Reason #467 for not accepting PCT

[From Rick Marken (970604.0900)]

Bill Powers (970604.0640 MDT) --

Many people can't accept PCT because they simply can't believe
that the explanation they already have is incorrect or
inadequate. They hold on so hard to what they think they already
know that they can't relax long enough to see the simple sense
that PCT makes. Or else they have never realized that the
explanation they believe isn't really an explanation, so they
think that PCT is just another "perspective."

This is certainly one reason for rejecting PCT: the reason used
by people (like psychologists) who are consciously trying to
_explain_ behavior. But there are many other reasons for rejecting
PCT -- reasons that are used by people who (like all of us) have
to deal with other people but don't necessarily have to _explain_ their
behavior.

One reason (I'll call it reason # 467;-)) these people reject PCT
is because they hate the idea that annoying perceptions (for me its
things like grafitti, pompous bosses, lawyers, everything Hans Blom
posts) are annoying simply because one is controlling for perceptions
that are disturbed by these perceptions. That is,people hate the
idea that _they themselves_ -- becuase of what they want -- determine
what is annoying.

What we want to believe is that some perceptions are inherently
or absolutely _wrong_; we want to believe that grafitti is inherently
bad, not that it is bad simply because it pushes _one of one's own_
controlled perceptions (the perception of an orderly environment?)
away from it's reference; we want to believe that a pompous boss is
just "an annoying person", not that the boss is annoying because he
or she is pushing _one of one's own_ controlled perceptions (the
perception of getting the credit one wants for one's contribution
to a project?) away from it's reference; we want to believe that lawyers
are scum, not that they are simply participating in an
activity (exploiting conflict for gain) that happens to disturb
_one of one's own_ controlled perceptions (the perception of
profiting off of misery of others?).

I don't know why people seem to resist, so strongly, the idea that
their own wants determine what is and what is not annoying. Perhaps
this notion is a disturbance because many of us are controlling
very strongly for the perception of the "legitimacy" or "correctness"
of our own wants. Suggesting that something is not "inherently"
wrong may be like suggesting that one's own wants are arbitrary
(which, in a sense, they are; they are not arbitrary with respect to
one's own structure of wants but they are arbitrary with respect to
anyone else's wants).

Saying that some perceptions are not inherently wrong may sound
(to many of us) like saying that one's wants are not inherently
right; that it is not inherently right to like a neat environment,
to want recognition for what one did, to want people not to
benefit from the misery of others, etc. Of course, PCT doesn't say
there is anything wrong (or right) about wanting these things;
all it says is that wanting these things determines what will be
annoying (a disturbing influence) and what won't. I have no idea
how to get this notion across without implying that people have
"bad wants". So I think I'll just stick to writing Java demos;-)

Best

Rick

···

--

Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@leonardo.net
http://www.leonardo.net/Marken

[From Richard Kennaway (970604.1716 BST)]

Rick Marken (970604.0900):

That is,people hate the
idea that _they themselves_ -- becuase of what they want -- determine
what is annoying.

...

I have no idea
how to get this notion across without implying that people have
"bad wants". So I think I'll just stick to writing Java demos;-)

Interestingly (at least, to me), a central point that is made on some
personal development courses I've taken is exactly that -- that all of that
annoyance, resentment, and so forth is created within oneself, from a
conflict between the way things are and one's fixed beliefs about the way
they ought to be.

It takes a 36-hour weekend to get it, though. I don't know if the
designers of the courses have heard of PCT.

-- Richard Kennaway, jrk@sys.uea.ac.uk, http://www.sys.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/
   School of Information Systems, Univ. of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K.

[From Bill Powers (970604.1003 MDT)]

Rick Marken (970604.0900)]

One reason (I'll call it reason # 467;-)) these people reject PCT
is because they hate the idea that annoying perceptions (for me its
things like grafitti, pompous bosses, lawyers, everything Hans Blom
posts) are annoying simply because one is controlling for >perceptions

that are disturbed by these perceptions. That is,people >hate the idea that
_they themselves_ -- becuase of what they want -- >determine what is annoying.

This is certainly true, but we can go farther into these reasons. The basic
reason I think it would be bad for someone to hack into my financial
accounts and make away with all my money is that I don't want to starve to
death. If you look into my reasons for hating the hacker only at one level,
you can say "Well, that's just your own desire to have money that's causing
you all that pain." The implication is that all I have to do is change
that reference level and everything will be hunky dory again. This
one-level approach leads to the "blame the victim" syndrome.

In fact, I have reference levels for things without having decided to have
them. I dislike pain and I like pleasure, and there's nothing I can do
about that. I like to breathe and eat and stay warm and avoid injury,
because if I don't do those things I feel very bad and I have to do
something to stop feeling bad. And if I know or believe or predict that if
I or others do certain things I will have breathing trouble or hunger or
cold misery or injury, I will not like those things to be done, and I will
feel that there's an objective reason for not liking them. You can tell me
that those dislikes are my own doing, because of the way I have set my own
reference levels, and that, I have to admit, is true. But if you imply that
I should therefore remove the problem by changing my likes and dislikes, I
can only say, "No, I can't do that. If I did that, I'd die."

Of course my beliefs and knowledge and predictions may be quite wrong when
I think about likes and dislikes a long way removed from actual physical
suffering. But if I knew they were wrong, I would be halfway to changing my
beliefs etc., and my likes and dislikes would change. If I think they're
right, then it is perfectly rational for me to set my reference conditions
exactly as they are set; to do otherwise would be insane. A person who
can't stand to go outdoors would be perfectly right if going outdoors
created pain and suffering. So as long as that person believes that going
outdoors will cause pain and suffering, it would be futile to try to get
the person to change the reference condition of staying indoors. You might
as well try to change a caveman's mind about going outside the cave where a
sabertoothed tiger is waiting.

