RM: Well, I don’t appreciate your insisting that they are mistakes. But just to keep up the insisting, I will insist that you are making the biggest mistake of all; seeing the power law as telling you something about the mechanism that produces movement. Thinking that it does is equivalent to thinking that S’s drawing of Venus on a Half Shell (from the example in the other thread) tells you something about how S produced it.
RM: It seemed to me that whatever mistakes you saw in my analysis of the power law were mistakes from the point of view of the mainstream approach to understanding behavior. But feel free to refresh my memory about my mistakes; I will certainly acknowledge them if they are mistakes.
AM: If you argue against mainstream approaches, but make mistakes, or if you argue against mainstream approaches without finding controlled variables, your research is, at best, irrelevant for PCT.
RM: This is just an implicit defense of the mainstream approach. When Bill said “As far as I can see, our case is clear and airtight” what he meant was that we already have overwhelming evidence that organisms are control systems and that understanding their behavior requires a revolution in how we approach the study of their behavior. I take this to be a challenge to defenders of the mainstream approach to find examples of behavior where a controlled variable is not involved; ones where an open loop explanation of the behavior is appropriate.
RM: In my reply to your reply to our power law paper I showed how the power law could be a side effect of controlling the position of the cursor in a tracking task. The cursor movements followed the power law while the mouse movements that produced the cursor movements did not. This little demo shows clearly that power law conforming movements – like S’s movements that conform to a picture of Venus on the Half Shell – tell you nothing about how those movements were produced.
BP: They have been misled by the actions that organisms use for generating effects that are of importance to them into thinking that those actions are the effects of importance. Even now, and even on CSGnet, this error continues to be made
AM: To reformulate: actions of a person or an animal are not the important measure in explaining and understanding behavior. Instead, the effects, or outcomes, from the point of view of the organisms, are important. The perceptions are important to the organism, and the controlled variables are important to the researcher.
RM: Close. But here’s a slight reformulation of your reformulation:
RM: The actions of a person or an animal are irrelevant to understanding their behavior. In order to understand behavior you have to determine the perceived results of these actions that the organism is controlling: controlled variables.
AM: If you take the SOR model, you will think that actions and their relationship to stimuli give you the organism function. That is the first part of 1978 behavioral illusion.
AM: This doesn’t mean that actions themselves cannot tell you something important about the organism after you’ve found the controlled variables.
RM: True. But you’ve got to know the territory … er… the controlled variables.
AM: The basis for a revolution is changing the model from SOR to a feedback loop.
RM: The basis of the revolution is understanding that behavior IS control so the only model that is appropriate is a control system model.
AM: Some people in the life sciences have started using or have been using feedback loops as their model of behavior for a long time.
RM: Indeed, they’ve been doing it since the 1940’s. I’ve written a couple of papers describing the difference between their approach (I call it the “manual control” approach) and the PCT approach. The manual control approach is not part of the PCT revolution that Powers envisioned because it doesn’t recognize the fact that behavior IS control; manual control theorists don’t seet behavior as being organized around the control of many different types of controlled variables. Their research is perfectly compatible with the mainstream, S-R approach to understanding behavior.
RM: Here are pointers to my papers describing the difference between PCT and the manual control theory approach to understanding behavior:
AM: It is a slow revolution that is already happening if you look closer. They talk about controlled variables under different names, or even explicitly call controlled variables - controlled variables. Best to have an open mind and decide on a case-to-case basis, there is a lot of great science out there.
RM: I think there might be such work but I really have never found it – and lord knows i’ve tried. Could you post an example of this work. I would really like to see it.