Bill Powers on applying PCT

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need
new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

Nice post. I have the feeling that “we need new questions” is too often confounded with “we already have the answers, aka, PCT…”.

···

On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 10:27 AM, Huddy, Vyv v.huddy@ucl.ac.uk wrote:

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need
new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

[Vyv Huddy(1305.05.09.2016)]

···

AGM: Nice post. I have the feeling that “we need new questions” is too often confounded with “we already have the answers, aka, PCT…”.

VH: What answers do you mean? And what questions?

VH: If the pronoun we above refers to me then you’re raising a more personal point that I think may not be of interest to the list… But for what it’s worth I’d say I have differing levels of conviction in the answers to the questions raised in the papers
I’ve read … I’m very confident that closed loop model of tracking tasks explains the phenomenon of control in that set up and, further, demonstrates a vital principle. But some questions about PCT have almost no answers at all
(e.g. B:CP p. 224 “note how skillfully I bypass the question of what flips the memory switch…”).

VH: I feel a bit uncomfortable as established posters on CSG Net are in a much better position to comment than I. Warren has put together a working document here about the empirical evidence.

http://www.pctweb.org/EmpiricalEvidencePCT.pdf

VH: So some questions are answered better than others but I don’t think anyone suggests that all the questions have answers. Or even what the main questions are?!

On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 10:27 AM, Huddy, Vyv
v.huddy@ucl.ac.uk wrote:

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need
new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

[Martin Taylor 2016.09.05.08.25]

  Alex, would it be a hassle for you to head your messages with

some unique identifier, so that they can be directly referenced in
a follow-up, perhaps months or years later? I don’t know whether
you know, but CSGnet is archived, and sometimes we do draw on
year-old threads. The conventional ID is as above: sender’s name
followed by the International format date and time, but you could
use anything convenient. Then a follow up could say something like
“Alex asked a couple of years ago [Unique ID] and we now seem to
have a new way to approach an answer. …”.

I see quite a parallel between this comment and one we could make

about chemistry: “We need new questions” is too often confounded
with “we already have the answers, aka, Atomic Valence Theory.”
To shift metaphors, I see PCT as the foundation, not the building.
Some form of Perceptual Control Theory is, I think, imposed by
thermodynamic considerations, but it need not be exactly Powers’s
strict hierarchic form. However, since we have Powers’s form and it
has been shown to be viable over quite a range of problem areas, I
think Occam’s razor suggests we should stick with it and its
refinements until a simpler theory is proposed and shown to be
equally effective. At the moment I know of none.
Yes, we need new questions, and we need real answers to some old
ones, such as the one you posed a couple of months ago.
Vi Huddy [Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)] asked the same question as
Andrew Wilson asked in his blog post
.
"Does PCT suggest any new research questions?
While Atomic Valence Theory may suggest some questions about
chemistry, I think it is more up to the chemists who have a problem
understanding or creating some compound to ask novel questions as to
how the theory can help them. I suggest that the same is true of
PCT. What actually is happening in a Method of Levels session? What
should be the role of unions and management in a stable society?
What is the best approach when you want to convince someone to vote
for you? And so forth. Maybe PCT can lead to answers, maybe not yet,
maybe the questions are too unconstrained to be answered ever. In
the other direction, we can ask “If PCT is correct, what follows
from that, and how must PCT be refined to account for observation
X,if at all?” The chemistry analogy is on the one hand the analysis
of existing compounds and on the other the a priory prediction and
synthesis of new ones.
There’s really no shortage of questions for and about PCT, but the
fruitful way to find them is a mix of bottom-up (starting with PCT)
and top-down (starting with a real-world situation).
Martin

···

On 2016/09/5 5:07 AM, Alex Gomez-Marin
wrote:

      Nice

post. I have the feeling that “we need new questions” is too
often confounded with “we already have the answers, aka,
PCT…”.

http://psychsciencenotes.blogspot.ca/2016/01/a-quick-review-and-analysis-of.html

      On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 10:27 AM, Huddy,

Vyv v.huddy@ucl.ac.uk
wrote:

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

              VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has

brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

              LCS II p.173 "to realize the potential of control

theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it
as a means to finding new answers to old questions.
The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and
their answers are probably meaningless. We need new
questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how
people and animals actually work. We have a
believeable model to start with".

              VH: The trouble is that this isn't followed up with a

heuristic framework to help us formulate good
questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t
much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least
from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything more
detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

Very helpful mostly but I’m still stuck here:

[Martin Taylor 2016.09.05.08.25]

MT: Yes, we need new questions, and we need real answers to some old ones, such as the one you posed a couple of months ago.

VH: Why is it important to understand that question? If someone was writing a paper about it what would be the background justification, from a PCT point of view?

VH: Take the opening to the Huh PNAS paper in 2016 which state:

“Natural body movements have surprising regularities despite the complexity of the movements and the many degrees of freedom that are involved. These regularities provide insights into principles underlying the mechanisms that generate the movements”

VH: The movements themselves - without knowing their purpose - cannot, in my understanding of PCT, shed any light on how they were generated. Can they? Where am I going wrong in my thinking?

