Behavior: The Phlogiston of PCT (1998)

[From MK (2014.12.06.2210 CET)]

···

Bill Powers powers_w@FRONTIER.NET (1998-08-02)

Subject: Re: Definitions & Meanings

Date: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 14:43:31 -0600

[From Bill Powers (980802.1439 MDT)]

Hank Folson (980802) –

A very thoughtful and valuable post, Hank. In a way, you’re advocating what

have advocated from time to time: starting over. That was almost the

title of the new book. Obviously, there are people who don’t like the idea

of abandoning psychology as we know it. And just as obviously, not

abandoning it is what generates most of the heat on this net.

Imagine how chemistry would look today if there were still people arguing

hat oxygen is nothing but dephlogisticated air.

Best,

Bill P.


Hank Folson Hank@HENRYJAMES.COM (1998-08-02)

Subject: Re: Definitions & Meanings

Date: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 09:35:28 -0800

[From Hank Folson (980802)]

Fred Nickols (900802.0520)

[ 20 more citation lines. Click/Enter to show. ]

I started poring over the unread digests and came across the following

remarks, one about Bill P’s new book and the other about the distinction

between actions and behavior. Both suggest to me reasons why PCT is a

tough sell…

… in PCT the term “behaviour” refers to the

working of the entire loop and “actions” refers to the muscle activity that

an outside agent can observe. Rewards, then, would be used to control a

person’s actions and not their behaviour.

I think I became acquainted with this PCT definition soon after joining the

list–Bill P pointed it out to me–and I think I understand it. However, I

suspect most ordinary people would reverse the definitions, that is, they

would be inclined to see “actions” as referring to the loop, and “behavior”

as referring to the muscle activity. I know that is my inclination. I

have to work at it to keep the two straight when on this list.

   Why do efforts to explain PCT seem to almost hinge on
   redefining terms already in use instead of by-passing
   what is sure to be a formidable obstacle, namely, getting
   people to let go of their existing definitions?

Any enlightenment will be greatly appreciated…

Fred, I’ve been experiencing the same error for some time now. I have

been dealing with positive feed back from some important controlled

variables :wink: which has kept me from the subject, but my error signals

regarding your topic have become too big to ignore. So here goes:

The basic (PCT) reason you have a problem with the definitions used by

some PCT researchers is that the use of these redefined terms interferes

with your controlling efforts to apply or teach PCT. It follows that

those who are not trying to apply PCT will not experience the error you

are perceiving OR they perceive other controlled variables as having a

higher priority.

If PCT is anywhere close to how organisms are structured and work, then

every other psychology must have been promoted and put in to general

usage long before it was proven or ready. My guess is that an awareness

of this led PCTers to be prudently cautious about repeating the mistake.

But do we know enough about PCT today to be able to prudently promote and

apply it? I think so, although I am still open to wise counsel.

Long before PCT came along, and continuing today, it is generally

accepted by biologists and others, with no PCT axe to grind, that

‘feedback systems’ occur in organisms, both plant and animal. The only

thing missing is Bill’s unifying insight that all organisms are

control systems. The rules Bill Powers has laid down for the development

of his theory (e.g. The test for the Controlled Variable, modeling, etc.)

will allow both PCTers and outsiders to disprove his theory, should it be

basically flawed.

The Unintended Consequence of not intentionally exploring how to apply

PCT (in my opinion) is that pre-PCT methods of communication and

erroneous understandings of human ‘behavior’ continue to be used today on

CSGnet. Perhaps the most egregious example is that most, if not all,

posts to CSGnet are assumed to be the end result of a process. Under PCT,

a post to CSGnet is but an output of a hierarchical living control system

that is trying to control a variable. Under PCT, what is important is

not what is being said, but why it is being said. But posts are

routinely responded to according to what was said, not why it was said.

Another egregious example is that the communication techniques used on

CSGnet usually recognize that the sender is an independent living control

system, but the recipient is treated as a stimulus-response based

creature. Communication techniques designed to work with passive

stimulus-response systems have got to be very ineffective with

independent living control systems.

Perceiving that I may have one interested listener, Fred, I have dug out

this post I have been massaging for some time now:

BEHAVIOR: THE PHLOGISTON OF PERCEPTUAL CONTROL THEORY (PCT)

Phlogiston was the word used in an early combustion theory to describe a

substance believed to create heat when it escaped from a burning

material. When the modern theory of combustion was being developed in the

1700’s, the word phlogiston was not redefined, it was abandoned. Why

wasn’t it simply redefined? I suggest because in the new oxygen theory of

combustion, there was no part of the process that was comparable to the

original concept of phlogiston as something escaping unaltered from a

burning material. Thus the word phlogiston was simply abandoned. The word

phlogiston already had a commonly and deeply accepted definition for

everyone. Its continued use, however redefined, would only lead to

confusion and errors.

The word ‘behavior’ is the phlogiston of Perceptual Control Theory. It

should be abandoned.

A generic definition of behavior, compatible with most pre-PCT theories,

is this: Behavior is the end result of a process.

Behavior is the end result of a process. If this is a reasonable

generalization, the word behavior has intrinsic to any use of the word,

the idea that behavior relates to the completion of a process.

If behavior is generally defined as being the end result of a process,

can the word have any place in perceptual control theory? No, it cannot.

What is traditionally described as ‘behavior’ is an interpretation of

observable human activity. This is a reasonable approach only if one

has no awareness of negative feedback systems. According to PCT,

observable human activity is our only means to do what living control

systems do, which is to control our perceptions. Any observed activity,

then, is not the end result of a process, and so it is not “behavior” as

the word is generally defined. Observed activity is a part of the

functioning of a control loop, specifically, the output. There is never

an ‘end result’ for control loops. Whenever there is no perceived error

signal, the control system does not turn off, it simply stops producing

outputs, as there is no perception that needs to be brought to a

reference level. Any attempt to use the word behavior in describing this

ongoing, unending loop process can only create ongoing, unending

confusion.

If we really believe in PCT, we cannot redefine the word ‘behavior’ for

use in PCT. Under PCT, we hold that whatever definition people have for

the word ‘behavior’, that definition is firmly established, and any

attempt to redefine the word will either be resisted as a disturbance, or

the word will still be understood as originally defined, interfering with

everyone’s controlling of perceptions, (viz. Fred Nickols (980802.0520)).

Think about this: How often will “behaviors” seem to match internal

goals? Often enough to lead many to believe that ‘behavior’ can be the

basis of a psychology?

So what will happen when we say there is no such thing as behavior? For

sure, you get people’s attention. Big error signal! Then you have to say

that “behavior”, as non-PCTers know it is an illusion. An illusion that

has to do with the way living control systems operate. And PCT holds that

people are living control systems. So where does the illusion come in?

The curse of PCT is that the functioning of healthy control loops can

look like a cause-effect response system. All of us were raised to

believe that what we observe in humans and lab rats is cause-effect

related. It seems so fundamental that we are observing a cause, and then

seeing an effect in response to the cause. “It is just common sense”, we

say. What could be more obvious?

When we deny the existence of behavior in our perceptual control theory,

we force the listener to look for something different. What do we do

next? I suggest that we get the listener to agree that what they call

“behavior” is the end of a process. Now they have acknowledged, and are

reminded of, what they believe. Then we can try and introduce the concept

of the endless loops of control systems. No beginning, no end, just

continual adjustment of controlled variables, or no activity if nothing

has been disturbed.

One thing I would hope will happen will be an awareness that the polarity

between PCT and all other psychologies is absolute. Only one can be right

(Okay, both can be wrong.)

We need to offer an alternative to the word ‘behavior’ that has meaning

in PCT, and does not have an inappropriate definition in the non-PCT

world. I suggest simply using the word “activity”. The PCT-unaware can

see ‘activity’ as a partial description of ‘behavior’, as they know it.

The word, ‘activity’ does not include the concept of completion in either

PCT or non-PCT psychologies. Thus the definitions of the words ‘activity’

and ‘behavior’ are easy to keep separate. Of course, we should look for

other possible replacement words, in hope of finding something even

better. (I haven’t thought about whether your comments Fred,

(980802.0520) may disqualify ‘activity’.)


