PCT and Politics

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.21.1845)]

I would like to ask the members of this group whether they think PCT
is more consistent with one political philosophy rather than another.
Let's frame it in terms of the US election. Would an understanding of
PCT lead one to be more comfortable with the political philosophy of
Barack Obama or John McCain? Or is PCT irrelevant to politics? I would
be particularly interested in hearing what Bill Powers has to say
about this.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.21.1950 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.08.21.1845) --

I would like to ask the members of this group whether they think PCT
is more consistent with one political philosophy rather than another.

This question has interested me for some time, but I realized a while ago that I don't have any clear picture of what the respective political "philosophies" (really, theories of human nature) are. I have the usual "gut feel" for the difference between liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, and so on, but it's just an accumulation of impressions. In some contexts I would be a Libertarian, but the Ayn Rand type disgusts me. I vote Democratic, usually, but coming from the two Mayor Daleys' Chicago, I've seen the worst of the Democratic machine. And as they say, some of my best friends have been Republicans -- but that doesn't include others who are marginal examples of humanity. But none of that could be considered data.

I think we're in a position where nobody has any clear system concepts or principles that they could marshall to give a clear description of their "philosophy." You could probably define a dozen or two dimensions of control, with a fairly uniform distribution across the different parties. After all, the differences are so smeared out and vague that elections are mostly dead heats, decided by the system noise level or a nice smile.

There must be sociological studies that have attempted to probe higher-level concepts in politics, but maybe not. The problem there is finding investigators with the necessary Man-From-Mars attitude, interested in getting the data but indifferent to its moral or cultural (or personal) implications. An MOL therapist might be ideal, not getting involved in the content but simply trying to clarify the structure of perceptions and goals. I've always hoped that our CSG sociologists would do studies like that, but so far they've been interested in other things. Could be it's an MOL ethologist we need.

From another angle, all people in the political system behave in a way that is exactly consistent with PCT. If that's not true, then PCT is not a correct theory of human organization. The question is not which party is a hierarchy of control systems and which is not. We're really talking about conflicts here, not consistency with PCT. Some people want certain things and believe certain things that are not compatible with what other people want and believe. Nobody is aware enough of the higher-level processes to just sit down together and figure out what the real conflicts are and reorganize long enough to end the fights. Instead, one side pushes and the other side pushes back, etc., all at the wrong level so reorganization does no good. PCT explains this result nicely -- there is nothing unPCT about either party.

I'll vote for the Irishman O'Bama, but not because he's more consistent with PCT than MuckCain. I happen to value intelligence (whatever that is) and quickness of thought. But one man is only one man. The long-term solutions don't lie in politics.

Best,

Bill P.

I don’t think PCT is consistent with the concept of power as per the bible on Power by Adolf Berle or de Cheveneul’s concept of power or for that matter Russell’s and Galbraith rendition of power. Of course all political and economic systems are power systems.

So one cant talk of political systems without directly considering the notion of power.

I have battled with PCT to make it fit in some shape or other to concepts of power. The closest I have come is the tension states.

The question begs what and where in the hierarchy comes power and psychological states. In my books power encompasses psychological states, so if there is a hierarchy in systems it would look something like this- power-psychological-informational-economic-financial-material. So I’m saying psychological states are embedded in the entire system (political-economic) which is power.

So for PCT to be THE psychological theory it requires requisitely to image the notion of power.

Regards

Gavin

···

----- Original Message ----
From: Richard Marken rsmarken@GMAIL.COM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Sent: Friday, 22 August, 2008 1:47:04 PM
Subject: PCT and Politics

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.21.1845)]

I would like to ask the members of this group whether they think PCT
is more consistent with one political philosophy rather than another.
Let’s frame it in terms of the US election. Would an understanding of
PCT lead one to be more comfortable with the political philosophy of
Barack Obama or John McCain? Or is PCT irrelevant to politics? I would
be particularly interested in hearing what Bill Powers has to say
about this.

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.22.0300)]

I don't think PCT is consistent with the concept of power as per the bible on Power by Adolf Berle or de Cheveneul's concept of power or for that matter Russell's and Galbraith rendition of power. Of course all political and economic systems are power systems. So one cant talk of political systems without directly considering the notion of power.

Power isn't some special mysterious property of social systems, is it? It's a word. What it means depends on how you define it. If you'll say what you mean by power I can try to describe how PCT would apply. Referring me to books you have read doesn't help much.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Fred Nickols (2008.08.22.0636 MDT)]

···

-------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Bill Powers <powers_w@FRONTIER.NET>

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.22.0300)]
Power isn't some special mysterious property of social systems, is
it? It's a word. What it means depends on how you define it. If
you'll say what you mean by power I can try to describe how PCT would
apply. Referring me to books you have read doesn't help much.

The MDT in my signature line owes to the fact that I'm in an RV park along the Arkansas River in Salida, CO instead of my usual location in Ohio. Nice place, by the way.

Anyway, regarding power...

I grew up with a pretty commonplace notion of power; namely, the ability to control others. In the course of being trained as an OD specialist in the Navy, I came upon and adopted a very different definition of power: the range of options at one's disposal. The more options you have the more power you have. I also came to believe that the best way to acquire power (i.e., to increase your range of options) is to study, learn, experiment and find out what works and what doesn't work. Another way of increasing your own power is to increase the power of others (i.e., increase their range of options, even if that boils down to simply helping them see alternatives). In PCT terms, you help them do a better job of obtaining/maintaining reference conditions for variables they wish to control. They tend to return that favor.

My old definition of power has a link to my new one: power, in the old sense, could be seen as the ability to restrict the options available to others. However, being a believer in PCT, I believe I know where that leads.

--
Regards,

Fred Nickols
Managing Partner
Distance Consulting, LLC
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

"Assistance at A Distance"

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.23.0740 MDT)]

Fred Nickols (2008.08.22.0636 MDT) –

I grew up with a pretty
commonplace notion of power; namely, the ability to control others.
In the course of being trained as an OD specialist in the Navy, I came
upon and adopted a very different definition of power: the range of
options at one’s disposal. The more options you have the more power
you have. I also came to believe that the best way to acquire power
(i.e., to increase your range of options) is to study, learn, experiment
and find out what works and what doesn’t work. Another way of
increasing your own power is to increase the power of others (i.e.,
increase their range of options, even if that boils down to simply
helping them see alternatives). In PCT terms, you help them do a
better job of obtaining/maintaining reference conditions for variables
they wish to control. They tend to return that
favor.

Pretty much my history, and my conclusions, too.

What this says is simply that “power” means nothing more nor
less than the ability to control: to act on one’s world in such a way as
to experience it the way you want to experience it. Starting with the
idea of controlling other people, we both came to realize that this is an
illusory goal: the more you try to control others, the more they resist
– and there are a lot more of Them than there are of You.

Of course we can’t deny that there are people who want power in exactly
the sense of the ability to control other people. But “absolute
power corrupts absolutely,”

[
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/288200.html

](http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/288200.html)

**======================================================

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely**
Meaning

Literal meaning.

Origin

Lord Acton

This arose as a quotation by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first
Baron Acton (1834�1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise
known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop
Mandell Creighton in 1887:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Great men are almost always bad men.”

Another English politician with no shortage of names - William Pitt,
the Elder, The Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister from 1766 to
1778, is sometimes wrongly attributed as the source. He did say something
similar, in a speech to the UK House of Lords in 1770:

“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who
possess it”

···

============================================================================

PCT tells us that the “corruption” occurs because of the
resistance of others to arbitrary control. Greater and greater effort is
required to retain power, so one is forced to more and more extreme
measures that eventually violate all other principles – as long as
control of others remains the predominant goal.