Vi Huddy [Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)] asked the same question as Andrew Wilson asked in his blog post
. "Does PCT suggest any new research questions?
While Atomic Valence Theory may suggest some questions about chemistry, I think it is more up to the chemists who have a problem understanding or creating some compound to ask novel questions as to how the theory can help them. I suggest that the same is true
of PCT. What actually is happening in a Method of Levels session? What should be the role of unions and management in a stable society? What is the best approach when you want to convince someone to vote for you? And so forth. Maybe PCT can lead to answers,
maybe not yet, maybe the questions are too unconstrained to be answered ever. In the other direction, we can ask “If PCT is correct, what follows from that, and how must PCT be refined to account for observation X,if at all?” The chemistry analogy is on the
one hand the analysis of existing compounds and on the other the a priory prediction and synthesis of new ones.
There’s really no shortage of questions for and about PCT, but the fruitful way to find them is a mix of bottom-up (starting with PCT) and top-down (starting with a real-world situation).
Martin

···


http://psychsciencenotes.blogspot.ca/2016/01/a-quick-review-and-analysis-of.html

On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 10:27 AM, Huddy, Vyv
v.huddy@ucl.ac.uk wrote:

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need
new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

[Martin Taylor 2016.09.05.13.15]

It's the same question one might ask of a chemist: "What is the

justification for trying to synthesize an ethylene molecule from a
Valence Theory point of view?" The answer is that if you can’t do
it, the question having been posed, more need to be understood about
PCT. Alex observed a consistency of behaviour that transcended the
environmental conditions and the organism observed, but it wasn’t a
universal consistency. If PCT cannot be used to explain it either as
a behavioural illusion that appears under ill-defined circumstances
or as a property of control of some as-yet undetermined perceptual
variable, then the usefulness, if not the validity, or PCT is called
into question. It is important because the question was asked, not
because lots of people are interested in how organisms control
whatever they control when they go round curves.
I don’t think you are wrong at all. All through the curvature
discussion I’ve been banging on about the need to figure out the
controlled perception – the purpose being the reference value for
that perception – before trying to model the behaviour to find out
whether it is indeed a behavioural illusion or says something
important about the structure of PCT.
I justify that last by a purely speculative intuition that an
important controlled perception might be the tolerable error. If
that is so, then PCT would need to incorporate a specific error
perception and control mechanism, possibly by invoking the
sometimes-mentioned gain control input (I believe Tom Bourbon was
interested in that, but no real need for it has been shown). If
something like that is happening, then the speed variation could
possibly be explained by gain variation in a controlled perception
of following the track as fast as possible within the allowable
error. Now this is totally speculative, and may be completely
unrelated to the truth. But if it had some relation to the truth,
would that not be important for the very structure of PCT?
Martin

···

On 2016/09/5 10:48 AM, Huddy, Vyv
wrote:

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

        Very helpful mostly but I'm still stuck here:



          [Martin Taylor 2016.09.05.08.25]

        MT: Yes, we need new questions, and we need real answers to

some old ones, such as the one you posed a couple of months
ago.

        VH: Why is it important to understand that question? If

someone was writing a paper about it what would be the
background justification, from a PCT point of view?

        VH: Take the opening to the Huh PNAS paper in 2016 which

state:

          "Natural body movements have surprising regularities

despite the complexity of the movements and the many
degrees of freedom that are involved. These regularities
provide insights into principles underlying the mechanisms
that generate the movements"

        VH: The movements themselves - without knowing their purpose
  • cannot, in my understanding of PCT, shed any light on how
    they were generated. Can they? Where am I going wrong in my
    thinking?
        Vi Huddy [Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)] asked the same

question as Andrew Wilson asked in his blog post
.
"Does PCT suggest any new research questions?
While Atomic Valence Theory may suggest some questions about
chemistry, I think it is more up to the chemists who have a
problem understanding or creating some compound to ask novel
questions as to how the theory can help them. I suggest that
the same is true of PCT. What actually is happening in a
Method of Levels session? What should be the role of unions
and management in a stable society? What is the best
approach when you want to convince someone to vote for you?
And so forth. Maybe PCT can lead to answers, maybe not yet,
maybe the questions are too unconstrained to be answered
ever. In the other direction, we can ask “If PCT is correct,
what follows from that, and how must PCT be refined to
account for observation X,if at all?” The chemistry analogy
is on the one hand the analysis of existing compounds and on
the other the a priory prediction and synthesis of new ones.
There’s really no shortage of questions for and about PCT,
but the fruitful way to find them is a mix of bottom-up
(starting with PCT) and top-down (starting with a real-world
situation).
Martin

http://psychsciencenotes.blogspot.ca/2016/01/a-quick-review-and-analysis-of.html

              On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 10:27

AM, Huddy, Vyv
v.huddy@ucl.ac.uk
wrote:

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

                      VH: Reading the debates over the last two

months has brought one quote to mind a number
of times:-

                      LCS II p.173 "to realize the potential of

control theory, we must apply it directly and
not think of it as a means to finding new
answers to old questions. The old questions
are loaded with assumptions, and their answers
are probably meaningless. We need new
questions, and the basic question, I suggest,
is how people and animals actually work. We
have a believeable model to start with".

                      VH: The trouble is that this isn't followed

up with a heuristic framework to help
us formulate good questions, apart from going
up levels. There isn’t much more in the
manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I
can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research
questions from PCT?

AGM: Indeed Martin! Regardless of the interest in steering maggots, the power law is unsolved PCT homework, which I still want to do.

···

On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 10:27
AM, Huddy, Vyv
v.huddy@ucl.ac.uk
wrote:

[Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)]

                      VH: Reading the debates over the last two

months has brought one quote to mind a number
of times:-

                      LCS II p.173 "to realize the potential of

control theory, we must apply it directly and
not think of it as a means to finding new
answers to old questions. The old questions
are loaded with assumptions, and their answers
are probably meaningless. We need new
questions, and the basic question, I suggest,
is how people and animals actually work. We
have a believeable model to start with".

                      VH: The trouble is that this isn't followed

up with a heuristic framework to help
us formulate good questions, apart from going
up levels. There isn’t much more in the
manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I
can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research
questions from PCT?

[From Rick Marken (2016.09.05.1830)]

···

Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need
new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

RM: Great question, Vyv. The question of how to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is one I’ve struggled with for over 30 years. I’m afraid that there is no road map describing how to do this, other than what Bill says in the quoted passage above, which I will paraphrase as “Forget the old questions about how people and animals work and start asking new ones based on PCT”. Actually, maybe the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper starting on p. 167 in LCS I is kind of road map for research on PCT. You might like to take a look at that.