"Response to Stimulus: The Manipulation of Fanciful Interpretations of

Reality" Does this sound familiar? It is "Behavior: The Control of

Perception", restated as many people understand these words.

My purpose isn’t to play with the title of Bill Power’s book, but to move

on to other words that have problems in PCT. I think that when Bill wrote

the book, the word perception was generally used as Bill used it. Today,

I see many examples of people defining perception as a choice, a personal

  • even arbitrary - interpretation. The tendency to define control as

manipulation has been discussed on CSGnet.

I close by suggesting that it is just as important to look at other words

that conflict with PCT. The circular arguments we see too often on CSGnet

are examples of the problems that arise. I have always wondered why

whenever someone offers an equation like a=b+c, each term is always

defined. But when we use words, there is seldom a definition offered,

even after it is clear to the participants that they are talking past

each other. I must mention that clear definitions will help lead to

resolution of conflicts only if that is what the participants are

controlling for. This is another curse of PCT!

Sincerely, Hank Folson


Nice find, MK!

Kent

···

On Dec 6, 2014, at 3:06 PM, MK wrote:

[From MK (2014.12.06.2210 CET)]


Bill Powers powers_w@FRONTIER.NET (1998-08-02)

Subject: Re: Definitions & Meanings

Date: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 14:43:31 -0600

[From Bill Powers (980802.1439 MDT)]

Hank Folson (980802) –

A very thoughtful and valuable post, Hank. In a way, you’re advocating what

have advocated from time to time: starting over. That was almost the

title of the new book. Obviously, there are people who don’t like the idea

of abandoning psychology as we know it. And just as obviously, not

abandoning it is what generates most of the heat on this net.

Imagine how chemistry would look today if there were still people arguing

hat oxygen is nothing but dephlogisticated air.

Best,

Bill P.


Hank Folson Hank@HENRYJAMES.COM (1998-08-02)

Subject: Re: Definitions & Meanings

Date: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 09:35:28 -0800

[From Hank Folson (980802)]

Fred Nickols (900802.0520)

[ 20 more citation lines. Click/Enter to show. ]

I started poring over the unread digests and came across the following

remarks, one about Bill P’s new book and the other about the distinction

between actions and behavior. Both suggest to me reasons why PCT is a

tough sell…

… in PCT the term “behaviour” refers to the

working of the entire loop and “actions” refers to the muscle activity that

an outside agent can observe. Rewards, then, would be used to control a

person’s actions and not their behaviour.

I think I became acquainted with this PCT definition soon after joining the

list–Bill P pointed it out to me–and I think I understand it. However, I

suspect most ordinary people would reverse the definitions, that is, they

would be inclined to see “actions” as referring to the loop, and “behavior”

as referring to the muscle activity. I know that is my inclination. I

have to work at it to keep the two straight when on this list.

   Why do efforts to explain PCT seem to almost hinge on
   redefining terms already in use instead of by-passing
   what is sure to be a formidable obstacle, namely, getting
   people to let go of their existing definitions?

Any enlightenment will be greatly appreciated…

Fred, I’ve been experiencing the same error for some time now. I have

been dealing with positive feed back from some important controlled

variables :wink: which has kept me from the subject, but my error signals

regarding your topic have become too big to ignore. So here goes:

The basic (PCT) reason you have a problem with the definitions used by

some PCT researchers is that the use of these redefined terms interferes

with your controlling efforts to apply or teach PCT. It follows that

those who are not trying to apply PCT will not experience the error you

are perceiving OR they perceive other controlled variables as having a

higher priority.

If PCT is anywhere close to how organisms are structured and work, then

every other psychology must have been promoted and put in to general

usage long before it was proven or ready. My guess is that an awareness

of this led PCTers to be prudently cautious about repeating the mistake.

But do we know enough about PCT today to be able to prudently promote and

apply it? I think so, although I am still open to wise counsel.

Long before PCT came along, and continuing today, it is generally

accepted by biologists and others, with no PCT axe to grind, that

‘feedback systems’ occur in organisms, both plant and animal. The only

thing missing is Bill’s unifying insight that all organisms are

control systems. The rules Bill Powers has laid down for the development

of his theory (e.g. The test for the Controlled Variable, modeling, etc.)

will allow both PCTers and outsiders to disprove his theory, should it be

basically flawed.

The Unintended Consequence of not intentionally exploring how to apply

PCT (in my opinion) is that pre-PCT methods of communication and

erroneous understandings of human ‘behavior’ continue to be used today on

CSGnet. Perhaps the most egregious example is that most, if not all,

posts to CSGnet are assumed to be the end result of a process. Under PCT,

a post to CSGnet is but an output of a hierarchical living control system

that is trying to control a variable. Under PCT, what is important is

not what is being said, but why it is being said. But posts are

routinely responded to according to what was said, not why it was said.

Another egregious example is that the communication techniques used on

CSGnet usually recognize that the sender is an independent living control

system, but the recipient is treated as a stimulus-response based

creature. Communication techniques designed to work with passive

stimulus-response systems have got to be very ineffective with

independent living control systems.

Perceiving that I may have one interested listener, Fred, I have dug out

this post I have been massaging for some time now:

BEHAVIOR: THE PHLOGISTON OF PERCEPTUAL CONTROL THEORY (PCT)

Phlogiston was the word used in an early combustion theory to describe a

substance believed to create heat when it escaped from a burning

material. When the modern theory of combustion was being developed in the

1700’s, the word phlogiston was not redefined, it was abandoned. Why

wasn’t it simply redefined? I suggest because in the new oxygen theory of

combustion, there was no part of the process that was comparable to the

original concept of phlogiston as something escaping unaltered from a

burning material. Thus the word phlogiston was simply abandoned. The word

phlogiston already had a commonly and deeply accepted definition for

everyone. Its continued use, however redefined, would only lead to

confusion and errors.

The word ‘behavior’ is the phlogiston of Perceptual Control Theory. It

should be abandoned.

A generic definition of behavior, compatible with most pre-PCT theories,

is this: Behavior is the end result of a process.

Behavior is the end result of a process. If this is a reasonable

generalization, the word behavior has intrinsic to any use of the word,

the idea that behavior relates to the completion of a process.

If behavior is generally defined as being the end result of a process,

can the word have any place in perceptual control theory? No, it cannot.

What is traditionally described as ‘behavior’ is an interpretation of

observable human activity. This is a reasonable approach only if one

has no awareness of negative feedback systems. According to PCT,

observable human activity is our only means to do what living control

systems do, which is to control our perceptions. Any observed activity,

then, is not the end result of a process, and so it is not “behavior” as

the word is generally defined. Observed activity is a part of the

functioning of a control loop, specifically, the output. There is never

an ‘end result’ for control loops. Whenever there is no perceived error

signal, the control system does not turn off, it simply stops producing

outputs, as there is no perception that needs to be brought to a

reference level. Any attempt to use the word behavior in describing this

ongoing, unending loop process can only create ongoing, unending

confusion.

If we really believe in PCT, we cannot redefine the word ‘behavior’ for

use in PCT. Under PCT, we hold that whatever definition people have for

the word ‘behavior’, that definition is firmly established, and any

attempt to redefine the word will either be resisted as a disturbance, or

the word will still be understood as originally defined, interfering with

everyone’s controlling of perceptions, (viz. Fred Nickols (980802.0520)).

Think about this: How often will “behaviors” seem to match internal

goals? Often enough to lead many to believe that ‘behavior’ can be the

basis of a psychology?

So what will happen when we say there is no such thing as behavior? For

sure, you get people’s attention. Big error signal! Then you have to say

that “behavior”, as non-PCTers know it is an illusion. An illusion that

has to do with the way living control systems operate. And PCT holds that

people are living control systems. So where does the illusion come in?

The curse of PCT is that the functioning of healthy control loops can

look like a cause-effect response system. All of us were raised to

believe that what we observe in humans and lab rats is cause-effect

related. It seems so fundamental that we are observing a cause, and then

seeing an effect in response to the cause. “It is just common sense”, we

say. What could be more obvious?