Thanks for contacting Gupta. I can believe her about independently
arriving at the idea of perceptual control, but “reference
level” is an engineering term – she must have heard or read it
somewhere. I think all of us would be embarrassed to develop total recall
and realize how few of our great ideas are wholly our own.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1030)]

Bill Powers (2008.08.21.1950 MDT)]

>Rick Marken (2008.08.21.1845) --

I would like to ask the members of this group whether they think PCT
is more consistent with one political philosophy rather than another.

This question has interested me for some time, but I realized a while ago
that I don't have any clear picture of what the respective political
"philosophies" (really, theories of human nature) are.

I asked it incorrectly. I'm more interested in stated policies rather
than philosophies. Do you think the policies of the Democrat or the
Republican presidential candidate in this election are more consistent
with PCT or is there no real difference?

And as they say, some of my best friends have been Republicans -- but that doesn't
include others who are marginal examples of humanity.

I'm not interested in the quality of the people; my racquetball
partner is a real nice guy and I like him a lot. But his politics
(from my perspective) are abysmal. What I want to know is whether,
overall, the policies espoused by one party in this election are more
consistent with a PCT undertsanding of human nature than those
espoused by the other (let's just deal with the two major parties --
Republican and Democrat-- because we don't have a parliamentary system
in the US so third parties don't really count). I'm not asking whether
one or the other party's policies are perfectly consistent with PCT;
just whether you think that, by and large, the policies espoused by
McCain or those espoused by Obama are more consistent with PCT. Or
whether you think it is a wash.

From another angle, all people in the political system behave in a way that
is exactly consistent with PCT.

Yes, of course. But I'm interested in whether you think that, in this
particular election, the stated policies of one party's candidate are
more consistent with PCT than those of the other party's candidate.

The question is not which party is a
hierarchy of control systems and which is not.

That's correct. That was not my question.

We're really talking about
conflicts here, not consistency with PCT. Some people want certain things
and believe certain things that are not compatible with what other people
want and believe. Nobody is aware enough of the higher-level processes to
just sit down together and figure out what the real conflicts are and
reorganize long enough to end the fights. Instead, one side pushes and the
other side pushes back, etc., all at the wrong level so reorganization does
no good. PCT explains this result nicely -- there is nothing unPCT about
either party.

OK, so what you seem to be saying is that the policies of both parties
are just fine from a PCT perspective and that the only problem is that
these policies conflict with each other. So there is really no basis
for selecting one candidate or the other based on policy or, I
presume, the consistency of those policies with a PCT understanding of
human nature. It seems like you are saying that the only basis for
selection of one candidate over the other is some desirable
characteristic of the candidates themselves, such as Obama's obvious
intelligence. So voting for McCain, whose international policies are
confrontational and bellicose (aimed at pushing harder on "our" side
of the conflict) and whose domestic policies are aimed at comforting
the comfortable (helping those who are already able to control their
lives quite well while neglecting those whose lives are barely under
control) is just as good as voting for Obama, whose international
policies are more oriented toward negotiation and cooperation and
whose domestic policies are aimed at helping those who are having
problems controlling their access to things such as jobs and
healthcare. Accroding to what you say, your only reason for preferring
Obama is because he's smart. Is that right?

The long-term solutions don't lie in politics.

That may be. But right now all we've got is politics. So in that
context do you really don't think there is no PCT basis for a choice
between the policies espoused by the two leading candidates? Are you
saying that a person who understands PCT is just as likely to find the
policies espoused by McCain as attractive as those espoused by Obama?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1050)]

Fred Nickols (2008.08.22.0636 MDT)

The MDT in my signature line owes to the fact that I'm in an RV park along the Arkansas
River in Salida, CO instead of my usual location in Ohio. Nice place, by the way.

What fun. Have a great time.

Anyway, regarding power...

I came upon and adopted a very different definition of power: the range of options at one's disposal.

Yes! One meaning of power is the ability to control; "personal
control", as I call it in the title of my seminar.

Another way of increasing your own power is to increase the power of others (i.e., increase their
range of options, even if that boils down to simply helping them see alternatives).

Yes!! By and large, individuals control better when other individuals
control well too. When there are many individuals without power
(control) you get terrorism, revolution, crime, and all the other
kinds of crap that results when people who can't control well are
trying whatever they can to get control. There was recently a report
on terrorism (put out by RAND, my alma mater) that showed that
terrorism stops when the terrorists get power (control), usually in
the form of political participation. Military approaches to terrorism
don't work. This finding is completely consistent with PCT (it's
certainly what I would have expected).

This is why I think that there is a relationship between PCT and
politics. I think an understanding of PCT would incline one towards
policies that are aimed at helping _everyone_ get better control of
their lives. These policies help not only those who are not
controlling as well as they might like (the lower and "middle"
classes) but also those who are controlling just fine thank you (the
wealthy) because the later no longer have to live in gated
communities. People who are in control of their lives (and not busy
trying to control other people's lives -- by making laws that limit
individual choices that have no effect on other people--which destroys
everyone's ability to control) are just a lot nicer to live with.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (20078.08.23.1203 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1030) –

I asked it incorrectly. I’m more
interested in stated policies rather

than philosophies. Do you think the policies of the Democrat or the

Republican presidential candidate in this election are more
consistent

with PCT or is there no real difference?

You’re trying to get me to use PCT for political purposes and I’m
resisting. The very existence of political parties says that there is
conflict, which is an insane condition of the system. The solution to the
conflict is for the conflict to cease, not for one party to triumph over
the other one, no matter how much we prefer the policies of one party and
detest the other (this seems to be about equal on both sides).
Naturally, everyone involved is sure they are on the right side and the
other side is ignorant, stupid, evil, or all three. There is a high level
of anger on both sides (meaning that each side would like to attack and
obliterate the other side, removing the disturbance).

The result is that whichever party wins, the other will redouble its
efforts to win the next time, in the meantime doing their best to
frustrate whatever it is that the winners want to do. This has been going
on for over two centuries in the United States (longer, but to a lesser
degree or in different ways, in most other places).

The adversary system is built into American life in education, sports,
business, law, religion, and politics. It probably accounts for the fact
that the United States has more of its citizens in prisons than any other
country, that the gap between rich and poor is among the largest, that
guns and violent crime are everywhere, and that the attitude of the US
toward other countries is aggressive and arrogant. The high level of
conflict in the US shows up in all political parties. And as long as both
parties to a conflict persist in trying to win, the conflict will
continue.

As a stopgap measure I would like to see the Democrats “in
power,” as they put it. But as long as anyone is “in
power” in a system based on competition and conflict, the US will be
sick and crippled.

It might be possible to make a case that the Democrats have a slightly
more PCT-like conception of human nature than the Republicans do.
Actually, very few of them on either side have any understanding of PCT;
their policies are shaped by unscientific or private beliefs of many
random kinds. We couldn’t count on any consistent agreement with PCT
principles, since the behavior is not motivated by an understanding of
PCT. By making a huge effort, we might be able to change the
balance-point of the conflict a little bit. But we have to remember that
this is what both parties believe, so the shift will be temporary and
brief. One side will experience a lessening of error; the other side will
experience an increase. Guess which side will relax, and which will try
harder to win.

That may be. But right now all
we’ve got is politics. So in that

context do you really don’t think there is no PCT basis for a choice

between the policies espoused by the two leading candidates? Are you

saying that a person who understands PCT is just as likely to find
the

policies espoused by McCain as attractive as those espoused by
Obama?