RM: I’ve managed, after 20 years of thinking about it, to formulate a few research questions from a PCT perspective. For example, “What are people controlling when they intercept moving objects”? ; “What is the evidence that different types of perceptions are controlled at different levels of a control hierarchy”?; “What is the cause of objectively observed errors in controlling”? I’ve done some research to test these questions and published papers describing the results of this research. But none of these projects have turned into research programs. I think this is because I’m working on my own (without the help of really bright people, like some of those here on CSGNet, who prefer trying to answer the old questions;-) and also because I don’t have the resources to make that happen.

RM: But I think the main impediment to being able to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is the opposition to PCT that Bill speaks of in the beginning of that paper (p. 171). Bill thought (at the CSG meeting back in 1986, when this paper was written) that we were “approaching a time when we will no longer have to concentrate on overcoming opposition” to PCT. Thirty years later that time has still not arrived. But there was never really much active opposition to PCT. I think the opposition to PCT mainly existed (and still exists) in the form of the behemoth that is the conventional life science establishment – the huge infrastructure of courses, educational programs, textbooks and scientific publications that are based on a causal model of “how people and animals work”.

RM: I think this establishment is an impediment to formulating research questions from a PCT perspective for several reasons. First, it defines what are considered the appropriate research question and how to go about studying them. So anyone who has been trained in this establishment will have trouble thinking of a research question that is not informed by it’s point of view, which differs considerably from the PCT point of view. Second, if you do come up with a research question from a PCT perspective it will not be of much interest to anyone in that establishment; so PCT research doesn’t have an audience among the researchers who you would like to have be your audience (or research colleagues). Third, if you go ahead and do the research anyway and write it up you’ll have a heck of a time trying to publish it since establishment reviewers will not like or understand it.

RM: I think Bill ended up continuing his work aimed at “showing what’s wrong with conventional ideas” about how people and animals work (as he says in LCS II, p. 171) because every time he came in contact with the life science establishment (in the form of members of that establishment asking him how PCT would explain this or that phenomenon or telling him that PCT couldn’t explain this or that phenomenon) he was forced to “show what’s wrong with conventional ideas” (as I’m doing now with the idea of the power law). Because of this he wasn’t able to do much of the research he would have liked to do that would have provided a model of how to do research based on PCT. I know that Bill did try to do some PCT research by insinuating it into some conventionally conceived research that was being done by other people. But none of this turned out to be a very good example of PCT research because the people he was doing it with were firmly entrenched in the establishment perspective and Bill couldn’t get the research done the way he wanted it done.

RM: But I think this is an important topic, Vyv, so if you have any general ideas for research aimed at understanding, from a PCT perspective, how people and animals work, let’s knock them around and see if we can come up with any ideas for PCT research that we (or someone) could actually do. Or that would at least let people see what PCT research would look like.

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken

“The childhood of the human race is far from over. We
have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do for
others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for
themselves.” – William T. Powers

[From Adam Matic 7.9.2016]

I think I see the problem of ‘what questions to ask’ a bit more straight-forward then how to answer those questions.

There is the question of ‘what the animal is doing’ or ‘how to name this behavior’.

Then there is ‘how it works’ as a description of underlying processes and interactions with the environment.

If we add the developmental and evolutionary perspectives, it is almost like Tinbergen’s four questions.

For the first question, if we assume that behavior is control, we also assume that every animal has its own perceptual world (umwelt, merkwelt, subjective experience…) then we need to try to identify as accurately as possible what is being perceived and controlled by the animal. A lot of these questions have been answered without PCT. We know bats don’t use vision much, but still perceive depth and shapes from ‘sonars’, dogs probably live in a very smell-dominated reality, snakes see temperature changes… When we see a frog catching flies, we can know it is not really ‘catching flies’ since it cannot differentiate between flies and falling pieces of cardboard (catches both). The TCV is one tool for such studies, but it also requires a fair bit of imagination, guesswork and careful experimentation. We can’t know first-hand what the animal is experiencing, but we can try to gradually improve our guesses and models by taking both behavioral and physiological or neuroimaging data.

It seems that this idea of acknowledging subjectivity in the animal is not always present (legacy of behaviorism?) but there are many examples where it is present in some form, as there has been a lot of pushback to behaviorism.

What researchers do after this step of identifying perceptions, depends on the theoretical framework they assume is correct.

For the ‘how it works’ question, PCT has a relatively clear framework: if we are concerned with simple behaviors, often we can go with just one or two loops for start. After that there are many possible directions - staying on the same level and adding perceptions and behaviors that happen simultaneously to the model; we can model learning and reorganization; we can go down a level and model perceptual functions explicitly; we can model motor/output loops explicitly, including muscle dynamics or environmental forces; or we can go up a level and attempt to model higher processes and varying reference functions. Or we can do group behavior…

I think Bill did something along those lines with the tracking and arm models. First there is a single loop model of tracking. Then there is tracking that includes a simple arm model in the output. Then there is a model of the arm with some muscle dynamics and a visual system that does target tracking. There is also a motor learning / reorganization model.

These types of research are also being done without PCT, there are various agent models with Markov chains, neural networks, control loops; robotic models with artificial sensors and motors; all attempting to replicate animal behaviors in various levels of detail. My assumption is that PCT models would be somehow better then alternatives, more biologically plausible or more accurate in replicating modeled behavior.

As such, those models could serve as starting questions for the developmental and evolutionary perspective - how exactly those loops and behaviors develop and change trough time. To me, it seems there is a lot of confusion about terms such as ‘function’ and ‘purpose’ of animal behaviors, and a framework with a hierarchy of purposes might bring some order and clarity into it.

