Feedback

[From Richard Thurman (940217.1115)]

The listserv keeps rejecting this message & I keep sending it.
If it already showed up on CSG-L then I apologize for the
duplication.

Gary Cziko (940215.1520 GMT) said:--

I'm not sure
why you say that others can provide you only with input and not feedback.

If another person is an intermediary between my actions and the perceptual
consequences of my actions (as when I ask my daughter to straighten up her
room), this person IS part of the feedback loop.

but it also seems to me that other persons can provide me with
feedback

Rick Marken (940216.1400) replied:

Saying that feedback is "provided" to you by your daughter implies that you
are not involved in getting the perception of "cleaning up"; it sounds
like your daughter just gave you that perception -- you were "out of the
loop".

Talking about "providing" feedback can,
therefore, lead to drastically wrong conclusions about how control works --
the kind of conclusions that we see in the literature of conventional
psychology.

I would say that "input" cannot be provided to another person either. What
can be provided to another person (independent of that person's actions) is
a "disturbance" (to one or another controlled variable).

Rick, it sounds like you agree with Gary that another person+s actions
can be part of your 'feedback loop.' What you seem to be disagreeing
about is the word 'provide' and not the idea of other+s actions or
words being 'feedback.' While the word 'provide' may be a bit ambiguous
in that it can imply that a control system is having its perceptions
handed to it on a silver platter, it can also simply mean that a part of
the environment is available to be perceived. When I read Gary's post I
interpreted the word 'provide' in the latter sense.

Consider the rubber band demo. When the knot is obscured from view by
placing a piece of cardboard over it, the subject can no longer control.
The subject can not perceive the knot -- the 'feedback' portion of the
loop is unavailable. You (the experimenter) can 'provide' feedback
simply by uncovering the knot. Here the word 'provide' simply means
that you have configured the environment so that the subject can
perceive -- and thus control.

Is it not true that the environment (including other's actions and words)
'provides' the feedback portion of the loop?

Rich

···

--------------------------------------------------
Richard Thurman
Air Force Armstrong Lab
6001 S. Power Rd. BLDG. 558
Mesa AZ. 85206-0904

(602) 988-6561
Thurman@hrlban1.aircrew.asu.edu
---------------------------------------------------

[From Bill Powers (940226.1000 MST)]

Bill Leach (940225.2123) --

In reply to your second post (the one to me):

The entire perception signal is considered feedback, yes? A
disturbance then, if perceived becomes a _part_ of the
feedback, yes?

What we call "feedback" is pretty indefinite. Probably the best
way to think of this is to divide the control loop into two
parts, the forward part and the feedback part. The forward part
is the path from the sensors, through the organism, to the output
effectors. The feedback part is the path from the effectors,
through the environment, to the sensors. By thinking in terms of
path segments instead of signals, you can make the division
clearer.

We divide the external feedback path into several parts: the
output quantity, which is the immediate physical effect of the
effectors on the environment, the "feedback function" which
converts that output effect into an effect on the controlled
quantity, and the controlled quantity itself which is directly
sensed by the input sensors. The input sensors and the output
effectors sort of straddle the system-environment boundary.

A disturbance comes into the external part of the loop from some
independent source. It can affect any part of the feedback path,
but we always express it as an equivalent disturbance applied
directly to the controlled variable. Multiple disturbances, even
if they affect different parts of the feedback path, are
similarly expressed, as a single equivalent disturbance applied
to the controlled variable.

The perceptual signal, which is the output of the sensor and
which indicates only the state of the controlled variable, is
affected by disturbancess that change the controlled variable,
but it is also affected by the output of the system via the
feedback function, which also can change the controlled variable.
So you can't say that the perceptual signal is a perception of
the disturbance. It is a perception of the state of the
controlled variable, period. There's no way to tell how much of
the perceptual signal is due to the output and how much to the
disturbance, especially since the output opposes the disturbance.
One of the neatest counterintuitive facts about control is that
the state of the controlled quantity (and hence the perceptual
signal in the model) shows a very LOW correlation with both the
output and the disturbance, while the output shows a very HIGH
negative correlation with the disturbance. Of course the state of
the controlled variable shows a very high positive correlation
with changes in the reference signal, in the model.

Note that the disturbance itself is NOT sensed.

Thus, in the skater example: If we assume that the coach's
words are a significant factor in the perception of the
subject, then calling what the coach is doing "feedback" is NOT
really out of line.

If, as I proposed before, the coach is just calling out angles of
bend and the skater knows that the reference angle is 90 degrees,
then the coach is acting as a feedback function, converting the
output of the skater (the angle of bend) into a string of verbal
numbers, 86, 88, 91, 95, 93, 90, 90, etc. that the skater is
perceiving and controlling by varying his angle of bend. The
coach is then part of the skater's feedback loop.

If the coach calls out "86, 88, 101, no I mean 91, 95 ...", the
coach has now injected a disturbance into the external part of
the skater's control loop. The spurious "101" was not generated
by the skater's varying the bend angle, but by a mistake that the
coach made. This mistake caused a sudden change in the controlled
variable which was independent of the skater's actual angle of
bend. The critical thing about a disturbance is that it tends to
alter the controlled variable in a way that is independent of the
control system's own effect on the same variable.

When you understand the basic organization of a behavioral
control system, the words you use to describe it are only mildly
important. A listener who also understands can correctly
interpret even loose usages. If you say the skater is depending
on "feedback from the coach," you know that this means the coach
is responding to what the skater does in a regular way, so the
cause of the coach's feedback is, reliably, the skater's action.
But if the coach spontaneously offers advice like "use your head,
use your head," this provides no regular or understandable
perception to the skater of the skater's own actions, and is just
a disturbance.