I think someone who understands PCT and is looking for long-term
solutions finds the entire political spectacle repulsive. Whichever side
you favor, whipping up indignation and ever more anger will only result
in strengthening the other side’s efforts to do the same things.
Conflicts escalate until you notice your own contribution to making them
worse. You’re asking which I prefer to get: syphilis or AIDS. I suppose
syphilis is easier to cure, so I’d pick that one, but don’t expect me to
be glad that’s the only choice. Having to make the choice is a defeat in
itself.
Perhaps this is appropriate: last week I accidentally tuned into and got
hooked by a wonderful movie: The School of Rock, starring Jack Black.
Jack Black is either a genius of an actor, or he lives the part all the
time. At one point he’s giving his students their introductory lesson in
Rock Appreciation. He tells his class that the primary emotion on which
the whole rock movement is based is very simple: it’s anger. He
then gives his class some practice at being angry at everything, starting
with him. As the movie unfolds and the kids make the transition to being
competent rockers, the truth of his principle gets more and more clear.
The paradox also starts to become clear, if only as a background thought:
as the various conflicts start to be resolved, the angry music comes to a
climax, while the warring parties start to understand, support, and love
each other. It would be hard to imagine a sequel to this movie – how can
you enjoy angry music when people don’t hate each other any more? Which
do you give up, the anger or the music?

So Rick, you’re not going to get any easy endorsements from me. I want to
apply PCT at the highest level I can, not the lowest. I don’t want to
contribute to making conflicts worse. I want us to start looking for a
cure, not spreading the disease. Of course we have to cope as best we
can, without knowing whether we’re right or wrong, but that’s not all we
can do.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1340)]

Bill Powers (20078.08.23.1203 MDT)--

You're trying to get me to use PCT for political purposes and I'm resisting.
The very existence of political parties says that there is conflict, which
is an insane condition of the system. The solution to the conflict is for
the conflict to cease, not for one party to triumph over the other one, no
matter how much we prefer the policies of one party and detest the other
(this seems to be about equal on both sides).

Could you describe how you imagine that would happen.

The adversary system is built into American life...The high level of conflict in
the US shows up in all political parties. And as long as both parties to a
conflict persist in trying to win, the conflict will continue.

What would you suggest as an alternative? Is there some society that
works the way you think it should, sans conflict, or with a much lower
level of conflict than that in the US?

It might be possible to make a case that the Democrats have a slightly more
PCT-like conception of human nature than the Republicans do.

I'm not asking whether Democrats or Republicans have a more PCT like
conception of human nature. I'm asking whether the policies espoused
by one party seem more PCT-like than those espoused by the other. Or
is there no difference?

I think someone who understands PCT and is looking for long-term solutions
finds the entire political spectacle repulsive.

Sure. But I'm not asking about the political spectacle. I'm just
asking whether you think the policies of one party are more consistent
with PCT principles than those of another?

You're asking which I prefer to get: syphilis or AIDS.

OK. So you think the policies of both parties are nearly equally
inconsistent with a PCT understanding of human nature. A policy of
international confrontation is just as (or maybe a little more)
inconsistent with PCT as a policy of negotiation. Great.

Having to make the choice is a defeat in itself.

So what's the alternative? Agree with those who want to bomb Iran and
those who don't? Or just go up a level?

So Rick, you're not going to get any easy endorsements from me.

OK, so all policies are nearly equally fine with you because you don't
like the fact that carrying out one policy conflicts with otehr
people's desire to carry out another. Are you going to vote? If so,
why? Why not just spend Nov. 4 going up a level?

I want to apply PCT at the highest level I can, not the lowest.

What does that mean?

I don't want to contribute to making conflicts worse.

Then you really messed up big time when you developed PCT, which is in
massive conflict with conventional psychology.

I want us to start looking for a cure, not spreading the disease.

And I presume the cure would be MOL? If so, what is your vision for
administering this cure.If smoeone comes up and start's MOLing me I'll
MOL them right back, only harder;-)

Of course we have to cope as best we can, without
knowing whether we're right or wrong, but that's not all we can do.

I'm not asking about what policies are right or wrong. I'm asking what
policies seem more consistent with PCT, indeed with the very goal you
seems to have, which is to eliminate (or at least reduce) conflict.
When I ask which policies seem most consistent with PCT I think I am
really asking which policies seem to be those that are most likely to
end up reducing conflict. Approaching international disagreements with
a bias toward negotiation seems like a policy that is more consistent
with PCT - and thus more likely to reduce conflict -- than one based
on confrontation. Domestically, policies aimed at increasing
everyone's ability to control will reduce interpersonal conflicts like
crime. I see nothing wrong with evaluating policies in terms of PCT.

Anyway, I would love to hear what you think we should do to make
things better if politics isn't the way to go.

Best

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1440)]

Bill Powers (20078.08.23.1203 MDT)--

You're trying to get me to use PCT for political purposes and I'm resisting.

Actually, I'm not. I'm just asking whether you think some policies are
more consistent with PCT than others. Apparently you don't -- or you
don't think this is even something we should consider -- so there you
are. I share your dislike of conflict -- of violent conflict if not
intellectual conflict -- but for the life of me I can't see what the
heck you are getting at as an approach to eliminating it.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.22.1558 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1340) --

>The solution to the conflict is for
> the conflict to cease, not for one party to triumph over the other one, no
> matter how much we prefer the policies of one party and detest the other
> (this seems to be about equal on both sides).

Could you describe how you imagine that would happen.

Yes. The first step would be to discover exactly what the nature of the conflict is, which we don't know now (all we know now are the lower-level symptoms of the conflict -- one person thinks we should cure criminals, another thinks that we should punish them, etc. -- and neither one knows why he thinks that). Then we would examine the conflict until we see both sides clearly. At that point we would probably find hints about the reasons behind choosing each side of the conflict as a positive goal. This would put us in a position to reorganize in a way that could actually change the situation.

Since reorganization is involved, and since it must happen in a number of people at the same time, finding an acceptable solution will take longer than it would for one person reorganizing. It won't take a lot longer, however, if my experiments with reorganization can be believed. "Global" reorganization (in which all errors in all involved systems are added (squared), and all systems "tumble" at the same time when total error increases) works only a little more slowly than "local" (in which each system reorganizes strictly on the basis of its own error). It works a bit faster when each system does its own reorganizing, but that's not necessary. Possibly, minimum total error is smaller when local reorganization is used.

Of course this project has to be sold to the participants before it can get off the ground. That job would have to have the first priority. We would need some research and some pilot programs to find of if this would actually work, and to develop a better understanding of how to do it. There would doubtless be considerable skepticism, as in your post, but we should be used to that by now. Once people start treating this as a problem to be solved I'm sure we could make some progress.

Gotta call my sister about the new book, or I'd go on a bit long.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1750)]

Bill Powers (2008.08.22.1558 MDT)]

Yes. The first step would be to discover exactly what the nature of the
conflict is, which we don't know now (all we know now are the lower-level
symptoms of the conflict -- one person thinks we should cure criminals,
another thinks that we should punish them, etc. -- and neither one knows why
he thinks that). Then we would examine the conflict until we see both sides
clearly. At that point we would probably find hints about the reasons behind
choosing each side of the conflict as a positive goal. This would put us in
a position to reorganize in a way that could actually change the situation.

This sounds a little too much like "And then a miracle occurs" to me.
Could you give me an example of what a reorganization that solves this
conflict might look like. And let's make the conflict a little more
like a real social conflict; some people favor capital punishment,
some don't. What might the solution to that conflict look like?

By the way, one of the most successful social conflict resolutions I
know of came after a rather nasty war. The conflict was over slavery;
some thought it was fine, others thought it wasn't. I don't think you
can find many people today who think slavery is fine; so the
reorganization was really just adopting one policy (no slavery) over
the other (slavery). What might have been the "up a level" solution to
this conflict if they solved it using MOL rather than war? Would the
slaves have gotten to be part of the MOL sessions?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.22.2128 MDT)]

From Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1750) --

Could you give me an example of what a reorganization that solves this
conflict might look like. And let's make the conflict a little more
like a real social conflict; some people favor capital punishment,
some don't. What might the solution to that conflict look like?

