[Martin Taylor 2014.03.18.13.58]
I have frequently mentioned my impression that you don't read my
postings. This makes me believe that you never have. Nor, I suspect,
have you scanned my web site. Nelson’s telescope to his blind eye is
a Hubble Telescope by comparison to your mental acuity when it comes
to the work of Bruce and me.
Do you perhaps remember our first face-to-face meeting, at CSG-93?
Did I not even then do something rather different from trying “to
interpret the methodology used and results obtained in conventional
psychology experiments in terms of PCT.” You praised it at the time.
Have I not continued in that mode of extending and developing PCT?
No. of course, you wouldn’t know, since you read everything through
“red-flag” glasses that make everything seem like a defence of S-R
psychology. When I agree with Bill and oppose something you say, I
am defending S-R psychology. It must be rather depressing to CSGnet
lurkers to know that any PCT research that is not the TCV is S-R
Why would you think that?
Utter nonsense, and indefensible nonsense at that. What was done in
an experiment is what matters, not whether the experimenter believed
the results would be dictated by the Great Boojum in the Sky.
No it isn’t. PCT research is aimed at discovering how organisms
control the perceptions that they do control, at discovering why
they control those perceptions they do control, at discovering how
control systems can interact and how they do interact, how control
systems can mutually use each other to improve their control, etc.
etc. Basically, PCT research is (or should be) aimed at discovering
how organisms work, including physiology and psychology both.
Discovering what perceptual variables a particular organism is
controlling at a particular moment may be sometimes interesting, and
sometimes even necessary for a particular analysis, but it hardly
ever advances our understanding of how living things work.
“… which can occasionally involve testing for controlled
variables.” Or possibly “… which requires that one recognise that
behaviour is the outwardly visible manifestation of perceptual
Wrong again. You did originally accept that you were wrong, but then
incorrectly said that you weren’t, adducing as evidence two curves
that were different because they had different inputs while
pretending to claim that they had the same inputs. I don’t believe
you answered my question/comment: “Why you would ever have imagined
these two cases might give the same result is quite beyond me.” But
I guess you did imagine it, and still don’t see why you were wrong
to do so. Nor, apparently, does mathematical demonstration influence
your opinion. Apparently mathematics, like physics, changes when
something mathematically described is connected into a closed loop.
See above. And your claim that since, in “x/(1+x)” x appears in the
numerator and the denominator, therefore the fraction is independent
of x. I’m not going to go back through the archives picking out all
the examples. These will do for now. They are depressing enough.
At the moment, the principle that the behaviour of a component of a
control system is unaffected by whether or not it is actually
connected into a control loop. You seem to have convinced yourself
that physics itself changes when something is in a control loop, and
if you write a software routine to simulate the hardware, the
software you write behaves differently if the simulation simulates a
closed loop. Even in this very message to which I am responding, you
say you were not wrong about measuring the impossibility of
measuring the characteristics of the components of a loop.
Your view, expressed above and frequently in the past, is wrong that
ONLY running endless tests for controlled variables is valid “PCT
science”. Your view that “PCT science” exists in isolation from all
other science is also wrong. That’s enough for a start.
This conversation is a fruitless exercise. You operate open-loop, in
that no feedback ever influences your perception. You have a fixed
perception of the way the world is and of the way that it is
permissible to study the way it is. You are entitled to be a
religious fundamentalist, but that doesn’t entitle you to impose
your dogma on the rest of the CSGnet readership. I follow Bill
Powers, I hope with some understanding of what he was saying. I hope
some day the rest of the world will, do so. don’t need to perform
the ritual obeisances you demand in order to build on his insights,
and the rest of the world shouldn’t be put off by thinking that they
must do your rituals if they are to use or develop PCT.
I’ve said this before, but I never follow through. I will try to
follow through this time, but I may again fail: I will respond to
anyone on CSGnet who wants to learn from what I can offer, or who
can teach me what I need to know, but I will not respond to future
posts from Marken other than for the purpose of correcting technical
falsehoods, about PCT or about any other subject. I may try not to
read them, unless someone else quotes something to which I want to
Rick Marken is a very nice guy in person, I enjoy his company, and
he produces great demos, but for reasons I do not understand, that
sensible and responsible Rick Marken doesn’t post to CSGnet very
[From Rick Marken (2014.03.18.1015)]
Abbott (2014.03.17.1050 EDT)–
RM: I don't think Bruce and Martin, the main
defenders of the S-R approach to research, are
“impure”. I think they are simply wrong.
BA: When you
describe Martin and I as “defenders of the S-R
approach to research” the reader might get the
impression that we are promoting “S-R research” in
opposition to PCT. Of course we are doing nothing
of the kind.
RM: What are you doing then? I have never heard either
one of you guys doing anything other than try to interpret
the methodology used and results obtained in conventional
psychology experiments in terms of PCT.
Or trying to find a place for conventional S-R
research in the context of a PCT view of the world (it
seems to me that that was what the “uncontrolled
perceptions” thing was about, for example).
This is what I call defending the S-R approach to
research. You are defending, by couching it in PCT
terminology, an approach to research that was done in
ignorance of the fact that organisms are perceptual
control systems; an approach that, as per Powers’ Psych
Review paper, is either misleading (per the behavioral
illusion), ignores the existence of controlled variables
RM: PCT research is aimed at discovering the perceptual
variables that organisms control; the variables around
which their observed behavior is organized.
The goals and methods of this research differ
considerably from those of the S-R approach. So I would
imagine that if you really were interested in promoting
the PCT rather than the S-R approach to research you would
promote the PCT approach, which involves testing for
Interesting that you think that what we have been
doing “is impeding . . . the development of a
PCT-based science of life.”
RM: I think you are impeding it only in the sense that
you are both in a position to make a substantial
contribution to promoting the PCT approach. You are both
scientific psychologists – and there are precious few of
us involved in PCT – with some considerable cachet in the
field; you, Bruce, with your Research Methods textbook in
its Nth edition and Martin with many notable
accomplishments in the area perceptual psychology (I was
on the verge of using his PEST adaptive threshold
technique as part of my thesis research back in the early
1970s; I knew of Martin Taylor well before I knew of PCT).
And you are both obviously very smart and talented. If you
guys would actively explain and demonstrate the approach
to research described by Bill in the 1978 Psych Review
paper I think it would go a long way toward launching the
PCT revolution that Bill was hoping might start before he
passed away. So you are certainly not actively impeding
the development of a PCT; but I think you are passively
impeding it by devoting so much effort to defending the
I can’t speak for Martin, but for my part, I see
some of your efforts as
serving to impede the development of PCT, even
though I know that this is exactly the opposite of
your intention. When you present arguments or
assertions that are demonstrably untrue, you damage
the credibility of PCT in the eyes of those who know
RM: I'm sure I have made mistakes but I think I have
been willing to acknowledge and correct them – sometimes
too willing, as was the case recently with measuring
characteristics of I/O components in a loop.
But maybe you could give me examples of arguments or
assertions that I have made (and am still making) that are
I know that you have only the best intensions, Rick,
but raising objections and criticisms that are based
on a faulty understanding of certain principles does
nothing to help the PCT cause, and may hurt it.
RM: Please tell me what objections and criticisms I
have made that are based on faulty understanding of
certain principles. What are the principles that I have a
faulty understanding of?
We’re working toward the same objective, but
unfortunately we seem to have very different views
as to whether discussing such things whether one can
get valid data about input functions from “S-R”
experiments is helping or hindering the future of
RM: And apparently my view is wrong? I would be
interested in hearing what you think my view is and why
you think it’s wrong.