Belief and Knowledge

[From Dag Forssell (950507 1800)]

(I have not yet seen the digest for May 6)

[Joel Judd 950505.0800] responding to Rick M. (950504):

  Is there not some semantic clarity needed for "belief" and

    "knowledge" from a PCT point of view? Strictly speaking, how
    does a control system know the difference between knowledge and
    belief?

We are dealing not with one control system, but with the entire
HPCT hierarchy, where memories "behave" by being specified as
reference signals, and memories supplement real time perceptions by
being fed back up the perceptual levels. At any one time, I don't
think there is any difference between belief and knowledge (as I
said (950501 1150). Both words mean acceptance of something as
true. The difference comes in the next section, where we deal with
what is accepted (fantastic stories, by the gullible, or accepted
after scrutiny by the skeptic) and recorded in those memories in
the first place.

  Without bringing too much philosophy into the picture, I would

    think the state of a control system hierarchy at any given
    point in time _is_ its knowledge, or its state of knowing.
    That state is based on previous experiences, as is belief.

My understanding of knowledge is that it is based on evidence;
experiences that can easily be replicated. You and I both have
plenty of experience with the physical world and corresponding
knowledge of food, water, streets, bathtubs and perhaps experiments
with magnetism and acceleration in physics experiments. My
understanding of the word belief is that it suggests an acceptance
of something as true in the absence of evidence. Thus I don't see
that belief is based on previous experiences. It is based on
stories, fairy tales, suggestions and guesses, and (as in the life
sciences) scientific rumors.

  Whether _I_ know the earth revolves around the sun or I believe

    it makes no difference to the state of my hierarchy, does it?

You appear to say that knowledge and belief are synonymous. As I
have said, once accepted as true, they are.

  What seems to concern people is the _basis_ for that

    belief/knowledge. Having some sort of rational, objective basis
    are the reasons for a Scientific Method.

Yes indeed. As PCTers we do keep in mind, however, that the
"Scientific Method" as it is usually practiced, (seeking
Independent Variable -- Dependent Variable relationships) is
appropriate for the inanimate physical sciences, but has been
inappropriately applied in the life sciences.

  More to the educational point, if one wanted to emphasize

    skepticism, then it might be better to say--given the apparent
    ontogeny of a control system--that we actually value belief
    over knowledge.

Quite the other way around. Skepticism leads to dependable
knowledge, but exposes belief as waporknowledge - fantasy, if that
is what it is. Thus skepticism mitigates the enormous damage that
can be done by various incompatible beliefs held around the world
today; beliefs firmly held by millions or billions of people for
many centuries; beliefs based on stories told and retold with great
eloquence, parables and allegories perhaps written as educational
software for illiterate people long ago, enhanced with miracles for
suitable dramatic effect with a trusting audience; beliefs elevated
to divine status over time -- still without verifiable foundation
in the experience of even a single person.

  This would be especially true if, as you believe, we can't know

    the best way to run an economy, government, family, etc.

You are not quoting Rick quite correctly.

Rick said:

Nobody knows, for example, the best way to run an economy, a

    government, a family, a culture, etc.

In a future, once PCT becomes widely understood, I think remarkable
progress will be done in these areas, because we will shift from
beliefs and miscellaneous misunderstandings to knowledge about
them. That is my conviction based on belief, not (yet) experience
or knowledge. Beliefs do motivate us, don't they (just like real
knowledge does--there is no difference inside the brain once an
idea has been accepted). What I know and understand based on
replicable evidence is PCT and, with less compelling demonstrations
and more room for alternative detail explanations, HPCT. So while
my belief is subject to revision, it does have some basis that is
meaningful to me.

Joel again:

  As you say, it would be more valuable to say "I believe (or

    imagine) I know." If one admits _and_ understands what such a
    statement means, then saying as much would be less dangerous
    than to say "I know."