I don't know, since I wouldn't be the ones reorganizing. I think I would start by interviewing people from the different sides separately, until they feel ready to consider the questions together. If they don't want a resolution of the conflict, of course, separately or together, there's nothing I can do. I'd just have to wait until one party eliminates the other, I guess.

I would be looking to help them find the reasons for which they favor or disfavor capital punishment. What are the good effects that you expect? The bad effects? What's good about the good effects, and bad about the others? I'd probably ask them how they know these things. I'd ask them if they see any disadvantages to doing as they propose.

It's hard to lay out the exact approach since it depends so strongly on what the people involved say -- about the foreground ideas, and the background ideas that stick their heads up now and then. The route to a solution is always unexpected because it involves reorganization, not simply reiterating fixed opinions. How we get from the starting level to higher levels doesn't depend on me, nor would I take sides. I'd just follow whatever leads were presented. I'd have to be prepared for the outcome to be unsatisfactory to me, when I take off the MOL hat. The purpose of MOL is not to satisfy the therapist.

By the way, one of the most successful social conflict resolutions I
know of came after a rather nasty war. The conflict was over slavery;
some thought it was fine, others thought it wasn't. I don't think you
can find many people today who think slavery is fine; so the
reorganization was really just adopting one policy (no slavery) over
the other (slavery). What might have been the "up a level" solution to
this conflict if they solved it using MOL rather than war? Would the
slaves have gotten to be part of the MOL sessions?

I don't know. I'd consider a conflict resolution that ends in war a failure, since the reasons for the conflict haven't gone away unless you completely exterminate all those on one side, to the last person. The conflicts just take different forms, as they did.

Perhaps nothing could have accomplished a peaceful resolution, even if there were people who understood PCT. There isn't any Referee assuring that the good guys always win, so the outcomes are up to all of us, depending on what we want the outcome to be. The people who jut out their jaws and say "Over my dead body" are quite likely to end up in that condition. People who stay on the sidelines and wait for the end have to take whatever they get. The rest participate however they can.

To resolve the conflict involving capital punishment, a person has to realise that there are reasons behind both views, and find out what they are, and dwell on them a while, and be upset enough to be reorganizing. The focus has to shift to where the fact that there is a conflict gets discussed, particularly the internal conflicts involved. If some adversary argues against capital punishment, why not just shoot him so he'll stop trying to set murderers free? If you are against capital punishment, why not just free everyone on Death Row? As soon as you carry the position to an extreme, the internal conflicts show up. Those have to be dealt with before higher levels can be explored.

MOL isn't about therapists resolving other people's conflicts. It's about helping them into a position from which they can invent their own solutions.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.23.1050)]

Bill Powers (2008.08.22.2128 MDT) --

Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1750) --

Could you give me an example of what a reorganization that solves this
conflict might look like.

I don't know, since I wouldn't be the ones reorganizing.

So do you believe that you yourself don't need to change but everyone
else does? Or do you believe that you are not part of society? If the
solution to conflicts like that over capital punishment requires going
up a level to reorganize then doesn't every party to the conflict have
to go up a level and reorganize?

I think I would
start by interviewing people from the different sides separately, until they
feel ready to consider the questions together.

Why "they"? Are you not a part of the society that is to be reorganized?

I would be looking to help them find the reasons for which they favor or
disfavor capital punishment.

It's nice that you'll help them but who is going to help you? Or don't
you need any help?

I'd just follow whatever leads were
presented. I'd have to be prepared for the outcome to be unsatisfactory to
me, when I take off the MOL hat. The purpose of MOL is not to satisfy the
therapist.

OK. So if the outcome is unsatisfactory to you what do you do, as a
member of the society where your "clients" have just reorganized by
deciding that capital punishment is OK, but only for people who
practice MOL therapy?

To resolve the conflict involving capital punishment, a person has to
realise that there are reasons behind both views, and find out what they
are, and dwell on them a while, and be upset enough to be reorganizing. The
focus has to shift to where the fact that there is a conflict gets
discussed, particularly the internal conflicts involved. If some adversary
argues against capital punishment, why not just shoot him so he'll stop
trying to set murderers free? If you are against capital punishment, why not
just free everyone on Death Row? As soon as you carry the position to an
extreme, the internal conflicts show up. Those have to be dealt with before
higher levels can be explored.

I'm talking about society, not a single client. I think I've gone up a
level on capital punishment myself, for example, but many other people
haven't. The higher level solution, the one that works for me, is
above the level of the conflict of letting the Death Row people go
free vs killing them. The higher level solution is simply locking them
up for life (or until the DNA evidence proves their innocence). It's
cheaper and takes care of all the higher level goals that I can
imagine, except, possibly, "eye for an eye" revenge. I happen to think
there is nothing wrong with advocating for this kind of "up a level"
solutions to conflicts. I'm not going to go out and shoot the
advocates of capital punishment or the advocates of setting everyone
free (I'm against capital punishment after all) but I don't think I'd
get very far doing MOL sessions with all these people either.
Progressive voices can work; they have worked in the past and the
world is better off for them. I think such progressive voices can be
even more effective now that they can be based on an accurate science
of human nature.

MOL isn't about therapists resolving other people's conflicts. It's about
helping them into a position from which they can invent their own solutions.

But in social conflicts the therapists are part of the "other people"
-- the society -- that is in conflict.

I still prefer my point of view to yours on this. I agree that people
in societies have conflicting views and that the people who make up a
society have to reorganize to solve these conflicts. But I don't think
this reorganization has to be left to chance. There have always been
progressive voices in societies who have tried, with considerable
civility,and often success, to point the way to the higher level
solutions to conflict. These progressive voices have come from all
sides of the political spectrum at different times in history:
progressive taxation and regulation of corporations was argued by
Republican Teddy Roosevelt, for example.

It just so happens that we are at a unique point in history where one
party happens to be at the wrong level on nearly every conflict issue.
But the "up a level" solutions to many of these low level conflicts
are already out there as the progressive solutions: the one's that
give people more _control_ over their lives (because they reduce intra
and interpersonal) conflict. For example, the "up a level" solution
to abortion gets above the "make it illegal" vs "give it to everyone
on demand" conflict. The "up a level" solution, articulated by the
Democrats since Clinton, is to reduce abortion -- hopefully getting
them close to zero -- through contraceptive and adoptive counseling.
This achieves the goal of not wanting people to have abortions and
wanting people to have the choice of getting one. And we know it works
because in societies that have gone up a level this way the abortion
rate is orders of magnitude lower than it is in the conflict stewed
US.

I also agree that violent approaches to solving social conflicts are a
terrible failure. But I do admire those now and in the past who have
the courage to advocate peacefully for progressive solutions to social
problems -- up a level solutions such as, for example, public
education, social security, single payer healthcare, child labor laws,
forgiveness for sin, etc -- which when implemented, have proven to
give people more control over their lives. I definitely do not admire
people who have tried to do what they thought was good by force. The
French revolution (or any revolution, for that matter) is not my idea
of a good time. But I believe that PCT does provide a scientific
basis for advocating social organizing principles that will improve
the general welfare by increasing the ability of all individuals'--
even reactionaries -- to control their lives. I believe that peaceful
advocacy of progressive solutions to social problems based on PCT can
make a great contribution to the improvement of society; the fact that
you don't is a great source of sadness for me. But I'll get over it.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.23.1229 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.08.23.1050) –

Rick Marken (2008.08.22.1750) –

Could you give me an example of what a reorganization that
solves this

conflict might look like.