Now then calling it "postive" or "negative" feedback would be
wrong as far as PCT is concerned BECAUSE the in the sense that
such modifiers are typically used the paradigm is not PCT.

Remember that PCT is based on real control theory, not on verbal
conventions. This means that "positive feedback" already has a
meaning, the meaning defined long before the words were taken up
by laymen to mean "encouragement." Positive feedback results from
a wrong sign in the control loop so that a small error makes the
error larger instead of (negative feedback) smaller. To compute
the sign of feedback, you multiply together all the signs
associated with all the functions (including the comparator)
encountered in one complete trip around the loop, starting
anywhere. This number must be negative if the feedback is to be
negative and therefore error-correcting. Positive and negative
feedback are properties of the WHOLE LOOP, not just the external
feedback path.

The lay usage of the terms came from association of "positive"
with "good" and "negative" with "bad." In control theory, exactly
the opposite connotation exists: for control, positive is bad and
negative is good.

You are feeling depressed and, hoping to hear something that will
make you feel better, you tell me "I'm really feeling terrible
today." I can create a positive feedback situation by saying
something like "Why are you always whining to other people about
your problems?" If I respond to everything you say with words
calculated to make you feel worse, your actions based on your
feelings of error will simply make the error larger. That is
positive feedback. It has nothing to do with what I say, but only
with the _relationship_ between what you feel now and what you
feel next after one trip all the way around the loop.

You can't tell whether a response to someone's words amounts to
positive or negative feedback without knowing how the person is
hooked up inside. If you're talking to a masochist, the above
response to the above complaint will be highly satisfying, being
exactly right for enabling that person to accomplish the goal of
feeling rotten -- you're completing a negative feedback loop.

So the strict usage of positive and negative feedback turns out
to be correct, and the lay usage is wrong, for the lay usage
assumes that encouraging words will necessarily help the other
person in some way. If you really understand what positive and
negative feedback are, you'll wait to find out what kind of
response the other person is trying to get, instead of assuming
that everyone with a complaint wants to be bucked up. The problem
with picking up jargon and free-associating on it is that you are
likely to misunderstand the situation because of your
misinterpretation, and thus behave inappropriately.

Just remember: if a person wants encouragement, and says "I'd
like to be a better person," and you say "I think you are much
better today than yesterday," that is acting to create a NEGATIVE
feedback loop.

···

----------------------------------------------------------------
Best,

Bill P.

From Tom Bourbon [940228.1533]

[From Bill Powers (940226.1000 MST)]

Bill Leach (940225.2123) --

Bill P:

In reply to your second post (the one to me):

Bill L:

The entire perception signal is considered feedback, yes? A
disturbance then, if perceived becomes a _part_ of the
feedback, yes?

Tom, now:

BIll L., Bill P. went on to give a careful discussion about feedback,
disturbances, controlled variables and the like. Perhaps the following
(simple) diagram would also help. In it, I show only the portion of the
loop that Bill P. described as *outside* the control system (including the
input and output functions of the system, which are at the boundary between
inside and outside). I include two additional variables Bill P. did not
mention: an unintended side effect (SE) of the system's output that affects a
variable not controlled by the system (but which can often catch the
attention of an observer of the system), and an uncontrolled environmental
quantity (UQ) that affects the system's input function and is perceived, but
the perception is not controlled by the system. (CQ = controlled quantity,
a variable the perception of which is controlled by the system), d =
disturbance to the CQ)

________ ________

       > > >
input | | output |
________| |________|

/|\ /|\ | |
  > > > >
  > > > >
  > > > \|/
UQ CQ<----------------' SE
      /|\ (feedback path)
       >
       d

To make this more concrete, in a pursuit tracking tracking task, UQ is the
momentary position of a target; CQ, the momentary position of the cursor; d,
the momentary value of a random disturbance function. Of course, there are
many more uncontrolled quantities than position of target, and many SEs --
frictional heat in the potentiomener on the shaft of the control handle,
voltage in the line between computer and potentiometer, appearances to
an observer, power consumption in the institution or home, and so on. Out
of an infinite number of variables both sensed and affected by the system
(not necessarily the same variables in all cases -- some things sensed are
not affected, and vice versa), the system specifies a particular state of
its perception of one variable and affects the state of that variable in
the environment, by way of the feedback path. A more complex system
specifies and controls the perceptions of many variables, simultaneously.

I believe everything I said and drew is consistent with what Bill P. said in
his reply to you. I hope this helps a little.

Later,

Tom

[From Bruce Abbott (960730.0955 EST)]

Everyone may be tired of discussing this topic by now, but it seems to me
that the views already expressed are often contradictory, so I'm going to
add my two cents. I agree with Bill Powers'es definition that feedback is
an effect of a variable on itself. The variable does not have to be part of
a control system for this to be true; all that is necessary is that there be
a closed loop; this is, after all, what it means to say that a variable
affects itself.

For a variable in a closed loop, a disturbance to the variable is not
feedback, although the effect of the disturbance on the variable will
propogate around the loop and thus feed back on the variable.

The common use of the word "feedback" (as in "let me give you some
feedback") corresponds to what psychologists have called "knowledge of
results" (KR). A prototypical situation involving KR would be one in which
a person gives an answer to some question that has been posed and is then
told whether the answer is "right" or "wrong." Another might be the game of
"hot and cold" in which the person is told "you're getting warm" etc. as was
described in previous posts. The common denominator in both examples is
that the person is being informed of the results of his or her actions. If
what a person does (a variable), through KR influences what the person does
(the same variable), then there is feedback in the technical sense of the
term. If it doesn't, there isn't. This is true whether or not the person
is trying to control some variable.

