"Real world" PCT

[From Rick Marken (930429.0900)]

Oded Maler (930428) --

I think the attempts to analyse the Bosnia crisis in terms of
PCT were indeed very poor and naive.

Actually, the only ostensibly PCT - based analysis that I can
recall was Dan Miller's, which I though was delightful. What
was poor and naive about it?

as demonstrated in some of the postings, someone who has never
heard of PCT, but whose perception of history is based on the
pre-CNN era, will give more reasonable explanations than the
most enlightened PCTer who was brought up in certain a-historical

I believe that it does sound reasonable to you -- but it
sounds like the same old crap to me. What you are saying, it
seems to me, is that, when it comes to explaining "real world"
phenomena, like the fighting in Bosnia, a "perception of history"
is superior to a working model of human nature (like PCT). This
attitude comes through again in the last part of you post:

Crowd-like demonstration can reveal some fundamental phenomena
by modeling simplified persons with few perceptual variables,
goals and action. This is very nice and interesting, but I think
it is naive to think that such a model can scale-up and model
the essential propeties of real people with all the cultural,
and geographical context.

This is a remarkable attitude -- but understandable given the
track record of the social and behavioral sciences. It suggests
that trying to achieve a scientific understanding of living
systems is just a little game played in the lab -- with no
applicability to the "real world" of historical rivalries and
cultural animosities. If I thought that this perspective on
the value of PCT were true I'd stop working on it and sign up
for the staff of people who "really" understand this stuff --
the "pre CNN" pundits. I would very much like to hear what you
think is an explanation of the Bosnia situation that is not "poor
and naive" like the PCT explanation. What do you think is the wise
way to deal with Bosnia -- one that takes into account all the
important historical and cultural awareness?

Just for the record, I asked about Bosnia precisely because I do
NOT think there is a "right" way to deal with the problem. The
PCT perspective on Bosnia is very simple -- the problem exists
precisely because people are control systems. Conflict ONLY
exists when control systems come into contact with each other.
There is no conflict in cause-effect and output generation systems.
The solution to conflict exists only in the control systems them-
selves. Trying to do things to solve conflicts "from the outside"
simply adds another element to the conflict-- a disturbance that
momentarily aids one side of the conflict or the other. All the
options that have been proposed for dealing with Bosnia -- sanctions,
removing sanctions, bombing, cease fires, treaties, etc -- are
unlikely to change what is causing the Bosnia problem -- the beliefs
(inflexible reference signals) of ALL the individuals involved;
inflexible reference signals cause and maintain inter- and intra-
personal conflict. There is no way to make people change
their beliefs (as we saw in Waco -- that's how this came up). All
PCT can do is try to educate individuals about the problem of
inflexible references for themselves and, possibly, for others.
But, obviously, inflexible references are typically just that;
inflexible. All the PCT education in the world can't make people
flexible if they are committed to inflexibility. So I'm pretty
sure that the CNN explanations of conflicts like Bosnia, the
middle east, Cambodia, etc etc will be considered the "wise"
one's for a long time.

I have noticed that all these "wise" CNN or "pre-CNN era historically
based" analyses of conflicts take certain goals as "given" -- ie.
non-flexible. These "given" goals are usually at the principle or
system level. It is taken as a given, for example, that the
individuals involved in these conflicts ARE "Muslims", "Serbs",
"Jews", "Arabs", etc. But these are just words that describe
reference levels for system level perceptions --and people do
manage to perceive themselves as Muslims, Serbs, Jews, Arabs, etc.
In principle and in fact, people can (sometimes) change these
references in order to achieve higher level goals. Unless a lot
more people can find a higher level that makes it possible for them
to be flexible at the system level, there is no question that
tragedies like Waco, Bosnia, the middle east, etc will just keep
going on -- with the same old worthless solutions that eveybody
can argue about: bomb 'em, appease them, blockade 'em, give
contingent aid, bargain with 'em, be "tough" with 'em, become
friends with their enemies, become enemies of their friends,
etc etc. The PCT answer to all this is, indeed, considered just
too naive and simple minded by people who resolutely take certain
goals as GIVEN (goals that are often described as "historical
reality" I might add)-- the PCT answer is simply "DON'T TAKE ANY
GOALS AS GIVEN; be flexible".

Now, how about the real, sophisticated explanation of Bosnia, Oded?