I don’t know, since I wouldn’t be the ones reorganizing.

So do you believe that you yourself don’t need to change but
everyone

else does? Or do you believe that you are not part of society? If
the

solution to conflicts like that over capital punishment requires
going

up a level to reorganize then doesn’t every party to the conflict
have

to go up a level and reorganize?

I think you’re missing the point of the MOL approach to therapy. The
therapist is not going to make, recommend, or direct any of the
reorganizations. The therapist cannot be involved in the content and
still do MOL therapy. Between sessions, I might well do a lot of
reorganizing myself, but as therapist, my own point of view toward the
content of the client’s problem is irrelevant. I have to put private
views aside and focus on keeping the process going. The process is one of
examination and exploration of the thought-structure in the client, with
steady pressure to look behind the foreground to see what is motivating
it. The client does the examining and exploring, telling the therapist
what is being experienced. The therapist listens for
“disruptions” (as Tim Carey calls them): comments or nonverbal
signals that something has come up that is not part of the foreground
experience. By asking for further details the therapist invites the
explorer to pause and look at whatever is behind the disruption (if the
explorer, after some experience with this method, doesn’t do it
spontaneously). Often this leads to descriptions of higher-level
perceptions and control activities, and when it does, the therapist tries
to bring the new area to the foreground by asking for more details. This
ascent is continued until something stops it – usually a conflict. Then
the questioning continues with a view toward bringing both sides of the
conflict into awareness at the same time – always still looking for the
background thought indicating that another level may be
accessible.

MOL therapy is not a process of causing or encouraging the client to
change toward what the therapist thinks is a better way of thinking or
behaving. It is a way to help the client resolve whatever problems the
client wishes to resolve. The main crippling problem is conflict, and one
of the valuable things that often happens in MOL therapy is that the
client realizes he is producing both sides of the conflict. Most clients,
I would guess, start out by saying their problem is their spouse, or
their boss, or their children, or their job or lack of one, or their
political opponents, or the police, and so on – anything but themselves.
But when a conflict is encountered, it quickly becomes clear that the
client wants something and at the same time, for different but equally
valid reasons, wants the opposite. It takes, sometimes, a surprisingly
long time for the client to have a big aha and see that he can’t actually
both do and not do or both seek and avoid something at the same time.
Others, of course, get it instantly. However it happens, that’s one sign
that reorganization has started.

I’m not sure, and I don’t think any of the MOL practioners is sure, how
this process works into dealing with groups of two or more people. That’s
why I said that I would probably start by dealing with individuals
separately, and only when the idea of meeting with the other side does
not raise objections, start working with mixed groups. The immediate
clashes between different people that signify an interpersonal conflict
have to be dealt with in the same way we deal with interpersonal
conflict, except that there are two sets of background thoughts and two
ways of describing the foreground topic instead of one. I think that with
practice we can work out these complications, though that doesn’t look
easy.

I think I would

start by interviewing people from the different sides separately,
until they

feel ready to consider the questions together.

Why “they”? Are you not a part of the society that is to be
reorganized?

I would be looking to help them find the reasons for which they
favor or

disfavor capital punishment.

It’s nice that you’ll help them but who is going to help you? Or
don’t

you need any help?

Help doing what? Help in persuading people on one side of a conflict to
give up and go along with the other side? Help with imposing my
preferences on one or both parties to the conflict? Help with threatening
punishments or promising rewards? Help with deciding which side is right
or wrong? Since MOL therapy doesn’t involve doing any of those things, I
don’t need help doing them. What I probably would need help with would be
inadvertently getting sucked into the conflict and trying to think up my
own solutions, and thereby failing to notice hints about background
topics or conflicts. This kind of therapy is not easy to do and it’s easy
to fall back into other attitudes and approaches. All current MOL
practitioners have naturally adopted an approach of seeking outside
supervision from their colleagues to help them see where they’re missing
things during sessions, or where they’re forgetting what they’re supposed
to be doing.

I’m talking about society, not a
single client. I think I’ve gone up a

level on capital punishment myself, for example, but many other
people

haven’t. The higher level solution, the one that works for me, is

above the level of the conflict of letting the Death Row people go

free vs killing them. The higher level solution is simply locking
them

up for life (or until the DNA evidence proves their innocence). It’s

cheaper and takes care of all the higher level goals that I can

imagine, except, possibly, “eye for an eye” revenge. I happen
to think

there is nothing wrong with advocating for this kind of “up a
level”

solutions to conflicts. I’m not going to go out and shoot the

advocates of capital punishment or the advocates of setting everyone

free (I’m against capital punishment after all) but I don’t think
I’d

get very far doing MOL sessions with all these people either.

Progressive voices can work; they have worked in the past and the

world is better off for them. I think such progressive voices can be

even more effective now that they can be based on an accurate
science

of human nature.

Well, you know more than I do, I guess. I would worry quite a lot about
those guys on death row who are released on DNA evidence after losing one
or two decades of their lives. If that doesn’t bother you, then you don’t
have an internal conflict about it, but that doesn’t take care of the
fact that I would resist your solution, and possible even oppose it
actively. There is still an external conflict, and what are you doing to
do about that? Try to ignore it? Shoot me?

I still prefer my point of view
to yours on this. I agree that people

in societies have conflicting views and that the people who make up
a

society have to reorganize to solve these conflicts. But I don’t
think

this reorganization has to be left to chance.

So you think you can force a person’s reorganizing system to come up with
the solution that suits you rather than the other person?

There have always
been

progressive voices in societies who have tried, with considerable

civility,and often success, to point the way to the higher level

solutions to conflict. These progressive voices have come from all

sides of the political spectrum at different times in history:

progressive taxation and regulation of corporations was argued by

Republican Teddy Roosevelt, for example.

It just so happens that we are at a unique point in history where
one

party happens to be at the wrong level on nearly every conflict
issue.

But the “up a level” solutions to many of these low level
conflicts

are already out there as the progressive solutions: the one’s that

give people more control over their lives (because they reduce
intra

and interpersonal) conflict.

Which people? The ones you consider to be on the right side? But doesn’t
that have the effect of making the errors greater for the others, and
magnifying their resistance?

For example, the “up
a level” solution

to abortion gets above the “make it illegal” vs "give it
to everyone

on demand" conflict. The “up a level” solution,
articulated by the

Democrats since Clinton, is to reduce abortion – hopefully getting

them close to zero – through contraceptive and adoptive
counseling.

This is the same solution to conflict that makes people avoid eating in
public places, or even setting a foot outside the front door. If you
avoid the situations where the conflict might arise, you avoid the pain
of fighting yourself (or others), but the conflict is still there,
unchanged. This circumscribes your life and leaves some of your control
systems in a useless state. That’s not a solution, it’s avoiding a
solution.

This achieves the goal of not
wanting people to have abortions and

wanting people to have the choice of getting one. And we know it
works

because in societies that have gone up a level this way the abortion

rate is orders of magnitude lower than it is in the conflict stewed

US.

What enabled them to go up a level? Avoiding ever having to remove the
conflict?

But I believe that PCT does
provide a scientific

basis for advocating social organizing principles that will improve

the general welfare by increasing the ability of all individuals’–

even reactionaries – to control their lives. I believe that
peaceful

advocacy of progressive solutions to social problems based on PCT
can

make a great contribution to the improvement of society; the fact
that

you don’t is a great source of sadness for me. But I’ll get over
it.

Good. Unfortunately, advocacy is one of the chief causes of conflict,
since the advocates never are able to figure out exactly what a proposed
solution will disturb in someone else. I’m sure lots of reorganizing goes
on anyway (it is a natural function), so things get better in
spite of the advocates. But that way is very slow and uncertain. And the
distance between advocacy and confrontation is not very big.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.23.1850)]

Bill Powers (2008.08.23.1229 MDT)--

>Rick Marken (2008.08.23.1050) --

>So do you believe that you yourself don't need to change but everyone
>else does?

