Ricky Ticky Testy

[From Rick Marken (931202.1130)]

Mary Powers (931202) --

I want to apologize to Martin for asking him to post his 11-26
message to WTP on the net as well. All it got him was Rick
hurling himself across cyberspace to sink his (Rick's) teeth in
his (Martin's) calf. (Rick - what's with this pit bull mode -
you've been pretty testy lately)

What were the parts of Martin's 11/26 post that I was not supposed
to sink my teeth into? Sorry, that post looked like a think, rare
Top Sirloin all the way.

Martin's post was in answer to a request of Bill's ("what the
hell is this structure of ideas we're up against?"). Martin
answered (with the caveat, Rick, of "I can tell you a little
about where I was once coming from, which might be near him.")

If this is where Martin was "once coming from", then why all the
defense of the "dynamicists"? Why the claim that there is purpose
in behavior only when there is a variable reference signal? Why
the claim that I was saying that a vortex is an example of
purposeful behavior? Why the claim that we have much to learn from
the "dynamicists"? It looked like an apologia for nonsense to me. If
it were really about "where they [dynamicists] are coming from"
it might have been helpful if Martin had mentioned WHY they are
"coming from there" (I think it's because they wouldn't recognize
the phenomenon of control if it tweeked them on the nose) and what's
WRONG with where they are coming from (I think what's wrong is that
they are proposing non-controlling models as models of control and/or
that they are claiming that a control phenomenon is NOT a control
phenomenon, without testing it).

I'm testy because I've seen this stuff over and over, from reviewers
and other "experts" on behavior. It seems like a way of saying "yes,
control theory seems very sensible and all, but it's not the be all and
end all and there are many other legitimate ways of explaining
behavior". It's an attempt to paint PCT as an "extremist" theory. It
is an attempt to say that rejection of incorrect models of control (like
those of the dynamicists) is extremism. I'm really getting tired of
listening to such cant. Especially since not one iota of evidence has
been presented that suggests that the control model of control is wrong.
None. Yet we have presented TONS of evidence that SR, cognitive, dynamicist,
information processing, etc etc models of control are wrong. It's REALLY
getting tiresome. I get testy when I'm tired.

For example, Martin Taylor (931201 10:30) says to Bill:

Sure. You are interested in phenomena that are best explained in
terms of control. They may not be.

This misses the point completely and, in the process, makes it seem like
PCTers are "extremists" who blindly reject plausible alternatives to the PCT
model of behavior. It is sheer cant to suggest that control is just a
way of explaining phenomena of interest. The fact is that CONTROL IS THE
PHENOMENON TO BE EXPLAINED. The dynamic models that "may be" the
alternative to PCT _are not_ alternatives because they don't control.
I gets very tiresome to be called an extremist for stating a simple fact
(that only a control model controls). Makes me testy.

The failure to recognize the fact that PCT is about the PHENOMENON OF
CONTROL (purposeful behavior) is at the heart of comments like Oded's
(931202) who says:

Rick's interpretation of "the dynamists" is, as usual,
a narrow interpretation of some people applying (perhaps wrongly)
advanced mathematical techniques to the analysis of human behavior.

What is "narrow" about my interpretation of "the dynamists" is precisely
that these people are applying advanced mathematics wrongly to human
behavior; and what is wrong is that the math is not relevant to the
phenomenon to be explained (control). As Bill P. (931201.1950 MST) said,
the "dynamicists get "theory [including the mathematics] correct;
application wrong". If this is narrow, then I am just a narrow guy
(but middle age is getting me a bit thicker, I'm afraid). I am narrow
in wanting to use a model because it accounts for the phenomenon of
interest (control) and not beause it is the current darling of some
high profile, trendy science Institute. Mea culpa. I certainly have
nothing against advanced math or differential equations. My beef is with
"dynamicists" who do precisely what Bill described in his post -- use
perfectly good mathematics in the wrong context. This disease (using
sophisicated tools on the wrong project) has reached epidemic
proportions; it is just another mutation of the trendy science virus.

Martin continues:

So they play without you, you
play without them. There should be no conflict, and no issue. It's
when the two systems make different predictions about what both think
ought to be the same thing that you can't play it without them, nor they
without you. One or other will find the confrontation with Boss Reality

Martin is making believe that the confrontation between PCT and the
"dynamicists" has not occurred. IT HAS. The dynamicists have lost every
confrontation (in every experiment in "Mind Readings, in "Models and
their worlds", in the Little Man, in various demos, etc etc). This kind
of cant, when it comes from reviewers, is the reason why the confrontation
between PCT and alternative models has not been allowed to occur in public
(save for this blessed net): the confrontational data doesn't get published
(thanks to those non-extremist, open-minded dynamicists) and, when it
does, it is ignored by people who are comfortably pursuing their own
research on models that "may be right". THAT'S why I'm testy. I bet
Tom Bourbon is JUST as testy about it as I am. But if he's not, I'm happy
to be testy alone. I guess I just a happy, testy, narrow guy.

In response to (Tom Bourbon 931201.0927) Martin Taylor (931201 15:30)

Incidentally, you, Rick, and Bill all have put me into some kind of
"dynamicist" camp, when all I have tried to do is to show that a dynamical
viewpoint need not be inconsistent with a control viewpoint.

Sure, PCT "need not" be inconsistent with a dynamical viewpoint -- heck,
PCT models are dynamical and we can even make plots of the variables
changing over time. But nobody ever had a problem with dynamics in PCT.
We like differential equations and variables changing over time. The
problematical "dynamicists" are those who propose NON-CONTROL models of
aspects of behavior that very likely involve control. THIS is what
the debate is about -- not about differential equations. Does Martin
really believe that PCT "need not" be inconsistent with non-control models
controlling? If so, we've got one BIG disagreement. If, however, all he
means is that PCT need not be inconsistent with the use of differential
equations --I sure have no problem with THAT.

I'm testy becuause I would like to see more people contribute to the
development of a science of purposeful systems. This won't happen if
(as you described it so well in your little grump, Mary) people keep
looking at PCT from the point of view of their current theory of behavior
instead of looking at their current theory of behavior from the point of
view of PCT. People are not going to get into PCT if they hang onto their old
theories. PCT shows that these old theories are wrong -- becuase they were
attempts to explain behavior as output, not as controlled consequences of
action. When a PCTer is called an "extremist" for saying that these
theories are wrong , that's as a pretty sure sign that the person yelling
"extremist" is not willing to give up their favorite old theory. Saying
"extremist" is a dodge; it's just a way of saying "I don't like what you're
saying about my pet idea". The grown up response would be to present evidence
(through modelling or data) that the "extremist" claim of the PCTer is
wrong. But no. All we get is whining, name calling ("extremism") and NO
HELP on our research. Tom and Bill showed that S-R and cognitive models
of behavior are wrong; they were called "extremists" but not one drop of
evidence was presented to counter their evidence. Must we keep listening
to claims that these theories "still may be right for what they are trying
to achieve". Sorry; it get's me testy.

PCTers do not make big claims. We don't have a model that explains EVERYTHING
in the universe. We only know one or two little things. We know that most
of what is called "behavior" is controlled results of action (and we know
how to show that this is the case); we know that what is controlled is
perceptual representations of whatever it is that is "out there". That's
about it. If these are the "extremist" views of PCT, then I am indeed an
extremist. And a testy one, at that.

I now return you to you nice, calm, sedate CSGNet discussion.