# Beliefs and Reference Levels

[From Bruce Abbott (990104.1730 EST)]

Rick Marken (990104.1020) --

Ye:

I think B' is what we would call the "belief"; if B is a
perceptual variable then it's what you actually perceive.
As you point out in your nice example of the flat earther,
beliefs have to do with what we _want_ to perceive (or imagine);
so a belief really functions as a reference for the state
of a perceptual (or imagined) variable.

When I say "I believe that god created all living things in
two 24 hour days" I am not describing what I perceive but what
I _want_ to perceive (or imagine). If I can manage to have
perceptions (or imaginations) that are consistent with this
belief (reference) then those perceptions and imaginations
will match what I believe but they are not the belief itself
(just as when the cursor is on target my perception of the
distance between cursor and target matches my reference for
that perception, but the perception is not the reference).

Me:

Oh yeah? Well, that's _your_ perception! (I perceive that I don't believe it.)

Bruce

[From Bill Powers (990103.1200 MST)]

Bruce Gregory (981227.1700 EDT)--

I will say, "Oh,
I'm hopeless at mathematics, I can't solve that problem." And I will NOT
EVEN TRY. In other words, I behave so as to keep the belief true.

I, on the other hand, might say that your belief is that if you try, you
will fail and that you do not try in order to avoid failure. My theory, in
this case, is that you will avoid situations in which you believe failure is
likely whether or not mathematics is involved. (You have a high gain for
perceiving that you are not failing.) If I give you a simple mathematics
problem, I predict you will try and successfully complete it, since the risk
of failure is small.

Another reasonable hypothesis (many are possible). However, if my belief is
that I will fail, and is as strong as my belief in, say, gravity, then I
will not attempt to solve ANY mathematical problem, because I know I will
fail. And of course that, in itself, constitutes a failure. I avoid trying
it for the same reason I avoid jumping out of fourth-story windows: because
I would be shocked beyond measure to find that my expectation was not
matched by my perceptions. It's that huge error signal that occurs when
perception fails to match expectation that tells us the expectation or
belief is of the nature of a reference signal.

Less dramatically, here's an example of an expectation or belief turning
out to behave like a reference signal. There's a television ad showing a
sunrise in speeded-up motion. I felt uncomfortable about it several times
before realizing what was wrong. It simply shows the disk of the sun moving
toward the upper left, away from the horizon. The problem is, I believe the
sun always moves up and to the _right_ away from the horizon (in my
northern hemisphere). Seeing it move "wrongly" creates a definite sense of
error, even though there's nothing I can do to change it but not look.

You would have to predict, I surmise, that you would
not even take on this simple task because it would threaten your belief that
you are hopeless at mathematics. Two different predictions, so we can
perform a test.

Right, and still other hypotheses are possible (including the one that I
simply don't want to do your damn math problem for you).

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (990103.1626 EST)]

Bill Powers (990103.1200 MST)

Right, and still other hypotheses are possible (including the one that I
simply don't want to do your damn math problem for you).

Indeed. I was persuaded by Martin's observation that a belief is a neural
signal and a neural signal is a neural signal. Its role is determined by
topology, not its nature.

Bruce Gregory

[From Rick Marken (990104.1020)]

Martin Taylor (990104 12:00) --

One can test whether belief B is a controlled perception--i.e.
that it has a reference value B', and actions are performed to
maintain the value of B near B'.

I think B' is what we would call the "belief"; if B is a
perceptual variable then it's what you actually perceive.
As you point out in your nice example of the flat earther,
beliefs have to do with what we _want_ to perceive (or imagine);
so a belief really functions as a reference for the state
of a perceptual (or imagined) variable.

When I say "I believe that god created all living things in
two 24 hour days" I am not describing what I perceive but what
I _want_ to perceive (or imagine). If I can manage to have
perceptions (or imaginations) that are consistent with this
belief (reference) then those perceptions and imaginations
will match what I believe but they are not the belief itself
(just as when the cursor is on target my perception of the
distance between cursor and target matches my reference for
that perception, but the perception is not the reference).

