Blind Men and Scientific Progress

[from Gary Cziko 920908]

Rick Marken (920908.1030) in response to Greg Williams (920906 - 2) says:

I think my "Blind men" paper fills that bill. It says that psychologists are
right in the sense that control DOES look like response to stimulation, adapt-
ation to constraint (reinforcement) and output generation. But these appear-
ances, taken at face value, give a misleading impression of how behavior works.
At no point in the paper do I say that anyone is "wrong" -- just that they have
missed one little thing: the fact that all these appearances are aspects of
the phenomenon of control. The paper also connects current approaches to
psychology with the PCT approach. Is this consistent with your ideology?
I hope so.

I started thinking about the Blind Men paper again while reading the
philosopher of science Imre Lakatos. He makes the case that science
progresses when new theories account for everything that the old theories
account for plus account for some things they don't account for. Of
course, this is not a new idea (although perhaps some of the nuances
Lakatos slips in are new).

So, Rick, if you still have problems getting this wonderful paper
published, maybe you should add this angle to it as well, i.e., a little
history of science like how Newton showed that Galileo and Kepler were
partly blind and how Einstein showed that Newton was partly blind, etc. In
each case, a more encompassing theory was proposed that pulled together
what first appeared to be separate, unrelated phenomena (e.g., Galileo's
terrestrial mechanics and Kepler's planetary mechanics). This is exactly
what your Blind Men paper does as well.

What is particularly intriguing to think about, however, is how in 100
years or so PCTers will be considered partly blind! I wonder what the next
step will be after PCT to pull what appear to be disparate, unrelated
phenomena together.--Gary


Gary A. Cziko Telephone: (217) 333-8527
Educational Psychology FAX: (217) 333-5847
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