Best,

Adam

···

On Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 3:30 AM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2016.09.05.1830)]

Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need
new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything
more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

RM: Great question, Vyv. The question of how to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is one I’ve struggled with for over 30 years. I’m afraid that there is no road map describing how to do this, other than what Bill says in the quoted passage above, which I will paraphrase as “Forget the old questions about how people and animals work and start asking new ones based on PCT”. Actually, maybe the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper starting on p. 167 in LCS I is kind of road map for research on PCT. You might like to take a look at that.

RM: I’ve managed, after 20 years of thinking about it, to formulate a few research questions from a PCT perspective. For example, “What are people controlling when they intercept moving objects”? ; “What is the evidence that different types of perceptions are controlled at different levels of a control hierarchy”?; “What is the cause of objectively observed errors in controlling”? I’ve done some research to test these questions and published papers describing the results of this research. But none of these projects have turned into research programs. I think this is because I’m working on my own (without the help of really bright people, like some of those here on CSGNet, who prefer trying to answer the old questions;-) and also because I don’t have the resources to make that happen.

RM: But I think the main impediment to being able to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is the opposition to PCT that Bill speaks of in the beginning of that paper (p. 171). Bill thought (at the CSG meeting back in 1986, when this paper was written) that we were “approaching a time when we will no longer have to concentrate on overcoming opposition” to PCT. Thirty years later that time has still not arrived. But there was never really much active opposition to PCT. I think the opposition to PCT mainly existed (and still exists) in the form of the behemoth that is the conventional life science establishment – the huge infrastructure of courses, educational programs, textbooks and scientific publications that are based on a causal model of “how people and animals work”.

RM: I think this establishment is an impediment to formulating research questions from a PCT perspective for several reasons. First, it defines what are considered the appropriate research question and how to go about studying them. So anyone who has been trained in this establishment will have trouble thinking of a research question that is not informed by it’s point of view, which differs considerably from the PCT point of view. Second, if you do come up with a research question from a PCT perspective it will not be of much interest to anyone in that establishment; so PCT research doesn’t have an audience among the researchers who you would like to have be your audience (or research colleagues). Third, if you go ahead and do the research anyway and write it up you’ll have a heck of a time trying to publish it since establishment reviewers will not like or understand it.

RM: I think Bill ended up continuing his work aimed at “showing what’s wrong with conventional ideas” about how people and animals work (as he says in LCS II, p. 171) because every time he came in contact with the life science establishment (in the form of members of that establishment asking him how PCT would explain this or that phenomenon or telling him that PCT couldn’t explain this or that phenomenon) he was forced to “show what’s wrong with conventional ideas” (as I’m doing now with the idea of the power law). Because of this he wasn’t able to do much of the research he would have liked to do that would have provided a model of how to do research based on PCT. I know that Bill did try to do some PCT research by insinuating it into some conventionally conceived research that was being done by other people. But none of this turned out to be a very good example of PCT research because the people he was doing it with were firmly entrenched in the establishment perspective and Bill couldn’t get the research done the way he wanted it done.

RM: But I think this is an important topic, Vyv, so if you have any general ideas for research aimed at understanding, from a PCT perspective, how people and animals work, let’s knock them around and see if we can come up with any ideas for PCT research that we (or someone) could actually do. Or that would at least let people see what PCT research would look like.

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken

“The childhood of the human race is far from over. We
have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do for
others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for
themselves.” – William T. Powers

[From Bruce Abbott (2016.09.07.1115 EDT)]

Excellent post, Adam!

Bruce

···

From: Ada
m Matic [mailto:adam.matic@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 7, 2016 9:56 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Bill Powers on applying PCT

[From Adam Matic 7.9.2016]

I think I see the problem of ‘what questions to ask’ a bit more straight-forward then how to answer those questions.

There is the question of ‘what the animal is doing’ or ‘how to name this behavior’.

Then there is ‘how it works’ as a description of underlying processes and interactions with the environment.

If we add the developmental and evolutionary perspectiv
es, it is almost like Tinbergen’s four questions.

For the first question, if we assume that behavior is control, we also assume that every animal has its own perceptual world (umwelt, merkwelt, subjective experience…) then we need to try to identify as accurately as possible what is being perceived and controlled by the animal. A lot of these questions have been answered without PCT. We know bats don’t use vision much, but still perceive depth and shapes from ‘sonars’, dogs probably live in a very smell-dominated reality, snakes see temperature changes… When we see a frog catching flies, we can know it is not really ‘catching flies’ since it cannot differentiate between flies and falling pieces of cardboard (catches both). The TCV is one tool for such studies, but it also requires a fair bit of imagination, guesswork and careful experimentation. We can’t know first-hand what the
animal is experiencing, but we can try to gradually improve our guesses and models by taking both behavioral and physiological or neuroimaging data.

It seems that this idea of acknowledging subjectivity in the animal is not always present (legacy of behaviorism?) but there are many examples where it is present in some form, as there has been a lot of pushback to behaviorism.

What researchers do after this step of identifying perceptions, depends on the theoretical framework they assume is correct.

For the ‘how it works’ question, PCT has a relatively clear framework: if we are concerned with simple behaviors, often we can go with just one or two loops for start. After that there are many possible directions - staying on the sa
me level and adding perceptions and behaviors that happen simultaneously to the model; we can model learning and reorganization; we can go down a level and model perceptual functions explicitly; we can model motor/output loops explicitly, including muscle dynamics or environmental forces; or we can go up a level and attempt to model higher processes and varying reference functions. Or we can do group behavior…

I think Bill did something along those lines with the tracking and arm models. First there is a single loop model of tracking. Then there is tracking that includes a simple arm model in the output. Then there is a model of the arm with some muscle dynamics and a visual system that does target tracking. There is also a motor learning / reorganization model.

These types of res
earch are also being done without PCT, there are various agent models with Markov chains, neural networks, control loops; robotic models with artificial sensors and motors; all attempting to replicate animal behaviors in various levels of detail. My assumption is that PCT models would be somehow better then alternatives, more biologically plausible or more accurate in replicating modeled behavior.