When we deny the existence of behavior in our perceptual control theory,

we force the listener to look for something different. What do we do

next? I suggest that we get the listener to agree that what they call

“behavior” is the end of a process. Now they have acknowledged, and are

reminded of, what they believe. Then we can try and introduce the concept

of the endless loops of control systems. No beginning, no end, just

continual adjustment of controlled variables, or no activity if nothing

has been disturbed.

One thing I would hope will happen will be an awareness that the polarity

between PCT and all other psychologies is absolute. Only one can be right

(Okay, both can be wrong.)

We need to offer an alternative to the word ‘behavior’ that has meaning

in PCT, and does not have an inappropriate definition in the non-PCT

world. I suggest simply using the word “activity”. The PCT-unaware can

see ‘activity’ as a partial description of ‘behavior’, as they know it.

The word, ‘activity’ does not include the concept of completion in either

PCT or non-PCT psychologies. Thus the definitions of the words ‘activity’

and ‘behavior’ are easy to keep separate. Of course, we should look for

other possible replacement words, in hope of finding something even

better. (I haven’t thought about whether your comments Fred,

(980802.0520) may disqualify ‘activity’.)


"Response to Stimulus: The Manipulation of Fanciful Interpretations of

Reality" Does this sound familiar? It is "Behavior: The Control of

Perception", restated as many people understand these words.

My purpose isn’t to play with the title of Bill Power’s book, but to move

on to other words that have problems in PCT. I think that when Bill wrote

the book, the word perception was generally used as Bill used it. Today,

I see many examples of people defining perception as a choice, a personal

  • even arbitrary - interpretation. The tendency to define control as

manipulation has been discussed on CSGnet.

I close by suggesting that it is just as important to look at other words

that conflict with PCT. The circular arguments we see too often on CSGnet

are examples of the problems that arise. I have always wondered why

whenever someone offers an equation like a=b+c, each term is always

defined. But when we use words, there is seldom a definition offered,

even after it is clear to the participants that they are talking past

each other. I must mention that clear definitions will help lead to

resolution of conflicts only if that is what the participants are

controlling for. This is another curse of PCT!

Sincerely, Hank Folson


[From Rick Marken (2014.12.07.1245)

···

MK (2014.12.06.2210 CET)–

RM: Thanks for these Matti. I wonder what I said about this thread back then; maybe you can post it if I said anything. But I can only tell you what I think of it now. I think the comment by Hank Folsom is the best in this series. The comment by Hank that I like is this:

HF: I think that when Bill wrote the book [B:CP], the word perception was generally used as Bill used it. Today, I see many examples of people defining perception as a choice, a personal - even arbitrary - interpretation.

RM: I have always felt exactly the same way. I think what Bill meant by perception in “Behavior: Te control of perception” is “input”. When I read the title, as I wandered through the psychology section of the UCSB library back in 1974, right after getting my PhD and readying to set off for Minnesota, it caught my attention because it was saying that “behavior”, which I understood to be output “controlled” by input (perception), is actually input controlled by output. It stopped my in my tracks (and changed my life, dammit;-)

RM: But I think a lot of people (especially non-psychologists, but psychologists do it to) take “perception” to mean what Hank says here: an “interpretation”. So to these folks, what PCT is about is people’s behavior being based on a subjective interpretation of reality; that it’s all a matter of opinion. And that is definitely not the essence of PCT. PCT is about the fact that the behavior we see is a process of controlling input, not generating output. Control of perception is not post-modernism!

RM: I think Bill’s essay that he called BEHAVIOR: THE PHLOGISTON OF PERCEPTUAL CONTROL THEORY (PCT) is fine as a rhetorical exercise but I don’t think it’s one of his best. The main flaw in it is equating a phenomenon ( “behavior”) with an explanation (phlogiston) of a phenomenon (combustion). Since Bill was unlikely to make such a mistake, I think he was using the word “behavior” to refer, not to an observable phenomenon but, rather, to the causal model of psychology that views behavior as caused output; as “a show put on for the benefit of an observer” as Bill said in one of his published papers.

RM: So I think Bill was using “behavior” as synecdoche for “causal model” – a word for the whole being used to refer to a component of that whole. I think this interpretation is consistent with much of what Bill says in the essay. For example, Bill says:

BP: Behavior is the end result of a process. If this is a reasonable
generalization, the word behavior has intrinsic to any use of the word,
the idea that behavior relates to the completion of a process.

BP: If behavior is generally defined as being the end result of a process,
can the word have any place in perceptual control theory? No, it cannot.

RM: In other words, if “behavior” refers to the process of producing output – if behavior = caused output – then behavior has no place in PCT. But it’s behavior as a causal process, not behavior as observed activity (“activity” being Bill’s suggested replacement for “behavior”) that has no place in PCT. “Behavior” has no place because the causal model has no place.

RM: But, if you want to take this post as confirmation of the idea that the word “behavior” has no place in discussions of PCT, then you have to explain why, ten years after he wrote this post, Bill used the word “behavior” with abandon in LCS III, his final book about PCT. Here’s the first sentence from chapter 1 of that book:

BP:This book is about control theory and its uses as a way of explaining how human behavior, and perhaps the behavior of all organisms, works. (LCS III, p.1)

RM: and in the next paragraph we get:

BP: Human behavior, as later chapters will suggest through numerous examples, is control behavior.(LCS III, p.1)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

In nature there’s no blemish but the mind

None can be called deformed but the unkind.

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

[From MK (2014.12.12.1930 CET)]

Rick Marken (2014.12.07.1245)--

RM: I think Bill's essay that he called BEHAVIOR: THE PHLOGISTON OF PERCEPTUAL CONTROL THEORY (PCT) is fine as a rhetorical exercise but I don't think it's one of his best.

It wasn't his essay, it was Folson's. The reply by Powers, posted
first, is rather revealing. Why didn't Powers treat Folson's
suggestion of abandoning "Behavior" as a disturbance?

M

[From Dag Forssell (2014.12.12.1200 PST)]

Matti, I am so pleased to see that you and a few others are mining the entire CSGnet archive.

Regarding Hank Folson's piece, this response by Powers is much more thorough:

[From Bill Powers (2005.06.07.0758(]

For those who would like to mine the archive, see www.pctresources.com

Best, Dag

···

At 10:33 AM 12/12/2014, you wrote:

[From MK (2014.12.12.1930 CET)]

Rick Marken (2014.12.07.1245)--

> RM: I think Bill's essay that he called BEHAVIOR: THE PHLOGISTON OF PERCEPTUAL CONTROL THEORY (PCT) is fine as a rhetorical exercise but I don't think it's one of his best.

It wasn't his essay, it was Folson's. The reply by Powers, posted
first, is rather revealing. Why didn't Powers treat Folson's
suggestion of abandoning "Behavior" as a disturbance?

M

[From MK (2014.12.12.1930 CET)]

Rick Marken (2014.12.07.1245)–

RM: I think Bill’s essay that he called BEHAVIOR: THE PHLOGISTON OF PERCEPTUAL CONTROL THEORY (PCT) is fine as a rhetorical exercise but I don’t think it’s one of his best.

It wasn’t his essay, it was Folson’s. The reply by Powers, posted

first, is rather revealing. Why didn’t Powers treat Folson’s

suggestion of abandoning “Behavior” as a disturbance?

M
[From Dag Forssell (2014.12.12.1200 PST)]

Matti, I am so pleased to see that you and a few others are mining the entire CSGnet archive.

Regarding Hank Folson’s piece, this response by Powers is much more thorough:

[From Bill Powers (2005.06.07.0758(]

For those who would like to mine the archive, see [www.pctresources.com

](http://www.pctresources.com/)Best, Dag

···

At 10:33 AM 12/12/2014, you wrote:

I think the word to replace behavior is action. like a single, specific action.

[From Fred Nickols (2014.12.12.1532 EST)]

I agree. In my GAP-ACT Model (based on PCT), the A stands for Actions.

