(From Mary): DME, imagination, decisions

[from Mary Powers 940609]

Bob Clark 940608 and previous:

Some thoughts about the DME. You are concerned with what Bill
wrote in BCP, p. 220-224, concerning switches that control
whether perceptions rising through the hierarchy are coming from
below as a result of actual experiences or from
memory/imagination. You offer four answers, reject three, and
conclude that a Decision Making Entity operates these switches.

I suggest there may be a fifth answer: e) None of the above.

First of all, the switches may not exist. I think you picture
some kind of on-off device, as shown in the diagram, in which
connections are made or broken. But suppose the capacity to send
signals is always there, with the amount of signal from either
source simply greater or less, and sometimes (or even always)
mixed, in various proportions.

There has been some talk about how we fill in perception from
imagination all the time that implies this mix. I can look over
right now and see Bill from the waist up. Without stopping having
this perception, I imagine his butt and legs - I see him over
there. I just checked and found that my imagination was incorrect
in some detail - he has shoes on, not bare feet, but he does
indeed exist from top to toe. Now I'm looking again from here,
and imagination is more accurate, because I remember what I just
saw, and I'm including the shoes. But, accurate or not, I am
mixing perception and imagination. There is no deciding between
one or the other.

Now, what determines the mix? You say a decision has to be made.
I would suggest that it simply depends on where the error is. At
the lowest level, error is disturbance. If there is a disturbance
coming from the environment, perceptions are primarily from the
lowest level, coping with what is going on. If at higher levels,
imagination and memory at the appropriate level come more into
play. Solving a logic problem is way up there, entirely being fed
from the imagination loop, unless a disturbance occurs at a lower

It involves no decision to go where the action is. The system is
simply designed that way.

It also occurs to me that "making decisions" may be yet another
mental artifact that may cease to exist under the PCT model, like
"alerting" and "uncertainty". People talk, for example, about
Eisenhower "deciding" to invade France on June 6, 1944. But
"deciding" was simply a matter of imagining and remembering the
various aspects of the situation and the consequences of one or
another action. June 6 happened to be the only day with a moon
for the paratroopers the night before and a low tide at dawn that
exposed the Atlantic Wall defenses on the beach. So "deciding"
was a matter of running through various alternatives and
imagining their consequences. Given a reference level of the best
strategy, and the least error, the outcome of that process was
not a decision, it was inevitable.

The more I think about decisions, the less I think they exist -
except, perhaps, in situations of conflict, where any alternative
looks bad.

Mary P.