Critiques of PCT - Ref: The Rub Goldberg Justification

[From Rick Marken (2017.05.16.1305)]

Richard Pfau (2017.05.16 15:20 EDT)

Rick,

Here are some critiques of PCT:

Thanks Richard!
BestÂ
Rick >

Albert Bandura, "On Deconstructing Commentaries Regarding Alternative Theories of Self Regulation," Journal of Management, Vol 41, No. 4, May 2015, pp. 1025-1044. -- see pp. 1026-1028

Albert Bandura and Edwin A. Locke, "Negative Self-Efficacy and Goal Effects Revisited," Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 88, No. 1, 2003, pp. 87-99. -- see pp. 92-94

Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, "Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation," American Psychologist, Vol 57, No. 9, September 2002, pp. 705-717 -- see page 708.

Edwin A. Locke, "Goal Theory vs. Control Theory: Contrasting Approaches to Understanding Work Motivation," Motivation and Emotion, Vol. 15, No. 1, March 1991, pp. 9-28 -- especially pp. 10-18.

Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1990) -- see pp. 19-23.

With Regards,
Richard PfauÂ

From: Richard Marken <<mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com>rsmarken@gmail.com>
To: csgnet <<mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu>csgnet@lists.illinois.edu>
Sent: Tue, May 16, 2017 12:56 pm
Subject: Re: Why PCT: The Rube Goldberg Justification

[From Rick Marken (2017.05.16.0955)]

KM: This is a nice post, Rick, and it makes a really important point

Thanks Kent. If you (or anyone else listening) knows of any other critiques of PCT (besides the Alexander review of B:CP that I mentioned) I'd really appreciate getting the references. Again, my main goal is to show that critiques of PCT are based on ignorance of the phenomenon that PCT is designed to explain -- the phenomenon of control!Â
BestÂ
Rick