I think you are right, but the step from saying "I imagine I know"
to "I know" is small. We say "I know" all the time on all kinds of
subjects, when in reality all we have is beliefs. This applies not
only to the many religions in the world, (which are _all_ belief)
but also to a very large assortment of prejudices, political
beliefs, preferences, and "skills" which may be based on anecdotal
experiences (one's own or stories from others) generalized to take
on validity far beyond what the original experience (if there was
one) warrants. Beliefs about the inherent value of sundry
political views, conventional psychology, implications of PCT for
management practice (Bill P. is the first to apply the brakes on
that one, as when I overstate them), and other subjects appear
regularly on CSGnet.

As autonomous living control systems we learn to genuinely respect
and even love each other despite the fact that we hold large
numbers of conflicting beliefs about "the meaning of life," GOD or
no, naive left liberals who want to take care of people, right
conservatives who want people to help themselves, teetotalers,
lacto-vegetarians, new-age aquarians etc. etc. Every one of us
holds many questionnable beliefs!

  That's because in such a scheme Knowledge is the belief that

    what is known doesn't change.

What comes first here? You say Knowledge - belief - known. I
guess I would agree if you said Knowledge is a belief that is based
on replicable evidence of aspects of the world that don't change.

I think a believer could read your statement to mean that belief
that does not change becomes knowledge. I am inclined to believe
that believers believe such, but would not agree that belief
becomes knowledge just because the belief has a 4,000 year history
of eloquent storytelling by intelligent, decent, wellmeaning people.

Basic knowledge in the physical sciences has not changed in the
last 300 years, but been refined and extended. This is not
inflexible dogma but scientific progress which has yielded
remarkable results.

  And it's the unwillingness to change (or entertain the

    possibility) that makes systems inflexible, dogmatic, and so
    on.

Your use of the words inflexible and dogmatic suggest that beliefs
are arbitrary, without foundation in replicable experience.

I hope these musings offer "semantic clarity needed for "belief"
and "knowledge" from a PCT point of view".

Best, Dag

Hello, I'm just an "observer", but your current discussion is quite
fascinating. So I decide to come forward with a question.
     Did OJ do it?
I have my beliefs. But will I ever know (ledge)?

p.s. If you do not like the word "OJ", you can change it to something else.

<[Bill Leach 950508.01:47 U.S. Eastern Time Zone]

[From Dag Forssell (950507 1800)]

Not really intending to "pick specifically upon Dag" but lest we engender
yet another "religious war":

Dag, you stated:

... Thus I don't see that belief is based on previous experiences. It
is based on stories, fairy tales, suggestions and guesses, and (as in
the life sciences) scientific rumors.

I think that this is a bit of an oversimplification. Belief is not
necessarily without _any_ basis in experience it is rather without
repeatable, verifiably causal experience.

also;

... This applies not only to the many religions in the world, (which are
_all_ belief) but also to a very large assortment of prejudices, ...

It is, I think, an error to catagorize religion flatly as "all belief".
There is much in "religious beliefs" that stands the scrutiny of close
examination (just as there is much that does not). The belief in God
itself is purely "belief" in the sense in which you define the term (and
is openly admitted to be the case in the Christian religions at least).

I will even go so far as to say that in terms of "how to live" most
religious doctrine is far better than the behaviour of its'
practitioners and certainly better than what you will hear from most
"behavioural scientists". Of course all of that requires a _belief_ that
living to certain standards is "good".

···

--------
Causal relationships

Causal relationships, cause and effect, all the known laws of physics and
chemistry all apply to PCT. The analysis of a control system requires
the use of Control Theory _to obtain useful knowledge_ of how the control
system will behave (macroscopic behaviour). A detailed "cause-effect"
analysis "around" the loop will always yield "correct results" with the
only difficulty being that if one is concerned with the behaviour of said
system then such an analysis is likely useless.