Fred Nickols

···

From: PHILIP JERAIR YERANOSIAN (pyeranos@ucla.edu via csgnet Mailing List) [mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu]
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2014 3:21 PM
To: perceptualposts@gmail.com
Cc: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Behavior: The Phlogiston of PCT (1998)

I think the word to replace behavior is action. like a single, specific action.

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.12.1615)]

···

PHILIP JERAIR YERANOSIAN

PY: I think the word to replace behavior is action. like a single, specific action.

Fred Nickols (2014.12.12.1532 EST)–

FN: I agree. In my GAP-ACT Model (based on PCT), the A stands for Actions.

RM: Aren’t controlled variables behaviors too? Indeed, aren’t most of what we call actions (like moving your arm) also controlled variables?

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

In nature there’s no blemish but the mind

None can be called deformed but the unkind.

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.12.23.00]

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.12.1615)]
RM: Aren't controlled variables behaviors too? Indeed, aren't most of what we call actions (like moving your arm) also controlled variables?

No, controlled variables are perceptions, not actions. Actions are outputs.

If you have a theory to contradict Bill Powers, perhaps you should write another book and call it "Perception: The Control of Behaviour".

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.12.2120)]

···

Martin Taylor (2014.12.12.23.00)–

RM: Aren’t controlled variables behaviors too? Indeed, aren’t most of what we call actions (like moving your arm) also controlled variables?

MT: No, controlled variables are perceptions, not actions. Actions are outputs.

RM: Control is hierarchical so a behavioral variable that is an output relative to a higher level controlled variable is a controlled variable relative to a lower level output. So, for example, in a tracking task, mouse movements are outputs relative to the higher level controlled variable “distance between cursor and target” but these same mouse movements are a controlled variable relative to the lower level outputs – muscle contractions – that produce them. Only at the level of muscle contraction is an output only an action and not a controlled variable.

MT: If you have a theory to contradict Bill Powers, perhaps you should write another book and call it “Perception: The Control of Behaviour”.

RM: Are you talking’ to me? :wink: No Martin, this is just basic PCT.

Best

Rick

Martin


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

In nature there’s no blemish but the mind

None can be called deformed but the unkind.

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.13.00.57]

So you are now saying that not only output values but also the

reference values derived from them are controlled variables?
Not any PCT I ever heard of. It’s your own personal version. I
suppose next you will be claiming that error values are controlled
as well, to complete the loop.
In my PCT, the only controlled variables are perceptions. All the
way up and down the hierarchy. Not outputs, not reference values,
not error values. Just perceptions.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.12.2120)]

          Martin

Taylor (2014.12.12.23.00)–

              RM: Aren't controlled variables behaviors too? Indeed,

aren’t most of what we call actions (like moving your
arm) also controlled variables?

          MT: No, controlled variables are perceptions, not actions.

Actions are outputs.

          RM: Control is hierarchical so a behavioral variable

that is an output relative to a higher level controlled
variable is a controlled variable relative to a lower
level output. So, for example, in a tracking task, mouse
movements are outputs relative to the higher level
controlled variable “distance between cursor and target”
but these same mouse movements are a controlled variable
relative to the lower level outputs – muscle contractions
– that produce them. Only at the level of muscle
contraction is an output only an action and not a
controlled variable.

          MT: If you have a theory to contradict Bill Powers,

perhaps you should write another book and call it
“Perception: The Control of Behaviour”.

          RM: Are you talking' to me? ;-) No Martin, this is just

basic PCT.

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.13.00.57]

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.12.2120)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12.12.23.00)–

RM: Aren’t controlled variables behaviors too? Indeed, aren’t most of what we call actions (like moving your arm) also controlled variables?

MT: No, controlled variables are perceptions, not actions. Actions are outputs.

RM: Control is hierarchical so a behavioral variable that is an output relative to a higher level controlled variable is a controlled variable relative to a lower level output. So, for example, in a tracking task, mouse movements are outputs relative to the higher level controlled variable “distance between cursor and target” but these same mouse movements are a controlled variable relative to the lower level outputs – muscle contractions – that produce them. Only at the level of muscle contraction is an output only an action and not a controlled variable.

So you are now saying that not only output values but also the reference values derived from them are controlled variables?

MT: If you have a theory to contradict Bill Powers, perhaps you should write another book and call it “Perception: The Control of Behaviour”.

HB: Good idea Martin. But it will be a little difficult as Carver and Scheier already occupaied this theme. But they didn’t gave the exact name. Maybe Rick could succed.

RM: Are you talking’ to me? :wink: No Martin, this is just basic PCT.

HB : Rick. Sorry to say, but you are trying to serve us basics of self-regulation theory with your »control of behavior«. If you are controlling with output variable in environment (and you usualy call this »feedback«), why do you need perception ?

Not any PCT I ever heard of. It’s your own personal version. I suppose next you will be claiming that error values are controlled as well, to complete the loop.

In my PCT, the only controlled variables are perceptions. All the way up and down the hierarchy. Not outputs, not reference values, not error values. Just perceptions.

HB : I think this is clear to all of us, except Rick. I keep asking myself where did Rick with PCT knowledge dissapear. Anybody knows ? *barb ?

Boris

Martin

···

From: Martin Taylor (mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net via csgnet Mailing List) [mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu]
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2014 7:03 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Behavior: The Phlogiston of PCT (1998)

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.13.0945)]

···

Martin Taylor (2014.12.13.00.57)–

MT: So you are now saying that not only output values but also the

reference values derived from them are controlled variables?

RM: No, I’m saying that not only the output values but also the controlled consequences of those outputs - controlled variables – are what we see as “behavior”. Actually, there is no need to invoke hierarchy or reference values (both theoretical concepts) to see that this is the case. You can see these two aspects of behavior very clearly in my “Mind reading” demo (http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/Mindread.html). One aspect of a person’s behavior in this task is their mouse movements; these are outputs that affect the position of the avatars. The avatar that is moved intentionally – the one that turns into Mr. Burns when you are controlling it successfully – is a controlled consequence of these outputs; movements of this avatar are also the person’s behavior. So both aspects of the behavior in the mind reading demo – mouse movements (outputs) and movements of the avatar that are an intentional (controlled) consequence of these outputs (controlled variable) are the “behavior” of the person in this study.

RM: Remember, the first step in PCT is understanding that behavior – what we see organisms doing – is control, in fact, not in theory. And control involves varying outputs to keep certain consequences of those outputs (controlled variables) in pre-selected states, protected from disturbance. This is an observable fact; no theory is needed to see that behavior is control. PCT is a theoretical explanation of how this control is effected in living systems: how living systems are able to vary their visible outputs exactly as necessary to bring certain visible consequences of those outputs (controlled variables) to pre-selected states and maintain them there, protected from disturbance.

MT: In my PCT, the only controlled variables are perceptions.

RM: Yes, controlled variables exist as perceptions in the system doing the controlling. But they also exist as variable aspects of the environment outside the system, aspects of the environment that can also exist as perceptions in the observer of the that system (and denoted as the environmental variable q.i in the control system diagram; see Figure A.1 on p. 286 of B:CP 2nd edition). That’s why an observer is able determine the variable a control system is controlling (using the test for the controlled variable, TCV, as is done by the computer “observer” in the mind reading demo). The TCV is done by seeing whether the variable you, the observer, are perceiving – q.i – is protected from disturbance by the system under study.

RM: By the way, the fact that visible “behavior” consists of variables that are both outputs (q.o) and consequences of those outputs (controlled variables, q.i) can also be seen in the control system diagram in Figure A.1. Notice that both q.o (the system’s output) and q.i (the controlled variable) are in the system’s environment; that is, they are variables that can be seen by an observer of the system (the variables p, r and e cannot; they are theoretical variables). So the the diagram of a control system shows that its visible behavior consists of both q.o and q.i. When we talk about behavior we are talking about both – because we are talking about control.

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

In nature there’s no blemish but the mind

None can be called deformed but the unkind.