As such, those models could serve as starting questions for the developmental and evolutionary perspective - how exactly those loops and behaviors develop and change trough time. To me, it seems there is a lot of confusion about terms such as ‘function’ and ‘purpose’ of animal behaviors, and a framework with a hierarchy of purposes might bring some order and clarity into it.

Best,

Adam

On Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 3:30 AM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2016.09.05.1830)]

Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

RM: Great question, Vyv. The question of how to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is one I’ve struggled with for over 30 years. I’m afraid that there is no road map describing how to do this, other than what Bill says in the quoted passage above, which I will paraphrase as “Forget the old questions about how people and animals work and start asking new ones based on PCT”. Actually, maybe the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper starting on p. 167 in LCS I is kind of road map for research on PCT. You might like to take a look at that.

RM: I’ve managed, after 20 years of thinking about it, to formulate a few research questions from a PCT perspective. For example, “What are people controlling when they intercept moving objects”? ; “What is the evidence that different types of percept
ions are controlled at different levels of a control hierarchy”?; “What is the cause of objectively observed errors in controlling”? I’ve done some research to test these questions and published papers describing the results of this research. But none of these projects have turned into research programs. I think this is because I’m working on my own (without the help of really bright people, like some of those here on CSGNet, who prefer trying to answer the old questions;-) and also because I don’t have the resources to make that happen.

RM: But I think the main impediment to being able to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is the opposition to PCT that Bill speaks of in the beginning of that paper (p. 171). Bill thought (at the CSG meeting back in 1986, when this paper was written) that we were “approaching a time when we will no longer h
ave to concentrate on overcoming opposition” to PCT. Thirty years later that time has still not arrived. But there was never really much active opposition to PCT. I think the opposition to PCT mainly existed (and still exists) in the form of the behemoth that is the conventional life science establishment – the huge infrastructure of courses, educational programs, textbooks and scientific publications that are based on a causal model of “how people and animals work”.

RM: I think this establishment is an impediment to formulating research questions from a PCT perspective for several reasons. First, it defines what are considered the appropriate research question and how to go about studying them. So anyone who has been trained in this establishment will have trouble thinking of a research question that is not informed by it’s point of view, which differs consid
erably from the PCT point of view. Second, if you do come up with a research question from a PCT perspective it will not be of much interest to anyone in that establishment; so PCT research doesn’t have an audience among the researchers who you would like to have be your audience (or research colleagues). Third, if you go ahead and do the research anyway and write it up you’ll have a heck of a time trying to publish it since establishment reviewers will not like or understand it.

RM: I think Bill ended up continuing his work aimed at “showing what’s wrong with conventional ideas” about how people and animals work (as he says in LCS II, p. 171) because every time he came in contact with the life science establishment (in the form of members of that establishment asking him how PCT would explain this or that phenomenon or telling him that PCT couldn’t explain this or that p
henomenon) he was forced to “show what’s wrong with conventional ideas” (as I’m doing now with the idea of the power law). Because of this he wasn’t able to do much of the research he would have liked to do that would have provided a model of how to do research based on PCT. I know that Bill did try to do some PCT research by insinuating it into some conventionally conceived research that was being done by other people. But none of this turned out to be a very good example of PCT research because the people he was doing it with were firmly entrenched in the establishment perspective and Bill couldn’t get the research done the way he wanted it done.

RM: But I think this is an important topic, Vyv, so if you have any general ideas for research aimed at understanding, from a PCT perspective, how people and animals work, let’s knock them around and see i
f we can come up with any ideas for PCT research that we (or someone) could actually do. Or that would at least let people see what PCT research would look like.

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken

“The childhood of the human race is far from over. We have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do for others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for themselves.” – William T. Powers

Adam,

in the text….

image001137.png

image00351.jpg

···

From: Adam Matic [mailto:adam.matic@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2016 3:56 PM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Bill Powers on applying PCT

[From Adam Matic 7.9.2016]

I think I see the problem of ‘what questions to ask’ a bit more straight-forward then how to answer those questions.

There is the question of ‘what the animal is doing’ or ‘how to name this behavior’.

Then there is ‘how it works’ as a description of underlying processes and interactions with the environment.

If we add the developmental and evolutionary perspectives, it is almost like Tinbergen’s four questions.

For the first question, if we assume that behavior is control,

HB : Sorry the assumption is wrong. Behavior is not control. But organism controls….Control of behavior is Ricks’ inveention, which I interpreted as »perceptual illusion«.

Behavior is not control and it’s not controlling any »controlled variable« in environment and it’s not controlling input. In PCT »Perception is controlled«. You can see from Bill’s diagram that behavior is the result of »error« signal«, which is the result of »Control of perception« in comparator.

Bill P (LCS III). :

cid:image001.png@01D1CF6C.D20A8F20

AM : we also assume that every animal has its own perceptual world (umwelt, merkwelt, subjective experience…) then we need to try to identify as accurately as possible what is being perceived and controlled by the animal.

HB : Right. What is being perceived and contolled by animal !!! Not controlled by behavior…

AM : A lot of these questions have been answered without PCT.

HB : Right. Physiology and biology did a lot of work.

AM : We know bats don’t use vision much, but still perceive depth and shapes from ‘sonars’, dogs probably live in a very smell-dominated reality, snakes see temperature changes… When we see a frog catching flies, we can know it is not really ‘catching flies’ since it cannot differentiate between flies and falling pieces of cardboard (catches both).

The TCV is one tool for such studies,

HB : Quite unsufficient tool… if we understandd it in Rick’s sense.

AM : but it also requires a fair bit of imagination, guesswork and careful experimentation.

HB : I agree…J

AM : We can’t know first-hand what the animal is experiencing, but we can try to gradually improve our guesses and models by taking both behavioral and physiological or neuroimaging data.