One consequence of "feedback" (the "let me give you" type) is that you are
informed of a result of your actions, whether you intended those results or
not. Perhaps this result is a side-effect of your attempts to control some
variable. However the "feedback" may now disturb your perception of another
variable you are attempting to maintain near some reference value, resulting
in control actions with respect to that variable. The effect of the
disturbance on the variable is to produce control actions that in turn
affect the variable; the disturbance itself isn't feedback (in the technical
sense) but its effect on the variable does feed back on the variable via the
closed control loop; if the feedback is negative and control is good the
result is to bring the disturbed variable back near its reference value.

Regards,

Bruce

[from Jeff Vancouver 960731.12:30 EST]

[From Bruce Abbott (960730.0955 EST)]

I second the opinion expressed by Bruce. I believe he is saying the same
thing as I. Especially in the following comment:

The common use of the word "feedback" (as in "let me give you some
feedback") corresponds to what psychologists have called "knowledge of
results" (KR). A prototypical situation involving KR would be one in which
a person gives an answer to some question that has been posed and is then
told whether the answer is "right" or "wrong." Another might be the game of
"hot and cold" in which the person is told "you're getting warm" etc. as was
described in previous posts. The common denominator in both examples is
that the person is being informed of the results of his or her actions. If
what a person does (a variable), through KR influences what the person does
(the same variable), then there is feedback in the technical sense of the
term. If it doesn't, there isn't. This is true whether or not the person
is trying to control some variable.

Later

Jeff

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1725)]

Rick, are we done?

Upon some more reflection I believe I might have come across another thing that you might have interpreted as ‘antagonistic’ and was certainly not my intent.

The notion of feedback in physical systems is well grounded and founded. When applied to all types of social systems any description must be made as a metaphor. A feedback social system is defined by each observer according to their purposes.

Now I do understand this is probably the reason Bill is trying to show that indeed the feedback system involved in behavioral control is in fact a physical one. Just like the ones he used to design.

This very well may be the case, but I don’t think we will find this out in my lifetime and I personally do not believe this is true nor do I believe will it ever be true so I don’t believe this is the most efficient way to go about investigating perceptual control and I believe you are at an impassable roadblock to data gathering at this level at this time.

I do not believe though that this is a reason to either give up the idea or remain steadfast in an immobile position with regard to PCT.

I am not looking to ‘show-up’ you, Bill or PCT. Maybe my approach might lead to something that might provide a breakthrough for your work.

I just don’t think doing nothing, or making models of the same data over and over again will advance the concept of perceptual control.

There are many ways to be the ‘leaders’ in a field without having to invent and maintain a theory all by yourself.

This not a knock on you or Bill and this in my mind does not reduce the importance of what Bill did. Perceptual control is perceptual control and that alone I believe has important consequences.

So, I do not believe the human nervous system is a circuit board. I believe you can make a case that it is a good metaphor for one but that’s about it.

As I have been saying in my last couple of posts I hope you guys consider trying to make PCT a field of study for perceptual control rather than the ‘study’ of one man’s pet theory.

I will not repeat this request. I understand where you guys are and where you want to be. If any of that changes I’d like to know about it.

I have decided not to sign off but to take my work off-line I don’t want any antagonism over my work or ideas. If CSGnet is about Bill’s ideas and Bill’s alone so be it. I respect that and will take a seat on the sideline.

Regards,

Marc

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.14.1820)]

Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1725)--

Rick, are we done?

No. I've just been very busy.

Why don't we look at some classical memory data and try to figure out what's going on. I suggest looking at the serial position effect. The data is pretty easy to collect: show a subject a sequence of N words (or nonsense syllable) and then ask the subject to recall as many of the words as possible. Do this several times (ten would be nice), with a different set of N words (or nonsense syllables) time. Keep track of which words (or syllables) are remembered each time. What you should find is that words (or syllables) at the beginning (primacy effect) and end (recency effect) of each list tend to be the ones recalled while the words (or syllables) in the middle of the lists tend not to be recalled. That's what's typically observed. It's called he serial position effect and it's one of the basic findings of cognitive psychology. The question to be addressed is "why does it happen"? That is, why are items at the beginning and end of a list better recalled than those in the middle?

Let's try to answer this question.

Regards

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.2158)]

In a message dated 12/14/2005 9:24:05 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

···

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.14.1820)]

No thanks, not my cup of tea. But thanks for thinking of me.

I think we are done.

Regards,

Marc

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.14.2000)]

Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.2158)--

Rick Marken (2005.12.14.1820) --

No thanks, not my cup of tea.

What is your cup if tea? I thought you were very interested in memory?

Regards

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.2311)]

In a message dated 12/14/2005 10:59:01 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

···

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.14.2000)]

Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.2158)–

Rick Marken (2005.12.14.1820) –

No thanks, not my cup of tea.

What is your cup if tea? I thought you were very interested in memory?

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1420)]

Models & Feedback and then you can possibly tell me.

What do you think I was saying in that post?

I’d like to hear what your interpretation is.

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘liking memory’.

What exactly does this connote?

Regards,

Marc

Regards

Rick

Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

Please read;

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.14.2115)]

Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.2311)--

Rick Marken (2005.12.14.2000)--

What is your cup if tea? I thought you were very interested in memory?

Please read;
From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1420)]
Models & Feedback and then you can possibly tell me.

What do you think I was saying in that post?

I'd like to hear what your interpretation is.

