[From Rick Marken (950706.2110)]

Bill Powers (950706.0905 MDT) --

What we're doing isn't exactly developing an acceptable test to

distinguish reinforcement theory from control theory. It's more along

the line of trying to figure out what reinforcement theory IS. We have

to do that before any test is possible.

I am more of a phenomena freak than a modeller. I like to build models

but I especially like to see what observations would be expected if

the model were correct. That's one reason I like PCT so much; it's

a simple model (so even I can understand it) and it predicts many

fascinating and surprising phenomena. Many of these phenomena are

as fascinating as they are (to me) because they contradict one's

expectations based on other models of behavior. S-R theory leads

one to expect a correlation between cursor and handle movement in a

tracking task -- and there is none. Cognitive theory leads one to

expect that consistent (programmed) means will be used to produce

a consistent end -- in fact, the means vary (as necessary) to compensate

for invisible changes in the connection between means and ends,

so that the end is consistently produced. Reinforcement theory leads

one to expect that random consequences will randomly stregthen and

weaken S-R bonds -- yet the S-R bonds that we see are not only non-random

but they are exactly those that keep the consequences under control.

I find it kind of frightening that in 1995 we would have to be trying to

figure out what reinforcement theory (developed c. 1930) is. It suggests

a rather deep lack of interest in or understanding of modelling in the

EAB community. Either way, it bodes ill for anyone seeking to move EAB

toward PCT. If EABers have no interest in modelling then what good is it

to present them with an accurate representation of their model? The same

holds if they don't understand modelling; what will they learn from your

model of reinforcment theory if they don't know what a model is?

I am working on another demonstration of the relatoinship between

consequences and behavior; the aim of the demonstration is to show

that the same consequence is produced by variable means. It seems to

me that this result would be inconsistent with reinforcement theory;

but maybe not. Since no one seems to know what reinforcement theory

IS, how would anyone know what behavior phenomena to expect if organisms

actually operated according to the theory? SO I've stopped working on this

demo; I'm waiting to find out what "the real reinforcement theory" would

actually lead one to expect to see.

By the time we have finished, his reinforcement model will probably be

totally unacceptable to his colleagues in EAB He will find himself

ostracized by his former friends, and he will have to join the ranks of

the institutionally homeless like you and Tom Bourbon and all the others

who have contracted this disease.

I sure hope not. But I think you give the wrong impression here. Tom

was never ostracized by friends and I was ostracized only becuase I'm,

well, me;-) And we are institutionally homeless by choice; we just

couldn't, in good conscience, keep teaching the stuff that we had to

teach in order to provide students with the required curriculum. Augsburg

was happy to let me teach a regular course on PCT; but then what would

I have done when I had to teach Intro, Research Methods, Learning, etc? Give

a discalimer at the beginning of each semester saying "You have to learn

the following c**p to pass the GRE; but it is all BS; to see why, take my

PCT class next semester"?

Anyway, good luck on your search for the heart of reinforcement theory.

I can hardly wait to see what you find.

Best

Rick