<[Bill Leach 960217.20:37 U.S. Eastern Time Zone]
MONSIEUR REMI COTE 960217.1700 EST
Here then is another gift (at least I hope that you see it that way).
"...that humans can control an enormous amount more than can any other
animal, when one looks at the environment."
If you mean that a social elite can control the destiny of a majority
of consenting follower (manufacturing consent), then I agree with you.
But what about ...
I find it hard to even conceive of disagreement with Martin's statement.
I don't question that it is possible to find examples of poor human
control both in the individual instance and in "group" performance but
"that humans _can_ control (and have) an enormous amount more than can
any other animal..." seem a certain enough statement to be a "fundamental
truth" sort of thing.
Even your assertions with respect to atrocities hardly refutes Martin's
statement. That people often control for things that seem to others to
be "evil" is more of a claim in support of his assertion than in
opposition. Presumably, there is no such controllable concept as "evil"
anywhere else in the living beings world except for humans.
As Bill P. says, and as Rick Marken is frequently pleased to point out,
all animals control all the time, and can do no other.
I thought that they mean that all living organism are engaged in control
process. But that doesn't mean that they achieve control all the
time, that: "Reference - input = 0" all the time. otherwise we wouldn't
need to be alive at all.
Particularly good observation and yes I have no doubt that Martin will
agree with you that while all living things control that does not mean
that they are necessarily successfully controlling all perceptions for
which there is a reference.
What I am saying is that human are in bigger stress, bigger discrepancy,
"Reference - input" of human in artificial environement > "Reference -
input" of animal in natural environement. And I must add to be precise
that I am pointing to higher level of control loop.
To start with humans are _not_ in an "artificial" environment anymore
than a bird in its' nest. However, I infer from your statement that you
mean somehow that mankind's greater control over the environment is
somehow causing greater control failure for humanity.
The concept that you are expressing is "foundational" to the
Malthusian's, the more militant "Environmentalists", and about all of the
"Pop-psychologists". Various medical researchers often conclude in their
report summaries that our "technologically based environment" is
"causing" increases in ___________ (fill in the blank but common ones are
heart disease, cancer and mental disorders) while ignoring that human life
expectancy has continually increased with technology for as far back in
history as we have been able to determine life expectancy values.
Additionally, "the good old days" were rarely, if ever, as good as the
"romantic" claims for them assert. It is, I think, doubtlessly true that
several thousand years ago, "life was much simpler". Indeed, it was much
simpler a hundred or more years ago -- it was even simpler yet if you
were the slave and not the slave owner (not necessarily more pleasent but
Maybe your assertion that "animals" are under less stress than humans is
true but personally I suspect that the opposite true (except maybe in the
case of the typical pet -- Garfield comes to mind). Now how do we find
out who is "right"? As far as I know we don't even have an objective,
quantifiable measure for comparitive levels of human stress much less a
measure that could also be applied to some animal.
Personally, I have been what I believe would be "classed" as severely
depressed for over six months (sometimes unable to "do" anything, even
eat for two days or more). I am I "more stressed" than an Elk in the
northern Rockies that can't find anything to eat? How many "wild"
animals die of "old age"?
As far as "higher level of control loop", both Martin and Bill P. made
reference to the idea that the human system probably has mutiple levels
above the highest of any of the animals. I would suggest that if we
could compare human control success with animal control success only in
those areas that animals perceive and control that human control success
would be see to be vastly superiour. Above those levels, the comparison
is absurd since animals do not control at all.
Technological environement allow to be in big "Reference - input" all
the time, it mean bigger mean of discrepancy, or perturbation. And the
problem is not realy with human, it is with their environement.
Fire is an environemental variable. Goudsblom theory is about the
consequence of this radicaly new environement, that was absent from
I'm sorry Remi, this is just plain "bull"! It is "bull" _because_ it
specifically excludes the _only_ thing does matter... Humans ARE the
environment with respect to the claimed problem! I almost feel like
asking for a "chanting background" from Rick Marken here -- something
like a chorus of "The environment does NOT control, du da, du da, the
environment does not control, du da, di du da day"! With respect to
final results, the environment rarely even has much influence much less
Try to escape economy, technology, cause-effect determinism in science,
try to escape all the other illusion of control. Tell me about the time
you were late at an important appointment because your car let you down
in the middle of the highway, tell me that you were in control then.
We are more and more dependant from technology, since the beginning of
humanity we are chained to technological environement. I believe that
we were domesticated by technology, but of course I cannot proove I am
right. An interesting thing to do for you is to proove me wrong.
Tom Bourbon would be a particularly skilled person to deal with this...
I believe that there are some people that have "escaped economy and
technology" but most of us would not last a month if left to "gentle
Mother nature" without any of our technology.
