Great Mistakes in History

[From Bruce Abbott (950917.1930 EST)]

Bill Powers (950915.2140 MDT) --

Bruce, this is great work you're doing. All these things you're citing
are exactly the reasons for which PCT has not been accepted.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to follow up on your comments (anyone have a
day stretcher; my days seem to have shrunk lately and I can't squeeze
everything into them I want to). It is positively amazing to see how
confused otherwise intelligent people can become when trying to deal with
that simple little circle of causation. It would appear from my reading
that control theory was rejected in the analysis of motivation, around 1979,
because researchers could not find where those little gizmos, the comparitor
and the thingie that generates the set-point signal. Therefore, it can't be
a "negative feedback control system" doing the work!

Today's lesson on Great Mistakes in History takes us back to the time when
John Watson realized the error of attempting to found a scientific
psychology on the phenomenology of mind and boldly set out to bring
psychology into the realm of honest-to-goodness empirical science, based on
observable, quantifiable behavior. He was clearly on the right track.
Then, then, well, read on:

    A psychology of interest to all scientific men would take as its starting
    point, first, the observable fact that organisms, man and animal alike,
    do adjust themselves to their environment by means of hereditary and habit
    equipments. These adjustments may be very adequate or they may be so
    inadequate that the organism barely maintains its existence; secondly,
    certain stimuli lead the organisms to make the responses. In a system
    of psychology completely worked out, given the responses the stimuli can
    be predicted; given the stimuli the responses can be predicted. Such a
    set of statements is crass and raw in the extreme, as all such
    generalizations must be. Yet they are hardly more raw and less realizable
    than the ones which appear in the psychology texts of this day.
        Watson (1914, p. 10)

So the new psychology will replace introspection and the enumeration of the
states of clearness of consciousness with the study of behavior. Its
objectives: to work out the relationships between the stimulus and the
response, and thus to both predict and control behavior. Eighty-one years
later, we're still working on the problem, and should have the answer real
soon now. (;->

Citation from: Watson, John B. (1914). _Behavior: An introduction to
                      comparative psychology_. New York: Holt.