[From Rick Marken (940222.0730)]

For some reason the listserver rejected this posting of mine
from last night. Here it is again.



[From Rick Marken (940221.1800)]

My review of "The Control Theory Manager" will be delayed
because it is currently as bad as the book. I hope to have a
rewrite ready soon.

Bill Leach (940221.07:36 EST0 --

I will agree that most of the time, any of us can "be noticed" if we
really want to be badly enough and have a sufficient causal link to the
environment of someone else. I just feel that it is more precise to say
that one can change the environment (or "disturbance variable"?) and not
the perception.

I agree with you completely. Well put.

Bill Powers (940221.0930 MST)--

Cliff Joslyn (940220) --

I think Rick Marken deserved your protest.

Thank you. And I think I EARNED it, too.

Martin Taylor (940221 15:30) --

(Rick: how about reading something on self-organizing systems before making
silly comments? Discussions are much more valuable when based on at least
minimal common understanding.)

Well, I haven't made any silly comments about self-organizing systems
per se YET (though I hope I have made some generally silly comments)
but I will start now. Coincidentally, after reading Martin's question
above I found myself at the UCLA library staring at the lead article
of the January 1974 issue of American Psychologist. It happened to be on
"Chaos, Self Organization and Psychology" (I forget the author -- I
didn't have time to write anything down). I skimmed the article
quickly but I think I got a pretty good idea of what this self -
organization stuff is about. First, the "organization" being referred to
is (as Cliff said in his definition of systems theory) the organization
of phenomena -- not the organization of system components in a model
that produces a phenomenon. So the "organization" is completely
in the eye of the beholder.Usually, "organization" is seen when a set
of variables ends up in one or more stable states. Chaotic attractors
are thus organizations of dynamics of variables. The "self" part of
"self organization" just means that the organization emerges from the
interaction between variables that are counted as part of the system. From
this point of view, a mass on a spring is the simplest example of a self-
organizing system. It's organized state is "at rest". If distrubed by an
outside force the system, on it's own (due to the properties of its own
mass and spring), returns to the organized (stable) state.

The article talked about "self-organization" in term of a chemical reaction
(the BZ reaction?) that exists in only two possible states depending on the
relative concentrations of the reactants. The chemical system (the
stuff in the flask) apparently organizes itself into one state or the
other (the reaction involves a "bifucation" -- pretty trendy word, eh?).

My main problem with self organization (as described in the article)
is that it is a phenomenon (the observed behaviors that are called "self
organization) that is being used as an explanation of other superficially
similar phenomena. Apparently, people already know how the
BZ or whatever phenomenon occurs. There is an explanation based on
understood physical and chemical laws. So that should be it. If the
phenomenon of self organization is your cup of tea than it seems that
physics is your model. But if control (purposive behavior) is what plucks
your magic twanger, then PCT is the model that explains it.