement.
>
>
>
> The statement could be taken to mean that someone who is behaving is
> controlling one or more perceptions. I think that’s accurate and I
> don’t have any problem with it.
>
>
>
> Similarly, the statement could be taken to mean that behavior controls
> perception. This is the equivalent of saying that behavior serves to
> control perception or that behavior is the means by which perceptions
> are controlled. I think all of these are accurate and I don’t have
> any problem with any of them.
>
>
>
> And, the statement could be taken to mean that the term “behavior�?
> refers to the entire negative-feedback, control loop that undergirds
> PCT. I struggle with that.
>
>
>
> As I’ve thought and believed for years, one use of the term “behavior�?
> refers to the activity of an organism, most often to its observable
> actions but not limited to those. It is my view that the actions of
> an organism are the means by which it controls its perceptions. I see
> no conflict between this view of behavior and the earlier statements,
> except for the one that equates behavior with the control loop that
> enables the control of perception. The loop includes behavior and it
> includes a lot more (e.g., reference signals and perceptual signals to
> name just two additional elements).
>
>
>
> So, for me, behavior is part of the loop and the entire loop is
> required in order for behavior to control perception, but there’s more
> to the loop than just behavior.
>
>
>
> I can describe the loop’s functioning in action terms as follows:
>
>
>
> 1. perceiving existing conditions,
>
> 2. formulating desired conditions,
>
> 3. comparing perceived conditions with desired conditions and, when
> perceived and desired conditions are not a match,
>
> 4. acting to align perceived conditions with desired conditions.
>
> That list clearly indicates behavior permeates the entire loop and,
> conversely, that the entire loop is involved in behavior.
>
>
>
> What just dawned on me is that my notion of “the activity of the organism�?
> includes all the items listed immediately above. The activity of the
> organism permeates the entire loop and is not limited to the output
> quantity. The activity of the organism controls perception. The
> activity of the organism is the control of perception. The activity
> of the organism is behavior.
>
>
>
> Behavior IS the control of perception.
>
>
>
> Fred Nickols

[From Rick Marken (2015.11.13.1000)]

Bruce Nevin (2015.11.12.17:32 ET)--
BN: Yes. You cannot separate actions from their purposes, you cannot sensibly talk about behavior without talking about control, even if you want to limit your talk to just what is observable you have to include the effects of the actions on perceptual inputs in combination with other effects on those perceptual inputs, and how the one purposefully opposes or augments the others. Behavior is the entire control loop.

RM: The effects of actions on perceptual inputs is _theoretical_. An objective analysis of behavior, which is what Bill provides on pp. 171-176 of LCS I, requires no mention at all of perception. What is observable as behavior are controlled consequences of action -- controlled variables. You can see that these variables are being kept in reference states, protected from disturbance, by the actions of the organism. That's the fact of control you've heard tell of (such as in the subtitle of LCS III). It's the phenomenon that we call "behavior" or "purposeful behavior"; it is the phenomenon that PCT explains as control of perception. That's what "Behavior: The control of perception" means: Behavior (the phenomenon of control) is the "outside" view of the organism controlling its own perceptions.Â
BestÂ
Rick
 >

···

/BN

On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 4:00 PM, Tracy Harms <<mailto:kaleidic@gmail.com>kaleidic@gmail.com> wrote:

[Tracy Harms <tel:%282015.11.12.16>(2015.11.12.16:00 EST)]

Recent elaboration by Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532) leaves me with
the sense that we are in rich, even full, agreement.

