; Gragmentation

[From Bill Powers (920830.1545)]

Greg Williams (920830) --

I thought we'd already reached an agreement that one person cannot
control (in the PCT sense) another. Are you using "control" more
colloquially here?

No, technically. Control systems don't control their actions; they
control their perceptions. By applying a disturbance to a controlled
variable and thus disturbing, or attempting to disturb, the perception
of it, an outside party can cause the action of the control system to
vary. It will vary, predictably, so as to remain equal and opposite to
the disturbance. That is why the disturbance has essentially no

So the outside party can control the amount and direction of the
action that the control system is producing.

Speaking of controlling "things" is ambiguous. Controlling "a person"
means controlling the value of some variable associated with that
person. Some of those variables (the amounts and kinds of actions) are
controllable if the controlled variable is known. Others (perceptions,
controlled variables) are not.

... my definition of manipulation did not specify that the

influencer's >desired perceptions be hidden from the influencee. An
example is the >diet center counselor who manipulates the dieter so
that both >influencer and influencee see fewer pounds on the

If the manipulee is aware of the manipulator's goal, the manipulee can
simply adopt it and control for it. In that case the manipulator has
no control at all. Acceptance or rejection of the goal is entirely up
to the so-called manipulee. The diet counsellor will have no effect on
the client's weight if the client does not volutarily adopt the
suggestions of the counsellor.

... what I was trying to get at was manipulation as making the
influencee control (to SATISFY his/her interests or wishes) in such a
way as to ALSO satisfy certain interests/wishes of the influencer.

How can you MAKE the influencee control for anything? If controlling
for something satisfies the influencee's own higher goals, that will
be done. Otherwise it won't. The influencer can suggest possible
goals, perhaps even goals the influencee is glad to be told about. But
nothing at all will happen as a result unless the influencee
translates the verbal suggestion or the seen example into a personal
perceptual reference signal and activates it. Only a higher system in
the influencee can do that.

Some of the consequences could be unknown to or unpredicted by the
influencee; other (or sometimes all) consequences (including the
influencer's desired perceptions which are the "point" of the
manipulation for the influencer) could be known to or predicted by

the >influencee. The latter possibility is in no way excluded by my

definition of manipulation.

If the consequences are known to the influencee, what is the
influencer's role? Why doesn't the influencee simply set that
consequence as a goal and achieve it? What an influencer or
manipulator wants is to be the AGENT that takes credit for the result.
In order for that to happen, the influencee must NOT be the agent.

Now, if you ask one of our kids whether Pat is providing them with
"tasty" food so that she sees them eating "healthy" food, they'll

say, >"Sure." There's no deceit, indirection, misrepresentation of
facts, >false promises, or ambiguous communications here, but there IS

manipulation as I defined it, because Pat altered some of the kids'
perceptual variables in such a way as to result in them being able to
control for certain perceptions which also result in Pat being able

to >control for certain perceptions.

This is completely analogous to the rubber-band demonstration of
controlling behavior. By disturbing the knot, I can cause your finger
to move to a preselected mark. You can be aware of this and it will
make no difference, because you have decided that the most important
thing to control is the position of the knot, not the position of your
finger. Unless your kids have some reason to want Pat NOT to see them
eating food she considers healthful, they don't care what she's
controlling for by setting various kinds of food on the table as long
as they like the result. Pat is not controlling them, or even
disturbing or influencing them. Their controlled variables are
undisturbed. They are the agents of their own actions. Whatever
consequences of eating one kind of food rather than another Pat may
imagine to be going on inside the kids, nothing is happening inside
them that disturbs their goals one way or the other -- or their
intrinsic variables either, one way or the other.

Do you begin to grasp the pervasiveness of manipulation in everyday

I don't call this kind of interaction manipulation. It's hardly even
interaction, in that the parties involved need do no negotiating and
don't even have to be aware of each others' intentions. I think what
is really pervasive in everyday life is a desire to have an effect on
other people, and a willingness to believe that one has done so. In
most cases this is quite harmless, as people can't affect each other
(even each others' biochemical states) nearly as easily as they
believe. When it becomes harmful, the manipulee generally knows it and

In social interactions, the connotation of manipulation that is most
common (to my knowledge) is that of control: one person determines
what another person does. In my Random House dictionary, the first
meaning is simply related to skill. The second meaning is "to manage
or influence by artful skill: _to manipulate a person_."

Greg's thesis is that there are ways of controlling the behavior of
other people against their will or without their awareness other


by the use of overwhelming physical force.

Again, not "control" in the PCT sense, and, again, not "against their

What other kind of control is there but control in the PCT sense? If
the manipulator wants to have a certain effect on the manipulee, and
carries out actions that have that effect even despite disturbance,
isn't that just plain garden-variety control? Would a manipulator be
satisfied to go through the output motions without ever being able to
see if the wanted effect occurred?

If the control is not against a person's will, then it is control of
something that person considers unimportant, like the position of the
finger in the rubber-band game. Of course at some point the position
of the finger may become important to the manipulee, as when the
finger approaches a hot spot. The control by the manipulator will then
abruptly be lost.

Many happy returns (another manipulation?)

Thanks -- that's what I wanted to hear.


Dag Forssell (920830) --

A most thoughtful essay. I find nothing to take issue with except the
thesis that fragmentation is a good thing:

In summary, Kuhn's (1991) view of science implies that diversity in
psychology may signify vitality rather than centrifugal


One good thing that comes out of fragmentation is that when everybody
is wrong, fragmentation prevents one super-wrong idea from taking
over. But science also requires at least some kind of "overarching
framework" if it's to shift into a higher gear as physics and
chemistry did.

A total lack of diversity implies loss of creativity. An overabundance
of it indicates disorganization. Diversity is the natural outcome of
reorganization; but reorganization is faulty when it goes so fast that
the good results as well as the bad are lost in the next hasty
reshuffling. The desired outcome, in any case, is not endless
reorganization, but arrival at a better organization.
The paper by Marilyn Friemuth is a gem. Thanks for your great patience
in keying (scanning?) in all this good stuff.
Altogether a welcome post.
Best to all,

Bill P.