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[Martin Taylor 990104 12:00]

[From Bill Powers (990103.1200 MST) in reply to

Bruce Gregory (981227.1700 EDT)--

I avoid trying
it for the same reason I avoid jumping out of fourth-story windows: because
I would be shocked beyond measure to find that my expectation was not
matched by my perceptions. It's that huge error signal that occurs when
perception fails to match expectation that tells us the expectation or
belief is of the nature of a reference signal.

There's another way of looking at this. If a belief (B) is a perception of
the environmental feedback function associated with an action A that might
be used for the control of a perception (P), it is part of the imagination
loop for P. If using belief B leads to the imaginary result that P will
not be influenced in the desired direction by action A, then the switch
from imagination to overt action will not involve action A. The belief
B will not be affected by the results of whatever action is eventually
used to influence P. This does not give the belief B the character of
a reference signal. But even though this example does not show belief
to have the character of a reference signal, nevertheless beliefs can
be controlled, just as can other perceptions.

One can test whether belief B is a controlled perception--i.e. that it
has a reference value B', and actions are performed to maintain the value
of B near B'. One can use the Test, and act on the believer's environment
in a way that "ought" to modify B. If the believer acts to counter that
disturbance, then B' is a reference value for belief B. One can show
a flat-earther a ship disappearing over the horizon, or the shape of
the earth's shadow in a lunar eclipse, or a picture from space. A
flat-earther who is controlling that belief will find ways to account
for those observations without altering the flat-earth belief.

Many beliefs probably are controlled in this way, and as with other well
controlled perceptions, the controller may well not be aware thet they
are being controlled. The value B' for belief B is simply a fact of life,
and evidence to the contrary must be discounted in some way.

Less dramatically, here's an example of an expectation or belief turning
out to behave like a reference signal. There's a television ad showing a
sunrise in speeded-up motion. I felt uncomfortable about it several times
before realizing what was wrong. It simply shows the disk of the sun moving
toward the upper left, away from the horizon. The problem is, I believe the
sun always moves up and to the _right_ away from the horizon (in my
northern hemisphere). Seeing it move "wrongly" creates a definite sense of
error, even though there's nothing I can do to change it but not look.

Yes, I've had the same experience. This belief B(sunrise) has a reference
value B'(sunrise)=up-to-right. It is a fact of life for me. The
evidence of the TV commercial is discounted by my saying that the
makers of the commercial were ignorant--or maybe Australians. Perhaps I
would experience the same sense of error if I went to Australia, but I
think that if I did, what might happen is that the disturbance would
eventually overcome the control of belief, and the sense of error would
go away. That the sun rises upward to the right would no longer be a
fact of life. I guess that its similar to the phenomenon of ceasing to
try to control a perception against a disturbance too strong to counter--
"learned helpnessness" as the classical psychologists call(ed?) it.

Science involves subjecting beliefs to possible disturbances without
attempting to control them--at least not at very high gain. But if a
belief B simply _has to_ have the value B' in order to be able to control
a whole mess of perceptions (e.g. higher-level beliefs), then to allow
B to deviate from B' is to introduce a whole lot of error into the
system. Disturbances to the value of B will be resisted.

You would have to predict, I surmise, that you would take on
this simple task because it would threaten your belief that
you are hopeless at mathematics. Two different predictions, so we can
perform a test.

Right, and still other hypotheses are possible (including the one that I
simply don't want to do your damn math problem for you).

Yes, when attempting the Test, it can be hard to determine what perceptions
the tester's disturbances are actually influencing. Shielding a
perception from a disturbance is not control, but it is one way to
sustain the perception at its present value. And it's often a lot easier
to shield than the control. So, with beliefs, one can shield them from
being tested, one can control them against potential disturbances, or
one can allow them to change as a consequence of sensing the environment.