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

          RM: Control is hierarchical so a behavioral variable

that is an output relative to a higher level controlled
variable is a controlled variable relative to a lower
level output. So, for example, in a tracking task, mouse
movements are outputs relative to the higher level
controlled variable “distance between cursor and target”
but these same mouse movements are a controlled variable
relative to the lower level outputs – muscle contractions
– that produce them. Only at the level of muscle
contraction is an output only an action and not a
controlled variable.

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.14.17.25]

The first step in astronomy is understanding that what we see the

sun doing – going around the earth once every twenty-four hours –
is fact, not theory. The crystal sphere in which it is fixed is
theory because we can’t actually see it, but it is necessary theory,
because otherwise we would not see the stars which also go round the
earth in 24 hours, though differently from the sun, as the changing
position of the sun over the seasons proves. No theory is need to
see that the sun goes around the earth; this is an observable fact.
Look, the theory we now (most of us) believe is that the earth
rotates on its axis once in 24 hours, more or less, and that AS A
CONSEQUENCE, the sun appears to go round the earth when one is
standing on the rotating earth. No theory is needed to see the
observable fact that the sun goes round the earth. Theory is needed
to show that it doesn’t, and to show why it looks as though it does.
The same is true of control. The “observable fact” of control is not
as directly observable as is the passage of the sun across the sky,
since to observe control one needs also to observe the mechanisms
whereby the controlled object is varied, because things on springs
and balls in bowls restore themselves to where they were. Before you
can “observer” that something is controlled, you need a theory of
what is affecting it, and must be able to see that the energy used
to restore it comes not from the disturbance but from somewhere else
that we call “behaviour” of an organism (or a machine).
Yes, S-R psychologists would indeed perceive behaviour as control,
because they see the variation of action consequent on a “stimulus”
as being due to the internal structure of the organism. So, to one
who thinks it self-evident that a particular response is consequent
on a particular stimulus being applied to an organism with a
particular structure, then as Rick says, no theory is needed to see
that behaviour is control.
With the observable fact that the sun goes around the earth, one can
look at it in a different way and imagine a new theory, that the
earth rotates and that THEREFORE to one standing on the rotating
earth it looks as though the sun goes round the earth. Such a break
with observable truth can cause a lot of pain to the proponents of
the new theory that denies the obvious fact.
So it has been with Powers and his theory that what is controlled is
NEVER something in the environment, but is always a perception of
that thing, and THEREFORE it looks as though behaviour controls the
thing in the environment. Is it a wonder that Powers’s beautiful
theory of PERCEPTUAL CONTROL has trouble making headway when it
contradicts such an directly observable fact as that behaviour
controls things in the environment? How much less of a wonder is it when even someone who worked with
Powers for decades argues repeatedly and forcefully for the truth of
the so-called “observable fact” that Powers went to such lengths to
show was just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his
theory.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.13.0945)]

  RM: Remember, the first step in PCT is understanding

that behavior – what we see organisms doing – is
control,
in fact, not in theory. And control involves varying outputs to
keep certain consequences of those outputs (controlled variables)
in pre-selected states, protected from disturbance. This is an
observable fact; no theory is needed to see that behavior is
control.

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.14.1605)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12.14.17.25)--

MT: With the observable fact that the sun goes around the earth, one can look at it in a different way and imagine a new theory, that the earth rotates and that THEREFORE to one standing on the rotating earth it looks as though the sun goes round the earth. Such a break with observable truth can cause a lot of pain to the proponents of the new theory that denies the obvious fact.

MT: So it has been with Powers and his theory that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment, but is always a perception of that thing, and THEREFORE it looks as though behaviour controls the thing in the environment. Is it a wonder that Powers's beautiful theory of PERCEPTUAL CONTROL has trouble making headway when it contradicts such an directly observable fact as that behaviour controls things in the environment?

RM: This is the most completely incorrect description of what PCT is about that I have ever read. I will give a more detailed explanation later but this was such a huge disturbance that I just had to react immediately. The statement that Powers' theory says "that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment" is completely false. It says nothing of the kind.

MT: How much less of a wonder is it when even someone who worked with Powers for decades argues repeatedly and forcefully for the truth of the so-called "observable fact" that Powers went to such lengths to show was just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.

RM: Actually, I argued for the "so-called observable fact" of control right in front of Bill for at least 25 years (for example, see my paper Marken, R. S. (1988) The Nature of Behavior: Control as Fact and Theory. Behavioral Science, 33, 196- 206, reprinted in "Mind Readings") and Bill not only never chided me for doing so but adopted the phrase "the fact of control" as the subtitle to his last book. Therefore, I would suggest that the only illusion here is that Powers went to any lengths at all to show that the "observable fact of control" is just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.
Best
Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of <http://www.amazon.com/Doing-Research-Purpose-Experimental-Psychology/dp/0944337554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407342866&sr=8-1&keywords=doing+research+on+purpose>Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Hi Rick,

Text bellow….

···

From: Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) [mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu]
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 1:07 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Behavior: The Phlogiston of PCT (1998)

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.14.1605)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12.14.17.25)–

MT: With the observable fact that the sun goes around the earth, one can look at it in a different way and imagine a new theory, that the earth rotates and that THEREFORE to one standing on the rotating earth it looks as though the sun goes round the earth. Such a break with observable truth can cause a lot of pain to the proponents of the new theory that denies the obvious fact.

MT: So it has been with Powers and his theory that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment, but is always a perception of that thing, and THEREFORE it looks as though behaviour controls the thing in the environment. Is it a wonder that Powers’s beautiful theory of PERCEPTUAL CONTROL has trouble making headway when it contradicts such an directly observable fact as that behaviour controls things in the environment?

RM: This is the most completely incorrect description of what PCT is about that I have ever read. I will give a more detailed explanation later but this was such a huge disturbance that I just had to react immediately. The statement that Powers’ theory says “that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment” is completely false. It says nothing of the kind.

HB :

Martin’s description of PCT is the most correct description I ever saw beside Bill’s. As Martin said once or twice : you should go and sleep and read it again. If you’ll think that you are still right than I’m inviting *barb, all PCT thinkers and IAACT to contribute for protection of PCT. I’ll start with some Bill’s thought, although there are evidence of his briliant theory everywhere in his work :

Bill P :

What are you experiencing is not object outside you, but a set of neural signals representing something outside you. You don’t need to look inside your head to find perceptions : When you look at your hand, you’re alredy looking at them.

Bill P :

Our only view of the real world is our view of the neural signals the represent it inside our own brains. When we act to make a perception change to our more desireble state – when we make perception of the glass change from “oon the table” to " near the mouth" – we have no direcct knowledge of what we are doing to the reality that is the origin of our neural signal; we know only the final result, how the result looks, feels, smells, sounds, tastes, and so forth.

Bill P :

That is why we say in PCT that behavior is the process by which we control our own perceptions.

Bill P :

It means that we produce actions that alter the world of perception, and that we do so specifically to make the state of that world conform to the reference conditions we ourselves have choosen (to the extent we change the perceptions of our actions).Â

Bill P :

It means that we produce actions that alter the world of perceptions.

Bill P :

If you change perception you change the world arround as it appears to be.

Bill P :

Half of the jokes in the world are about one person assuming that everyone else sees the world the same way.

Bill P :

The two problems go together : the problem of reaching agreement with each other about reality and the problem that all perception is fundamentaly private.

Bill P :

Using the internal point of view, we can understand many aspects of behavior by seeing control as control of perception rather than of an objective world. We can make sense not only of other people’s behavior, but of our own, using the same concept of perceptual control.

Bill P :

A control system controls what it senses, and what it senses is the result of applying a continuous transformaton process to the elementary sensory inputs to the nervous system.

Bill P :

Stabilization against disturbances means that “controlled quantities” is affected both by independent influences and by actions of the system itself, and that the system’s actions systematically oppose the effects of disturbances on the controlled quantity. If system is to stabilize some quantity it must sense that quantity and it must have an internal standard against which to compare the outcome of that sensing process – a reference with reespect to which the sensed quantity can be judged as too little, just right, or too much. The action of the system is based on that judgement, not on the sensed quantity itself nor on the reference itself nor on the disturbances. Departures of the controlled quantity from the reference level are what lead to the actions, that limit those departures to a small or even negligible size.