Your "car example" is, I think, a better example of what Bill P. has
expressed several times than it is an example to support what I believe
that you are claiming. Technology is neutral, it is neither "good" nor
"bad" -- you can make Atomic Bombs and blow people up or you can make
electricity. What perceptions PEOPLE try to control and how they control
their perceptions is possibly the ONLY thing that matters!
Your statement: "I believe that we were domesticated by technology, ..."
is a claim that our environment CAUSED us to be as we are! That is about
as "pure" an S-R claim as I have seen on the net. The statement is
diametrically opposed to what PCT asserts.
Had you said something like "Some people have USED power made available
through the use of technology to limit or restrict the range and/or
ability of other people to control their own perceptions." then I doubt
you would find much argument on the net (particular if you assert that
this action has not necessarily been carried out with the specific
_intention_ of "controlling others").
I basically believe that a mutation or a reorganisation of gene is
selected only if it is a necessity to survive, if it give an advantage
over competition to get more chance of survival.
I think I am begining to feel more like Bill Powers on this one! It is
(axiomatically true) that any mutation or even reorganizational change
(that is not subsequently changed) that results in an organism dying
"early" (specifically before procreation in the case of mutation) is
probably not going to be one of the "selected". I would like to claim
that your assertion is rather obviously absurd. Changes occur, they
might or might NOT affect "surviability". If they do, they might
seriously degrade, slightly degrade, slightly enhance or significantly
enhance surviability. Also, they might not change "net surviability" at
all but only change how the organism controls its' environment.
The concept of "natural selection" suggests that any degradation of
surviability "skills" _reduces_ the probability that such changes will be
sustained in the species (with the reverse also asserted to be true)
given that "hardship" of sufficient magnitude and duration occurs. There
are those that assert that "competition" will ALWAYS result in the
"selection" occuring but as far as I know, that is not a particularly
well supported assertion.
There is no need to be an Einstein in the rain forest(chimp) or in the
sea (dolphin). But there is one with a technologicaly contaminated
environment. In other word, the slope of brain evolution in mamals is
lower prior to the domestication of fire, 1,500,000 years ago.
I HAVE to ask!! What in the hell is the perception are you controlling
("technologically __CONTAMINATED__ environment")?
Back to your regularly scheduled broadcast...
Given that most chimps are probably not trying to build cyclotrons I
suspect that you are right -- no Einstein's though I question that we
human observers would recognize a chimp equivalent to Einstein if there
were such a thing.
It also sounds like you are saying that when man "tamed" fire, sitting
in front of same CAUSED the brain to develop (the heat maybe?). This
might be an excellent place for Avery to "jump in" but I would suggest
that maybe as man desired to better control his environment, one of the
results was an increase in "mental" capability along with the success in
more complex control.
I seriously do not know if "natural selection" can be shown to have been
a probable process. I have serious doubts on that one because fertility
rates have had a consistent INVERSE relationship to technological level
(though maybe longevity is an overwhelming factor).
You seem to see social dominance as illustrating loss of control. But
most social animals have dominance hierarchies.
If I were aloud (by social etiquette) to engage in ritual choregraphy to
"negociate" my place in hierarchy with my boss and other teacher ( I am
working in an adult school) I would certainly be less stressed than if I
could only hear rhumor about someone talking in bad terms about me in my
back. Animals dominance as nothing to do with psychological violence
(too common example) endure by women "who care too much about their
child to let go their family". Psychological distress find no common
measure in other species. Here I should repeat to make myself clear, It
is not the brain that allow more psychological suffering, it is the
Think about what you are saying here. In the first place (feline
psychologists notwithstanding) what little "we know" about animal
psychology is at least 99% projection -- that is projection of how we
humans feel about situation upon animals that are, in our opinion,
experiencing situations we define from our perspective.
Secondly, in the "animal kingdom" it is not at all unusual for an animal
to not only be denied a second mortgage but even loose its' life as a
result of loosing one of these "ritual dances". Of course then I suppose
it is reasonable to acknowledge that the animal is not particularly
"stressed" (at least after it dies -- that we know of anyway).
The "feminist" problem is a combination of "male dominance" (male
attempts to control females) and perception on the part of females
(seeing attempts at control where none exist). Both of these aspect are
the same problem -- failure to understand that ALL humans are control
systems and what that implies.
Once again, unless I am completely misunderstanding what you are trying
to say, your last sentence is utterly false.
I don't know if other animals can do the future-imagining that leads
to a lot of misery. Anyway, once we clear up what you mean by "out of
control" we may be able to deal sensibly with your conjectures about
why this is the case and the consequences of and remedies for it.
It is the environement that lead to misery, so basicaly there is no
Contrary to what the media tells us (and non-incumbent politicians during
election years especially), the percentage of people dying at any age in
any position of the economic "ladder" is lower in more technologically
advanced countries than in less technologically advanced countries. The
percentage of (and indeed even the number of, regardless of relative
populations) people starving to death is drastically lower in
technologically advanced countries.