I think you're missing the point of the MOL approach to therapy. The
therapist is not going to make, recommend, or direct any of the
reorganizations.

No,I know that. But this is not therapy. This is improving society, of
which you are a member.

The immediate clashes between different
people that signify an interpersonal conflict have to be dealt with in the
same way we deal with interpersonal conflict, except that there are two sets
of background thoughts and two ways of describing the foreground topic
instead of one. I think that with practice we can work out these
complications, though that doesn't look easy.

OK. This is what is done in many negotiation type situations. I think
this vision of yours, which seems to involve voluntary group MOL
therapy, might be more compelling if you could describe what a
solution might look like. Same is true for the individual case. Just
saying that people reorganize once they see their conflict doesn't
sound real tangible, even if it's true. In the individual case the
reorganization may be nothing more than feeling good about having
recognized the conflict. Knowing why you feel crappy may help you feel
less crappy, but crappy nevertheless. I think this is what happened
when I did an MOL session with my daughter a couple nights ago (over
the phone). She had a problem so I suggested we try MOL and we did.
Now I am the world's worst MOL therapist and I thought we were going
nowhere; I was mainly listening,though she did discover what seemed to
be a conflict and I had her look at both sides. But after it was over
I figured it was just a complete failure but she texted me the next
day and thanked me for the very helpful session. I'm sure she still
has the problem but she says she feels better nevertheless. And this
with a 3rd rate therapist like me. I think the success of this therapy
was simply that my daughter got to talk about her problems. If the
success of MOL comes from something other than a person being happy to
talk about their problems with someone then I think it is important
that the nature of what happens that makes things better be described.
What does a successful reorganization _llok like_. If it can't be
described in words then we have a bit if a problem. I do, anyway.

>It's nice that you'll help them but who is going to help you? Or don't
>you need any help?

Help doing what?

Help reorganizing so that you are part of the solution. I presume you
have some attitude toward capital punishment. Don't you have to be
included in the reorganization?

Well, you know more than I do, I guess. I would worry quite a lot about
those guys on death row who are released on DNA evidence after losing one or
two decades of their lives. If that doesn't bother you, then you don't have
an internal conflict about it, but that doesn't take care of the fact that I
would resist your solution, and possible even oppose it actively. There is
still an external conflict, and what are you doing to do about that? Try to
ignore it? Shoot me?

I don't think you're ever going to get a solution that everyone agrees
on. We do the best we can to find generally agreed on solutions.
Capital punishment, like slavery, is now considered barbaric and most
people -- certainly everyone in Western Europe -- sees it as
unacceptable. I'm sure there are some people -- even in Europe -- who
think capital punishment (and even slavery) is a great idea. But they
don't get to do it (in Europe you can't shoot the dissenters because
they don't accept capital punishment). So people can be persuaded to
accept ideas, even if they conflict to some extent with one's own
goals. And they seem pretty comfortable once they are accepted. When
I was in England I didn't hear any complaints about the fact that you
can't go to a public draw and quartering anymore. People change, even
if it takes a generation or two.

But I still don't understand how your approach will work. If we do a
group MOL session and find that someone's concern is that people freed
on DNA evidence might be pissed and dangerous so they should have been
killed before we found out about their innocence then we have to deal
with that conflict. And then when we deal with that conflict we have
to deal with the 1,000,000,000 other conflicts people have given any
other solution to that conflict. I'm just not seeing how your group
MOL approach to solving social problems is going to come up with a
solution any better than what is currently done (the political
process). I can't see how it will lower the net level of conflict,
whether the result is a policy that I or anyone else likes or not.

So you think you can force a person's reorganizing system to come up with
the solution that suits you rather than the other person?

No. I think you can persuade most people to accept better solutions.
But it can take a long time.

>But the "up a level" solutions to many of these low level conflicts

are already out there as the progressive solutions: the one's that

>give people more _control_ over their lives (because they reduce intra
>and interpersonal) conflict.

Which people? The ones you consider to be on the right side? But doesn't
that have the effect of making the errors greater for the others, and
magnifying their resistance?

If the net result is an increase in error then that was not a good
solution. I agree that some "progressive" policies may end up
producing more error than existed beforehand. People have to be
willing to revisit these solutions.

> For example, the "up a level" solution

to abortion gets above the "make it illegal" vs "give it to everyone

>on demand" conflict. The "up a level" solution, articulated by the
>Democrats since Clinton, is to reduce abortion -- hopefully getting
>them close to zero -- through contraceptive and adoptive counseling.

This is the same solution to conflict that makes people avoid eating in
public places, or even setting a foot outside the front door. If you avoid
the situations where the conflict might arise, you avoid the pain of
fighting yourself (or others), but the conflict is still there, unchanged.
This circumscribes your life and leaves some of your control systems in a
useless state. That's not a solution, it's avoiding a solution.

OK. Could you please give a suggestion of what a solution might be.
Right now, all I hear you saying is "put your faith in going up a
level" and all will be well. What might a solution look like?

What enabled them to go up a level? Avoiding ever having to remove the
conflict?

I think the conflict will always exist for a woman in certain
situations. I don't think you can solve everyone's conflict; but you
can define policies that reduce the level of some interpersonal
conflicts. But I agree that you can't impose these solutions. You can
just try to persuade people to give them a try. It has worked in
Europe with the abortion issue.

Good. Unfortunately, advocacy is one of the chief causes of conflict, since
the advocates never are able to figure out exactly what a proposed solution
will disturb in someone else. I'm sure lots of reorganizing goes on anyway
(it is a natural function), so things get better in spite of the advocates.
But that way is very slow and uncertain. And the distance between advocacy
and confrontation is not very big.

I agree that the distance between advocacy and confrontation is not
very large. But I guess I'm just too dense to see why advocacy of
social policies based on an understanding of human nature -- policies
aimed at improving the general welfare; ie. improving individuals'
ability to control -- is very slow and uncertain compared to whatever
it is that you are advocating. If you could describe your vision of
how to quickly and certainly solve social conflicts (or, even better,
describe an example of where something like your approach, whatever it
is, has worked, quickly and certainly) I might be able to understand
it. I might even be able to teach it to my students. But so far it's
just too vague for me.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.24.0738 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.08.23.1850) --

> I think you're missing the point of the MOL approach to therapy. The
> therapist is not going to make, recommend, or direct any of the
> reorganizations.

No,I know that. But this is not therapy. This is improving society, of
which you are a member.

I have never met a society. Of course I have concepts of society, or culture, or The System, and so on, but those are concepts in my head, not real things outside me. All I ever meet are individual people with similar ideas inside their heads. Realizing that made a big difference in my life. That was one reorganization that I remember happening. I stopped being impressed by walking into big buildings.

When people behave in a way I don't like, my first impulse is either to get away from them and have nothing to do with them, or push them away, or try to get them to change their behavior.

Trying to do those things, however, is not very successful. Getting entirely away from people has serious disadvantages. Pushing them away immediately generates resistance or even retaliation, and of course trying to get them to change the behavior that bothers me creates conflicts with them because their behavior is their means of controlling their own experiences, most of which I don't know anything about. If I succeed in arbitrarily changing their behavior, I prevent them from controlling some of the experiences they consider important. They may reorganize and find other ways to control those experiences, but if they don't, or reorganize in ways I hadn't anticipated, I have just created more difficulty for myself. I don't remember when that reorganization of my thinking occurred, but it was long ago.

