Tom Bourbon [940829.1011]
[From Rick Marken (940827.2200)]
Martin Taylor (940825 18:30) --
If I understand you correctly, this is quite a different concept from the
one I intended when I introduced the label "Complex Environmental
Variable." ... In my view, the CEV is DEFINED by the Perceptual Input
Function, and has no other existence.
Thanks for a pretty good re-statement of the PCT view of perception, as
described on p. 75-76 and 113-114 of "Behavior: The control of
And as described in "Feedback: Beyond behaviorism" in _Science_, also in
Tom Bourbon (940826.0807) --
it's not like these guys [Dole and Gramm (sic)] have taken over the
country by force.
Taken over the country? The minority party?
That's my point. They are apparently articulating the goals of a large
segment of the population. I just think that the achievement of some of
those goals has produced tragic consequences for many people.
For decades much of the social agenda in the USA has been set by a congress
that has been overwhelmingly democrat and "liberal." The democrats have
controlled the House of Representatives for forty years. How does that
square with the idea that republicans have been setting the social agenda?
(Remember, I am not a republican or democrat.) Liberal democrats
engineered a extensive restructering of society, in part by way of
establishing financial rewards and punishments that clearly favor some
social relationships over others. You and I are both unhappy with the
consequences of many of those engineered social relationships.
I believe that
Hitler was democratically elected, was he not? Democracy leads to some
funny choices, but I'm glad that people get to make those choices.
"Free elections" indeed lead to some silly choices. In Texas, a majority
elected a liberal democrat as governor. (She also gets prominent play on
the national scene.) The past few years, she and the state legislature have
been on a prison-building binge. Now she is running for relection by saying
she will enact a state-wide curfew for children and adolescents. It's as
though she is saying, "There are lots of bad kids on the streets at night,
but never fear, I have a great American solution to the problem. I'll see
to it that all of the good kids are safely locked up at night." In Texas
the answer to an increase in crime is that at night all law-abiding citizens
can lock themselves and their children behind bars (on their own doors and
windows) and abandon the streets to armed criminals. Is this the liberal
democrat view of America? So much for the "land of the free and the home of
It looks to me as though the labels and party affiliations politicians adopt
have very little to do with their intelligence and decency, or vice versa.
While PCT can't tell people what to want, I think it can show what the
likely consequences of certain kinds of interactions might be.
Agreed. For example, when I was an adolescent, roaming freely anywhere and
anytime I wished (not harming any person or property), had someone tried to
impose a curfew on me like the one proposed by our governor, I would have
imediately become a criminal and a revolutionary. That is what will happen
to many young people in Texas if the governor has her way.
think that PCT will help make the world a better place (and I,
personally, do want to make the world a better place for all people) all
on its own. I think it's fair to discuss the political implications of
PCT because politics is the way people achieve common goals through
cooperation, compromise and, sometimes, just plain force.
Agreed. But when we talk about such topics, we must look closely at the
many ways force is used. Some of the applications come veiled as
ostensibly well-intentioned social programs enacted by an elite, "for the
good of the people."
dislike politicians per se; . . . the one's I
like are generally those who share my idea that it is possible to "spread
the ability to be in control" more effectively through cooperation and
compromise rather than through selfishness and force.
We agree on the _idea_ that it is good to spread the ability to control in
the manner you describe, and we share a _hope_ that it is possible to do the
spreading. But I believe some of the more pressing current social problems
in the USA stem from failed and heavy-handed attempts to engineer that ideal.
I do not believe there is even a half-baked perceptual control theorist on
the political stage.
I think politics
could (and should) be a noble profession; it's the way we come to
collective agreement about how we want to live. No matter how
skillfully this might eventually be done, a political solution will never
please all the people all the time. So politicians might always be a
relatively disliked lot.
Yes. That's why I am grateful for a system of government (three branches,
one of them with two houses each of which is occupied by at least two
parties) that often ties itself in knots before it can hurry up and do
something. That's part of the beauty of living in a wildly pluralistic