Beliefs are not in themselves reference values, but they can have
reference values, and as with any controlled perception, control of a
belief can provide reference values for other perceptions.

Martin

[From Bruce Gregory (990104.1710 EST)]

Rick Marken (990104.1020)

When I say "I believe that god created all living things in
two 24 hour days" I am not describing what I perceive but what
I _want_ to perceive (or imagine). If I can manage to have
perceptions (or imaginations) that are consistent with this
belief (reference) then those perceptions and imaginations
will match what I believe but they are not the belief itself
(just as when the cursor is on target my perception of the
distance between cursor and target matches my reference for
that perception, but the perception is not the reference).

I suspect that the statement you describe is really a surrogate for a
controlled perception something like "I am saved". In order to control
this perception, some find it necessary to adopt a creed--a series of
assertions along the lines of the Boy Scout oath. By making these
assertions one seeks to guard the perception that one is a member of a
group. The facts of such assertions are quite irrelevant. (Much as are
the facts about the trustworthiness of Scouts.) The pledge of allegiance
is another example of an assertion meant to bolster the perception of
membership in a group. I perceive that I am a Scout, an American, one of
the Elect. Once a non-believer sees this, he or she often decides to
give up discussing the creed with Boy Scouts, the flag with patriots,
and the age of the earth with born again Christians. Such arguments
threaten people's eternal salvation. "Don't mess with my hereafter!"

Bruce Gregory

[From Rick Marken (990104.1520)]

Bruce Abbott (990104.1730 EST)]

Oh yeah? Well, that's _your_ perception! (I perceive that
I don't believe it.)

Oh yeah? Well, that's _your_ belief about my perception of
your belief. (I believe that I don't perceive it).

By the way, any contributions to PCT in the last year (papers,
presentations, PBS specials) that I should post at the CSG site?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[Martin Taylor 990105 0:45]

[From Rick Marken (990104.1020)]

When I say "I believe that god created all living things in
two 24 hour days" I am not describing what I perceive but what
I _want_ to perceive (or imagine).

So what _do_ you perceive about that proposition, if it is what you
want to perceive but do not?

You mean that when you say "I believe X" you really mean "I don't
believe X but I want to believe X?" If you currently don't perceive
that "god created all living things in two 24-hour days" is a fact,
I would think ordinary language would have you saying "I don't believe"
rather than "I do believe." What you believe is a perception you have
about the way the world is, was, or will be, or about the way it works,
worked, or will work. What you want to believe is a reference value for
that perception.

If I can manage to have
perceptions (or imaginations) that are consistent with this
belief (reference) then those perceptions and imaginations
will match what I believe but they are not the belief itself

No. They may be evidence contributing to the belief, just as intensities
and relations are evidence contributing to the perception that there is
a cursor (and a target).

(just as when the cursor is on target my perception of the
distance between cursor and target matches my reference for
that perception, but the perception is not the reference).

Exactly. So why do you contradict yourself?

Martin

[From Bruce Abbott (990105.0845 EST)]

Martin Taylor 990105 0:45 --

Rick Marken (990104.1020)

When I say "I believe that god created all living things in
two 24 hour days" I am not describing what I perceive but what
I _want_ to perceive (or imagine).

So what _do_ you perceive about that proposition, if it is what you
want to perceive but do not?

You mean that when you say "I believe X" you really mean "I don't
believe X but I want to believe X?" If you currently don't perceive
that "god created all living things in two 24-hour days" is a fact,
I would think ordinary language would have you saying "I don't believe"
rather than "I do believe." What you believe is a perception you have
about the way the world is, was, or will be, or about the way it works,
worked, or will work. What you want to believe is a reference value for
that perception.

Excellent, Martin. I perceive that your argument is right on target!

Bruce

[From Rick Marken (990105.0750)]

Me:

When I say "I believe that god created all living things in
two 24 hour days" I am not describing what I perceive but what
I _want_ to perceive (or imagine).