BP :

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws.

BP :

Human beings do not plan actions and then carry them out; they do not respond to stimuli according to the way they have been reinforced. They control. They never produce any beahvior except for the purposes of making what they are experiencing become more like what they intend or want to experience, and then keeping it that way even in a changing world. If they plan they perceptions, not actions.

BP :

Negative feed-back control is the basic principle of life.

BP :

A hierarchy of perceptions that somehow represents an external world, and a large collection of Complex Environmental Variables (as Martin Taylor calls them) is mirrored inside the brain in the form of perceptions«. Â

Briefly, then: what I call the hierarchy of perceptions is the model.

When you open your eyes and look around, what you see – and feel, smell, hear, and taste – is the model. In fact we never experience ANYTHING BUT the model. The model is composed of perceptions of all kinds from intensities on up.

KM :

Perceptual control theory holds that human behavior consists of controlling perceptions, not actions. In other words, people’s actions are merely a by-product of their attempts to stabilize their perceptions in conformity with their own desires and preferences.

RM:

Actually the other player (like everyone else) is controlling their own perceptions, not their actions.

IAACT :

Despite appearances, there is only one side! — symbolizing perhaps the iillusion of regarding external action as what is “realâ€? and leading to (after close observation, experience, testing, and reflection) the “realityâ€? (a perception) of behavior as the control (or “heartâ€? as in the IAACT mission statement) of perception.

MT: How much less of a wonder is it when even someone who worked with Powers for decades argues repeatedly and forcefully for the truth of the so-called “observable fact” that Powers went to such lengths to show was just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.

RM: Actually, I argued for the “so-called observable fact” of control right in front of Bill for at least 25 years (for example, see my paper Marken, R. S. (1988) The Nature of Behavior: Control as Fact and Theory. Behavioral Science, 33, 196- 206, reprinted in “Mind Readings”) and Bill not only never chided me for doing so but adopted the phrase “the fact of control” as the subtitle to his last book. Therefore, I would suggest that the only illusion here is that Powers went to any lengths at all to show that the “observable fact of control” is just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.

HB :

And I can’t beleive that you are defending your wrong position. For at least 14.000.000 years people thought like you that they can control their environment with behavior. And than Bill happened. But I know that somewhere is PCT Rick…

I’ve argued many times when Bill was with us that he is giving protection to your »behavioral excursions«. But you were »Powers friend« as you are probably today. I suppose that nobody will act to stop your confussion and misleading on CSGnet.Â

And for the controversary of your »double thinking«, tell me what are the differences about your oppinion to Richard (previou post) and your oppinion to Martin (your last post)?

Best,

Boris

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Hi Boris, I agree with all of these quotes (obviously!). None of us are questioning that behaviour is the control of perception. I just can’t see the proposal that behaviour is the control of perception rules out that behaviour, or other environmental variables, can be controlled. It doesn’t follow logically. What follows logically, to me, is that if we see non-perceptual variables being controlled (to various degrees of success) that will ALWAYS be because their perception is being controlled through one or more other agents’ behaviour…My understanding is that Bill explained to us that control is ALWAYS implemented through the control of input of a negative feedback system of some kind, not that nothing other than perception can ever be controlled (even slightly!). To the degree that the perception of the environmental variable covaries with the environmental variable (as in Bill’s 2008 weightings in his conflict demos) then that control sys
tem controls that environmental variable, which is shared by other systems AND is the cause of the conflict to some degree. It will never be exact but will often be refined through reorganisation.
I am writing this post, but I don’t want it to distract from the other one as that is a bit more meaty!

Warren

···

On Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 10:35 AM, “Boris Hartman” csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

Hi Rick,

Text bellow….

From: Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) [mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu]
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 1:07 AM
To: cs
gnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Behavior: The Phlogiston of PCT (1998)

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.14.1605)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12.14.17.25)–

MT: With the observable fact that the sun goes around the earth, one can look at it in a different way and imagine a new theory, that the earth rotates and that THEREFORE to one standing on the rotating earth it looks as though the sun goes round the earth. Such a break with observable truth can cause a lot of pain to the proponents of the new theory that denies the obvious fact.

MT: So it has been with Pow
ers and his theory that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment, but is always a perception of that thing, and THEREFORE it looks as though behaviour controls the thing in the environment. Is it a wonder that Powers’s beautiful theory of PERCEPTUAL CONTROL has trouble making headway when it contradicts such an directly observable fact as that behaviour controls things in the environment?

RM: This is the most completely incorrect description of what PCT is about that I have ever read. I will give a more detailed explanation later but this was such a huge disturbance that I just had to react immediately. The statement that Powers’ theory says “that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment” is completely false. It says nothing of the kind.

<
/u>

HB :

Martin’s description of PCT is the most correct description I ever saw beside Bill’s. As Martin said once or twice : you should go and sleep and read it again. If you’ll think that you are still right than I’m inviting *barb, all PCT thinkers and IAACT to contribute for protection of PCT. I’ll start with some Bill’s thought, although there are evidence of his briliant theory everywhere in his work :

Bill P :

What are you experiencing is not object outside you, but a set of neural signals representing something outside you. You don’t need to look inside your head to find perceptions : When you look at your hand, you’re alredy looking a
t them.

Bill P :

Our only view of the real world is our view of the neural signals the represent it inside our own brains. When we act to make a perception change to our more desireble state – when we make perception of the glass change from “on the table” to " near the mouth" – we have no direct knowledge of what we are doing to the reality that is the origin of our neural signal; we know only the final result, how the result looks, feels, smells, sounds, tastes, and so forth.

Bill P :

That is why we say in PCT that behavior is the process by which we control our own perceptions.

Bill P :

It means that we produce actions that alter the world of perception, and that we do so specifically to make the state of that world conform to the reference conditions we ourselves have choosen (to the extent we change the perceptions of our actions).

Bill P :

It means that we produce actions that alter the world of perceptions.

Bill P :

If you change perception you change the world arround as it appears to be.

Bill P :

Half of the jokes in the world are about one person assuming that everyone else sees the world the same way.

Bill P :

The two problems go together : the problem of reaching agreement with each other about reality and the problem that all perception is fundamentaly private.

Bill P :

Using the internal point of view, we can understand many aspects of behavior by seeing control as control of perception rather than of an objective world. We can make sense not only of other people’s behavior, but of our own, using the same concept of perceptual control.

Bill P :

A control system controls what it senses, and what it senses is the result of applying a continuous transformaton process to the elementary sensory inputs to the nervous system.

Bill P :

Stabilization against disturbances means that “controlled quantities” is affected both by independent influences and by actions of the system itself, and that the system’s actions systematically oppose the effects of disturbances on the controlled quantity. If system is to stabilize some quantity it must sense that quantity and it must have an internal standard against which to compare the outcome of that sensing process – a reference with respect to which the sensed quantity can be judged as too little, just right, or too much. The action of the system is based on that judgement, not on the sensed quantity itself nor on the reference itself nor on the disturbances. Departures of the controlled quantity from the reference level are what lead to the actions, that limit those departures to a small or even negligible size.

BP :

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws.

BP :

Human beings do not plan actions and then carry them out; they do not respond to stimuli according to the way they have been reinforced. They control. They never produce any beahvior except for the purposes of making what they are experiencing become more like what they intend or want to experience, and then keeping it that way even in a changing world. If they plan they perceptions, not actions.

BP :

Negative feed-back control is the basic principle of life.

BP :

A hierarchy of perceptions that somehow represents an external world, and a large collection of Complex Environmental Variables (as Martin Taylor calls them) is mirrored inside the brain in the form of perceptions«.

Briefly, then: what I call the hierarchy of perceptions is the model.

When you open your eyes and look around, what you see – and feel, smell, hear, and taste – is the model. In fact we never experience ANYTHING BUT the model. The model is composed of perceptions of all kinds from intensities on up.