HB : I agree. Try to explain to Rick this…

AM : It seems that this idea of acknowledging subjectivity in the animal is not always present (legacy of behaviorism?) but there are many examples where it is present in some form, as there has been a lot of pushback to behaviorism.

HB : I agree

AM : What researchers do after this step of identifying perceptions, depends on the theoretical framework they assume is correct.

HB : Bill did use some physiological knowledge (see B:CP). It’s not just theoretical framework. There are some experiments behind.

AM : For the ‘how it works’ question, PCT has a relatively clear framework:

HB : I would say no. It’s quite unclear if we are talking about framework (see bellow). The principle of »how it works« is quite clear. But not when we start using the orgsnisms PCT framework. Dag for example is waiting for some solution to come in future. But it can be that he will not see the solution.

cid:image001.png@01D119FD.595FDCD0

AM : ….if we are concerned with simple behaviors, often we can go with just one or two loops for start.

HB : Even simple behaviors can be the result of very complex perceptions controlled by organism.

AM : After that there are many possible directions - staying on the same level and adding perceptions and behaviors that happen simultaneously to the model; we can model learning and reorganization; we can go down a level and model perceptual functions explicitly; we can model motor/output loops explicitly, including muscle dynamics or environmental forces; or we can go up a level and attempt to model higher processes and varying reference functions. Or we can do group behavior…

HB : I’m not sure I understand….:). Maybe some life examples would help.

<

AM : I think Bill did something along those lines with the tracking and arm models. First there is a single loop model of tracking. Then there is tracking that includes a simple arm model in the output. Then there is a model of the arm with some muscle dynamics and a visual system that does target tracking. There is also a motor learning / reorganization model.

HB . Beside mechanical (robotic) use of PCT I’m sure that we can use PCT in some other sciences. Motor learning/reoganization model ??? Maybe some examples ?

AM : These types of research are also being done without PCT, there are various agent models with Markov chains, neural networks, control loops; robotic models with artificial sensors and motors; all attempting to replicate animal behaviors in various levels of detail. My assumption is that PCT models would be somehow better then alternatives, more biologically plausible or more accurate in replicating modeled behavior.

HB : I agree. But there is quite a way to be done to improve PCT to the level of clear use.

AM : As such, those models could serve as starting questions for the developmental and evolutionary perspective - how exactly those loops and behaviors develop and change trough time.

HB : Some first organisms (cells) didn’t have any outer loop (behavior). They just survived with internal control loops inside membrane.

AM : To me, it seems there is a lot of confusion about terms such as ‘function’ and ‘purpose’ of animal behaviors, and a framework with a hierarchy of purposes might bring some order and clarity into it.

HB : Purposive behavior can be also clear in animals with simple structure, no hierarchy. For example if you put E.Coli into suitable environment it will »tumble« in the place. If you put sugar into environment, E.Colli will stop tumbling after some time as it will start to proppel direclty to the sugar probably following the path of moleculs coming from the sugar. So »purpose« to survive seems to be the start of the evolution. What can be more clear about »function« and » purpose« of animal behavior ?

Best,

Boris

Best,

Adam

On Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 3:30 AM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2016.09.05.1830)]

Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

RM: Great question, Vyv. The question of how to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is one I’ve struggled with for over 30 years. I’m afraid that there is no road map describing how to do this, other than what Bill says in the quoted passage above, which I will paraphrase as “Forget the old questions about how people and animals work and start asking new ones based on PCT”. Actually, maybe the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper starting on p. 167 in LCS I is kind of road map for research on PCT. You might like to take a look at that.

RM: I’ve managed, after 20 years of thinking about it, to formulate a few research questions from a PCT perspective. For example, “What are people controlling when they intercept moving objects”? ; “What is the evidence that different types of perceptions are controlled at different levels of a control hierarchy”?; “What is the cause of objectively observed errors in controlling”? I’ve done some research to test these questions and published papers describing the results of this research. But none of these projects have turned into research programs. I think this is because I’m working on my own (without the help of really bright people, like some of those here on CSGNet, who prefer trying to answer the old questions;-) and also because I don’t have the resources to make that happen.

RM: But I think the main impediment to being able to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is the opposition to PCT that Bill speaks of in the beginning of that paper (p. 171). Bill thought (at the CSG meeting back in 1986, when this paper was written) that we were “approaching a time when we will no longer have to concentrate on overcoming opposition” to PCT. Thirty years later that time has still not arrived. But there was never really much active opposition to PCT. I think the opposition to PCT mainly existed (and still exists) in the form of the behemoth that is the conventional life science establishment – the huge infrastructure of courses, educational programs, textbooks and scientific publications that are based on a causal model of “how people and animals work”.

RM: I think this establishment is an impediment to formulating research questions from a PCT perspective for several reasons. First, it defines what are considered the appropriate research question and how to go about studying them. So anyone who has been trained in this establishment will have trouble thinking of a research question that is not informed by it’s point of view, which differs considerably from the PCT point of view. Second, if you do come up with a research question from a PCT perspective it will not be of much interest to anyone in that establishment; so PCT research doesn’t have an audience among the researchers who you would like to have be your audience (or research colleagues). Third, if you go ahead and do the research anyway and write it up you’ll have a heck of a time trying to publish it since establishment reviewers will not like or understand it.

RM: I think Bill ended up continuing his work aimed at “showing what’s wrong with conventional ideas” about how people and animals work (as he says in LCS II, p. 171) because every time he came in contact with the life science establishment (in the form of members of that establishment asking him how PCT would explain this or that phenomenon or telling him that PCT couldn’t explain this or that phenomenon) he was forced to “show what’s wrong with conventional ideas” (as I’m doing now with the idea of the power law). Because of this he wasn’t able to do much of the research he would have liked to do that would have provided a model of how to do research based on PCT. I know that Bill did try to do some PCT research by insinuating it into some conventionally conceived research that was being done by other people. But none of this turned out to be a very good example of PCT research because the people he was doing it with were firmly entrenched in the establishment perspective and Bill couldn’t get the research done the way he wanted it done.