Martin Taylor (990105 0:45) --

So what _do_ you perceive about that proposition, if it is what
you want to perceive but do not?

The perceptual variable could be described as "length of time it
seems to have taken for living things to have been created". This
is a complex perceptual variable which is based on perceptions of
what we read in authoritative sources (bible, biology texts, etc),
what we have experienced about the creation of living things (how
long it takes for organisms to reproduce themselves) and what we
have experienced about the manufacture of artifacts in general.

The belief is a reference for a particular state of this perceptual
_variable_; the reference state is "2 days".

You mean that when you say "I believe X" you really mean "I don't
believe X but I want to believe X?"

No. When I say "I believe X" I really mean "My reference for the
state of perceptual variable Z is the value X".

If you currently don't perceive that "god created all living
things in two 24-hour days" is a fact, I would think ordinary
language would have you saying "I don't believe" rather than
"I do believe."

If I believe that god created all living things in two 24-hour days
then I will make every effort to maintain the perceptual variable
"length of time it seems to have taken for living things to have
been created" at my reference of 2 days. I do this by carefully
picking the evidence I look at (I read the bible rather than
biology and geology texts) and deal with disturbances (like the
fossil record) by ignoring it or developing rationalizations
(imaginations) that keep my perception of "length of time it seems
to have taken for living things to have been created" at the
level I want (the one I believe in -- 2 days).

What you believe is a perception you have about the way the
world is, was, or will be, or about the way it works, worked,
or will work. What you want to believe is a reference value for
that perception.

This is very close to what I said above; you are just using the
word "believe" to refer to the reference state of a perceptual
variable and the word "want" to refer to the reference
specification that determines the reference state. This way of
talking about it, I think, misses a powerful point: the fact
that beliefs can act as reference specifications for perceptual
variables. If we call a state of a perceptual variable a belief
then I think we miss seeing the _willfulness_ of belief; we
emphasize the aspect of belief that is a dependent (controlled)
as opposed to an independent (reference) variable.

I think Bill's point about belief -- and I think it's a very
powerful point -- is that a belief functions like a goal for
our perceptual input that we ourselves set. When we believe in
something we have set a reference for the state of some perceptual
variable(s) and we will _act_ to bring this variable to the level
specified by the belief. Beliefs are _specifications_ for input;
they are not the inputs themselves. This is a powerful and useful
way to model beliefs because it points to _our own_ contribution
to the belief process; we set our own beliefs (references) and
thus determine the reference states for the corresponding perceptual
variables. The power of this point of view is lost (I think) when
we ignore beliefs as references and think of beliefs as the
reference states of perceptual variables.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bill Powers (990105.0903 MST)]

Martin Taylor 990104 12:00--

If a belief (B) is a perception of
the environmental feedback function associated with an action A that might
be used for the control of a perception (P), it is part of the imagination
loop for P.

Somehow this proposal doesn't ring true. If I believe that God is watching
my thoughts, how does this amount to a function connecting my actions to
some variable I want to control? If I believe I'm no good at math, I can
agree that this can be seen as perceiving a function connecting some kind
of effort to do math with the correctness (or even existence) of an answer
to a mathematical problem, but that still seems like a perception of a
function, which is a relationship perception, I think. Do all beliefs,
then, exist at the relationship level? I think not. We can have beliefs
about perceptions of any kind, can't we? I believe my glasses have light
tan frames, though I can't see them right now. That doesn't seem to fit
your definition.

I think it more likely that what we call a belief is a reference-perception
that specifies the "right" state for some variable perception which can be
in any state. While I don't control the color of my glasses frames, I would
be very startled to take my glasses off and see that the frames are bright
orange. That wouldn't be right at all. I might even look around to see
where my real glasses are, and to find the person whose glasses (obviously
not mine) I am wearing. In short, I WOULD try to control the color of the
frames of the glasses I am wearing! This doesn't become obvious until there
is a discrepancy between what I _believe_ I _should be_ perceiving and what
I _know_ I _am_ perceiving. That's in accord with the principle that you
can't determine what is under control until something disturbs it.