--
T

On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 3:32 PM, Fred Nickols <<mailto:fred@nickols.us>fred@nickols.us> wrote:
> [From Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532)]
>
>
>
> Drat! I forgot to date-time this. Here it is again. My apologies.
>
>
>
> I think I get it. I just thought out loud on paper so to speak. Here’s the
> path I followed.
>
>
>
> When we say “Behavior is the control of perception� different meanings can
> attach to that statement.
>
>
>
> The statement could be taken to mean that someone who is behaving is
> controlling one or more perceptions. I think that’s accurate and I don’t
> have any problem with it.
>
>
>
> Similarly, the statement could be taken to mean that behavior controls
> perception. This is the equivalent of saying that behavior serves to
> control perception or that behavior is the means by which perceptions are
> controlled. I think all of these are accurate and I don’t have any problem
> with any of them.
>
>
>
> And, the statement could be taken to mean that the term “behavior� refers to
> the entire negative-feedback, control loop that undergirds PCT. I struggle
> with that.
>
>
>
> As I’ve thought and believed for years, one use of the term “behavior�
> refers to the activity of an organism, most often to its observable actions
> but not limited to those. It is my view that the actions of an organism are
> the means by which it controls its perceptions. I see no conflict between
> this view of behavior and the earlier statements, except for the one that
> equates behavior with the control loop that enables the control of
> perception. The loop includes behavior and it includes a lot more (e.g.,
> reference signals and perceptual signals to name just two additional
> elements).
>
>
>
> So, for me, behavior is part of the loop and the entire loop is required in
> order for behavior to control perception, but there’s more to the loop than
> just behavior.
>
>
>
> I can describe the loop’s functioning in action terms as follows:
>
>
>
> 1.    perceiving existing conditions,
>
> 2.    formulating desired conditions,
>
> 3.    comparing perceived conditions with desired conditions and, when
> perceived and desired conditions are not a match,
>
> 4.    acting to align perceived conditions with desired conditions.
>
> That list clearly indicates behavior permeates the entire loop and,
> conversely, that the entire loop is involved in behavior.
>
>
>
> What just dawned on me is that my notion of “the activity of the organism�
> includes all the items listed immediately above. The activity of the
> organism permeates the entire loop and is not limited to the output
> quantity. The activity of the organism controls perception. The activity
> of the organism is the control of perception. The activity of the organism
> is behavior.
>
>
>
> Behavior IS the control of perception.
>
>
>
> Fred Nickols

--
Richard S. MarkenÂ
<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.mindreadings.com&d=BQMFaQ&c=8hUWFZcy2Z-Za5rBPlktOQ&r=-dJBNItYEMOLt6aj_KjGi2LMO_Q8QB-ZzxIZIF8DGyQ&m=W8nWxxsVR83agryxTMmvPiTQpOsoJjEcl_2OS-IRCZA&s=6YPyTWTTVDXgK9vp72acJtYk8kZTw9EaLzZjqT6I-9A&e=>www.mindreadings.com
Author of  <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.amazon.com_Doing-2DResearch-2DPurpose-2DExperimental-2DPsychology_dp_0944337554_ref-3Dsr-5F1-5F1-3Fie-3DUTF8-26qid-3D1407342866-26sr-3D8-2D1-26keywords-3Ddoing-2Bresearch-2Bon-2Bpurpose&d=BQMFaQ&c=8hUWFZcy2Z-Za5rBPlktOQ&r=-dJBNItYEMOLt6aj_KjGi2LMO_Q8QB-ZzxIZIF8DGyQ&m=W8nWxxsVR83agryxTMmvPiTQpOsoJjEcl_2OS-IRCZA&s=uRAvvt_cwMdgEhebvNwG85KIuRkjTM-nkOP4FKlpACQ&e=>Doing Research on Purpose.Â
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Bruce Abbott (2015.11.13.1830 EST)]

Fred Nickols (2015.11.12.1532) –

BA: I agree with you here:

When we say “Behavior is the control of perception” different meanings can attach to that statement.

The statement could be taken to mean that someone who is behaving is controlling one or more perceptions. I think that’s accurate and I don’t have any problem with it.

Similarly, the statement could be taken to mean that behavior controls perception. This is the equivalent of saying that behavior serves to control perception or that behavior is the means by which perceptions are controlled. I think all of these are accurate and I don’t have any problem with any of them.

And, the statement could be taken to mean that the term “behavior” refers to the entire negative-feedback, control loop that undergirds PCT. I struggle with that.

As I’ve thought and believed for years, one use of the term “behavior” refers to the activity of an organism, most often to its observable actions but not limited to those. It is my view that the actions of an organism are the means by which it controls its perceptions. I see no conflict between this view of behavior and the earlier statements, except for the one that equates behavior with the control loop that enables the control of perception. The loop includes behavior and it includes a lot more (e.g., reference signals and perceptual signals to name just two additional elements).

So, for me, behavior is part of the loop and the entire loop is required in order for behavior to control perception, but there’s more to the loop than just behavior.

I can describe the loop’s functioning in action terms as follows:

  1.   perceiving existing conditions,
    
  2.   formulating desired conditions,
    
  3.   comparing perceived conditions with desired conditions and, when perceived and desired conditions are not a match,
    
  4.   acting to align perceived conditions with desired conditions.
    