 >>

[From Rick Marken (2017.05.15.1230)]
RM: Two recent events have led me to realize how important it is, when "promulgating" PCT, to make it clear why PCT was developed: PCT was developed to explain the phenomenon of control as it is seen in the behavior of living systems. It was not developed to explain the behavior of living systems, where "behavior" refers to what a system is seen to be "doing" – its observable outputs. The two events that led me to this realization were 1) re-reading the review of "Behavior: The Control of Perception" by Scott Alexander at his blog (<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__slatestarcodex.com_2017_03_06_book-2Dreview-2Dbehavior-2Dthe-2Dcontrol-2Dof-2Dperception_&d=DwMFaQ&c=HUrdOLg_tCr0UMeDjWLBOM9lLDRpsndbROGxEKQRFzk&r=dTjtwaqtlquLeAMHAUFmLV9SqkY8J_JeU_NzRu_l7O4&m=yGSBseFd1V9RpwtbLjXgk3cFzwFUXy494j3FBKS7784&s=urNbMJPv8Gurr3r1HZ8CFL8NJsSd7PhkCZo64alwlEU&e=>https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/03/06/book-review-behavior-the-control-of-perception/) and 2) discussing the process of mitosis with my a biologist sister-in-law.
RM: Scott Alexander's review of B:CP was actually reasonably positive. But one part of that review, in particular, led me to realize the importance of making it clear that PCT is an explanation of control and not "behavior" as conventionally understood. It was the part of the review that says "…PCT can predict some things but not much better than competing theories". This is true only when the behaviors being predicted are produced in a disturbance-free environment. That is, PCT is "just another theory of behavior" when one ignores the fact that the behavior of living organisms is normally produced in a disturbance-prone environment; behaviors that appear to be emitted output are actually controlled consequences of output – they are controlled inputs. When this fact is taken into account then PCT turns out to be the only theory that can explain the behavior (controlling) of living systems (as demonstrated in Bourbon and Powers (1999) Models and their Worlds, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 50, 445-461).Â
RM: The discussion of mitosis – one type of cell division behavior– also shows the importance of understanding that PCT is an explanation of control. Mitosis involves a complex sequence of steps where the start of each step depends on the successful accomplishment of the previous step. My biologist sister-in-law was convinced that the process of mitosis was completely explained by the laws of physics and chemistry; no control involved at all. But it seemed to me that consistently carrying out this process successfully implied that some kind of control involved since the process is being carried out in a disturbance-prone environment. One step, in particular, caught my attention; the process of "centering the centrosome". Apparently the centrosome has to be accurately maintained in the center of the cell before the next step in the process can proceed. The biological explanation of this centering is a causal model that involves building filaments that exert equal force at different points around the centrosome. But I realized that this process was carried out in a cell that was likely to be varying in shape somewhat over time. So the centering of the centrosome had to be a control process. This idea was firmly rejected by my sister-in-law. And I realized that this is because she (and, apparently, most biologists) saw the process of producing cell division behavior (mitosis) in the same way psychologists see the process of producing overt behaviors (like walking) – as a cause-effect process where a complex sequence of effects (results) are produced with each result, once produced, becoming the cause of the process that produces the next result. I will call this the Rube Goldberg view of behavior.Â
RM: The Rube Goldberg view of behavior sees a complex behavior like cell division as the activity of a Rube Goldberg machine. A Rube Goldberg machine is a "deliberately complex contraption in which a series of devices that perform simple tasks are linked together to produce a <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__en.wikipedia.org_wiki_Domino-5Feffect&d=DwMFaQ&c=HUrdOLg_tCr0UMeDjWLBOM9lLDRpsndbROGxEKQRFzk&r=dTjtwaqtlquLeAMHAUFmLV9SqkY8J_JeU_NzRu_l7O4&m=yGSBseFd1V9RpwtbLjXgk3cFzwFUXy494j3FBKS7784&s=U--6PJms7p4gckLHx8aWhP2_NOly4sIQiIja1fWLzYg&e=>domino effect in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence". The end result of this complex process is some ridiculously simple achievement. But for present purposes what's interesting about these devices is that the end result will not be achieved unless each of the intermediate steps in the process is carried out successfully. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and his amusing devices always worked on paper (just like the causal models of mitosis always work on paper). But when you actually try to build a Rube Goldberg machine that works in the real work, you discover that getting it to produce the end result reliably is a virtual impossibility. This is because, in the real world, there is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip because there are disturbances that can disrupt the process at each step. Here is a video of a real-world Rube Goldberg machine in action:
 <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.youtube.com_watch-3Fv-3DYWk9N92-2Dwvg-23t-3D27&d=DwMFaQ&c=HUrdOLg_tCr0UMeDjWLBOM9lLDRpsndbROGxEKQRFzk&r=dTjtwaqtlquLeAMHAUFmLV9SqkY8J_JeU_NzRu_l7O4&m=yGSBseFd1V9RpwtbLjXgk3cFzwFUXy494j3FBKS7784&s=o6teCLDhsjeVIOnCJt5k_ppb3nwJlQLjBYcZUSpf-FU&e=>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWk9N92-wvg#t=27

RM: This video shows the Rube Goldberg machine achieving its end result: rolling out the new Honda. It succeeds because, as you can see, each of the complex steps in the process is carried out successfully. So it looks like a complex set of causal links can produce a particular end result. But it turns out that this machine made it through all steps successfully only after 606 failures! On 606 prior "takes" something went wrong at some point in the process, so the machine didn't manage to produce the end result until take number 607, when, apparently, by luck disturbances failed to interfere with the production of the correct results at each step in the process.Â
RM: Clearly, this Rube Goldberg process -- a series of complex causal steps -- cannot be what is going on in mitosis (or other biological of behavioral processes). The end result of mitosis -- cell division with the correct compliment of chromosomes in both daughter cells -- is achieved nearly 100% of the time; the end result of the Rube Goldberg machine in the video is produced, at best, .16% of the time. This seems like pretty strong evidence that mitosis is not a Rube Goldberg process; the steps in the process of cell division may look like the steps in a Rube Goldberg (causal) process but the fact that the end result (two perfect daughter cells) is produced with nearly perfect reliability in what is known to be a disturbance-prone environment suggests that what we are looking at when we look at mitosis is control. A model that correctly accounts for the behavior of cell division (like a model that correctly accounts for any consistently produced behavior of organisms) will be a model of control -- PCT.
RM: The idea that PCT is a model of control and not of behavior as conventionally understood -- the behavior of a Rube Goldberg machine -- is one that is very hard to get across. But I think it is at the heart of the problems PCT has had with becoming accepted in the behavioral and other life sciences. But I want to try to get this idea across to behavioral and life scientists and I think maybe I can do it using the idea of a Rube Goldberg machine as an example of a device that produces the kind of behavior that does not involve control -- and, therefore, can't work reliably in the disturbance prone real world. I'd like to do this in the context of criticisms of PCT, like those in Scott Anderson's review of B:CP. So I would appreciate it if anyone could point me to other articles where PCT has been criticized. Again, I think all the criticisms of PCT that I have seen (and I'm doing this from memory) are based on the mistaken assumption that PCT is an explanation of behavior as caused output (as is that of the Rube Goldberg machine) rather than what it actually is: an explanation of behavior as control.Â
BestÂ
Rick
--
Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

