[From Bill Powers (930130.0830)]

Martin Taylor (930129.1900) --

Petronius Arbiter is talking about what happens when commanders
are selected by the Peter Principle. Having risen to their level
of incompetence, they are driven by anxiety which can't be
alleviated by accomplishment, because they don't know how to
accomplish what must be done. Therefore they reorganize
endlessly, passing over bad solutions and good ones alike because
they can't recognize a good solution when it turns up.


Gary Cziko (930130.0430 GMT) --

Yoru suggestion about instrument disturbances for actions of
various speeds is a good one. The main difficulty is that human
control systems are too good: it's hard to build an
electromechanical system that can apply a known disturbance
faster than a human being can correct for it. It's possible, but
you need expensive torque motors and very fast servo amplifiers.
It's not the sort of thing I can do in my basement computer room.

... I have the intuition that at the very highest speeds
even the final position will not be well-controlled, at least
not without some patch-up correction at the end of the

There will be wobbles at the end of a very fast movement, but
they'll be on the same time scale that normally applies. That is,
if a disturbance occurs within a 40-millisecond jab, it will take
120 to 180 milliseconds to correct 95 - 99 percent of the final
position error -- the same as during normal movements.
A thought about lexicons and other side-issues of PCT.

There seems to be a difference in the way scientists approach
studies of natural phenomena that parallels the differences
between some organized religions. In one religion it is claimed
that God's Truth can reach the common person, but only through
the intercession of qualified and approved theologians. In
another, it is claimed that each person has an individual contact
with God that requires no human intermediaries, no ritual, no

It seems to me that this same dispute occurs in science. One
group works on the basis that the great minds of the past have
revealed the basic working of nature to the less-inspired, so
that for the common scientist to learn Truth, there must be a
devoted study of the wisdom of the past, and observance of the
rituals prescribed by the most gifted of scientists. But another
group -- much smaller, I fear -- believes that any individual can
explore nature directly, without any intermediary and without the
need for observing customary rituals.

This distinction is particularly important in studies of human
nature. The first group decided some time ago that subjective
observations of human nature are untrustworthy and misleading, so
that to discover his or her own workings, an individual must
learn the methods of objective science and study the findings
about human behavior that our illustrious forebears have
established. But the second group, of which I am obviously a
member, believes that truths about human nature are available to
anyone who takes the trouble to ask the right questions and
observe himself/herself closely and with honesty.

Ed Ford, whatever his theological leanings, has shown himself to
be a scientist of the second kind. He has shown that anyone,
given a couple of rubber bands and a willing partner or two, can
rediscover fundamental phenomena of control quite independently
of what anyone else says they are, without mathematical rituals,
and without asking any authority whether he has it right. The
question is put directly to nature, and nature, acting as it
must, demonstrates the answer.

We may, of course, dispute within and among ourselves as to what
the answer signifies, because significance gets us into
speculation about what we haven't observed. But each of us has a
working brain, of which we see far more than anyone else can see
even if we can't see it all. Each of us lives in a private world
of experience of which no one else knows anything. Each person,
alone, can explore this laboratory and learn at least something
about how its apparatus works. How strange to think that one
might decide to ignore this laboratory, and judge human nature
only on the basis of what certain others, working in their own
private laboratories somewhere else and long ago, have said about
Best to all,

Bill P.

From Greg Williams (930419)

Ed Ford has been disconnected involuntarily from the net (at his end)
and is looking for a different way to connect. He says he'll probably
be back on in a week or so, maybe via MCI Mail (isn't it interesting
that some of us are willing to pay money to get into arguments?). My
schedule and Ed's should allow us to mail the Spring issue of CLOSED
LOOP (on portable PCT demos) sometime during the first week in May.



Bill Powers (930417.1530)

In the last post to you, I applied a number of disturbances,
assuming that your goal was to maintain that the Test had not met
your requirements.
In today's post, you clearly rejected every such claim, giving
your reasons for the rejection and in general trying to correct
the false impression of your position that I was giving.

So I deduce that there is some controlled perception here, which
was disturbed by my assertions, your statements today being
designed to protect correct some effect of that disturbance. I
would guess that this reference perception is the perception that
the challenge has not been met.

You have convincingly (to me) deduced my reference perception. In my
opinion, you applied The Test in a manner such that you sufficiently
(to my thinking -- others might disagree) narrowed the possibilities
of what my reference perception might be in this case. So you are 1
for 2, still having not convinced me in your earlier efforts with
regard to a different reference perception. (Of course, you might
consider the score premature, if you still want to keep trying on that
earlier work.)

If I wanted to find out why you are controlling the variable in
question here, I would begin applying disturbances to the idea
that subjective impressions are not sufficient evidence for a
scientific test. I might just insist that they are quite
sufficient, or even more directly, intimate that YOU think they
are quite sufficient. Having established, more or less, that this
opinion _is_ a reference level, perhaps I would try to go still
more more level higher, trying to see what would be disturbed if
this opinion were to change. But by that time we could hardly do
without a continuous face-to-face interchange -- and an audience
might not be appropriate.

I suspect that you COULD do this. If you want to take the next flight
to Kentucky, I'll be happy to give it a try -- or do you think that
isn't practical?

And perhaps now you might be willing to concede that it's not as
hard as it seems.

"Hard," of course, is in the eye of the beholder. It appears to me
that the difficulty of successfully (that is, with respect to
standards accepted by interested scientists) Testing for reference
levels can vary enormously, depending on the inclinations of the
Testee, the cleverness of the Tester, the resources of the Testee,
etc. To judge by our challenge experiences to date, I'd say that
sometimes applying The Test successfully appears quite easy and
sometimes it appears quite difficult. Perhaps YOU might be willing to
concede that it's not always as easy as you thought previously.


