Reply to Tom

[From Brian D'Agostino (951004.1830)]

This respond's to Tom's (950929.1340) critique of my article,
posted by Rick (951002.0800).

Tom wrote: You did say that some individuals did not match the
representative scores for your groups, but you went ahead and
talked about group statistics as though they might apply to all
members of the groups.

Reply: I am well aware of the distinction between individuals and
group averages. Although this distinction can be very important
for some purposes and in some contexts, it was not important for my
purposes, and so I did not make a point of maintaining the
distinction in my article. As I mentioned in my posting of
950930.0610, I am not interested in individuals _as such_, but only
in individuals inasmuch as some of their attitudes, beliefs, and
behaviors support or oppose wars, war preparations, and war as an
institution. The relevant methodology for this kind of inquiry is
what Max Weber called "ideal types," which is the methodology I
chose. For my purposes, the endless variations by which
individuals deviate from the "hawk" or "dove" belief systems are
completely irrelevant; the only thing relevant is the ideal type
itself.

As for the personality Q-sort, I was only interested in whether
there are any personality phenomena associated with the hawk/dove
belief typology, and if so, what these personality correlates of
militarism are. There may be a better statistical way to explore
this question than the particular approach I used, and I'd be happy
to hear one.

Tom: You ended up with too few females to satisfy the conditions
that would allow you to generalize from your sample to the larger
"policy elites" and "attentive publics," but you went ahead and
talked about possible generalizations.

Reply: The reliability of generalizations is a matter of degree.
You make it sound like I accomodated to the low scientific
standards of the mainstream, while in reality I set a more rigorous
standard for generalizing than either the mainstream or the CSG.
In the mainstream, findings that are statistically significant at
P < .05 are routinely reported; all the findings from my female
sample (n=85) that I cautioned the reader about were significant at
P < .01. The proposal expressed on CSGnet that survey research and
statistics be jettisoned altogether in favor of in-depth interviews
would involve abandoning measurement altogether and instead
generalizing about militarism on the basis of qualitative
observations of unknown typicality.

Tom: I wonder why you treated the data for females and males so
differently.

Reply: I applied the same criterion to both data sets, namely,
militarism correlates significant at P < .01, which yielded six
self variables for the females and 18 for the males. I noted the
statistical significance of the male correlates in the technical
appendix, but I should have also included this information in Table
II. I provided more of an analysis of the male data than the
female, both because such analysis would be more robust on the
basis of the larger male sample and because the male data were of
more theoretical interest in understanding the institution of war.
(It is overwhelmingly males who allocate a society's resources to
war and war preparations, and who are responsible for military
policy.)

Tom: Whether or not PCT exists, these correlations are weak and any
science built on them must be flawed, especially if the scientists
purport to explain the behavior of individual people. It is not
your fault that most behavioral science is built on "facts" that
are fatally flawed.

Reply: Before responding to this, I need to think further about the
excellent discussion of this topic on CSGnet by Bruce Abbott and
Bill Powers.

Tom: You rely heavily on a mainstream strategy in which writers
portray certain behaviors they do not like as "psychopathological,"
and people who encourage those "behaviors" are said to use
"propaganda." Hence, "militarism = psychopathology," there is a
"problem of militarism," and there is "militaristic propaganda."

Reply: This is not an accurate characterization of any "mainstream"
I know of. The word "propaganda" in the U.S. has been used almost
exclusively to label the public relations activities of communists
or other leftists. Since when do good red-blooded, flag waving
Americans call press releases from weapons contractors and the
Pentagon "propaganda?" I think the word should be applied to _all_
public relations, whatever its political bias; it is the
"mainstream" that uses it only to discredit ideas they disagree
with.

As for "psychopathology," the concept has been relegated to
clinical circles, where it has come to have a purely privatized
meaning, something like "having trouble adapting to the world."
For example, if a man goes berserk and kills another man, the
killer (if convicted) will be incarcerated and/or
institutionalized, and all the clinicians would agree he is not
well. However, if an entire nation goes berserk and kills hundreds
of thousands of men, most mainstream clinicians would not call that
psychopathology. They would call it war, or better yet, "defense."
So for me to suggest that war and war preparations have a
pathological dimension is heresy with a vengeance.

Tom: A male who controls for a perception of "not feminine" evinces
"male gender insecurity." Psychopathy is rampant!