KM :

Perceptual control theory holds that human behavior consists of controlling perceptions, not actions. In other words, people’s actions are merely a by-product of their attempts to stabilize their perceptions in conformity with their own desires and preferences.

RM:

Actually the
other player (like everyone else) is controlling their own perceptions, not their actions.

IAACT :

Despite appearances, there is only one side! — symbolizing perhaps the illusion of regarding external action as what is “real” and leading to (after close observation, experience, testing, and reflection) the “reality” (a perception) of behavior as the control (or “heart” as in the IAACT mission statement) of perception.

MT: How much less of a wonder is it when even someone who worked with Powers for decades argues repeatedly and forcefully for the truth of the so-called “observable fact” that Powers went to such lengths to show was just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.

RM: Actually, I argued for the “so-called observable fact” of control right in front of Bill for at least 25 years (for example, see my paper Marken, R. S. (1988) The Nature of Behavior: Control as Fact and Theory. Behavioral Science , 33, 196- 206, reprinted in “Mind Readi
ngs”) and Bill not only never chided me for doing so but adopted the phrase “the fact of control” as the subtitle to his last book. Therefore, I would suggest that the only illusion here is that Powers went to any lengths at all to show that the “observable fact of control” is just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.

HB :

And I can’t beleive that you are defending your wrong position. For at least 14.000.000 years people thought like you that they can control their e
nvironment with behavior. And than Bill happened. But I know that somewhere is PCT Rick…

I’ve argued many times when Bill was with us that he is giving protection to your »behavioral excursions«. But you were »Powers friend« as you are probably today. I suppose that nobody will act to stop your confussion and misleading on CSGnet.

And for the controversary of your »double thinking«, tell me what are the differences about your oppinion to Richard (previou post) and your oppinion to Martin (your last post)?

Best,

Boris

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Dr Warren Mansell
Reader in Clinical Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
2nd Floor Zochonis Building
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
Email: warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 8589

Website: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/staff/131406

See teamstrial.net for further information on our trial of CBT for Bipolar Disorders in NW England

The highly acclaimed therapy manual on A Transdiagnostic Approach to CBT using Method of Levels is available now.

Check www.pctweb.org for further information on Perceptual Control Theory

<
br>

[From Bruce Abbott (2014.12.15.1750 EST)]

Perhaps I can clarify the issue of what a control system controls by means of a non-biological example. An automobile cruise control has a sensor whose signal represents the speed of the vehicle. In PCT terms this sensor provides the cruise control’s perception of the car’s speed. Cruise control compares the value of this signal to a reference value that represents the desired vehicle speed. If the perceived speed is below the reference speed, then the system increases engine power to accelerate the car, thus reducing the error; if the perceived speed is below the reference speed, then the system decreases engine power to slow the car, again reducing error.

If the values measured by the speed sensor are in reasonable correspondence to the car’s actual speed, then the measured speed of the car will be equal to the car’s actual speed, and by controlling the perceived speed, the cruise control will also control the car’s actual speed, keeping it near the desired value.

Of course, what the designers of cruise control and the drivers who use it actually want is for the cruise control to control the car’s actual speed. Therefore, the designer takes care to design the speed sensor to that its readings reflect the car’s actual speed and not the temperature of the engine or the state of the headlights or some combination of vehicle speed and engine oil pressure.

The same is true of biological control systems. To accurately control, say, the angle of the elbow joint, the system controlling that position must have access to a signal or signals that, singly or together, provide a reasonably accurate reading of actual joint angle. It would make no sense for the control system involved to have a perception of joint angle that bears no relation to actual joint angle.

If this is true, why did Bill Powers take such pains to emphasize that control is control of perception? There are at least two reasons. First, it is worth remembering that the system controls the perception of a variable because sensors can fail. For example, assume that cruise control has been set to a desired speed of 60 KPH. If the speed sensor of a cruise control unit fails in such a way that it senses a speed of 30 KPH when the car is actually doing 60 KPH, the system will see a large error and increase engine power in an attempt to bring the car up to a perceived speed of 60 KPH, at which time the car actually will be going much faster.

A second reason for emphasizing that control systems control perceptions is that many perceptions do not have a simple direct equivalent in the real world. According to HPCT, they are built up from lower-level perceptions and may be complex functions of them. (However, through proper testing it should be possible to infer what real-world variables are being sensed and how the resulting perceptual signals are being combined to produce the higher-level perception.) And in some cases, the perceptual signal may bear little or no relation to environmental variables – as when a person with schizophrenia hallucinates interacting with a friend who is not actually there.

In talking about the real world out there beyond our senses, I am behaving as a naïve realist. Of course, as Bill often noted, all we can know are our own perceptions; we have no direct access to reality. It is possible that everything I perceive is a fiction – that the “real world” does not exist. Yet I believe that we would behave at our peril if we embraced the idea that our perceptions are mere illusions. In my experience, when I perceive a hammer coming down squarely and sharply on my thumb, this perception is invariably followed by perceptions of intense pain and visible signs of damage to the thumb. The best explanation I have for this reliable correlation between these perceptions is that I possess a real body with a real thumb, that there was a real hammer, and that hammer strikes to the thumb produce damage that is sensed by my bodily sensors and relayed as perceptual signals to my brain. But even if there is no reality behind those perceptions, I still must deal with the fact that one set of perceptions (seeing the thumb being struck by the hammer) is quickly and reliably followed by another set of perceptions (pain etc.) for which I have a reference value of zero, and by controlling my perception of the hammer, I can thereby keep my perception of pain near its reference value of zero.

When Bill said that “it’s all perception,” it was not an assertion that there is no reality out there beyond our senses. Rather, it was a reminder that all we can know about that reality is what is given to us by our perceptions. We can only control that which we can perceive. To the extent that a given perception corresponds to a variable in the real world, controlling that perception will also control that real-world variable.

Bruce

···

From: Warren Mansell (wmansell@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) [mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu]
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 8:59 AM
To: Boris Hartman
Cc: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Behavior: The Phlogiston of PCT (1998)

Hi Boris, I agree with all of these quotes (obviously!). None of us are questioning that behaviour is the control of perception. I just can’t see the proposal that behaviour is the control of perception rules out that behaviour, or other environmental variables, can be controlled. It doesn’t follow logically. What follows logically, to me, is that if we see non-perceptual variables being controlled (to various degrees of success) that will ALWAYS be because their perception is being controlled through one or more other agents’ behaviour…My understanding is that Bill explained to us that control is ALWAYS implemented through the control of input of a negative feedback system of some kind, not that nothing other than perception can ever be controlled (even slightly!). To the degree that the perception of the environmental variable covaries with the environmental variable (as in Bill’s 2008 weightings in his conflict demos) then that control sys tem controls that environmental variable, which is shared by other systems AND is the cause of the conflict to some degree. It will never be exact but will often be refined through reorganisation.

I am writing this post, but I don’t want it to distract from the other one as that is a bit more meaty!

Warren

On Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 10:35 AM, “Boris Hartman” csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

Hi Rick,

Text bellow….

From: Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) [mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu]
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 1:07 AM
To: cs gnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Behavior: The Phlogiston of PCT (1998)

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.14.1605)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12.14.17.25)–

MT: With the observable fact that the sun goes around the earth, one can look at it in a different way and imagine a new theory, that the earth rotates and that THEREFORE to one standing on the rotating earth it looks as though the sun goes round the earth. Such a break with observable truth can cause a lot of pain to the proponents of the new theory that denies the obvious fact.

MT: So it has been with Pow ers and his theory that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment, but is always a perception of that thing, and THEREFORE it looks as though behaviour controls the thing in the environment. Is it a wonder that Powers’s beautiful theory of PERCEPTUAL CONTROL has trouble making headway when it contradicts such an directly observable fact as that behaviour controls things in the environment?

RM: This is the most completely incorrect description of what PCT is about that I have ever read. I will give a more detailed explanation later but this was such a huge disturbance that I just had to react immediately. The statement that Powers’ theory says “that what is controlled is NEVER something in the environment” is completely false. It says nothing of the kind.