After much reorganization, over a long time, I came to understand that the only way to get along with other people is to do what I can to see that they are happy and satisfied with their lives. Happy and satisfied people are just a lot easier to deal with than unhappy and unsatisfied people. And I have found that when people solve their problems they seem to change their minds about a lot of things, so they usually change what they do that bothers me. I don't have to tell them what to change; apparently what makes them behave in ways I don't like is often a result of their attempts to resolve very difficult conflicts. A greedy, acquisitive, selfish person, for example, might be unable to get enough of anything, or enjoy anything once acquired, because of internal conflicts. When those conflicts are resolved, acquisition loses most of its appeal.

So that's one rather general description of how I reorganized.

With respect to abortion, the main problem that I can see is that we don't know whether aborting a fetus amounts to murdering a living, sentient human being, or to removing an unwanted bit of tissue that might one day become sentient. All the conflicts over this issue seem to result from people choosing one or the other position, for no good reason that I can see. If we knew that consciousness appears on the 136th day of gestation, there would be much less of a hard decision to make. But we don't know. Nobody knows. Yet people act as if they do know. That's what causes the conflict. They pick a side, then try to think up as many reasons as they can for having done so.

So I would be asking questions about the basis for picking one side or the other. Then we would no longer be talking about abortion, but about what the facts are, how a person discovers facts, why some facts are accepted and others aren't, what difference it would make if this fact were false instead of true, how we might find out what the facts are, and so on. In short we would go quickly to higher-level concepts and goals that apply to a lot more than just the abortion issue. Any reorganization at those levels would have a lot more effect than just finding a new way to argue about abortion.

Once people come to realize that they simply don't know when tissue removal becomes murder (prior to birth, that is -- after birth it's easier to decide) the issue changes. There's no point in arguing about abortion until we know the answer to the basic question. And of course certain other aspects of the decisions about abortion will change, which I don't have to spell out.

The point I'm trying to make is that when you turn attention away from the immediate conflict and toward the reasons for which the conflict exists, the nature of the problem changes, and solutions become more powerful and far-reaching. There's no way to predict what sort of solutions will arise, since reorganization is random and we just continue considering one idea after another, rejecting those that make matters worse and finally settling on the idea that makes matters better, at least for now. The way we recognize the right reorganization is through its effects on our error signals -- the error signals start to get smaller. If we already knew what would have that result, we wouldn't have to reorganize; we'd just do it. We reorganize when we don't know.

She had a problem so I suggested we try MOL and we did.
Now I am the world's worst MOL therapist and I thought we were going
nowhere; I was mainly listening,though she did discover what seemed to
be a conflict and I had her look at both sides. But after it was over
I figured it was just a complete failure but she texted me the next
day and thanked me for the very helpful session. I'm sure she still
has the problem but she says she feels better nevertheless.

This is typically how MOL sessions go. Nothing in particular seems to be happening, yet afterward people feel better and behave differently. This is why therapists trying this method complain that they don't feel that they're doing anything. Basically, the therapist is not doing anything to the client. The client is doing it all, inside where you can't see it happening.

Reorganization is not a conscious process. You can't say, "I think I'll reorganize my study habits." If you do then proceed to put your materials in order, get a good lamp in the right place, sharpen your pencils, and make out a study schedule, you have already reorganized and are simply using its result. The result of the actual reorganization was the sudden thought, "I think I'll reorganize my study habits." Before that reorganization, you couldn't start to organize your study habits. After it, you could, and did. You already knew what to do; you just couldn't get yourself to do it. Then you could. That's how reorganization, as opposed to rational problem-solving, looks.

The only influence you can have on your own reorganization is to point it at new areas in your mind. And to do that, it's very helpful to have someone looking over your shoulder and reminding you to pay attention as fleeting thoughts come and go. Once you do catch a background thought, you can't deliberately reorganize it; all you can do is keep exploring the new territory. If you're feeling a problem, reorganization will be going on. It might as well be working here as anywhere else. But you can't tell it what to change, any more than you can tell your mind exactly which new idea you want to have. If you knew which new idea you want to have, you'd have it already and it wouldn't be new. Think of the granting agency asking the applicant to state exactly what the proposed research is going to discover.

And this
with a 3rd rate therapist like me. I think the success of this therapy
was simply that my daughter got to talk about her problems.

Well, that's an interesting theory. Could you explain how it is that arranging words into sentences and then uttering them has therapeutic effects? In my theory, the beneficial effects come from looking inside to see the answers to questions. Directing attention to both sides of the conflict requires that you occupy a viewpoint that is not identified with either of them (normally, you identify with one or the other pole of the conflict). That's probably a higher-level viewpoint, though you can never be aware of the viewpoint you're in (You have to get out of it; then you can see it). Reorganization happens to the viewpoint you're IN, not the one you're aware OF. You know it's happening when suddenly the things you're looking at, without changing, look different. They haven't changed; the perceptual system through which you're looking has reorganized. The prescription of your control theory glasses has changed. The conflict dissolves because the systems causing it, at a higher level, have reorganized. You may never know exactly how they reorganized -- to see that, you'd have to be yet another level higher, and remember how things were before.

If the
success of MOL comes from something other than a person being happy to
talk about their problems with someone then I think it is important
that the nature of what happens that makes things better be described.

Golly, I can hardly follow such complex technical terminology: being happy to talk about their problems? How did they get happy when they were unhappy before? Is the happiness at a higher level than the problems? Does happiness cause reorganization?

What does a successful reorganization _llok like_. If it can't be
described in words then we have a bit if a problem. I do, anyway.

Perhaps you could try to see exactly what sort of description would be recognizeable as what you want. Then you can tell me about it, and I can try to comply.

> >It's nice that you'll help them but who is going to help you? Or don't
> >you need any help?
>
> Help doing what?

Help reorganizing so that you are part of the solution. I presume you
have some attitude toward capital punishment. Don't you have to be
included in the reorganization?

I can only reorganize myself, not anyone else. I can't even help anyone else reorganize. Even if I cause errors in someone else sufficiently large and protracted to cause reorganization to start inside that other person, I can't predict what the result would be. Even behaviorists discovered that: punishment is an unreliable way of improving behavior, though it certainly can cause changes.

I don't think you're ever going to get a solution that everyone agrees
on. We do the best we can to find generally agreed on solutions.

Does this mean that there's no point in trying to find a solution that (almost) everyone agrees on, and that there will always be a conflict between those who have agreed on it and those who haven't? Are you saying that you don't like to try to solve problems if you know, or believe, they can't be solved?

When I was in England I didn't hear any complaints about the fact that you
can't go to a public draw and quartering anymore. People change, even
if it takes a generation or two.

Yes, but why do they change? Could it be because they reorganize? And how is it that reorganization changes some things, but not others? Could it be that attention goes to problems, and reorganization follows attention? Is it possible to reorganize at the wrong level, and accomplish nothing but a change in HOW you have the same problem?

But I still don't understand how your approach will work. If we do a
group MOL session and find that someone's concern is that people freed
on DNA evidence might be pissed and dangerous so they should have been
killed before we found out about their innocence then we have to deal
with that conflict. And then when we deal with that conflict we have
to deal with the 1,000,000,000 other conflicts people have given any
other solution to that conflict. I'm just not seeing how your group
MOL approach to solving social problems is going to come up with a
solution any better than what is currently done (the political
process). I can't see how it will lower the net level of conflict,
whether the result is a policy that I or anyone else likes or not.

Well, I'm glad that you're finally realizing that you don't understand reorganization (or are avoiding applying its principles). Reorganization alters the direction in which you are changing; the speed of change is determined by the degree of intrinsic error. See the E. coli demo. An episode of reorganization alters the direction of change -- that is, the relative proportions of changes in each of the dimensions being reorganized. The speed of reorganization in the current direction goes to zero if the errors in all dimensions go to zero; then the organization that exists at that time persists. So reorganization is not a rational process involving logic, or an organized way of inducing specific changes. Add to this the apparent fact that the locus of reorganization -- the place in the hierarchy where the effects are the strongest -- is mobile and follows the focus of awareness or attention, and we have the roots of the method of levels.

