[From Bill Powers (2009.04.29.1815 MDT)]
David Goldstein (2009.04.29.07:40
I think we might
experience/infer effects of disturbances indirectly when we find
ourselves needing to make a lot of effort to keep a situation in the
condition that we desire.
DG: Some more discussion about the
concept of disturbance.
Let’s take the case of an adult
person who is standing. The person’s actions make a contribution to the
result. If the person were standing in a lake where the water went up to
the shoulders, the person’s actions would make a different contribution.
The adult person knows about gravity and buoyancy.
Consider the case of a
preschool-aged person. A person this age probably doesn’t know about
gravity and buoyancy, yet he/she would be able to control the experience
of standing on solid ground or water.
So, in order to control the
experiece of standing, one doesn’t need to know what disturbances are
acting. One only has the variable of experience which is being
Excellent example, very clever. It brings in the point that a
disturbance can be helping what you’re doing as well as opposing it. When
the water bouys you up, you don’t need to push up as hard with your legs
(unless you’re trying to jump clear out of the water). And you don’t need
to compute how much bouyancy there is so you can reduce your own effort
accordingly (the point Richard Kennaway was making with his very clever
arguments about thermostats and cruise controls). You just watch the
variable you’re controlling and adjust your actions until it’s doing what
Of course what Dick Robertson says is true, too. We infer effects of
disturbances indirectly from observing our own efforts. If there were no
disturbances and friction and nothing weighed anything or had any
inertial mass, no effort at all would be needed to control anything. Just
think what you want to happen and SHAZAM! it would happen. That’s how
things work in imagination. I think this might be where the idea of magic
comes from. Most of what we know about the properties of the external
world and of independent forces and influences comes from observing the
efforts we have to make in order to control things. In the world of magic
you don’t need any efforts.
I like what is happening with this thread. We all know the technical
terms and the diagrams and some of us know the math and the computing,
but to communicate PCT we have to learn to speak correctly in ordinary
language. This doesn’t mean getting loose and sloppy – quite the
opposite, it means choosing language very carefully so it will mean the
right things and still be understandable. I think there is a lot of that
starting to happen here.
Somehow all this has set me to thinking about the Center for the Study of
Living Control Systems again. And something else happened that has led to
some new thoughts. I saw some psychologist on TV explaining a theory, and
realized that this guy was selling a message in a very convincing way,
even though it was just blah-blah-blah. He knew exactly what he wanted to
get across and exactly how to say it: as they said in the election
campaigns, he stayed “on message.”
That ties in with this thread. Exactly what is our message? I think we
may be starting to figure it out. Just exactly how is PCT different from
SR theory or cognitive theory or Modern Control Theory? And how can we
say this so any person can understand what we mean? Figuring out these
differences, I now realize, is far more important than looking for
similarities, which explains why I’ve been objecting to spending time on
old experiments. We have a revolution to go to – why stand around
talking about the past?
When we get all that worked out, I think we can start saying “Hello,
world. We’re here.”