--
Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

···

-----Original Message-----
On Mon, May 15, 2017 at 1:29 PM, McClelland, Kent <<mailto:MCCLEL@grinnell.edu>MCCLEL@grinnell.edu> wrote:

On May 15, 2017, at 2:28 PM, Richard Marken <<mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com>rsmarken@gmail.com> wrote:

have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

--
Richard S. MarkenÂ
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[From Rick Marken (2017.05.16.0955)]

KM: This is a nice post, Rick, and it makes a really important point

Thanks Kent. If you (or anyone else listening) knows of any other critiques of PCT (besides the Alexander review of B:CP that I mentioned) I’d really appreciate getting the references. Again, my main goal is to show that critiques of PCT are based on ignorance of the phenomenon that PCT is designed to explain – the phenomenon of control!Â

BestÂ

Rick

Â

[From Rick Marken (2017.05.15.1230)]

RM: Two recent events have led me to realize how important it is, when “promulgating” PCT, to make it clear
why PCT was developed: PCT was developed to explain the phenomenon of control as it is seen in the behavior of living systems. It was
not developed to explain the behavior of living systems, where “behavior” refers to what a system is seen to be “doing” – its observable outputs. The two events that led me to this realization were 1) re-reading the review of “Behavior: The
Control of Perception” by Scott Alexander at his blog (https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/03/06/book-review-behavior-the-control-of-perception/ )
and 2) discussing the process of mitosis with my a biologist sister-in-law.

RM: Scott Alexander’s review of B:CP was actually reasonably positive. But one part of that review, in particular, led me to realize the importance of making it clear that PCT is an explanation of control and not “behavior” as conventionally understood.
It was the part of the review that says “… PCT can predict some things but not much better than competing theories”. This is true only when the behaviors being predicted
are produced in a disturbance-free environment. That is, PCT is “just another theory of behavior” when one ignores the fact that the behavior of living organisms is normally produced in a
disturbance-prone environment; behaviors that appear to be emitted output are actually controlled consequences of output – they are controlled inputs. When this fact is taken into account then PCT turns out to be the only theory that can explain
the behavior (controlling) of living systems (as demonstrated in Bourbon and Powers (1999) Models
and their Worlds, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 50, 445-461).Â

RM: The discussion of mitosis – one type of cell division behavior–Â also shows
the importance of understanding that PCT is an explanation of control . Mitosis involves a complex sequence of steps where the start of each step depends on the successful
accomplishment of the previous step. My biologist sister-in-law was convinced that the process of mitosis was completely explained by the laws of physics and chemistry; no control involved at all. But it seemed to me that consistently carrying out this process
successfully implied that some kind of control involved since the process is being carried out in a disturbance-prone environment. One step, in particular, caught my attention; the process of “centering the centrosome”. Apparently the centrosome has to be
accurately maintained in the center of the cell before the next step in the process can proceed. The biological explanation of this centering is a causal model that involves building filaments that exert equal force at different points around the centrosome.Â
But I realized that this process was carried out in a cell that was likely to be varying in shape somewhat over time. So the centering of the centrosome had to be a control process. This idea was firmly rejected by my sister-in-law. And I realized that this
is because she (and, apparently, most biologists) saw the process of producing cell division behavior (mitosis) in the same way psychologists see the process of producing overt behaviors (like walking) – as a cause-effect process where a complex sequence
of effects (results) are produced with each result, once produced, becoming the cause of the process that produces the next result. I will call this the Rube Goldberg view of behavior.Â