RM: But I think this is an important topic, Vyv, so if you have any general ideas for research aimed at understanding, from a PCT perspective, how people and animals work, let’s knock them around and see if we can come up with any ideas for PCT research that we (or someone) could actually do. Or that would at least let people see what PCT research would look like.

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken

“The childhood of the human race is far from over. We have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do for others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for themselves.” – William T. Powers

In the text bellow

···

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2016 3:31 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Bill Powers on applying PCT

[From Rick Marken (2016.09.05.1830)]

Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

RM: Great question, Vyv. The question of how to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is one I’ve struggled with for over 30 years. I’m afraid that there is no road map describing how to do this, other than what Bill says in the quoted passage above, which I will paraphrase as “Forget the old questions about how people and animals work and start asking new ones based on PCT”. Actually, maybe the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper starting on p. 167 in LCS I is kind of road map for research on PCT. You might like to take a look at that.

HB : Selfevident. You’ve been struggling for 30 and maybe more years with formulating reasearch question from a PCT perspective because you don’t understand PCT and of course consequetly how LCS work. If you’d understand PCT, you’d had no problems with formulating questions.

RM: I’ve managed, after 20 years of thinking about it, to formulate a few research questions from a PCT perspective. For example, “What are people controlling when they intercept moving objects”? ; “What is the evidence that different types of perceptions are controlled at different levels of a control hierarchy”?; “What is the cause of objectively observed errors in controlling”? I’ve done some research to test these questions and published papers describing the results of this research. But none of these projects have turned into research programs. I think this is because I’m working on my own (without the help of really bright people, like some of those here on CSGNet, who prefer trying to answer the old questions;-) and also because I don’t have the resources to make that happen.

HB : The same problem as above. You are working in your RCT (Rick’ Control Theory) way, so I’m not surprised that you can’t do anything worth in PCT sense.

RM: But I think the main impediment to being able to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is the opposition to PCT that Bill speaks of in the beginning of that paper (p. 171). Bill thought (at the CSG meeting back in 1986, when this paper was written) that we were “approaching a time when we will no longer have to concentrate on overcoming opposition” to PCT. Thirty years later that time has still not arrived. But there was never really much active opposition to PCT. I think the opposition to PCT mainly existed (and still exists) in the form of the behemoth that is the conventional life science establishment – the huge infrastructure of courses, educational programs, textbooks and scientific publications that are based on a causal model of “how people and animals work”.

HB : I think that oposition exists because of misunderstanding PCT. And you are one of them. Momentally I see YOU as the major opposition and threat to PCT.

RM: I think this establishment is an impediment to formulating research questions from a PCT perspective for several reasons. First, it defines what are considered the appropriate research question and how to go about studying them. So anyone who has been trained in this establishment will have trouble thinking of a research question that is not informed by it’s point of view, which differs considerably from the PCT point of view. Second, if you do come up with a research question from a PCT perspective it will not be of much interest to anyone in that establishment; so PCT research doesn’t have an audience among the researchers who you would like to have be your audience (or research colleagues). Third, if you go ahead and do the research anyway and write it up you’ll have a heck of a time trying to publish it since establishment reviewers will not like or understand it.

RM: I think Bill ended up continuing his work aimed at “showing what’s wrong with conventional ideas” about how people and animals work (as he says in LCS II, p. 171) because every time he came in contact with the life science establishment (in the form of members of that establishment asking him how PCT would explain this or that phenomenon or telling him that PCT couldn’t explain this or that phenomenon) he was forced to “show what’s wrong with conventional ideas” (as I’m doing now with the idea of the power law). Because of this he wasn’t able to do much of the research he would have liked to do that would have provided a model of how to do research based on PCT. I know that Bill did try to do some PCT research by insinuating it into some conventionally conceived research that was being done by other people. But none of this turned out to be a very good example of PCT research because the people he was doing it with were firmly entrenched in the establishment perspective and Bill couldn’t get the research done the way he wanted it done.

RM: But I think this is an important topic, Vyv, so if you have any general ideas for research aimed at understanding, from a PCT perspective, how people and animals work, let’s knock them around and see if we can come up with any ideas for PCT research that we (or someone) could actually do. Or that would at least let people see what PCT research would look like.

HB : Well what a familiar way to entice out of people something that you can’t do. Youyou are trying to drag Vyv into difficult research about how organism work. And than you will use the findings ???

At least my work was not in vain. It seems that you start thinking about how organism work as I’m repeating this for 10 years. I’m glad that my conversations with you have some success.

I’d suggest Vyv not to »knock« arround anything. Experiences with Rick shows that he could steal your ideas and make his own projects. By my oppinion he has very high gain about »taking care of his ass«. If I only remember what happened when there was possibility of placing PCT into Psychology Dictionary. I take Rick and his perfect egoism resposable that PCT is not in Psychology Dictionary. He wanted to force RCT with »Behavior is Control« instead of promoting Bill’s work with »Control of perception« PCT.

Best,

Boris

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken

“The childhood of the human race is far from over. We have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do for others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for themselves.” – William T. Powers

bob hintz [11:29AM, 9-12-16]

The email from Bill Powers (march 27, 2013) that Boris has shared recently has resulted in a variety of thoughts.

I have often wondered why the we imagine that the hierarchy of control only seems to affect variables outside the skin of the organism i.e., the external environment. The two dashed lines in the environment area of the diagram suggest that the behavioral output affects two perceptions. The short curved loop goes back to sensory input function, but the longer, straighter loop goes to physiological effects which alter the intrinsic state and are perceived by the reorganization system. This intrinsic state is part of the internal environment of the organism and is continuously changing in the process we call life. Bill notes that there are two different functions of the output function of the homeostatic system. One focuses on performance and I am guessing that is the arrows that return to the intrinsic state and one focuses on learning and those arrows create and alter the Learned Hierarchy of Control (LHC). I note that the LHC only perceives differences in the external environment in this diagram.

