Seminar, Control, etc

[From Rick Marken (940725.1410)]


I will be off the net for a couple days so

Bill Leach (940721.19:47) --

I hope this is something pleasent such as vacation or some such thing.

It turned out to be very pleasant. I gave a 4 hour seminar on "Controlling
the Stress of Controlling" to a group of retired people in Prescott, Az. They
loved it (which means that I probably didn't communicate PCT clearly
enough;-)). Over 50 people attended. The seminar was offered as part of a
"Learing Institute" that is associated with the local community college. All
the classes offered by the Institute are taught on a volunteer basis; I did
my class because 1) my uncle is associated with the Institute and he asked
if I would do it and 2) I wanted to see how such a seminar would fly. It flew
extremely well -- at least with that audience. I learned quite a bit from
doing it. Most importantly, I learned that it is possible to present the
basics of PCT in a way that is accurate, interesting and useful.

Jeff Vancouver (940721) --

Study of control by Psychologists:

Campion, M. A., & Lord, R. G. (1982).
Kernan, M. C., & Lord, R. G. (1990).
Hollenbeck, J.R. (1989).

Thank you for these references. I will try to get hold of them but it will
take some time. Could you, perhaps, save me some trouble and just explain,
briefly, how these people deal with control? Even if they don't explicitly do
The Test, could you just describe the variables that people were controlling
in these studies, how well they were controlling them and stuff like that? I
would appreciate as much detail as possible. If they were controlling "self-
concept", for example, then I would like to know the environmental correlates
of that variable, how the researchers knew that that variable was under
control, the actions used to maintain control, the disturbances known to be
influencing the variable, etc. Thanks.

Can you give me the reference for your "long post on the nature of
control?" Most of your posts seem to fit this criteria :slight_smile:

The one I was thinking of was Rick Marken (940709.1045) titled "The Nature of
Conrol". But most of my posts are, indeed, about the nature of control so
it's a good idea to read them all;-)

By the way, I was reading your Degrees of Freedom paper. You cite neural
networks as promising for modeling perceptions. Have you changed your mind
or did I misunderstand something you said?

The hierarchical control model is a neural network and the perceptual
functions in that network must themselves be neural networks. My problem with
current attempts to model various aspects of behavior using "neural networks"
is simply that these networks are used as part of an S-R model of behavior.
There are all kinds of looping and feedback connections withing the networks
themselves -- but these networks ultimately becomes components of S-R or
output generation schemes for producing behavior. In PCT, behavior is the
control of the scalar outputs of perceptual functions. I believe that neural
networks are a promising approach to building these perceptual functions
(this will be especially true when neural netork modellers realize that the
output of a neural network can be a continuous variable and not just a 1
or a 0).

Craig Newton --

Hi Craig. Welcome to CSG-L.

The professor that suggested I read this book also offered the following


control theory is more philosophy than science....there is very little data
mapping occurring."

There is, indeed, very little "data mapping" occuring in PCT because there
are very few people doing PCT research (wanna join us?). But those who are
doing it are getting extremely accurate "maps" of model performance to actual
behavior. Conventional psychologists, on the other hand, are collecting tons
of data, virtually all of which rejects the very model that motivated the
collection of that data in the first place -- and yet they stick

Martin Taylor (940724 20:00) --

The claim is that all the information that allows the output to oppose the
disturbance is obtained through the perceptual input function that acts on
the fluctuations of the CEV induced by the disturbance.

And that claim has been shown to be flatly false; there is no "information
that allows the output to oppose the disturbance". If all you are saying is
that a system must have a perceptual representation of the variable to be
controlled in order to control that variable then, fine, that's true. But
that fact is implicit in the basic tenet of PCT -- behavior is the control of
perception; no perception, no control. When there is a perception, it doesn't
"inform" or tell the control system anything; on the contrary, it is

It should lead to many possible theorems and computations of what level of
control is possible under what conditions

Hope springs eternal;-)

Bill Leach (940725.01:52) --

I think that a possible difficulty in that discussion is that it is
theoretically possible to "see effects" of a disturbance in the
perceptual signal.


As a practical matter though such effects that we seen would be seen only
to the extent that the control system was failing to control.

As a practical matter, "we", as observers of a control system, can see the
effect of a disturbance on a control perception any time we like, whether
control is good or bad. But the control system that is controlling a
particular perception can never, under any circumstance, see the effect of a
disturbance to the controlled perception -- and know that it was the effect
of the disturbance. Even if it is failing to control, the control system
cannot tell what component of the (considerable, when there is poor control)
variance of the perceptual signal is an effect of disturbance(s) and what is
an effect it's own output (or lack thereof). We get fooled into thinking that
we can determine something about the disturbance because we, ourselves, are
not just one control system. When we control the distance between a moving
target and a cursor, for example, the system in us that is controlling this
distance cannot perceive the disturbance (the moving target); it just
perceives (and controls) the distance. But another control system (in you)
can see the target moving and it can perceive the disturbance (assuming
target movement is the only disturbance to the distance between target and
cursor) but the system controlling the distance doesn't perceive this

Tom and Bill --

Your posts on the "usefulness" of psychological testing and on the use of
statistics in general ("second-hand smoke") were absolutely wonderful. Thank



From Tom Bourbon [940726.1121]

[From Rick Marken (940725.1410)]

. . . I gave a 4 hour seminar on "Controlling
the Stress of Controlling" to a group of retired people in Prescott, Az. They
loved it (which means that I probably didn't communicate PCT clearly

Man, you must have _really_ botched it! :-))

Glad to hear it went well.

What were the things they liked the most? The least? Did you use any
demonstrations -- portable or otherwise? If so, which ones worked the best?
The worst? Inquiring minds want to know!