[Martin Taylor 2017.09.18.11.38]
This is a "testing" message to see whether I can post a shorter message that nevertheless has some content.
I hope some of you are "following" Bruce Nevin's PCT project on Researchgate <https://www.researchgate.net/project/Perceptual-Control-Theory-PCT>. If you are, you may have noticed comments by a person called Brad Jesness, advertising his "Ethogram" ideas for a general theory of psychology. Rick has responded to them, but this message is unrelated to the content of those comments and responses.
Jesness claims to be supportive of PCT, but the scientific method used is opposite to that of PCT. He asks that we read his 1985 draft of a book. I have started to do so, from both ends, as he in fact recommends, and I think I have an idea about where he is coming from.
PCT is what I would call a "functional" theory. It starts with the concept that there exists a mechanism (an Elementary Control Unit that can be organized into a hierarchy of similar units), and then asks how well that mechanism accounts for data. Probing (disturbing) hypothesized controlled variables is a primary experimental technique.
The word "experiment" seems antithetical to what Jesness proposes. His ideal procedure is purely observational. As is true in astronomy, he would not influence the subjects of his research at all, if he could avoid doing so. He would infer what happens inside the subject's skin, where observation is impossible -- or was in 1985, perhaps -- from correlations and contradictions that are or are not predicted and are or are not observed.
There's nothing wrong in principle with an observational science. It's just a lot harder to discover the functional underlay to what you observe than it is if you can probe and do experiments. So one often winds up with a purely descriptive statement of what you observe, but in more concise terms. That's just what the network nodes do in "Deep Learning". A complaint often raised about "Deep Learning" is that you can seldom find "Why" this description is as it is. PCT starts out the other way. It presents an answer to "Why" and then asks "What". The method is more powerful and the result more intelligible, but the results of the two approaches should not conflict.