A moral belief (thou shouldst honor thy father and mother) is a
reference-principle, isn't it? The actual perceived state of affairs may
match that principle, in which case there is no error. But the belief
becomes apparent when the actual state of affairs is that you _don't_ honor
thy father or mother (note that not-(A and B) is equivalent to ([not-A) or
(not-B)]. The belief that you should honor your father and mother remains
the same, but the perception changes. So here, the belief is clearly a
reference signal and not a perception.

In fact, in all cases I can think of, when there is a deviation of the
perceived world from the state defined by a belief, it is the perception
that changes while the belief remains the same, implying that the belief is
the reference signal.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (990105.1000 MST)]

Bruce Gregory (990104.1710 EST)--

I perceive that I am a Scout, an American, one of
the Elect. Once a non-believer sees this, he or she often decides to
give up discussing the creed with Boy Scouts, the flag with patriots,
and the age of the earth with born again Christians. Such arguments
threaten people's eternal salvation. "Don't mess with my hereafter!"

Be careful not to assume that just because a person believes in such
things, that person is stupid and beneath you. Believing is a normal
function of a healthy, intelligent mind. Like any function of the mind, it
can be misdirected, or some people can believe it is misdirected.
Determining which is the case is not necessarily easy. And whichever is the
case, belief is so prevalent that we must study it and try to understand
how it works. The particular beliefs we have, or avoid, are interesting
only as examples of a phenomenon, not as truths or untruths.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (990105.1006 MST)]

Bruce Abbott (990104.1730 EST)--

Rick Marken (990104.1020) --

When I say "I believe that god created all living things in
two 24 hour days" I am not describing what I perceive but what
I _want_ to perceive (or imagine). If I can manage to have
perceptions (or imaginations) that are consistent with this
belief (reference) then those perceptions and imaginations
will match what I believe but they are not the belief itself
(just as when the cursor is on target my perception of the
distance between cursor and target matches my reference for
that perception, but the perception is not the reference).

[Bruce A}:

Oh yeah? Well, that's _your_ perception! (I perceive that I don't believe

it.)

If that was a joke, it was a bit too subtle, and the grammatical reference
was too unclear ("that's" your perception -- with "that" referring to which
statement in Rick's post?).

Was the point that you were actually agreeing with Rick?

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (990105.1350 EST)]

Bill Powers (990105.1000 MST)

Bruce Gregory (990104.1710 EST)--

>I perceive that I am a Scout, an American, one of
>the Elect. Once a non-believer sees this, he or she often decides to
>give up discussing the creed with Boy Scouts, the flag with patriots,
>and the age of the earth with born again Christians. Such arguments
>threaten people's eternal salvation. "Don't mess with my hereafter!"

Be careful not to assume that just because a person believes in such
things, that person is stupid and beneath you.

I simply try to avoid discussing with them anything related to their
beliefs.

Believing is a normal
function of a healthy, intelligent mind.

It is not obvious to me that this characterization extends to beliefs
that one refuses to examine.

Like any function of
the mind, it
can be misdirected, or some people can believe it is misdirected.
Determining which is the case is not necessarily easy.

I simply ask, "What evidence led you to that idea?" If no reasonable
answer follows, further discussion is fruitless and should be avoided.
(Is this my belief? Yes. Do I have evidence to support it? You bet!)

And
whichever is the
case, belief is so prevalent that we must study it and try to
understand
how it works. The particular beliefs we have, or avoid, are
interesting
only as examples of a phenomenon, not as truths or untruths.

As I have speculated, beliefs one is unwilling to examine are closely
linked to controlled perceptions associated with survival. My older son
is a born again Christian. I never dispute his beliefs because, frankly,
I have nothing to offer him that would replace the role they play in his
life.