BA: But I have problems with this part:

That list clearly indicates behavior permeates the entire loop and, conversely, that the entire loop is involved in behavior.

What just dawned on me is that my notion of “the activity of the organism” includes all the items listed immediately above. The activity of the organism permeates the entire loop and is not limited to the output quantity. The activity of the organism controls perception. The activity of the organism is the control of perception. The activity of the organism is behavior.

Behavior IS the control of perception.

BA: In science any variable can be said to exhibit “behavior,” when it varies. Scientific laws specify how a variable’s behavior is determined by the influences of other variables. For example, the gravitational attraction between two bodies varies inversely with the square of the distance between them. We can use this law, together with an initial position, velocity, and acceleration of the objects with respect to each other, to predict their behaviors over time (relative positions, velocities, accelerations), such as the two objects orbiting a common center of mass. But this behavior is not control.

BA: Your visual system creates visual perceptions, usually dependent on the images being projected on the retinas of your eyes. The changes in the outputs of the photoreceptors might be considered “behaviors” of the photoreceptors in response to changes in the image, but they are not control. The resulting “behaviors” of the neural signals arising from the associated neural networks are not control. The perceptions arising from the complex bottom-up and top-down neural influences might be considered behaviors of the perceptual signals but they are not control. The perception of the position of a nail-head with respect to a board surface is likewise a state arising from the behavior of the perceptual system but it is not control.

BA: Control is an emergent property of a particular organization of parts, it is not a property of each individual component of the control loop.

BA: There are many things you perceive that you do not control. How those things vary might be described as their “behavior,” but such behaviors are not control.

BA: Behavior, defined as the actions (output) of a control system, is not control. Such behavior may occur and yet fail to establish control over a perceptual variable. Behavior is the means of control; it is not itself control. Behavior, defined as the way a variable changes over time, is not control. It is just variation.

BA: Behavior as Doing

BA: In ordinary language, when we speak of what someone is “doing,” we refer to the effect of the person’s actions as we perceive them. For example, we may perceive that the person is using a hammer to drive a nail into a board. We may even infer that the intended result is to have the head of the nail flush with the board. Such results depend on control – randomly flailing the hammer about is unlikely to produce the observed movements of the hammer and nail. But in all cases, what is being controlled (when control is successful) are the perceptions of the person who is doing the doing. What the observer perceives are the observable effects of that control.

BA: Consider a person whose index finger-tip is observed to be tracing an approximate circle in the air. To accomplish this, the person must vary a set of muscle tensions so as to move the finger-tip in the required arc while opposing the effects of gravity and perhaps other disturbances. As a result, the behavior of the finger-tip, as observed by the person and by the observer, is to trace an approximate circle in the air. But this is “behavior” in the sense of observed variations in position of the finger-tip. What is actually being controlled is the perception of the person doing the movements, of the finger-tip moving in a roughly circular pattern. And the behaviors (actions) being employed to accomplish this control consist of a complex pattern of muscle contractions.

BA: Those muscle contractions are themselves the products of control systems acting to contract the muscles in a specific pattern according to reference values being varied by the higher-level system that is attempting to perceive a circular movement. So actions may be both the means of control of one set of variables and simultaneously the products of perceptual control at the next higher level.

What we say the person is doing is “drawing a circle in the air,” and if you believe that there is a real fingertip out there, it may indeed be moving in a roughly circular pattern (a “behavior”). In that sense the “behavior” is being controlled (or more accurately the perception of that behavior). But the actions that generate this perceived behavior are the means of control, not control itself. Similarly, the controlled behaviors (perceptions) are not control, they are the products of control.

Bruce Abbott

[From Rick Marken (2015.11.13.1740)]

···

Bruce Abbott (2015.11.13.1830 EST)

Â

BA: In ordinary language, when we speak of what someone is “doing,â€? we refer to the effect of the person’s actions as we perceive them. For example, we may perceive that the person is using a hammer to drive a nail into a board. We may even infer that the intended result is to have the head of the nail flush with the board.Â

RM: We don’t have to infer it. We can observe it using the test for the controlled variable. Seeing that the nail is hammered flush into planks of different resistance, each requiring different actions (a different number of hammer blows, for example) you can determine that the height of the nail head above the plank is controlled and that its reference state is “flush”. The controlled variable and the reference state thereof are real, objective phenomenon; they are the fact of control.Â

RM: Again I highly recommend that you read pp. 171-176 in LCS I, and pay particular attention to the discussion on pp. 175-176. I’ll just copy (once again) the parts that are most relevant to this discussion, along with my annotations in brackets with my initials:Â

WTP: Column 4 of Table 1, Reference State, refers to the final condition to which the variable is brought despite ordinary disturbance. The existence of these reference states is not conjectural [emphases mine – RM]; once behavior has been defined in terms of an appropriate variable [the controlled variable – RM], such reference states always exist. They can be discovered experimentally [using the test for the controlled variable–RM], and defined in terms of observable relationships. Whether or not they should exist according to anyone’s theory, they do exist.