My interpretation was that you were describing what I think is exactly the right way to do science. As you say, science is not done by logical deduction, like mathematics. Science is done by making observations, inventing propositions (or, better, mathematical models) to explain those observations and then subjecting those explanations to tests by making further observations that could lead to rejection of the explanations (falsify them) if what is observed is not what is predicted by the explanations . As you said: "For a proposition [or model] to be falsifiable, it must be at least in principle possible to make an _observation_ that would show the proposition to be false..."

So it sounded like you were preaching to the choir, which was certainly fine with this choir .

�I'm not sure what you mean by 'liking memory'.

What exactly does this connote?

Only that you seemed to think that PCT didn't do much with memory. And I agree that there are few studies of memory based on PCT (though I do now recall Bill showing how his tone control experiment, which is part of the Demo series, can be used track the remembered value of the pitch reference). So I thought you might want to bat around some ideas about how to study memory, from a PCT perspective or some other. But if there is some other topic that is more interesting to you, then, by all means, through that out for discussion.

Regards

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2005.12.15,11:10 EuST)]

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1725)]

When you say "So, I do not believe the human nervous system is a circuit
board"., it sounds to me as a proposition.

Of course I can misunderstand your statement. If so, please tell me how. I
continue as if I don't misunderstand your statement.

You referred to Wikipieda/(Karl Popper) saying: "Falsifiability is an
important concept in the philosophy of science that amounts to the
apparently paradoxical idea that a proposition or theory cannot be
scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown false".

I think all physiologists say that "The circuits that produce reflexes are
called reflex arcs" .
http://core.ecu.edu/psyc/grahamr/DW_3311Site/LectureF/Lecture2.2.1/cord_note
.html

You often refer to refer to R. Llinas and in his (and other's)
"Olivo-cerebellar cluster-based universal
control system", he say that "the olivio-cerebellar system, one of the key
neuronal circuits in the brain, has been shown to provide highly coordinated
signals concerned with the temporal organization of movement execution".

You find a well arranged figure in BCP (2. ed page 116). I think it is from
Eccles (1967)

Is this enough to falsify your proposition "So, I do not believe the human
nervous system is a circuit board"?

Bjorn

[From Fred Nickols (2005.12.15.0910 ET)] -

Rick relates an interesting piece of research (see below) and I'll comment on it in a moment but, first, take a quick second look at it...

Rick Marken (2005.12.14.1820)]

> Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1725)--
>
> Rick, are we done?

No. I've just been very busy.

Why don't we look at some classical memory data and try to figure out
what's going on. I suggest looking at the serial position effect. The
data is pretty easy to collect: show a subject a sequence of N words
(or nonsense syllable) and then ask the subject to recall as many of
the words as possible. Do this several times (ten would be nice), with
a different set of N words (or nonsense syllables) time. Keep track of
which words (or syllables) are remembered each time. What you should
find is that words (or syllables) at the beginning (primacy effect) and
end (recency effect) of each list tend to be the ones recalled while
the words (or syllables) in the middle of the lists tend not to be
recalled. That's what's typically observed. It's called he serial
position effect and it's one of the basic findings of cognitive
psychology. The question to be addressed is "why does it happen"?
That is, why are items at the beginning and end of a list better
recalled than those in the middle?

Let's try to answer this question.

The piece of research related above offers a clue to one of the reasons I am not yet ready to completely pitch my behaviorist leanings.

That phenomenon, referred to more colloquially as "breaking down in the middle" presents itself in all manner of memorization tasks, including procedures and poetry. The behaviorists came up with a practical solution, a "workaround" as I would have called it in my Navy technician days. That solution or workaround is called "retrogressive chaining" and its essence is that when someone is faced with a memorization task, you have them start a short distance from the end and practice that. Then you move the starting point closer to the beginning and have them practice some more. This gradual movement of the starting point of practice from toward the end to the very beginning overcomes the "breaking down in the middle" phenomenon. It's a tried and true solution to the problem.

What is the behaviorist explanation for the "breaking down in the middle" phenomenon. I don't know and I don't know that I ever knew but I wouldn't be surprised if someone on this list knows. What I care about is the practical approach to memorization tasks. Frankly, I am as much (if not more) interested in the practical applications of a good theory as I am in the elegance and scientific correctness of the theory itself.

Finally, I was going to close by saying that I suspect that unless and until PCT and its advocates develop some nifty practical applications, it will never receive the regard I think it deserves. On second thought, that doesn't seem like such a good idea. You see, I've come to believe that there is a huge disconnect between theory and practice in the social sciences. We have lots of practical tools, methods and techniques that serve us well (although many, many mysteries still remain) and we also have competing theories claiming to explain the phenomena with which we grapple. So I've kind of come to believe that theorists are on one track and practitioners are on the other. Unlike East and West, occasionally these "twain" meet but it has become pretty clear to me that, for the most part, theory does not spawn practice and practice is often orphaned from theory.

Now if PCT could close the gap between theory and practice, that would be an accomplishment!

···

--
Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT
Senior Consultant
Distance Consulting
"Assistance at A Distance"
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.15.1050)]

In a message dated 12/15/2005 5:12:59 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, bjornsi@BROADPARK.NO writes:

···

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2005.12.15,11:10 EuST)]

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1725)]

When you say “So, I do not believe the human nervous system is a circuit
board”., it sounds to me as a proposition.

I am not attempting to show that our nervous system is not a circuit board. I just don’t believe it is. I’m sure you have your justifications for believing it is. We can still be friends. :wink:

Of course I can misunderstand your statement. If so, please tell me how. I
continue as if I don’t misunderstand your statement.

I’ll do my best and try :wink:

You referred to Wikipieda/(Karl Popper) saying: “Falsifiability is an
important concept in the philosophy of science that amounts to the
apparently paradoxical idea that a proposition or theory cannot be
scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown false”.