Reply: This is not what I said. On pages 280-281, I noted that a
male raised from birth by a male and then programmed by society to
be "not feminine" would experience no gender insecurity. However,
most of us are raised from birth by a female, deeply identify with
her, and are therefore naturally feminine or "effeminate" in
infancy or early childhood. Then society programs the boys to be
"not feminine," forcing them to negate and repress their early
identification with the mother. But this "feminine" part of the
male is nothing less than the foundation of his psyche and self
system, and it cannot be eradicated. It therefore continually
impinges on his self perception, generating chronic conflict with
his socially programmed reference perception for "not feminine."
What I said is that this _conflict_ between reference perception
and perception, not the reference perception by itself, constitutes
"male gender insecurity." Meanwhile, it is no wonder that males
periodically go berserk.

Tom: I usually try to avoid that misconception altogether [that PCT
is about "being in control of yourself and your actions"] by not
saying PCT is about self-regulation.

Reply: I see the problem, but there is another misconception that
people get if we just use the word "control," namely, that it has
something to do with "controlling" or dominating others. I used
"self-regulating" to counteract _this_ stereotype. Does anyone
know how to do that without contributing to the "self-control"
stereotype?

Tom: On page 269, in your description of the Q-set, you say the
procedure is one in which each item is a potential disturbance to
a controlled self-perception. Fine. As a suggestion about how to
use the Q-set in a study that is more clearly PCT-ish than yours,
you could work with participants, one at a time, and follow up on
their original sorting of the items. You could tell them the
sorting was "wrong", or that you think some of the items they said
were important should be in another place that indicates
unimportance, or you could present an alternative sorting and ask
the person to "make it right," and so on. Procedures like those
would let you test more directly for controlled perceptions.

Reply: These sound like potentially fruitful ideas for my
interviews, and I will need to give them more careful thought.

Tom: On page 278, you describe some thought experiments in which
you discuss the different "effects of" a given perception on three
individuals, with three different reference levels for the
perception. This is a good topic, and I can imagine your treatment
of it might be novel in the literature of political science. I
would describe the situation a little differently than you, given
my quirky aversion to speaking about perceptions as things that
affect people -- that's a little too Cause-Effect-like for my
radical tastes.

Reply: Thanks for picking up on this, and recognizing my apparent
originality on this point. If your time permits I would love to
hear your alternative formulation of how to say the same thing
without using the discourse of cause and effect.

Tom: The distinction between the roles of the thermostat and the
output devices is not clear, hence, it isn't totally clear which
element(s) you have in mind when you say, "the system controls room
temperature."

Reply: Aren't the thermostat and output devices parts of a single
control system, which as a whole controls room temperature? (or
controls its perception of room temperature, to be more precise).

Tom: In the role of reference perceptions, preferences would guide
(specify) perceptions, not behaviors, which would necessarily vary
in order to maintain perception at the reference value.

Reply: This question was raised previously by Rick and Bill; I will
summarize my reply, and add a new point. I believe the political
phenomenon I am examining has some special control system
characteristics. An individual has negligible control over his or
her country's level of military power, but may nevertheless want to
"do his part" to influence it. Chronic dissatisfaction with public
policy drives a more constant behavioral output than in the normal
case of successful control. Meanwhile, doves and hawks are
motivated to persist in the face of dissatisfaction by higher level
reference perceptions such as "idealism" or "machismo."

Another point, which I have not previously made on CSGnet, is that
"doing one's part" to influence policy typically involves
"behaviors" that do not fit the PCT model very well. For example,
people vote when elections are scheduled, not when something
disturbs a controlled perception. A person who is generally
dissatisfied with some public policy may complain in writing to her
senator, even though writing the letter does not correct a specific
disturbance of a controlled perception. Do you have any idea how
to relate such behavioral phenomena to PCT?

Tom: I think your example [of gender insecurity in Figure 1 and pp.
280-81] might be represented better by a system with _two_
high-level reference signals, and two high-level control systems,
one for "don't be feminine," and the other for whatever you mean
by, "be identified with mother." That way, you would have pure
internal conflict.

Reply: This is an interesting idea, and I will have to give it more
thought. At first glance, however, I don't see the advantages. Am
I not already modeling internal conflict in Figure 1, and in a more
elegant way than you are suggesting? What do you mean by _pure_
internal conflict?