[Dag, I am fully aware that you know this and am only making the comment
because it seems that there have recently been a number of statements
that while correct may mislead people into thinking that PCTers think
that the laws concerning causal relationship do not apply to a control
system as opposed to the idea that "lineal cause and effect analysis"
applies but yields no useful information concerning behaviour]

-bill

<[Bill Leach 950508.03:46 U.S. Eastern Time Zone]

Message: 61886 on Sun, 07 May 1995 23:34:35 -0400 (EDT), in reply to:
Author : Kim Tan <V2006G%TEMPLEVM.BITNET@uga.cc.uga.edu>

I rather doubt that a thread will start here on that subject. The
question of OJ Simpson's guilt is so fraught with subjective evidence it
is quite possible that no one other than OJ will ever "know".

From a PCT perspective one should probably consider:

Procecutors probably "believe" that he is guilty and will control to
maintain that perception (please note that this is a seperate issue from
the distinct perception of a guilty verdict which they are doubtless also
controlling):

This means that they will "filter" all evidence to "enhance" support for
the perception including ignoring or "rationalizing" contrary evidence.
This is NOT a claim that they are doing this "filtering" with any malice
or even intent (though there are, at least potentially, other perceptions
whose control could involve intentional deception).

It is also reasonable to presume that OJ is controlling for a perception
of a "not guilty" verdict regardless of the "truth" of the matter. His
defense will be doing the same (and will also likely do so regardless of
their beliefs). They will not only filter the evidence to support their
perception of not-guilty (if they have such a perception) but will then
also intentionally attempt to cast doubt upon any "damaging" evidence.

We of the "public" will be "entertained" by the media (and those
individuals will be controlling their own perceptions).

Good luck if you really suspect that you are going to hear anything
in the way of factual information in response to your question.

-bill

[From Dag Forssell (950510 1700)]

[Bill Leach 950508.01:47] >>[Dag Forssell (950507 1800)]

  ... This applies not only to the many religions in the world,

    (which are _all_ belief) but also to a very large assortment of
    prejudices, ...

  It is, I think, an error to catagorize religion flatly as "all

    belief". There is much in "religious beliefs" that stands the
    scrutiny of close examination (just as there is much that does
    not). The belief in God itself is purely "belief" in the sense
    in which you define the term (and is openly admitted to be the
    case in the Christian religions at least).

  I will even go so far as to say that in terms of "how to live"

    most religious doctrine is far better than the behaviour of
    its' practitioners and certainly better than what you will hear
    from most "behavioural scientists". Of course all of that
    requires a _belief_ that living to certain standards is "good".

We seem to agree. I was referring to belief in GOD or GODS, as the case may
be. "How to live" is another matter entirely, subject to much
experience. I posted on that in the discussion _about_ religion that took
place in the spring of 1992.

a sampling:

[From Dag Forssell (920504)]

···

Subject: Standards

-----------
If indeed the Principles/Standards/Values are what count, and most
people on reflection and discussion will arrive at a similar set,
it will not be surprising that there is a great uniformity in that
area between all religions. . . .

I find it interesting to look at the HPCT hierarchy, which may
confirm this suggestion:

   Systems Concept: "The Way it Is" / Understanding / Belief
             /\ I
              I \/
         Principle (Also -) Principle
(Morals & Laws of Nature) (Morals & Laws of Nature)
    (Standards & Values) (Standards & Values)
             /\ I
              I \/
          Programs (Also -) Programs
             /\ I
              I \/
          Sequences Sequences

Notice that the (SAME) Principles/Standards/Values used to create
a particular Systems Concept structure logically could be expected
to be derived from it. It is also possible that a principle
taught or experienced "on the way up" is remembered and used "on
the way down" without being explicitly recognized as part of a
system of concepts. We experience a lot as we grow up in our
families, which stays with us as principles/ values/ standards
without deliberate connection with, reflection on, or support by
our religious beliefs, [whatever they are].

----------------------

Best, Dag