You quoted the first paragraph but not the second;

Falsifiable does not mean false . For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be at least in principle possible to make an observation that would show the proposition to be false, even if that observation had not been made. For example, the proposition “All crows are black” would be falsified by observing one white crow.

I think all physiologists say that “The circuits that produce reflexes are
called reflex arcs” .
http://core.ecu.edu/psyc/grahamr/DW_3311Site/LectureF/Lecture2.2.1/cord_note
.html

And a very nice description of the spine and reflex’s it is. But I saw no claim that our nervous system in its entirety was isomorphic to an electronic circuit board. I saw the use of the word circuit but I believe that just meant ‘connection’. Did I mis something or misunderstand something here?

You often refer to refer to R. Llinas and in his (and other’s)
“Olivo-cerebellar cluster-based universal control system”, he say that “the olivio->cerebellar system, one of the key neuronal circuits in the brain, has been shown > to provide highly coordinated signals concerned with the temporal organization >of movement execution”.

You find a well arranged figure in BCP (2. ed page 116). I think it is from
Eccles (1967)

Is this enough to falsify your proposition “So, I do not believe the human
nervous system is a circuit board”?

It might for you. Llinas does not talk of our nervous system as a circuit board. In fact he goes out of his way to refute the computer -> brain comparison. He talks of the brain as both the ‘computer’ and ‘software’ combined as a metaphor.

To say that something is involved as a circuit simply states a connection and does not state that our nervous system is isomorphic to an electronic circuit board.

Second, you like many others misunderstand Poppers notion of ‘falsifiability’. It has nothing to do with ‘proving’ something ‘false’ as the second paragraph shows.

Bjorn the nervous system operates much, much slower than electricity does, and BTW, would you say the system was AC or DC ? So I would say our nervous system operates like a circuit board.

If you are interested in showing me that I am mistaken in this belief I would suggest a much better way of doing that would be to show me how it is not simply an analog to a circuit board but is isomorphic to one. The literature I have read, and you know I’ve read a bunch of it, leads me to believe otherwise.

Second, I’m not big on Authority. I quote a lot of folks because i believe they have some wonderful ideas, but I very rarely subscribe to another persons entire set of beliefs.

I don’t agree with a number of positions Popper took and Llinas as well. That does not diminish the importance or the usefulness their work provides to me. Heck, I don’t believe half the stuff I’m walking around with in my head is ‘right’.

Popper himself I believe would be the first to tell you not to take anything he says at face value.

And finally, there is a huge leap from the nervous system being a true circuit board to PCT being that circuit board and isomorphic to our nervous system.

Have I clarified things for you?

Regards,

Marc

The most important knowledge that we can possibly possess is that of our own ignorance. – Anon

Seek understanding before trying to be understood. – Steve Covey

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.15.1118)]

I wasn’t going to respond to this post but felt, that like Rick’s other replies to me this would provide me with an opportunity to explain to anyone following this thread (and I don’t know why they would) my position and help clarify a few issues.

I know it is falling on deaf ears with Rick

In a message dated 12/15/2005 12:17:44 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

···

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.14.2115)]

Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.2311)–

Rick Marken (2005.12.14.2000)–

What is your cup if tea? I thought you were very interested in memory?

Please read;
From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1420)]
Models & Feedback and then you can possibly tell me.

What do you think I was saying in that post?

I’d like to hear what your interpretation is.

My interpretation was that you were describing what I think is exactly
the right way to do science. As you say, science is not done by
logical deduction, like mathematics. Science is done by making
observations, inventing propositions (or, better, mathematical models)

First, you missed the bigger message and that is I am not nor do I believe you are currently doing ‘science’. It is something I aspire to do but I am a distance away. I believe you are as well.

For me this is not a problem. I understand one must walk before running and that everything needs a first step.

You on the other hand are under the illusion that your models are ‘scientific’ but as better stated just above are really just propositions. You have gone from a verbal to a symbolic representation of your conjectures.

Doing this does not make it ‘science’.

to explain those observations and then subjecting those explanations to
tests by making further observations that could lead to rejection of
the explanations (falsify them) if what is observed is not what is
predicted by the explanations . As you said: “For a proposition [or
model] to be falsifiable, it must be at least in principle possible
to make an observation that would show the proposition to be
false…”

First, you have no idea what the notion of ‘falsifiability’ means. Although the purpose of testing is to find the shortcomings in a theory, the concept of falsifiability does not address this.

My interest is not in memory per se. It is in how imagination is utilized in constructing our perceptions. What you might call an ‘input function’. You know, one of those nasty little ‘bottlenecks’ you speak of. But I have no idea why this should be a ‘bottleneck’ for you. At the level of abstraction of PCT ‘memory’ should not be an issue. In fact at the supposed level of the PCT model behavior as we see it is a moot point.
Second, you test or probe for the weak spots in a theory, not to destroy it but to strengthen it. Anyone with half of a brain realizes that any initial proposition they make will have some holes in them.

Bill was very well aware of this and said so many times in B:CP. In knowing this I would think one would want to find those holes as soon as possible. But what happens is that as soon as you find one hole and resolve it, there seem to be three more that takes it’s place. One of the major themes of falsifiability is that the process *** never ends, NEVER.*** Because there is no such thing in empirical science of knowing anything with absolute certainty.

The notion of testing is central to all this but one must find different ways of testing a proposition because we never know how or where a ‘hole’ may show up.

The notion of a repeatable experiment is important but again that is not addressing the concept of falsifiability.