People don't want to admit that they set their own reference levels and
thus determine their own likes and dislikes. Why do they not want to admit
this? Because, I would guess, they don't like the implication that the only
reason they have these likes and dislikes is a personal whim, and that they
could change them any time they wanted to. In fact, they don't want to
change them for fear of what would happen if they did. They don't want to
be _forced_ to change, because they have reasons for being as they are. To
find out what the reasons are, usually all you have to do is ask. But if
you ignore the reasons, you won't have much luck in getting people to take
responsibility for their own reference levels.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (970604.1450 EDT)]

Bill Powers (970604.1003 MDT)

People don't want to admit that they set their own reference levels and
thus determine their own likes and dislikes. Why do they not want to admit
this? Because, I would guess, they don't like the implication that the only
reason they have these likes and dislikes is a personal whim, and that they
could change them any time they wanted to. In fact, they don't want to
change them for fear of what would happen if they did. They don't want to
be _forced_ to change, because they have reasons for being as they are. To
find out what the reasons are, usually all you have to do is ask. But if
you ignore the reasons, you won't have much luck in getting people to take
responsibility for their own reference levels.

I don't think we ever have much luck in getting people to take
responsibility for their own reference levels. Any more than we
have much luck in getting them to change their reference levels.
Taking responsibility for your own reference levels because you
are convinced you "should" is disempowering. People take
responsibility for their own reference levels when they realize
that this step is empowering rather than disempowering. That
taking responsibility for your own reference levels expands, not
diminishes, the domain over which you can exercise control.

Bruce

[From Rick Marken (970604.1250 PDT)]

Bill Powers (970604.1003 MDT) --

People don't want to admit that they set their own reference
levels and thus determine their own likes and dislikes. Why
do they not want to admit this? Because, I would guess, they
don't like the implication that the only reason they have these
likes and dislikes is a personal whim, and that they could
change them any time they wanted to.

I agree. But that's not a necessary (or the only) implication of
recognizing that one determines one's own likes and dislikes.

if you ignore the reasons [for a person's reference settings], you
won't have much luck in getting people to take responsibility for
their own reference levels.

I didn't mean to suggest that I am interested in getting people
to take responsibility for their own reference levels. I brought up
this stuff about our wants determining what we find annoying as another
example of why some people seem to be "turned off" by PCT.
For reasons like the one you mention above (they don't like the
implication that their wanst are personal whims) people have a
hard time seeing the merits of PCT.

I know that people have reasons for having the goals they have.
But I think a person has to buy the fact that it is their own
goals that determine what they find annoying before they
_themselves_ will be willing to look for the reasons why they
have those goals.

Best

Rick

···

--

Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@leonardo.net
http://www.leonardo.net/Marken

[From Tim Carey (970613.0700)]

[ Rick Marken (970604.0900)]

I don't know why people seem to resist, so strongly, the idea that
their own wants determine what is and what is not annoying. Perhaps
this notion is a disturbance because many of us are controlling
very strongly for the perception of the "legitimacy" or "correctness"
of our own wants. Suggesting that something is not "inherently"
wrong may be like suggesting that one's own wants are arbitrary
(which, in a sense, they are; they are not arbitrary with respect to
one's own structure of wants but they are arbitrary with respect to
anyone else's wants).

Hi Rick, I'm late in the conversation I know but one reason for people's
resistance may be the necessary assumption of responsibility that this
realisation implies. If I maintain a belief that my boss is inherently
annoying and "making" me angry then it is my bosses responsibility to
change. I have an enormous licence to become angry with him any time I feel
like it because my anger is his responsibility.

To accept that perhaps I am creating my own anger by the perceptions I
have, means that I am responsible for the way I feel and I can then no
longer reasonably expect other people to change. For some people, it seems,
this is an unacceptable way of seeing the world.

Regards,

Tim

Martin Taylor 970612 20:45

Rick Marken (970604.0900)]

I don't know why people seem to resist, so strongly, the idea that
their own wants determine what is and what is not annoying. Perhaps
this notion is a disturbance because many of us are controlling
very strongly for the perception of the "legitimacy" or "correctness"
of our own wants. Suggesting that something is not "inherently"
wrong may be like suggesting that one's own wants are arbitrary
(which, in a sense, they are; they are not arbitrary with respect to
one's own structure of wants but they are arbitrary with respect to
anyone else's wants).

There's a good case in point in Ontario right now. Apparently while I
was away, some senior court delivered an opinion that it is not illegal
for women to go topless in public, unless it is done for commercial
or sexual purposes. Last night on the news several people "on the street"
were interviewed about it, since a few women were taking advantage of
the ruling and the hot weather. It amazed me how many people asserted
that it was simply and absolutely _wrong_ for a woman to go topless,
especially where she might be seen by a child. But a few people did say
that the wrongness was in the eye of the beholder. Not many, though.
Most people seem to believe in the external reality of wrong behaviour.

The women concerned just said it was comfortable on a hot day.

Saying that some perceptions are not inherently wrong may sound
(to many of us) like saying that one's wants are not inherently
right; that it is not inherently right to like a neat environment,
to want recognition for what one did, to want people not to
benefit from the misery of others, etc. Of course, PCT doesn't say
there is anything wrong (or right) about wanting these things;
all it says is that wanting these things determines what will be
annoying (a disturbing influence) and what won't.

Right on.

I have no idea
how to get this notion across without implying that people have
"bad wants". So I think I'll just stick to writing Java demos;-)

And well you do it, too.

But surely "getting this notion across" is part and parcel of the 21st
century PCT revolution in society, isn't it?

Martin