In conclusion, thanks very much for doing such a careful and
thoughtful reading of my paper and for making such detailed
replies, especially with so many other demands on your time. If
your time permits, I would be most interested in your thoughts
about competing theories of memory in view of the
neurophysiological evidence and your thoughts on Stanley Palombo's
information processing theory of dreaming and memory, as per our
earlier correspondence.

<[Bill Leach 951004.21:56 U.S. Eastern Time Zone]

[Brian D'Agostino (951004.1830)]

standards of the mainstream, while in reality I set a more rigorous
standard for generalizing than either the mainstream or the CSG.

Since "them's fighten words", I'll comment.

I suspect that you are thinking in terms of the sort of "generalizing"
that you often read in discussions on the net. Such IS NOT PCT SCIENCE
but rather is only useful to PCT insofar as it leads to research actions.
Further such generalizations are not intended to be taken a statements of
scientific fact.

The "pure" generalized conclusions made concerning PCT are statements
such as "Two or more Control Systems attempting to control the same
perception to maintain different values are in conflict. Note that this
does not say that such conflict is "bad" or "good" but only that it
exists.

A further generalization that "conflict" is "bad" is NOT good PCT.
Conflict might be "bad" in a specific situation but even for that to be
true a particular set of standards defining the measure for "bad" is
required and then rigorously verified and analyzed data could be used to
support or deny the assertion.

"self-regulation"/"control"

This subject has come up many times before and Dag has included these
discussions on the PCT demo disk. I would suggest that the conclusion of
these discussion is that there is no simple solution. To avoid the
misunderstand that typically occurs about the easiest way to deal with
the matter is to comment that the use of the term "control" is the
Perceptual Control Theory definition and refer the reader to an appendix
giving that definition/explaination.

It was further concluded that even inventing a new term to carry the
classical meaning for control would be useless. As soon as those that
currently abuse the term "control" learned of the meaning of the new term
it is likely to be abused in exactly the same manner. The only "out" is
to continue to insist that the original meaning/definition apply and
explicitely assert this for each occassion.

Tom: In the role of reference perceptions, preferences would guide
(specify) perceptions, not behaviors, which would necessarily vary
in order to maintain perception at the reference value.

Reply: This question was raised previously by Rick and Bill; I will
summarize my reply, and add a new point. I believe the political
phenomenon I am examining has some special control system
characteristics.

It would behoove you to delineate the "special control system
characteristics" to which you refer (and I am only presuming that since
Tom made no mention of such that you did not already do so).

An individual has negligible control over his or her country's level of
military power, but may nevertheless want to "do his part" to influence
it. Chronic dissatisfaction with public policy drives a more constant
behavioral output than in the normal case of successful control.

I think that I accept what I think that you mean as opposed to what you
said. The sentence "Chronic ...." is a very S-R sounding sentence.

Dissatisfaction with public policy is a way saying that a perception
related to a certain general catagory of the behaviour of some
individuals in the perceived catagory of "government" (maybe several
times removed -- ie: media, etc.) is intended to be a controlled
perception but has a large error (larger than is acceptable). By
"intended to be a controlled perception" I am of course meaning that
there is an active control system attempting to achieve a match between
the perception and the reference for that perception (since that is the
normal meaning for the term here on the net I could have just left out
the "intended part" except for the occassional confusion that results
when one forgets that "controlled perception" does not necessarily also
imply that control is achieved).

The "drives a more constant behavioural output than in the normal case of
successful control" is just plain wrong from a PCT perspective no matter
how you view the matter.

If you would like to see "constant behavioural output" then look at a
system that is controlling very well and experiencing no disturbance.

A system with "chronic dissatisfaction" meaning in a PCT sense "chronic
excessive error", will give you about anything BUT constant behavioural
output. If the control system experiencing the error is sufficiently
"important" (or of a high enough priority) then the behaviour may well
range to what an observer would call "completely irrational" or even
"insane". HPCT predicts that a system will continue to attempt to bring
a controlled perception into agreement with the reference using any and
all means possible (including things that no one has yet thought of)
until it either succeeds, dies or resets the reference (or otherwise
deactivates the specific control system).

While it is otherwise true that "error" drives "output", this manner of
expressing what is going on is avoided strenuously in PCT for at least
two reasons:

The first is that it is only half the story (and the less important half
from an understanding point no less).

The second is that it just plain sounds like S-R.