RM: So the reference states of controlled variable are a real, observable phenomena. Now Bill goes on to show that a theory is needed to explain their existence:Â

Â

WTP: In these reference states we have the heart of the problem to which control theory is addressed. What kind of system can behave in such a way that a variable will, under a variety of unpredictable conditions, always approach the same state? [In theory, a control system – RM] What determines that state? [In theory, a reference signal – RM] Where is that state determined – that is, by what? [Inside the control system, Â by the reference signal therein – RM] To dismiss the existence of reference states as an illusion [as is being done by virtually everyone in this discussion–RM] Â is simply to discard data…

BA: Such results depend on control – randoomly flailing the hammer about is unlikely to produce the observed movements of the hammer and nail.Â

RM: Yes, the fact that a variable like the height of the nail head above the plank is controlled (at the reference state “flush”) implies that this result is being produced by a control system.Â

BA: But in all cases, what is being controlled (when control is successful) are the perceptions of the person who is doing the doing.

RM: That’s the theory. The height of the nail head above the plank (Q.i in Fred’s diagram) is controlled by a system that is controlling a perception of that variable. But what we know for sure is being controlled is the height of the nail head above the plank.Â

Â

 BA: What the observer perceives are the observable effects of that control.

RM: Right, that’s what PCT says. The controlling you see is the observable result of the operation of a control system controlling a perception related in some way to the height of the nail head above the plank.Â

RM: Controlled variables and their reference states are real, observable phenomena. They don’t exist as far as conventional psychologists are concerned because “they cannot exist under the old cause-effect model” (LCS I p. 175). So conventional psychologists don’t study study them or ask themselves how their existence can be explained. So conventional psychologists either don’t think control theory is relevant to understanding behavior and don’t use it or they think it is relevant and use it incorrectly. And it all comes down to not recognizing the existence – the reality – of controlled variables and their reference states.

RM: So, to paraphrase a line from one of my favorite movies (“Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”) “If you ain’t studying controlled variables you ain’t doing PCT”.Â

BestÂ

Rick


Richard S. MarkenÂ

www.mindreadings.com
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Bruce Abbott (2015.11.14.0710 EST)]

Rick Marken (2015.11.13.1740) –

Bruce Abbott (2015.11.13.1830 EST)

BA: In ordinary language, when we speak of what someone is “doing,� we refer to the effect of the person’s actions as we perceive them. For example, we may perceive that the person is using a hammer to drive a nail into a board. We may even infer that the intended result is to have the head of the nail flush with the board.

RM: We don’t have to infer it. We can observe it using the test for the controlled variable. Seeing that the nail is hammered flush into planks of different resistance, each requiring different actions (a different number of hammer blows, for example) you can determine that the height of the nail head above the plank is controlled and that its reference state is “flush”. The controlled variable and the reference state thereof are real, objective phenomenon; they are the fact of control.

BA: Of course! But I wasn’t trying to describe how a scientist might proceed. I was noting how, in ordinary life, we commonly describe our own or another person’s “doing.� Watching Fred out on his deck hammering those nails, I would infer from observing his actions that he is trying to get the heads of those popped-up nails flush with the boards. I see that he only hammers on the nails that are sticking up, and that he stops hammering as soon as the head of the nail is flush with the board. I observe that he does the same with every popped-up nail. I observe that he does not hammer on nails that are already flush with the board. If that’s not enough, I might even ask Fred to tell me what he’s doing. My conclusion is reasonable enough given this evidence.

BA: Under the circumstances it is extremely unlikely that I would conduct a formal test for the controlled variable in order to “nail downâ€? (if you will pardon the pun!) whether the position of the nail head relative to the deck surface is a controlled variable, and if so, what its reference value is. I suspect that Fred would get rather annoyed with me if I started interfering with his hammer blows or pulling the nails back up.Â

Bruce A.