Believe and belief

[From Bruce Abbott (990112.1015 EST)]

Bill Powers (990111.1600 MST) --

How did we come to be arguing about whether "all beliefs are references?"

You and Rick made that proposal. Martin Taylor, Bruce Gregory, and I raised
objections to it. That's how we came to be arguing about it.

We can get
out of this argument just by saying what we want belief to mean and then
sticking to it -- no doubt we could then find a niche for this term
somewhere in PCT.

Good idea. What definition of "belief" did you and Rick have in mind when
you proposed that beliefs are references?

Bruce

[From Rick Marken (990112.0910)]

Bill Powers (990111.1600 MST) --

How did we come to be arguing about whether "all beliefs are
references?"

I think it was just a simplified way of putting it. Instead of
referring to the operation of the whole control loop I was
emphasizing the role of the reference signal. I was thinking
about belief in terms of the Piaget example I gave (and about which
no one has commented). In that situation, many people "believe"
that a heavier object will displace more water than a lighter one.
I think this kind of "belief" involves the imagined results of
placing both kinds of objects in water. When I think about it
I "see" an image of the heavier object making the water rise a
bit more than the lighter object makes it rise. According to
PCT, this image is produced by my setting a reference for seeing
this; and then seeing it (getting the corresponding value of
perceptual signal) via the imagination connection. The fact that
I act surprised when I see what actually happens when the heavier
and lighter weights are placed in water simultaneously (equal
displacement) suggests that I am comparing what I see to what I
believed I would see (in the form of the reference) and the
difference produces an error which shows up as an action (surprise).

I think that rather than talking about how PCT explains belief
(which gives the impression that belief is some kind of well
defined phenomenon) we should just let this discussion show that
various phenomena (like the Piaget demo and holy wars) which are
often discussed in terms of "belief" do fit into the HPCT model.
People "imagine" future events; so does the HPCT model. People
defend what they "believe" ("imagine") to be true; so does the
HPCT model. The model, like people, is pretty human;-)

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 Bruce Gregory (990112.1255 EST)]

Rick Marken (990112.0910)

I think it was just a simplified way of putting it. Instead of
referring to the operation of the whole control loop I was
emphasizing the role of the reference signal. I was thinking
about belief in terms of the Piaget example I gave (and about which
no one has commented).

The example has become the basis of a pedagogical device. Students are
asked to make predictions about the outcome of an experiment and then
the experiment is conducted. The results are mixed. Some students change
what they predict, although this response tends to fade with time--they
return to their original predictions. Others explain away what they
observe as the result of other factors (which they rarely bother to
check). Still others simply shrug and add the experience to the category
"one more thing I don't understand". There is an extensive body of
research on "misconceptions" or the more PC "alternative conceptions".
Most misconceptions seem quite reasonable _after_ you have formed the
correct conception. Before this happens, however, it is not clear that
exposing misconceptions helps lead to "conceptual change."

In that situation, many people "believe"
that a heavier object will displace more water than a lighter one.
I think this kind of "belief" involves the imagined results of
placing both kinds of objects in water. When I think about it
I "see" an image of the heavier object making the water rise a
bit more than the lighter object makes it rise. According to
PCT, this image is produced by my setting a reference for seeing
this; and then seeing it (getting the corresponding value of
perceptual signal) via the imagination connection.

What role does control play in this model? It seems to me to be a rather
convoluted way to "explain" the existence of perceptual signals that are
copies of reference signals.

The fact that
I act surprised when I see what actually happens when the heavier
and lighter weights are placed in water simultaneously (equal
displacement) suggests that I am comparing what I see to what I
believed I would see (in the form of the reference) and the
difference produces an error which shows up as an action (surprise).

Normally we are not surprised, but frustrated when we fail to exercise
control. Perhaps this is not an example of control?

Bruce Gregory

[From Rick Marken (990112.1320)]

Bruce Gregory (990112.1255 EST)--

What role does control play in this model [of imgination]?

The control loop is used to generate the desired perceptual
signal value without any connection through the environment.

It seems to me to be a rather convoluted way to "explain" the
existence of perceptual signals that are copies of reference
signals.

It's making a _very_ small change (adding the imagination switch)
in a _very_ successful model of behehavior (HPCT) to explain a
familiar subjective phenomenon: thinking.

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 Bruce Gregory (990113.1435 EST)]

Rick Marken (990112.0910)

I think that rather than talking about how PCT explains belief
(which gives the impression that belief is some kind of well
defined phenomenon) we should just let this discussion show that
various phenomena (like the Piaget demo and holy wars) which are
often discussed in terms of "belief" do fit into the HPCT model.
People "imagine" future events; so does the HPCT model. People
defend what they "believe" ("imagine") to be true; so does the
HPCT model. The model, like people, is pretty human;-)

At least as human as a thermostat. A thermostat (actually the entire
system in which the thermostat is the comparator) is an ECU. We could
certainly give it a "memory" and the appropriate switches to switch in
an out of "imagination" mode. But as Bill rightly argues, a thermostat
doesn't "believe" anything. It is not obvious that an HPCT system does
either. Perception is a technical term in PCT. While the thermostat
"perceives" the temperature, most of us are pretty convinced that it is
not aware of the temperature. As long as awareness is not part of the
HPCT model, he have to be very careful whenever we compare an HPCT
system to a human being. Unless we are prepared to say that beliefs do
not require conscious awareness, any comparison is on less than solid
ground.

Bruce Gregory

[From Rick Marken (990113.1430)]

Me:

The [HPCT] model, like people, is pretty human;-)

Bruce Gregory (990113.1435 EST) --

At least as human as a thermostat.

At least!

As long as awareness is not part of the HPCT model, he have to
be very careful whenever we compare an HPCT system to a human
being.

Awareness _is_ part of the HPCT model but we are very careful
when we compare an HPCT system to a human being anyway.

By the way, any thoughts about whether or not right and wrong
are an aspect of perception?

Best

Rick

···

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