···

On Sat, Sep 10, 2016 at 11:52 PM, Boris Hartman boris.hartman@masicom.net wrote:

In the text bellow

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2016 3:31 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Bill Powers on applying PCT

[From Rick Marken (2016.09.05.1830)]

Vyv Huddy(0907.05.09.2016)

VH: Reading the debates over the last two months has brought one quote to mind a number of times:-

LCS II p.173 “to realize the potential of control theory, we must apply it directly and not think of it as a means to finding new answers to old questions. The old questions are loaded with assumptions, and their answers are probably meaningless. We need new questions, and the basic question, I suggest, is how people and animals actually work. We have a believeable model to start with”.

VH: The trouble is that this isn’t followed up with a heuristic framework to help us formulate good questions, apart from going up levels. There isn’t much more in the manifesto chapter in LCS II, at least from I can glean. Can anyone point me to anything more detailed on formulating research questions from PCT?

RM: Great question, Vyv. The question of how to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is one I’ve struggled with for over 30 years. I’m afraid that there is no road map describing how to do this, other than what Bill says in the quoted passage above, which I will paraphrase as “Forget the old questions about how people and animals work and start asking new ones based on PCT”. Actually, maybe the “Cybernetic Model for Research in Human Development” paper starting on p. 167 in LCS I is kind of road map for research on PCT. You might like to take a look at that.

HB : Selfevident. You’ve been struggling for 30 and maybe more years with formulating reasearch question from a PCT perspective because you don’t understand PCT and of course consequetly how LCS work. If you’d understand PCT, you’d had no problems with formulating questions.

RM: I’ve managed, after 20 years of thinking about it, to formulate a few research questions from a PCT perspective. For example, “What are people controlling when they intercept moving objects”? ; “What is the evidence that different types of perceptions are controlled at different levels of a control hierarchy”?; “What is the cause of objectively observed errors in controlling”? I’ve done some research to test these questions and published papers describing the results of this research. But none of these projects have turned into research programs. I think this is because I’m working on my own (without the help of really bright people, like some of those here on CSGNet, who prefer trying to answer the old questions;-) and also because I don’t have the resources to make that happen.

HB : The same problem as above. You are working in your RCT (Rick’ Control Theory) way, so I’m not surprised that you can’t do anything worth in PCT sense.

RM: But I think the main impediment to being able to formulate research questions from a PCT perspective is the opposition to PCT that Bill speaks of in the beginning of that paper (p. 171). Bill thought (at the CSG meeting back in 1986, when this paper was written) that we were “approaching a time when we will no longer have to concentrate on overcoming opposition” to PCT. Thirty years later that time has still not arrived. But there was never really much active opposition to PCT. I think the opposition to PCT mainly existed (and still exists) in the form of the behemoth that is the conventional life science establishment – the huge infrastructure of courses, educational programs, textbooks and scientific publications that are based on a causal model of “how people and animals work”.

HB : I think that oposition exists because of misunderstanding PCT. And you are one of them. Momentally I see YOU as the major opposition and threat to PCT.

RM: I think this establishment is an impediment to formulating research questions from a PCT perspective for several reasons. First, it defines what are considered the appropriate research question and how to go about studying them. So anyone who has been trained in this establishment will have trouble thinking of a research question that is not informed by it’s point of view, which differs considerably from the PCT point of view. Second, if you do come up with a research question from a PCT perspective it will not be of much interest to anyone in that establishment; so PCT research doesn’t have an audience among the researchers who you would like to have be your audience (or research colleagues). Third, if you go ahead and do the research anyway and write it up you’ll have a heck of a time trying to publish it since establishment reviewers will not like or understand it.

RM: I think Bill ended up continuing his work aimed at “showing what’s wrong with conventional ideas” about how people and animals work (as he says in LCS II, p. 171) because every time he came in contact with the life science establishment (in the form of members of that establishment asking him how PCT would explain this or that phenomenon or telling him that PCT couldn’t explain this or that phenomenon) he was forced to “show what’s wrong with conventional ideas” (as I’m doing now with the idea of the power law). Because of this he wasn’t able to do much of the research he would have liked to do that would have provided a model of how to do research based on PCT. I know that Bill did try to do some PCT research by insinuating it into some conventionally conceived research that was being done by other people. But none of this turned out to be a very good example of PCT research because the people he was doing it with were firmly entrenched in the establishment perspective and Bill couldn’t get the research done the way he wanted it done.

RM: But I think this is an important topic, Vyv, so if you have any general ideas for research aimed at understanding, from a PCT perspective, how people and animals work, let’s knock them around and see if we can come up with any ideas for PCT research that we (or someone) could actually do. Or that would at least let people see what PCT research would look like.

HB : Well what a familiar way to entice out of people something that you can’t do. Youyou are trying to drag Vyv into difficult research about how organism work. And than you will use the findings ???

At least my work was not in vain. It seems that you start thinking about how organism work as I’m repeating this for 10 years. I’m glad that my conversations with you have some success.

I’d suggest Vyv not to »knock« arround anything. Experiences with Rick shows that he could steal your ideas and make his own projects. By my oppinion he has very high gain about »taking care of his ass«. If I only remember what happened when there was possibility of placing PCT into Psychology Dictionary. I take Rick and his perfect egoism resposable that PCT is not in Psychology Dictionary. He wanted to force RCT with »Behavior is Control« instead of promoting Bill’s work with »Control of perception« PCT.

Best,

Boris

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken

“The childhood of the human race is far from over. We have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do for others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for themselves.” – William T. Powers