Tom Bourbon [939416.1649 CDT]

Greg, as you alrady knew, and as Clark confirmed, there are others on
the net far more well versed in the sociological literature than I,
but I was happy to see that Clark's informed post meshed with my
impressions of the literature. I, too, was ignorant of Little's work,
but the passages you quoted were inline with the general impression
that I described in my earlier post: most people who write about
inner direction write of the direction of ACTIONS, not of PERCEPTIONS.
I will not try, in the few minutes I have left on the net this
afternoon, to point out all of the reasons I believe Little is in that
group; I believe yuor opening quotation from him is enough. People
are "...AGENTS whose actions are directed by their beliefs, goals,
meanings, values, prohibitions, and scruples." QED (in the sense in
which QED is used outside of physics)

In a manner of speaking (an everyday manner), that sounds true. As a
characterization of a behaving PCT control system, it is not true.
The *perceived consequences* of the actions of a PCT system are
"directed by" the systems reference signals (aka, in everyday
language, beliefs, goals ... and scruples"); its actions are not. All
else in the passages from Little is subject to the consequences of
this initial difference between his ideas and PCT. (This is not to
belittle Little -- just to say that the passages you quote from him
are in agreement with my original post.)

I read the Little quotes with a different interpretation: that RCTers
(like PCTers) say that WHATEVER means (outputs) necessary to result in
perceived results (outcomes) matching desired ends (goals), given the
environmental context (disturbances) will be generated by rational
humans (humans with normally functioning control systems). In
particular, to me it sounds like he is saying that the RCTers claim
that goals, not outputs, are shared in cooperative social endeavors. I
guess the question now is which interpretation is more appropriate to
what RCTers actually say (as I pointed out in an earlier post, Little
isn't an RCTer himself). Clark, what do you think? I assume you've
read some writings by RCTers and their precursors. Do they emphasize
output specification or goal matching?


Rick Marken (930418.1000)

Rick, do you believe that all (or practically all) perceptual signals

involved in control loops are accessible (perhaps with practice or
other special procedures) to awareness?

Yes. I think what you mean is something like "if a tester discovers that
I am controlling p, can I become aware of p".

What is the evidence?

None, really. Just based on my assumption that all perceptual
signals in the model, controlled or not, can become the objects
of awareness. It would be difficult to show that this is NOT the
case, by the way. How could I ever be made aware of the fact that
I am controlling perceptions that I cannot be made aware of?

Seeing the results of lab test showing control of concentration of
some bodily chemical (say, blood glucose) in the face of a
"challenge" (say, 10 Twinkies) might make you aware of biochemical
control loops which involve "unconscious" perceptions resulting from
chemosensors (or how about one particular chemosensor?), but those
perceptions might not be able to ever be perceived "consciously." A
related issue is consciousness of perception in "lower" animals. I'm
not claiming that I have much evidence on these issues, but I have
read that signals (a low rate of action potential generation) from a
single pressure receptor in the skin ARE accessible to a person's
consciousness. It WOULD be interesting to somehow learn to "feel"
fluctuations in local concentrations of particular biochemicals. I
suspect that there would be practical difficulties in doing this in at
least some cases.

As ever,


from Ed Ford (920614:11:30)

Gary Cziko -

    Would you please send me your INTRODUCTION TO THE CONTROL SYSTEMS
GROUP NETWORK (CSGnet). Somehow, I lost part of it and could use it as
a handout when people show an interest in the CSG or in PCT. Thanks.

Martin -

    Thanks for the input.

10209 N. 56th St., Scottsdale, Arizona 85253 Ph.602 991-4860

[from Joel Judd 951005.0830 CST]

Just felt like having a virtual conversation:

Brian D. (951004):

But this "feminine" part of the
male is nothing less than the foundation of his psyche and self
system, and it cannot be eradicated. It therefore continually
impinges on his self perception, generating chronic conflict with
his socially programmed reference perception for "not feminine."
What I said is that this _conflict_ between reference perception
and perception, not the reference perception by itself, constitutes
"male gender insecurity." Meanwhile, it is no wonder that males
periodically go berserk.

Can I ask how this phenomena is "known"? Personally, I don't think I go
berserk periodically, but perhaps I do it in subtle ways :wink: On the other
hand, maybe this conflict develops early. My six year-old stood and
screamed at the top of his lungs in a parking lot last night as my wife and
I moved farther away. He didn't want to go to the store, he didn't want to
stay home; he didn't want to talk, he didn't want to be left alone...I'm
going to have a talk with my wife.


Rick M. (951004)

When you get back from Catalina again--
Aren't the conditions of the jury verdict perfect PCT fodder? Remember,
"we" saw and heard anything and just about everything related to the trial
and the evidence, things the jury supposedly never saw or heard. In
addition, they only had to have a "reasonable doubt." Furthermore, they've
been at this for over a year. Given just the things they saw and heard, did
they have enough information to eliminate reasonable doubt?

I'm waiting to see if Murder One digs into juror psychology.
Bruce A. (or anyone)

I noticed you applied the K coefficient to multiple regression as well as
simple r. Is the interpretation of K's application to the former as
straightforward as to the latter? Most published correlative results in the
literature I read almost always involve multiple factors (what with more
powerful computing resources and all); most ANOVA-type analyses are often
MANOVA now, and so on. It gets harder to lead people back to the premises
of these studies, because the complexity of the research design can be


A repeated reference to some candid discussion of statistical significance

Special Issue of the _Journal of Experimental Education_, 61(4).

Sample quote:
     "Reports of tests of statistical significance that are not based on
randomized samples
     should not be published."

Joel Judd