< /u>

HB :

Martin’s description of PCT is the most correct description I ever saw beside Bill’s. As Martin said once or twice : you should go and sleep and read it again. If you’ll think that you are still right than I’m inviting *barb, all PCT thinkers and IAACT to contribute for protection of PCT. I’ll start with some Bill’s thought, although there are evidence of his briliant theory everywhere in his work :

Bill P :

What are you experiencing is not object outside you, but a set of neural signals representing something outside you. You don’t need to look inside your head to find perceptions : When you look at your hand, you’re alredy looking a t them.

Bill P :

Our only view of the real world is our view of the neural signals the represent it inside our own brains. When we act to make a perception change to our more desireble state – when we make perception of the glass change from “on the table” to " near the mouth" – we have no direct knowledge of what we are doing to the reality that is the origin of our neural signal; we know only the final result, how the result looks, feels, smells, sounds, tastes, and so forth.

Bill P :

That is why we say in PCT that behavior is the process by which we control our own perceptions.

Bill P :

It means that we produce actions that alter the world of perception, and that we do so specifically to make the state of that world conform to the reference conditions we ourselves have choosen (to the extent we change the perceptions of our actions).

Bill P :

It means that we produce actions that alter the world of perceptions.

Bill P :

If you change perception you change the world arround as it appears to be.

Bill P :

Half of the jokes in the world are about one person assuming that everyone else sees the world the same way.

Bill P :

The two problems go together : the problem of reaching agreement with each other about reality and the problem that all perception is fundamentaly private.

Bill P :

Using the internal point of view, we can understand many aspects of behavior by seeing control as control of perception rather than of an objective world. We can make sense not only of other people’s behavior, but of our own, using the same concept of perceptual control.

Bill P :

A control system controls what it senses, and what it senses is the result of applying a continuous transformaton process to the elementary sensory inputs to the nervous system.

Bill P :

Stabilization against disturbances means that “controlled quantities” is affected both by independent influences and by actions of the system itself, and that the system’s actions systematically oppose the effects of disturbances on the controlled quantity. If system is to stabilize some quantity it must sense that quantity and it must have an internal standard against which to compare the outcome of that sensing process – a reference with respect to which the sensed quantity can be judged as too little, just right, or too much. The action of the system is based on that judgement, not on the sensed quantity itself nor on the reference itself nor on the disturbances. Departures of the controlled quantity from the reference level are what lead to the actions, that limit those departures to a small or even negligible size.

BP :

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws.

BP :

Human beings do not plan actions and then carry them out; they do not respond to stimuli according to the way they have been reinforced. They control. They never produce any beahvior except for the purposes of making what they are experiencing become more like what they intend or want to experience, and then keeping it that way even in a changing world. If they plan they perceptions, not actions.

BP :

Negative feed-back control is the basic principle of life.

BP :

A hierarchy of perceptions that somehow represents an external world, and a large collection of Complex Environmental Variables (as Martin Taylor calls them) is mirrored inside the brain in the form of perceptions«.

Briefly, then: what I call the hierarchy of perceptions is the model.

When you open your eyes and look around, what you see – and feel, smell, hear, and taste – is the model. In fact we never experience ANYTHING BUT the model. The model is composed of perceptions of all kinds from intensities on up.

KM :

Perceptual control theory holds that human behavior consists of controlling perceptions, not actions. In other words, people’s actions are merely a by-product of their attempts to stabilize their perceptions in conformity with their own desires and preferences.

RM:

Actually the other player (like everyone else) is controlling their own perceptions, not their actions.

IAACT :

Despite appearances, there is only one side! — symbolizing perhaps the illusion of regarding external action as what is “real” and leading to (after close observation, experience, testing, and reflection) the “reality” (a perception) of behavior as the control (or “heart” as in the IAACT mission statement) of perception.

MT: How much less of a wonder is it when even someone who worked with Powers for decades argues repeatedly and forcefully for the truth of the so-called “observable fact” that Powers went to such lengths to show was just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.

RM: Actually, I argued for the “so-called observable fact” of control right in front of Bill for at least 25 years (for example, see my paper Marken, R. S. (1988) The Nature of Behavior: Control as Fact and Theory. Behavioral Science, 33, 196- 206, reprinted in “Mind Readi ngs”) and Bill not only never chided me for doing so but adopted the phrase “the fact of control” as the subtitle to his last book. Therefore, I would suggest that the only illusion here is that Powers went to any lengths at all to show that the “observable fact of control” is just an illusory natural consequence of the truth of his theory.

HB :

And I can’t beleive that you are defending your wrong position. For at least 14.000.000 years people thought like you that they can control their e nvironment with behavior. And than Bill happened. But I know that somewhere is PCT Rick…

I’ve argued many times when Bill was with us that he is giving protection to your »behavioral excursions«. But you were »Powers friend« as you are probably today. I suppose that nobody will act to stop your confussion and misleading on CSGnet.

And for the controversary of your »double thinking«, tell me what are the differences about your oppinion to Richard (previou post) and your oppinion to Martin (your last post)?

Best,

Boris

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.

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Dr Warren Mansell
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School of Psychological Sciences
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Manchester M13 9PL
Email: warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 8589

Website: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/staff/131406

See teamstrial.net for further information on our trial of CBT for Bipolar Disorders in NW England

The highly acclaimed therapy manual on A Transdiagnostic Approach to CBT using Method of Levels is available now.

Check www.pctweb.org for further information on Perceptual Control Theory

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[From Rick Marken (2014.12.15.1910)]

···

Bruce Abbott (2014.12.15.1750 EST)

Â

BA: Perhaps I can clarify the issue of what a control system controls by means of a non-biological example.Â

RM: Excellent post, Bruce.Â

Â

BA: If this is true, why did Bill Powers take such pains to emphasize that control is control of perception? There are at least two reasons. First, it is worth remembering that the system controls the perception of a variable because sensors can fail.Â

RM: It’s important to understand this but I doubt that thus was the main thing that led Bill to emphasize that the behavior of living organisms is organized around the control of perceptual variables.

BA: A second reason for emphasizing that control systems control perceptions is that many perceptions do not have a simple direct equivalent in the real world.Â

RM: This is closer to the real reason but still not quite there, I think. I think the main reason for emphasizing that living control systems control perceptions is because, according to PCT, the behaviors we see organisms produce are not emitted outputs but controlled inputs: perceptions. So producing a complex behavior like a golf swing is a matter of producing the complex (event) perception “golf swing” rather than the complex set of outputs that are seen as a golf swing. In order to be able to produce the behavior of a certain level of honesty we have to be able to perceive honesty. So the hierarchy of perception n PCT is, I think, a hypothesis about what kinds of behaviors we can produce (what kinds of perceptual variables we can control) as well as a hypothesis about how we produce them (by controlling a hierarchy of perceptual inputs)

BA: In talking about the real world out there beyond our senses, I am behaving as a naïve realist. Of course, as Bill often noted, all we can know are our own perceptions; we have no direct access to reality…

Â

BA: When Bill said that “it’s all perception,� it was not an assertion that there is no reality out there beyond our senses. Rather, it was a reminder that all we can know about that reality is what is given to us by our perceptions. We can only control that which we can perceive. To the extent that a given perception corresponds to a variable in the real world, controlling that perception will also control that real-world variable.

RM: Excellent points!! And very relevant to this discussion. When I talk about variables controlled in the environment I know I am talking about my perception of the environment. But I think the environment I experience is based on a real world. But it’s not even necessary to assume that to do some reasonably good PCT science. The distance between cursor and target that seem to be the variables controlled in the environment of aÂ

subject doing a tracking experiment may be all a solipsistic fantasy but I keep getting consistent results based on that fantasy so I feel like it’s ok to go on assuming that the results that I see people producing in the environment – things like cars in their lane and people not bumping into each other – are, indeed, in a real environment outside of themselves. In other words, I will continue to believe in the PCT model as diagrammed in Figure A.1 of BCP; a model of organisms as control systems that are controlling aspects of the environment that is outside of their nervous systems.Â

BestÂ

Rick