I’ll repeat it for you like I did for Bjorn;

Falsifiable does not mean false . For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be at least in principle possible to make an observation that would show the proposition to be false, even if that observation had not been made. For example, the proposition “All crows are black” would be falsified by observing one white crow.

So it sounded like you were preaching to the choir, which was certainly
fine with this choir .

Am I? If you want to present one of your conjectures or propositions in the form of a mathematical model go right ahead but that does not make it ‘scientific’ and the first step in doing science is being honest about what you are currently doing.

I aspire to one day develop a theory that is falsifiable in the Popperian sense but right now it is but a dream of mine.

But this does not diminish the importance of what I believe I am currently doing, nor does it detract from its usefulness.

If you were truly interested in doing ‘science’ you would understand that you can’t discover what a specific memory experiment ‘means’ by building a model of it

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘liking memory’.

What exactly does this connote?

Only that you seemed to think that PCT didn’t do much with memory. And
I agree that there are few studies of memory based on PCT (though I do
now recall Bill showing how his tone control experiment, which is part
of the Demo series, can be used track the remembered value of the pitch
reference).

Perhaps you can point out to me how this particular experiment would help me better understand how memory is utilized in the PCT model?

So I thought you might want to bat around some ideas about
how to study memory, from a PCT perspective or some other.

Ok, and what did you think I would gain from building a model of this particular experiment? What would this model have shined a light on for me? Why do you think this work is important?

But if
there is some other topic that is more interesting to you, then, by all
means, through ]that out for discussion.

Which brings us to this last point. There is no doubt in my mind you would like me to "through[sic] that out for ‘discussion’ " but I think you and I have different ideas on exactly what a profitable discussion is and should be.

I think you want me to throw out my ideas so you may take pot shots at them with ad hoc criticism’s. That may be a fun activity for you but is of little value to me and in saying this I am being kind because I would not attribute such benign motives to you.

I think you need to attempt to destroy any idea that does not fit into your existing framework because as it is with any zealot, your world revolves around those core set of beliefs you protect so fiercely and that for you is PCT.

I understand that and accept that. I would no more attempt to ‘discuss’ with you my ideas than I would ‘discuss’ with the Pope the idea that he would make a great Rabbi. But even the Pope understands that there are other perspectives out there that need to be respected and understood, not ‘defeated’.

Rick, one day you may have a change of heart in how you approach and deal with others. I look forward to that day.

Regards,

Marc

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.14.1312)]

In a message dated 12/15/2005 9:26:04 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, nickols@ATT.NET writes:

···

[From Fred Nickols (2005.12.15.0910 ET)] -

The piece of research related above offers a clue to one of the reasons I am not >yet ready to completely pitch my behaviorist leanings.

There is no reason for you to do so. Behaviorism is not ‘wrong’ it is simply am incomplete picture of what is going on. It explains behavior that is heavily influenced by the environment. It is a theory of very limited usefulness but still might be useful in certain instances.

If you are looking for a single unified theory of behavior I’m afraid you are in for an awfully long wait.

I’d like to stress a very important point here. Feedback systems in the social sciences are metaphors. What one person ‘sees’ as a feedback process another might see as a series of cause and effect events. Each view is the ‘correct’ view unless of course there are emergent properties inherent not in any one component or in any one relationship but is an effect of the entire ‘chain’.

What is important about the control metaphor is that there has been huge amounts of research that has in fact showed that this metaphor (control) is indeed a most useful way to understand human behavior.

PCT ‘combines’ behaviorism and cog sci. In effect what the perceptual control model shows is that both the environment (disturbances) and our cognition (reference) influence but are not the determinants of our behavior.

So you have it backwards. What you need to understand is what aspects of the control process your successful tools are addressing. You also need to understand the properties inherent in a control processes. Together they should be able to tell you all you need to know.

Give me an example of a tool you use, the theory that it is attributed to and I will provide you with an example of what I am talking about.

It is extremely difficult to show causality over long distances in time and space and feedback is an attempt to be able to do just that.

Regards,

Marc

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.15.2120)]

Fred Nickols (2005.12.15.0910 ET)-

Rick relates an interesting piece of research (see below) and I'll comment on it in a moment but, first, take a quick second look at > it...

The piece of research related above offers a clue to one of the reasons I am not yet ready to completely pitch my behaviorist > leanings.

That phenomenon, referred to more colloquially as "breaking down in the middle" presents itself in all manner of memorization tasks, including procedures and poetry. The behaviorists came up with a practical solution, a "workaround" as I would have called it in my Navy technician days. That solution or workaround is called "retrogressive chaining" and its essence is that when someone is faced with a memorization task, you have them start a short distance from the end and practice that. Then you move the starting point closer to the beginning and have them practice some more. This gradual movement of the starting point of practice from toward the end to the very beginning overcomes the "breaking down in the middle" phenomenon. It's a tried and true solution to the problem.

Those behaviorists were sure able to capitalize on the purposive nature of living organisms. "Retrogressive chaining" seems somewhat similar to an idea I had to test the the notion that the serial position curve results, at least in part, from the purposes of the memorizer. I imagine that the typical purpose of a memorizer in a "free recall" experiment is to remember (be able to recall) all the items presented.

I imagine (based on my own experience as a subject in these experiments) that the memorizer tries to store the first item (by repeating it in imagination), then next comes in, which interferes with the imagining of the first, and so on. My guess is that the middle items tend to get ignored in favor of repeating the earlier items in imagination.