RM: The Rube Goldberg view of behavior sees a complex behavior like cell division as the activity of a Rube Goldberg machine. A Rube Goldberg machine is a “deliberately complex contraption in
which a series of devices that perform simple tasks are linked together to produce a domino
effect  in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence”. The end result of this complex process is some ridiculously simple achievement. But for present purposes what’s interesting about these devices is that the end result will
not be achieved unless each of the intermediate steps in the process is carried out successfully. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and his amusing devices always worked on paper (just like the causal models of mitosis always work on paper). But when you actually
try to build a Rube Goldberg machine that works in the real work, you discover that getting it to produce the end result reliably is a virtual impossibility. This is because, in the real world, there is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip because there are disturbances
that can disrupt the process at each step. Here is a video of a real-world Rube Goldberg machine in action:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWk9N92-wvg#t=27

RM: This video shows the Rube Goldberg machine achieving its end result: rolling out the new Honda. It succeeds because, as you can see, each of the complex steps in the process is carried out successfully. So it looks like a complex set of causal
links can produce a particular end result. But it turns out that this machine made it through all steps successfully only after 606 failures! On 606 prior “takes” something went wrong at some point in the process, so the machine didn’t manage to produce the
end result until take number 607, when, apparently, by luck disturbances failed to interfere with the production of the correct results at each step in the process.Â

RM: Clearly, this Rube Goldberg process – a series of complex causal steps – cannot be what is going on in mitosis (or other biological of behavioral processes). The end result of mitosis – cell division with the correct compliment of chromosomes
in both daughter cells – is achieved nearly 100% of the time; the end result of the Rube Goldberg machine in the video is produced, at best, .16% of the time. This seems like pretty strong evidence that mitosis is not a Rube Goldberg process; the steps in
the process of cell division may look like the steps in a Rube Goldberg (causal) process but the fact that the end result (two perfect daughter cells) is produced with nearly perfect reliability in what is known to be a disturbance-prone environment suggests
that what we are looking at when we look at mitosis is control. A model that correctly accounts for the behavior of cell division (like a model that correctly accounts for any consistently produced behavior of organisms) will be a model of control – PCT.

RM: The idea that PCT is a model of control and not of behavior as conventionally understood – the behavior of a Rube Goldberg machine – is one that is very hard to get across. But
I think it is at the heart of the problems PCT has had with becoming accepted in the behavioral and other life sciences. But I want to try to get this idea across to behavioral and life scientists and I think maybe I can do it using the idea of a Rube Goldberg
machine as an example of a device that produces the kind of behavior that does not involve control – and, therefore, can’t work reliably in the disturbance prone real world. I’d like to do this in the context of criticisms of PCT, like those in Scott Anderson’s
review of B:CP. So I would appreciate it if anyone could point me to other articles where PCT has been criticized. Again, I think all the criticisms of PCT that I have seen (and I’m doing this from memory) are based on the mistaken assumption that PCT is an
explanation of behavior as caused output (as is that of the Rube Goldberg machine) rather than what it actually is: an explanation of behavior as control.Â

BestÂ

Rick

Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

···

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: richardpfau4153@aol.com
Date: Tue, May 16, 2017 at 3:15 PM
Subject: Critiques of PCT - Ref: The Rub Goldberg Justification
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu

[From Richard Pfau (2017.05.16 15:20 EDT)]
Ref: [From Rick Marken (2017.05.16.0955)]
RM: Thanks Kent. If you (or anyone else listening) knows of any other critiques of PCT (besides the Alexander review of B:CP that I mentioned) I’d really appreciate getting the references.
Rick,
Here are some critiques of PCT:
Albert Bandura, “On Deconstructing Commentaries Regarding Alternative Theories of Self Regulation,” Journal of Management, Vol 41, No. 4, May 2015, pp. 1025-1044. – see pp. 1026-1028
Albert Bandura and Edwin A. Locke, “Negative Self-Efficacy and Goal Effects Revisited,” Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 88, No. 1, 2003, pp. 87-99. – see pp. 92-94
Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, “Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation,” American Psychologist, Vol 57, No. 9, September 2002, pp. 705-717 – see page 708.
Edwin A. Locke, “Goal Theory vs. Control Theory: Contrasting Approaches to Understanding Work Motivation,” Motivation and Emotion, Vol. 15, No. 1, March 1991, pp. 9-28 – especially pp. 10-18.
Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1990) – see pp. 19-23.

With Regards,
Richard PfauÂ

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com
To: csgnet csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Sent: Tue, May 16, 2017 12:56 pm
Subject: Re: Why PCT: The Rube Goldberg Justification

On Mon, May 15, 2017 at 1:29 PM, McClelland, Kent MCCLEL@grinnell.edu wrote:

On May 15, 2017, at 2:28 PM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote: