Hans Hass, energon theory

[From Bill Powers (2011.11,26,0925 MST)]

Gavin Ritz 2011. NZT –

GR>: Your field
of study psychology with which you have replaced with PCT, is voodoo

RMarken: But isn’t your field of
study psychology as well? Or is human profiling a new sub-discipline of

GR: This
requires clarification. But not too much. My interests are in Prigogine’s
Dissipative Structures and concepts of Creativity and learning. And now
PCT but I guess you don’t think so, too bad.

My first introduction to human behavior had nothing to do with
psychology. It was Hans Hass Energon theory, and his book The Human
Animal, the mystery of mans Behavior (evolutionary behavior), and Wendell
Johnson’s Linguistics, People In Quandaries and its relationship with
Alfred Korzybski’s ideas and Wolfgang Mewes Energy Bottleneck Strategy,.
(Engpass Konzientriten Strategie)
I only read psychology much
later and concluded that it’s voodoo and never had any interest in it.
Made no sense to me.

Just spewing out a list of references is essentially useless. You imply
that if we, too, read them, we would see how right you are, but since
these materials are long and complex there’s no way to tell which parts
you agree with and which you don’t believe, or what conclusions you have
drawn from them, or how they relate to PCT and human behavior. If you
understand what you read, you should be able to explain them to us
without requiring that we look them up and read them ourselves. Maybe
that would prove interesting enough to lead to our reading them. But in
my case, the result of actually reading the materials people send to me
or recommend has not been, generally, what was intended.
For example, I just looked up Hans Hass “Energon


In the very first page of the first chapter I found this:


From a biological point of view it may be said that a human
being, by learning and practising during his apprenticeship, builds up
specific norms of action and reaction in his brain. What these
“behaviour patterns” individually look like we do not yet know.
There is no doubt, however, – and electrical cerebral stimulation has
definitely given evidence of this – that these are concrete
material structures. They can be imagined as some kind of
electrical circuit, as a multitude of connections between sensory and
motor ganglion cells.


If this is the part of his work you wanted us to read, you picked a claim
that we have shown without a doubt is false, right at the beginning of
his writing. Behavior is not just a matter of “a multitude of
connections between sensory and motor ganglion cells.” The date
given on the title page is 1970, just three years before B:CP was
published, so this puts Hass in the same camp as the behaviorists in the
first half of the 20th Century and shows that he had no awareness of
feedback phenomena at all. As to the rest of what he says in this
chapter, it’s pretty much the same tired old concepts I have doubted and
found wanting since I first started reading and thinking in this field.
Frankly, it all sounded like the sort of thing pompous old men write,
putting down every brilliant-seeming thought that comes to mind under the
impression that it will give the reader the benefit of receiving superior

I’m fairly familiar with Prigogine, and of course Korzybski was a hero of
my young life starting when I was about 15. I think Korzybski had a lot
more to say that was useful and inspiring than Progogine had. I think I
read Johnson’s “People in Quandaries” when it came out in 1946,
since I was interested in Korzybski’s ideas by then (I took Oliver J.
Lee’s course in General Semantics at Northwestern University in
1947 or 1948, and also Hayakawa’s at the same university – Hayakawa was
rather an idiot, who thought it was cute to stand up on a desk and
demonstrate his tap-dancing). I also, while in high school, went through
Wendell Johnson’s “Human Engineering” evaluation program in
which I learned that I should be a scientist or write for a living, and
was rather smart, all of which I told his staff so they could tell it
back to me. I think my father paid $200 for that information, hoping it
would set me on the right track at last. That was a lot of money in the
early 1940s.

I assume you don’t subscribe to everything in these writings, especially
after you have spent so much time learning about PCT. It’s really up to
you to filter out what you have learned from your reading and thinking
and take ownership of it, instead of just referring us to what other
people have said. Just making a lot of unsupported statements of fact
because you read them somewhere or thought them up yourself isn’t very
convincing, though it’s a popular form of scientific theororizing.

But what most non-psychological authorities like those you cite said
about behavior in the 1950s and before was based on acceptance of
stimulus-response theory, so the psychology, voodoo or not, was at the
base of their writings. It’s very risky to evaluate works just because
they make sense to you – that can easily mean that you pick out things
you already agree or disagree with and accept or reject on that basis.
It’s much more illuminating to look for reasons and data that you can
analyse with skepticism until you’re forced to admit there may be
something new to you and useful there.

I’m seldom impressed by all the weighty science of the past. Science
continually changes, and what once made sense eventually ceases to do so,
as better ideas come along. A few gems survive; most turn out to be


Bill P.

(gavin Ritz 2011.11.27. 11.38)
[From Bill Powers (2011.11,26,0925 MST)]

Gavin Ritz 2011. NZT –


I’m seldom impressed by all the weighty science of the past. Science
continually changes, and what once made sense eventually ceases to do so,
as better ideas come along. A few gems survive; most turn out to be

GR: so then my questions should be something that you yourself would welcome and do, take nothing for granted question then question again then again until clarity prevails.

I do think that the concept of the controlled variable (or controlled quantity) has enormous potential in linking many disparate parts of science and thinking and knowledge in general. My qualifications for this will come later, I’m a bit snowed under now moving my business to another country.

I have been keen for some time now to get the entire PCT onto a conceptual
mathematical basis. This I can only do in my spare time. This way I can move from one area of science to another without corruption.