Slightly altered copy of Varieties of Manipulation


RE: Some comments on "Varieties of manipulation"

I have enjoyed and learned from the conversation between Bill,
Greg, Rick, Ed and several others on the topic of "control
and manipulation"; it will be useful for my paper: "The Myth
of Social Control" but I was somewhat startled by Greg's post
92090[8] in which he noted that he was concerned with several
types of "manipulation". I can see what he is concerned with
but I have seen these as types of "social transactions" and
have tried to reserve "manipulation " to action which is
designed "to manage or control (sic) artfully or by a shrewd
use of influence especially in an unfair and fradulent way"
(my dictionary's definition). What Greg proposes is that
what may be considered manipulation from A's perspective is
not so considered from B's perspective. This would be
possible if B's did not realize that A had done something
"unfair or fradulent" even though A intended to defraud B.
This can happen if B is unaware of the rules or laws, the
value of an object or service, believes that there is nothing
amiss (e.g., the people in Homestead, Florida all were told
that their houses were built to "code" to withstand a hurricane
but the winds of Andrew revealed that they were told an untruth
so until Andrew they believed the builder and inspector),
B is ignorant (e.g., adults deceive children [incest!!] and
the child doesn't become aware of it until later). I suppose
there could be instances where A would transact with B and not
realize that unfairness was involved but this may not fit
my specification of "manipulation". But, whatever type of
social transaction, I hope there is agreement that each person
involved CONTROLS his/her own conduct and what transpires between
A and B is NOT control.

I noticed today that Bill stated the issue of "control" and
"influence" this way in 1974 ("The Illusion of Control" in
LCS:II, pp. 55-66):

We must first distinguish between two sets of
terms that are ofter used interchangeably when
the speaker intends to say "control". Going
with the word "control" are terms like "regulate,
adjust, set, stablize, direct, guide". All
these terms apply directly to the behavior of a
negative feedback control system. Another set
of verbs is often used loosely when "control" is
intended: "affect, influence, change, alter,
impinge upon, stimulate, initiate, drive, cause,

The first set necessarily implies the second: to
"regulate," for example, one must necessarily
THE FIRST. We would agree we could INFLUENCE
the behavior of a watch with a hammer, but we
would not accept a hammer as a means of REGULATING
the watch. . . . When one REGULATES the flow
of water from a facet, he does indeed CHANGE the
the flow, but he does so relative to a PARTICULAR
flow that he has in mind. Regulation implies a
DIRECTED change, a change toward some predeter-
mined state. (59) [some emphases supplied]

The above relates to what I noted last Spring (not found in the
issue of CLOSED LOOP on "Social Control") that we ought to get
our terms specified as best we can in the beginning of our
conversations. PCT (or HPCT) has special (technical ?!?)
specifications for the terms: Hierarchy, Perception, Control
and Theory, i.e., for every major term of the formulation
we have a specification that varies dramatically from the
ordinary use of the term and markedly from every other

Much (but not all by any means) of the ambiguity in our
conversations with others (and apparently ourselves) is
that we falsely assume agreement on the specification of our
terms. Yes, words are ambiguious in their "meanings" but
with all of the other words that each of us has available
to use it seems that we might be able, for at least a
moment or two, to try to be more precise and specific in
what we say to each other. Set those reference levels
more precisely and narrow the gain thus increasing the
error and reducing our range of allowable words; let's
improve our control!

Best regards,