If you want to get rid of the serial position curve, then, it should be possible to do so by asking the memorizer to adopt the purpose of working hardest to remember the items in the middle of the list. Regressive chaining does this in a way. It doesn't involve asking a person to adopt a particular purpose; but it does assume that the person's purpose is to repeat the items from first to last. Because attempts to repeat (in imagination) intermediate items interfere with the ability to repeat (in imagination) earlier ones, regressive chaining eliminates the need to repeat the intermediate items because they have already been memorized (stored) via repetition.

Regressive chaining could be done without the gradual increment to earlier items (which sort of "imposes" a particular strategy on the memorizer). You could just ask the person adopt the purpose of first learning the last items then then earlier ones, progressively. This would work just like traditional "regressive chaining" but it also show how purpose influences the results of memory experiments.

Of course, we still don't know what's actually involved in storing items (perceptions) in memory; why all that repetition in imagination is going on and what it accomplishes. Figuring that out would take other kinds of research, of course, but I bet purpose (control) will be found to be involved in the storage process as well (though not necessarily conscious purpose; we end up remembering a lot of stuff that we don't try to remember).

Best regards

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2005.12.16,13:00EUST)]

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.15.1050)

When you say "So, I do not believe the
human nervous system is a circuit
board"., it sounds to me as a proposition.

I am not attempting to show that our nervous
system is not a circuit board. I just don't believe
it is. I'm sure you have your justifications
for believing it is. We can still be friends. :wink:

R.Llinas and other has a theory saying "the olivio-cerebellar system, one of
the key neuronal circuits in the brain, has been shown ................".
You have a proposition, "I do not believe the human nervous system is a
circuit board".
Karl Popper says: " For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be at least
in principle possible to make an observation that would show the proposition
to be false, even if that observation had not been made.

When you say: "I do not believe the human nervous system is a circuit
board", I understand it as though you have no knowledge describing that the
human nervous system as a circuit board or as circuit boards.
You know that R. Llinas say: "the olivio-cerebellar system, one of the key
neuronal circuits in the brain, ...".
You trust R.Llinas' knowledge (not all) and you recommend other people to
study R. Llinas. Why do you do that, when you don't believe his knowledge
yourself?

Is it possible for you to change your statement and say that parts of the
nervous system are circuit boards?

Here is another angle of incidence.
If it is sense what Karl Popper says, and I think it is. Then your
proposition cannot be scientific. It is impossible to show that your
proposition "I do not believe the human nervous system is a circuit board",
is false. If R. Llinas is able to demonstrate for you that the
olivio-cerebellar system is a neural circuit, it doesn't help. You continue
to say "I don't believe it".
I am friend with many people who never are scientific. So we can still be
friends. But why don't behave scientific?

And a very nice description of the spine and
reflex's it is. But I saw no claim that our nervous
system in its entirety was isomorphic to an
electronic circuit board. I saw the use of the
word circuit but I believe that just meant

'>connection'. Did I mis something or

misunderstand something here?

Of course you didn't see a claim that our nervous system in its entirety was
isomorphic to an electronic circuit board. They who have knowledge about our
nervous system, know that it is not. It is many electrochemically circuits.

Is this enough to falsify your proposition "So,
I do not believe the human nervous system is a
circuit board"?

It might for you. Llinas does not talk of our
nervous system as a circuit board. In fact he
goes out of his way to refute the
computer -> brain comparison. He talks of
the brain as both the 'computer' and 'software'
combined as a metaphor.

Of course R. Llinas does not talk of our nervous system as a circuit board.
"Nobody do that".
But R. Llinas and other talk about many circuit systems in our nervous
system.

There are and have been scientists who think of brain (control systems of
behavioral organ) as an analogy to a computer (technological invention). I
think the computer ->brain comparison is mistaken. And if you study
technological innovation, you see the opposite. You will find that
technological innovations are imitations of living organisms, you will find
that the analogy is man to machine - not the other way (Bill- Quantitative
Analysis of Purposive Systems: ..).

To say that something is involved as a circuit
simply states a connection and does not state
that our nervous system is isomorphic to an
electronic circuit board.

That is correct. But if you agree that the spinal reflex is one example of a
circuit and if you agree that nerves in the spine up to the spinal nuclei is
another example of a circuit and to conclude you also agree with R.Llinas
about the Olivio - Cerebellar circuit, you are on the way. (?)

Second, you like many others misunderstand
Poppers notion of 'falsifiability'. It has nothing
to do with 'proving' something 'false' as the
second paragraph shows.

Well, you may say that I misunderstand. I'll say that I understand. I know
that the notion of falsibility has something to do with how we shall
formulate statements. We shall formulate our statements in a falsifiable
way. If you do that, the statement is correct until anybody has falsified
it. Therefore it also has something to do with proving it to be false.
If a statement is not falsifiable, nobody can prove it to be false. Such
statements are unscientific.

Bjorn the nervous system operates much, much
slower than electricity does, and BTW, would
you say the system was AC or DC ? So I would
say our nervous system operates like a circuit board.
Falsificationists claim that any theory that is not
falsifiable is unscientific.

Yes Action potentials can travel along axons at speeds of 0.1-100 m/s. This
means that nerve impulses can get from one part of a body to another in a
few milliseconds, which allows for fast responses to stimuli. (Impulses are
much slower than electrical currents in wires, which travel at close to the
speed of light, 3x108 m/s.)

I think Bill has given a good basis for not accepting the DC premise for a
theory of nerve activity. Then AC stands back.

Heck, I don't believe half the stuff I'm
walking around with in my head is 'right'.

This is an interesting statement I will remember. Next year after a
fortnight away from people and stores, I will start a thread about the
meaning of Right and Wrong.

And finally, there is a huge leap from the
nervous system being a true circuit board
to PCT being that circuit board and
isomorphic to our nervous system.

