Say ya wanna revolution, II

[From Rick Marken (941115.1400)]

Bruce Abbott (941115.1530 EST) --

     Although I have "explained" the apparent motions of the planets through
     the heavens in Ptolemaic terms, I'm sure that a proper application of
     the Copernican model would do the same thing (i.e., explain the
     apparent motions of the planets).

Disciple of Copernicus (Rickus Markus):

     Let's try this again:

     1) Ptolemaic theory is NOT the same as Copernican theory.

     2) Ptolemaic theory is NOT about what Copernican theory is about --
           the motions of the planets about the sun.

     3) Ptolemaic theory is a completely and utterly incorrect
           explanation of the motions of the planets through the heavens.

[Unless I'm missing something here, the disciple's reply is a non sequitur.]

Yes. You are missing a very important point. The analogy

    reinforcement theory:control theory::Ptolemaic theory:Copernican theory

is a false analogy. This is because Ptolemaic theory and Copernican theory
were different models of the SAME phenomenon (planetary motion as seen by a
terrestrial observer); reinforcement theory and control theory are NOT
different models of the same phenomenon; they are different models of
DIFFERENT phenomena. Moreover, reinforcement theory is a model of a
phenomenon that does not occur (the control of organismic behavior by the
environment); control theory is a model of a phenomenon that DOES occur --
(control of the environment by organismic behavior).

You are trying to make believe that reinforcement theory IS a model of
control; you keep saying that reinforcement theory is an alternative
explanation of the purposeful (control) behavior seen in the E. coli demo.
What we keep showing is that reinforcement theory CANNOT explain the
purposeful behavior seen in the E. coli demo; it cannot account for the fact
that E. coli gets to and remains at a particular position despite
disturbances. In fact, the E. coli demo was invented to show that
reinforcement theory cannot explain purposeful behavior.

The control theory revolution makes the Copernican revolution look like a
walk in the park. At least everyone involved in the Copernican revolution
agreed about what was to be explained (planetary movement); this is not true
of the control theory revolution where our main problems have to do with the
fact that people don't always know what phenomenon we are trying to explain.
So, in the control theory revolution, we have people who are crazy about the
theory but think it's an explanation of something it is not about. I have a
feeling that the scientific revolution that will eventually be wrought in the
life sciences by control theory has no precedent: there is no paradigm for
this paradigm shift;-)