Bruce Gregory

[Martin Taylor 990105 13:54

[From Rick Marken (990105.0750)]

If I believe that god created all living things in two 24-hour days
then I will make every effort to maintain the perceptual variable
"length of time it seems to have taken for living things to have
been created" at my reference of 2 days.

Let's try a less ethereal belief.

I believe that when it rains, the water will drain down the storm sewer,
and I will be able to drive through the bridge underpass. I can easily
go another way around, but nevertheless, this is my belief.

Now I see that it rains.

I do this by carefully
picking the evidence I look at (I read the bible rather than
biology and geology texts) and deal with disturbances (like the
fossil record) by ignoring it or developing rationalizations
(imaginations) that keep my perception of "length of time it seems
to have taken for living things to have been created" at the
level I want (the one I believe in -- 2 days).

According to you, what I will do is to avoid going by way of the bridge
underpass, so that I will not be confronted with unwelcome evidence if
it turns out to be flooded. If the TV starts to tell me about flooded
streets, I will turn it off in case I hear that one of the flooded
places is the bridge underpass.

According to me, if I see on TV that it is flooded, I will change my belief
that the storm sewer will drain away the water, and will choose my other
route instead. I will eagerly look for evidence that might cause me to
change my belief, especially if my belief is the least bit uncertain.

I think Bill's point about belief -- and I think it's a very
powerful point -- is that a belief functions like a goal for
our perceptual input that we ourselves set. When we believe in
something we have set a reference for the state of some perceptual
variable(s) and we will _act_ to bring this variable to the level
specified by the belief.

Is this any different from the normal control of any perception? If, indeed,
one has a reference value for a belief, one will act to control it, and
the action is to set reference levels for supporting perceptions, just
as it is with the control of any perception.

Beliefs are _specifications_ for input;
they are not the inputs themselves. This is a powerful and useful
way to model beliefs because it points to _our own_ contribution
to the belief process; we set our own beliefs (references) and
thus determine the reference states for the corresponding perceptual
variables.

Could you make this more concrete by referring to my belief that the
storm sewer will drain away the rainwater? I'm not at all clear what
input this belief specifies. I _can_ see that having this belief may affect
my reference values for perceptions relating to my choice of routes.
But that's the point about beliefs being perceptions of the available
environmental feedback functions, isn't it? Since you appear to disagree
with this view, you must mean something else.

Martin

[From Bruce Abbott (990105.1430 EST)]

Bill Powers (990105.0903 MST) --

I think it more likely that what we call a belief is a reference-perception
that specifies the "right" state for some variable perception which can be
in any state. While I don't control the color of my glasses frames, I would
be very startled to take my glasses off and see that the frames are bright
orange. That wouldn't be right at all. I might even look around to see
where my real glasses are, and to find the person whose glasses (obviously
not mine) I am wearing. In short, I WOULD try to control the color of the
frames of the glasses I am wearing!

So, if you believe that your fly is open (embarrassing under the
circumstances), this belief is a reference-perception that specifies the
"right" state for your fly to be in.

That certainly wouldn't be _my_ view.

Bruce

[From Bruce Gregory (990105.1440 EST)]

Martin Taylor 990105 13:54

I believe that when it rains, the water will drain down the
storm sewer,
and I will be able to drive through the bridge underpass. I can easily
go another way around, but nevertheless, this is my belief.

Good example. I think we need a way to distinguish a proposition we hold
as a working hypothesis ("when it rains...) and a proposition that we
hold as "the truth" ("God created...). To call them both beliefs tends
to muddy the waters. I try to avoid holding propositions as the truth.
By and large, I seem reasonably successful.

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Gregory (990105.1445 EST)]

Bruce Abbott (990105.1430 EST)

So, if you believe that your fly is open (embarrassing under the
circumstances), this belief is a reference-perception that
specifies the
"right" state for your fly to be in.

That certainly wouldn't be _my_ view.