Now I admit that the number of primitive African's all stressed out
because they can't buy little Sally a new pair of Reboks (or worse,
bought Sally a pair of Reboks on credit but now can't pay for them) is
probably not only less than even in rural Canada but probably... zero.
Are you trying to tell me that Monsieur and Madam Smith are "all stressed
out" because Reboks exist?! Their environment MADE them spend money they
can not afford to spend?
But the fire-evolution can help in putting human output in perspective.
Looking for controlled variable is a detective work where this theory
could help. It also help to understand why people can get away easily
from worrying. Basically, I belive that human control system are not
design to face technological environement. It is only a belief, not a
fact, and my belief evolve.
Well at least we can agree that looking for controlled variables is a
I personally think that theories such as "fire-evolution" are worse than
no help at all. Blaming human problems upon anything else other than
human failure to understand control theory and its' implications only
serves to divert badly needed attention to useless efforts.
Every person is a control system. Every person is always trying to
control their own perceptions. Every person MUST control certain of
their perceptions or they will die. These statement are pretty well
It is also likely that for an individual to have the feelings that we
call happiness, contentment, or at peace with one's self require some
minimum overall control effectiveness. No matter what the environmental
conditions, if an individual's control effectiveness is above this
minimum the individual is content, if it is not then the individual is
not content (regardless of wealth or possessions).
You also make a rather inconsistent remark that people can get away
easily from worrying. I do agree that most people (myself included)
worry a great deal about things that they should not worry about. As the
"pop-psychology" people like to say (correctly I believe), if you are
worrying about something you can not influence (or control), prepare as
best you can and go on; If you are worrying about something you can
influence (or control), then do so and go on; Remember, most worrying is
about things that never happen. OTOH, there are indeed plenty of things
"worried about" by many people that are serious matters, that actually
are largely beyond their control or even influence -- these are almost
always matters that involve the "will" of other control systems. Such
matters are not easily solved unless the other control systems both
recognize their own impact upon the problem and are willing to alter the
manner in which they are controlling their own perceptions.
Technology is a "null" issue except that it is through the application of
technology alone that it is possible now to supply the basic needs for
survival for every human -- if only the will existed to do so. The
ability to do this has only been physically possible for a relatively few
Are you saying that if we had evolve in a waterworld (like dolphin)
we would have created fire anyway? Or you suppose that we would have
found a tool as powerful as fire in a waterworld? I found this
supposition hard to support.
Bill's answer to this might be interesting to read. I doubt that he was
thinking anything of the kind at the time. I would suggest that we just
plain don't know what the necessary minimum conditions are to allow a
creature that can almost overwhem his environment to develop. It would
seem that Earth and Humans are the only environment and species that we
have for an example. Maybe with a few more planets containing "advanced"
organisms we might know what some of the absolute limits might be (if
Of course man did not "create" fire so it is a pretty reasonable
assumption that an advanced "sea creature" would probably not have a
"fire based" society (though man has and does use fire underwater). Is
there anything inherent in an underwater existance that precludes
developing advanced control capabilities over one's environment? I don't
know and do not accept that just because such a capability has never
evolved (that we know of) as any sort of "proof". I doubt that land
based mammals such as humans would be particularly adept at identifying
what limits might and might not exist in such an environment anyway.
Your text about politic [Bill Powers of course], inequity and conflict
was great. But evolution-fire wasn't introduce by me just to make an
activist point. It was to make a psychological point. When you want to
interpret human output, you have to consider his environement. The book
from Csickzentmihaly "flow" and other work, deals with higher hierarchy,
and they are easier to understand in the view of control-theory and
When you "want to interpret human output" you might well be advised to
define it. If you mean "output" in the PCT sense, then you are
definately correct... you must consider the environment but you still
will not make any sense of the output until you have some idea of the
controlled variable too.
I am afraid that all I see in "fire-evolution theory" is a lot of smoke!
People either do or do not recognize that in controlling and attempting
to control their own perceptions they may affect the ability of others to
control their perceptions too. It does not matter whether you are
jogging down a narrow lane in a part or piloting the Queen Mary in a
narrow channel -- in either case what matters is what perceptions you
choose to control and what perceptions you choose not to control. We
have always had the option to do either greater "good" or greater "harm"
with every advance in technology and the choice has never belonged to the
technology itself and never will. The day that someone can
dispassionately and objectively assert that technology is making moral
and ethical decisions - on its' own - is the day that we will declare as
Picard did with respect to Cmdr Data: "We are searching for new
life-forms... well there he sits!"
One question that pop-up in group therapy: "Why do I feel disconected
I honestly have to say that I don't even know what the question means
much less have a suggestion as to why (and I am presuming that there is
no physical malfunction).