Neither I say that the nervous system is a true electronic circuit board. I
have studied books where the authors have studied how information is
transported through the nerves. And I have made some of their knowledge to
my knowledge. Here is some of it:
http://www.biologymad.com/NervousSystem/nerveimpulses.htm
and it starts with:
"Neurons send messages electrochemically; this means that chemicals (ions)
cause an electrical impulse. Neurons and muscle cells are electrically
excitable cells, which means that they can transmit electrical nerve
impulses. These impulses are due to events in the cell membrane, so to
understand the nerve impulse we need to revise some properties of cell
membranes."

And I am sorry I stand firm and think that the PCT model and the lowest
part of the HPCT model explain nervous system activity.

bjorn

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.15.0715)]

In a message dated 12/16/2005 6:33:24 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, bjornsi@BROADPARK.NO writes:

···

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2005.12.16,13:00EUST)]

From [Marc Abrams (2005.12.15.1050)

R.Llinas and other has a theory saying “the olivio-cerebellar system, one of
the key neuronal circuits in the brain, has been shown …”.
You have a proposition, “I do not believe the human nervous system is a
circuit board”.

So? I do not believe our nervous system is one circuit board that has been reproduced by PCT. How’s that?

Karl Popper says: " For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be at least
in principle possible to make an observation that would show the proposition
to be false, even if that observation had not been made.

Again, you keep on using parts of the definition and explanation. This does *** not*** represent the concept of falsifiability. This represents a concept of falsifying. Not the same thing.

When you say: “I do not believe the human nervous system is a circuit
board”, I understand it as though you have no knowledge describing that the
human nervous system as a circuit board or as circuit boards.

Now you change it to include boards as well. Let me repeat myself and try to make myself clear on this matter.

You know that R. Llinas say: “the olivio-cerebellar system, one of the key
neuronal circuits in the brain, …”.
You trust R.Llinas’ knowledge (not all) and you recommend other people to
study R. Llinas. Why do you do that, when you don’t believe his knowledge
yourself?

First of all Llinas has studied neuronal communication for over 26 years. He wrote a book, i of the vortex that SPECULATED on a good number of things we don’t really no very much about yet. Like consciousness and such.

Whether or not PCT is or is not isomorphic with our nervous system(S), not just system, is an open question that has not yet been answered. Do you understand that? From my personal research I do not believe PCT is representative of our nervous systems. It might very well be representative of our cortex, or some other sub-system, but I do not believe it is representative of the ENTIRE nervous system. Got it?
So frankly, I will take the speculations of a physiologist about matters concerning physiology over someone who got his physiological info out of a 1948 textbook.

BTW, I love my wife dearly but there are tings I don’t agree with her on as well. Should I toss her out of the house?

Is it possible for you to change your statement and say that parts of the
nervous system are circuit boards?

Our nerves are electric like. Our nerves do not carry actual electricity

Here is another angle of incidence.
If it is sense what Karl Popper says, and I think it is. Then your
proposition cannot be scientific. It is impossible to show that your
proposition “I do not believe the human nervous system is a circuit board”,
is false. If R. Llinas is able to demonstrate for you that the
olivio-cerebellar system is a neural circuit, it doesn’t help. You continue
to say “I don’t believe it”.
I am friend with many people who never are scientific. So we can still be
friends. But why don’t behave scientific?

No Bjorn, if you have read my posts over the last several days you would have read that I am not doing science and never claimed to be doing so. I aspire one day to do so… But then again neither is CSGnet, and PCT is not yet a scientific theory. Get over it.

Here is why according to Popper PCT is not a scientific theory;

How would I go about showing that levels DONOT exist in our nervous system as stipulated in the theory?

How can I show that control DOES NOT
exist as stipulated in the theory?

I can’t, and this is what Popper meant by ‘falsifiability’. Do you now understand this concept?

Well, you may say that I misunderstand. I’ll say that I understand.

Do you still think you did? If so believe what you will.

This is an interesting statement I will remember. Next year after a
fortnight away from people and stores, I will start a thread about the
meaning of Right and Wrong.

The world according to Bjorn perhaps? :wink:

“Neurons send messages electrochemically; this means that chemicals (ions)
cause an electrical impulse. Neurons and muscle cells are electrically
excitable cells, which means that they can transmit electrical nerve
impulses. These impulses are due to events in the cell membrane, so to
understand the nerve impulse we need to revise some properties of cell
membranes.”

So? This passage could represent any theory of anything to do with the brain. What does any of this have to do with PCT?

And I am sorry I stand firm and think that the PCT model and the lowest
part of the HPCT model explain nervous system activity.

Ok, I never said you should believe otherwise. If it works for you great. But I do have a couple of questions. What exactly do you use the ‘lowest’ part to understand? And what do you use to understand the upper part?

Outside of that I think you have a wonderful tool for understanding human behavior.

Sort of sounds like it only hurts when you exhale. :wink:

I’m going to send you some material privately, take a look at it and get back to me privately.

Regards,

Marc

[From Rick Marken (2005.12.16.0810)]

Rick Marken (2005.12.15.2120)

Fred Nickols (2005.12.15.0910 ET)-

The piece of research related above offers a clue to one of the reasons I am not yet ready to completely pitch my behaviorist > leanings.

Those behaviorists were sure able to capitalize on the purposive nature of living organisms.

By the way, the most obvious example of behaviorists capitalizing on the purposive nature of organisms (and the one that virtually defines Skinner's version of behaviorism) is _operant conditioning_, which works by taking advantage of the fact that it is the organism's purpose to _eat_. You can do operant conditioning on a satiated organism -- one that does not currently have the purpose of eating .

Best

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400