A very serious problem, in my opinion with what you are attempting to
explain in PCT terms is that it seems that you do not have the one thing
that is THE essential starting point for a PCT analysis... You must know
what the control perception actually is for the individual.

A statement such as "people are dissatisfied with public policy" (even
when attempting to be specific by "zeroing in on" military policy) is too
non-specific for PCT analysis. Even "military policy makers" probably
never have had a sufficiently "pure" reference for "military policy" to
identify such as a controlled variable.

Your statement that a person has "negligible control over ... level of
military power" is certainly true. It is also likely (opinion on) that
few people have particularly frustrated control loops trying to change
that policy. OTOH, it is likely that people that do have some reference
for a particular military policy and perceive that such policy is not the
one in effect, will then form subordinate control loops to control
perceptions intending to satisfy the higher level perception.

While reorganization is a much talked about topic, very little "hard
science" work has been done on the subject. If one subscribes to the low
intensity localized first, higher intensity next and more global
(iteratively) hypothesis along with the idea of "general error level"
then it is not unreasonable to postulate that as long as a person is
successfully controlling perceptions for the lower level goals that the
"single error" associate with the "public policy" perception would not
necessarily result in "drastic" or "irrational" action.

Meanwhile, doves and hawks are motivated to persist in the face of
dissatisfaction by higher level reference perceptions such as "idealism"
or "machismo."

Neither of these terms is, I think, useful as a reference signal.
"Idealism" is a lable applied to the observed behaviour of another person
and really refers to the observers opinion of how strongly the other
person is controlling particular perceptions (if even that good).

A person might be thought of as "idealistic" if they have a higher
priority for a particular perception than the observer OR if that person
is experiencing a greater disturbance to that perception than is the
observer (shamelessly assuming here that the two people here could
actually have the same controlled perception but with some difference
such as a different PIF).

... motivated to persist ...

Again, "dissatisfaction" I am taking to me that there is a control system
error present. A control system with an error WILL be "motivated"
period.

Persist OTOH I would take to mean that the control system is not in some
way "deactivated" by the person (possibly though reorganization). I
won't pretend to understand this well enough in PCT terms to try to go
much beyond the "simple assertions" to what I believe that you are trying
to deal with. Why do we "take up golf, or tennis or whatever" and
sometimes "persist" until we have become "accomplished" and why do we
sometimes "give up"?

Another point, which I have not previously made on CSGnet, is that
"doing one's part" to influence policy typically involves
"behaviors" that do not fit the PCT model very well. For example,
people vote when elections are scheduled, not when something
disturbs a controlled perception. A person who is generally
dissatisfied with some public policy may complain in writing to her
senator, even though writing the letter does not correct a specific
disturbance of a controlled perception. Do you have any idea how
to relate such behavioral phenomena to PCT?

I think that maybe these question were already answered above though I
will add the major thrust of many of the model type based discussion were
really about just this sort of thing. As best as has been determined so
far, for physical output control system are always controlling immediate
current perception to an immediate reference. That fact does not
preclude both the idea that control systems can deal with long lag time
constants in the environment nor that the control system may be able to
control an immediate perception to a particular reference value that is
"intended" to result in a future (current at the future time) perception
being "controlled" in the sense that an understanding (explicit or
otherwise) based upon a model of the environmental process exists.

Tom: I think your example [of gender insecurity in Figure 1 and pp.
280-81] might be represented better by a system with _two_
high-level reference signals, and two high-level control systems,
one for "don't be feminine," and the other for whatever you mean
by, "be identified with mother." That way, you would have pure
internal conflict.

Reply: This is an interesting idea, and I will have to give it more
thought. At first glance, however, I don't see the advantages. Am
I not already modeling internal conflict in Figure 1, and in a more
elegant way than you are suggesting? What do you mean by _pure_
internal conflict?

I have not seen the drawing but based upon Tom's comment I would have to
say "No, it is not more elegant." It is not possible for a single
control system loop to be in conflict with itself. For conflict to
exist, either internally or externally there must be another control loop
attempting to control a common environmental variable to different and
incompatible values (either intentionally or unintentionally [for example
as a result of an "in phase" component "side effect" disturbing the first
control loops controlled environmental variable]).

Additionally, your description of how such a "gender identity crisis"
might arrise suggest the existance of multiple but incompatible control
systems within the single individual.

-bill