If I understand the approach you recommend, you propose to use reason, logic, persuasion, threats of force, and all those other systematic modes of control that you learned through reorganization, as a means of changing the behavior of other people. That seems to imply a theory that people change their inner organization as a direct result of what other people say to them or do to them, rather than through any internal process of change. Apparently you are not including as an object of change the methods you acquired along the way; you just want to use your present organization, as it is, to get other people to change their organizations. Do I understand you correctly?

> So you think you can force a person's reorganizing system to come up with
> the solution that suits you rather than the other person?

No. I think you can persuade most people to accept better solutions.
But it can take a long time.

What happens when they already have a solution that is better than yours? Or are the ones you propose automatically the better ones? How is it determined that one solution is better than another?

I agree that the distance between advocacy and confrontation is not
very large. But I guess I'm just too dense to see why advocacy of
social policies based on an understanding of human nature -- policies
aimed at improving the general welfare; ie. improving individuals'
ability to control -- is very slow and uncertain compared to whatever
it is that you are advocating.

I think that internal reorganization systematically directed to higher levels has a far better chance of reducing error than using the existing organization of our control systems to disturb what other people are doing. In fact, I think that existing theories of why people change are not worth a teaspoon of used spit, if you'll excuse my use of technical jargon.

So, have I inadvertently answered any of your questions?

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (940902.1030)]

Bruce Buchanan (940901) --

it is somewhat like the pot calling the kettle black when advocates of PCT
stray afield with pronouncements in areas in which they lack expertise, and
neglect the grounding within their home base which could give their
cogitations real weight.

I'm not sure I understand what your suggestion was in this post but let me
just brainstorm a bit about the relationship between PCT, CSG-L and politics.

I see PCT as, in principle, a model of all aspects of human behavior. PCT
should be able to explain everything people do, from lifting a finger to
playing the piano to running for office to being a Catholic. If people do it,
and "it" is clearly a controlled result of individual or collective human
action, then "it" is relevant to PCT, and vice versa.

CSG-L is dedicated to discussion of PCT, the phenomena it explains and the
nature of the model itself. Therefore, there will often be discussions of
religion, politics, etc. because these are things people do (variables they
control). We _should_ confine ourselves to talking about why a particular
phenomenon (like being a Catholic) is an example of control and how the PCT
model explains the phenomenon. But the people on CSG-L who are talking about
there issues are control systems themselves -- and they often have their own
preferred reference states for some of the variables being discussed. It is,
therefore, almost impossible to discuss how people control for being
"Catholic" or "Nazi" or "liberal" (all words referring to states of many
perceptual variables, as perceived by the individuals controlling them, of
course) and why they do this (what higher level goals might be achieved)
without judging these variables relative to one's own references. If one
happens to control for hating liberals (to use Bill Powers' felicitous
example) then the discussion of how one controls for _being_ a liberal is
likely to lead the person controlling for hating liberals to type things onto
CSG-L that have less to do with understanding the PCT model of "being a
liberal" than with showing the stupidity of the liberal point of view.

Politics is one of the things people DO (control for) so PCT should explain
how people do it. But PCT doesn't say anything about what one's politics
should be; all it does (or tries to do) is explain political behavior. But,
again, since people (control systems) are discussing political controlling
on CSG-L, there will be substantive disagreements about what variables
should be controlled and at what level. I don't know if it is possible to
avoid this problem; all one can do, I think, is learn the PCT model and how
it applies to the phenomenon of control. Once one understands PCT, it is easy
to discriminate the controlling that goes on in net discussions from the PCT
explanations thereof. One can then disciminate the reference signals of the
participants in a discussion (for example, one of my references is to have a
simple way to pay for medical care) from PCT explanations of what is going on
(I'm controlling for agreement about a particular type of medical coverage
system).

One thing we do know from PCT is that we cannot escape from our own reference
signals. We can't help feeling that some perceptions are "right" and others
"wrong". PCT can tell us how we produce the "right" perceptions (the one's
that are right for us; the reference states of perceptions); but it can't
tell us which perceptions are "really" right. In PCT, the same explanation
applies to controlling for satanic ritual abuse as to controlling for the
pictures on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. PCT is value neutral; it
doesn't what people should want; it, hopefully, says how they achieve what
they want.

Still, there are several principles of PCT that have "political"
implications, simply because certain political positions are based on
assumptions about how people "work". For example, some political positions
are based on the assumption that people will not work hard unless they are
provided with "incentives". PCT shows that this assumption is wrong; it is
based on the wrong model of how people work. An "incentive" is an event
outside of a person, like money or a certificate of merit, that somehow
causes people to behave (or selects certain behaviors); this is just an S-R
or reinforcement view of human behavior and PCT shows that control systems
don't (and can't) work this way; the appearance that certain events act as
"incentives" is, demonstrably, an illusion. Other political positions are
based on the (related) assumption that people must be controlled for their
own good. The problem with this assumption (from a PCT perspective) is that
people cannot be controlled (really controlled, meaning made to perform any
arbitrarily selected behavior). Attempts to control other people are almost
certain to lead to conflict between controller and controllee. PCT doesn't
say whether this conflict is good or bad, it just says that that is what
happens when one control system tries to control another.

For some reason (which might be interesting to discuss) we rarely get into
conflict on CSG-L when we discuss control of certain variables; nobody seems
to get infuriated when we find that a person can hold a cursor to the left or
to the right of a target; nobody has gotten upset about the fact that people
can (and will) control a program of line movements (a la Bourbon) or numbers
(a la Marken). The reason, I suspect, is that these goals are ephemeral -- we
don't need to control them all the time (only when we go to see Tom Bourbon
give a talk). But I think we are controlling certain "political" variables
continuously; it always matters whether we are being what we perceive as a
"Catholic" or a "liberal" or a "control theorist". So when these things come
up on CSG-L, they can lead to perceptions that differ from what we want --
and we start correcting the error by talking about how great it is to be
"Catholic" or how mean it is not to be liberal or how important it is to be
a "control theorist" -- talk that reflects the fact that we ARE control
systems, but is not specifically pertinent to PCT -- which is about how we
control.

Best

Rick

<[Bill Leach 940903.10:46 EST(EDT)]

[Rick Marken (940902.1030)]

Outstanding! Honestly trying to "work through" perceptions on "real
world" subjects or issues that have high levels of "meaning" to us
individually (at least for me anyway) is very useful. While I admit that
the "signal+noise/noise" ratio suffers in such discussions the efforts at
achieving an understanding of the processes involved and what PCT DOES
have to say is well worth the effort.

I acknowledge that I am doubtless a significant "contributor to the
noise" but believe that by being so, I am also learning something of
"practical understanding" of the implications of PCT. Hopefully, at
least some other are also.

As far as any sort of "personal goals" that any of us may have for a
"better world", hashings out ones thinking on such matters on this forum
is likely more useful to humanity in general than anything else that one
could do. "PCT thinking" seems to have an amazing way of completely
changing the issues and points in a discussion.

It seems to me that one learns that the issues of disagreement between
people are rarely even closely related to what the parties believe that
they are and more importantly an PCT neophyte can begin to see that the
"solutions" will definately not exist where they are, at least initially,
perceived to exist.

As far as "applied PCT" is concerned, it is the "important issues" that
one must learn to handle using lessons that PCT can teach. For as
several of you have rather directly stated, it is these "important issues"
that are most likely to "blind" our own thinking.

-bill