PCT handbook

Maybe It’s time for Pinker to
have a epiphany!!

‘How The Mind Works’ was written in 1997,

18 years ago if my maths is correct :slight_smile:

Maybe I’ll email him the link to the PCT handbook!


And of course a link to 1 or 2 of yours Rick :slight_smile:


[From Dag Forssell (2015 11.20 15:00)]

John, I have been working to expand and update this reference for the
last two months.

I cut off distribution of the printed version at the end of

I just uploaded an interim version. More papers and books. Changed

More addition and change to come in the next weeks.

Best, Dag


On 20 November 2015 at 20:25, Richard Marken > rsmarken@gmail.com > wrote:

At 12:54 PM 11/20/2015, you wrote:
[From Rick Marken (2015.11.20.1225)]

On Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:03 AM, John Caines johncaines@gmail.com wrote:

JC: I like Pinkers explaination of beliefs via Computational
I quote;
“The computational theory of mind resolves the paradox. It says
that beliefs and desires are information, incarnated as configurations of
The symbols are the physical states of bits of matter, like chips in
a computer or neurons in the brain. They symbolize things in the world
because they are triggered by those things via our sense organs, and
because of what they do once they are triggered. If the bits of matter
that constitute a symbol are arranged to bump into the bits of matter
constituting another symbol in just the right way, the symbols
corresponding to one belief can give rise to new symbols corresponding to
another belief logically related to it, which can give rise to symbols
corresponding to other beliefs, and so on. Eventually the bits of matter
constituting a symbol bump into bits of matter connected to the muscles,
and behavior happens. The computational theory of mind thus allows us to
keep beliefs and desires in our explanations of behavior while planting
them squarely in the physical universe. It allows meaning to cause and be
Page 25 - How The Mind Works
Steven Pinker Ph.D

Pinker Rules!

RM: I am a fan of Pinker as well. He is an extraordinary writer and a
very bright guy. But the above paragraph is an explanation of belief in
the context of a model of behavior that is unquestionably wrong. It is
the causal model of behavior. The model works only in the mind of those
who propose it.�

RM: The crucial failing of the model is seen in this sentence:
“Eventually the bits of matter constituting a symbol bump into bits
of matter connected to the muscles, and behavior happens.” In
fact behavior can’t possibly just “happen” because the events
we call “behavior” are the results of efferent neural activity
(the “bits of matter connected to muscles”) that are produced
consistently in a world of constantly varying disturbances. So even a
simple behavior, like lifting a cup of coffee to your lips, doesn’t just
“happen”. It happens despite variations in the weight of the
cup (due to drinking the coffee), the angle of the arm relative to
gravity, and so on. Behaviors are, therefore, the result of muscle forces
being varied in exactly the right way so that, when added to these
disturbing forces, the cup always makes to you lips rather than to some
other location on your face.�

RM: So behavior doesn’t just happen; it is a controlled result of
efferent neural activity, where “controlled” means a result
produced consistently (one that remains in a reference state) despite the
effects of unpredictable and often undetectable disturbances. Behavior is
not an output that just happens – that is emitted like light from a
light bulb: behavior is control. This is what Pinker doesn’t understand,
which is understandable since “behavior as emitted output” is
the current dogma in psychology (including cognitive science, Pinker’s
specialty) and Pinker is by far one of the best at explaining the current

RM: By the way, I actually used this quote from Pinker in one of my
papers – the one called “You say you had a revolution” –
which is reprinted in “Doing Research in Psychology”. Be sure
to buy several copies today!! As you’ll see, I’ve been pretty much
singing the same tune for years; maybe some day I can form a choir but so
far the best I’ve been able to do is a quartet;-)



Richard S. Marken�


Author of� �

Doing Research on Purpose

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble