Hierarchy, Organizations, Selection

[From Rick Marken (941226.1745)]

Here I am, back from the Holiday Abyss, a little (a lot?) fatter
and a lot better at saying "Oh, yes. It's JUST what I wanted"?
(If anyone still doubts that people are controlling perceptual
variables, check out the department stores today; here in LA LA
land, they are filled with people turning what they got (perceptions)
into what they wanted (reference state of those perceptions).

Now I can get back to being the annoying SOB that you all know
and love;-)

Lars Christian Smith (941224 9:40 CET) --

You [Tom B. and me] are both stressing the provisional nature of the
hierarchical structure. Is there a difference between what you both are
saying, on one hand, and what the Plooijs claim to have observed and
described, on the other?

Not really. The specific levels of the perceptual control model and the
hierarchical struture of the model itself are "provisional". PCT is like
any scientific model; it is either "provisional" (as PCT is now) or
rejected by evidence (as all other psychological models should have been
by now). The Plooijs have provided some evidence that supports both the
specific levels as well as the hierarchical structure of the PCT model. I
think we need a hell of lot more supporting evidence before we can
stop saying that PCT is "provisional" and start saying (as we do about
the atomic model of matter, for example) that it's "basically right".

Anybody looking at control hierarchies in social organizations? In
insect societies? In organizations or societies the hierarchies should be
easily observable, if you are looking for them in the right way. They
are not hidden away inside individuals.

In PCT the word "hierarchy" refers to the structure of the relationship
between control systems in the PCT _model_; we don't expect to
"observe" a hierarchical relationship between controlled perceptual
variables, any more than a physicist expects to observe the "mass" of an
object. We expect to observe the consequences of the existance of a
perceptual control hierarchy, if such a hierarchy exists.

Bill Leach (941225.00:12 EST) says:

What IS an organization? Does an organization REALLY have
"hierarchies" or these matters of individual perception? Is an
organization really an "independent" entity?

Lars Christian Smith (941226 13:00 CET) replies:

You pose a number of interesting questions, and I certainly hope they
are rhetorical, because I would like to know your (or Tom's) answers!

I think Bill Leach and Tom Bourbon can provide very informative
answers to these questions. I must warn you, however, that your hopes
may be dashed if your hope is that the answer to the question "Does an
organization REALLY have "hierarchies" or are these matters of
individual perception?" is something other than "These are matters
of individual perception".

Bill Leach (941225.1753 EST(EDT)) --

However, as a tool of science, simulation was a means of developing
and refining understanding BUT such knowledge was always still
subject to the acid test of observations in nature.

I think this is an EXCELLENT reminder, Bill. People don't seem to do
science in the behavioral sciences anymore. If they did -- if they rigor-
usly tested their models against observation -- PCT would be the only show in
town. Instead, the people who are _observing_ behavioral phenomena
seem to have no interest in rigorous modelling and the people who are
doing the modelling seem to have little interest in rigorous observing.
Is it any wonder that both groups eventually turn to philosoply;-)

Bill Powers (941226.0900 MST) to Bruce Abbott (941220.1400 EST)--

Your new "selection" program is very neatly constructed and works
just as you say. I looked it over fairly carefully, however, and couldn't
find the part of the code that is doing the selecting. Maybe I just didn't
recognize it. Can you point it out to me?

Could you please, Bruce? This is why I asked for the diagram of the
control loop in your "selection" program. I just didn't see what might
be doing the "selecting". You can imagine how important such
clarification must be for me if even Bill needs it;-)

Happy Holidays