You mid-westerners need to loosen up a bit.

Bruce Gregory

[From Rick Marken (990105.1320)]

Martin Taylor (990105 13:54) --

I believe that when it rains, the water will drain down the storm
sewer...

OK. If that belief is a reference (rather than just an imagined
perception) then you will act to make your perception (of water
drainage) match that reference.

According to you, what I will do is to avoid going by way of the
bridge underpass, so that I will not be confronted with unwelcome
evidence if it turns out to be flooded...

If I really believe (have a reference for) that water should
drain when it rains then I will act to make what I actually
perceive (which might be water draining and might not) match
what I want to perceive. How I do that depends on the environmental
circumstances as well as all the other perceptions I'm controlling
for.

According to me, if I see on TV that it is flooded, I will change
my belief that the storm sewer will drain away the water

What did you change, then? The perception is already changed (to
"flooded"). So what is it about you that changed? I suggest that
when you changed your belief what changed is your _reference_
for the perception of what happens to water when it rains.

Me:

I think Bill's point about belief -- and I think it's a very
powerful point -- is that a belief functions like a goal for
our perceptual input that we ourselves set. When we believe in
something we have set a reference for the state of some perceptual
variable(s) and we will _act_ to bring this variable to the level
specified by the belief.

Martin

Is this any different from the normal control of any perception?

No. It's just control of perception. What is _news_ is the idea
that much of what we call _belief_ is (from a PCT perspective)
a specification (reference) for the state of a perceptual variable.

Me:

Beliefs are _specifications_ for input;

Martin:

Could you make this more concrete by referring to my belief that
the storm sewer will drain away the rainwater?

I would say that the controlled perceptual variable is something
like "level of flooding". Your belief in the storm drainage is
equivalent to having a reference of zero for flooding. If you
really believe that your perception of flooding should be zero
due to the drainage then you will do something to perceive zero
flooding -- fix the drain, perhaps. Or wait until the flooding
goes to zero.

Bruce Abbott (990105.1430 EST)--

So, if you believe that your fly is open (embarrassing under
the circumstances), this belief is a reference-perception
that specifies the "right" state for your fly to be in.

Remember that "belief" can also refer to imagined perceptions. I
think this is what we have in this case (and probably in Martin's
storm drain case as well). My belief that my fly is open is
really just an imagined state of a percpetual variable (size of
fly opening). Similarly, my belief that the water will drain down
the storm sewer when it rains is just an imagined state of a
perceptual variable.

Maybe it would be better to say that PCT views "belief in something"
rather than just "belief" as the setting of a reference for the
state of a perceptual variable. When I _believe in_ my fly being open
a certain amount I am setting a reference ("open X amount") for the
perception of "fly openness" and I will control that perception,
keeping it in the state I believe in. When I _believe in_ water
draining down a a storm sewer I am setting a reference ("drain")
for the perception of "drainage" and I will control that perception,
keeping it in the state I believe in. When I _believe in_ selection
_by_ consequences I am setting a reference ("selection of behavior
by reinforcers") for the perception of "selecting" and I will control
that perception, keeping in the the state I believe in.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bill Powers (990105.1503) --

Bruce Abbott (990105.1430 EST)--

I think it more likely that what we call a belief is a reference-perception
that specifies the "right" state for some variable perception which can be
in any state.

So, if you believe that your fly is open (embarrassing under the
circumstances), this belief is a reference-perception that specifies the
"right" state for your fly to be in.

If that is what I consider to be the right state, I wouldn't be embarrassed
if my perception matched it. The error would be to believe confidently that
it's open and discover that it's zipped up (for example, standing in front
of a urinal). However, I usually believe my fly is zipped in public (i.e.,
that's how I want it to be), and it's an error, which I quickly correct, to
perceive that it's not.

I can't see why this simple idea causes such a problem. Is it that it's
different from the conventional concept of a belief?

Best,

Bill P.