Social Variables and Collective Control

[Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

RM: I’d be interested in hearing what you think is an example of a social variable and how work in “collective control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

BN: Huh?

RM: Huh huh? Actually, I was replying to this:

BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play. Work on collective control showed how something like those notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example of how work on collective control gave notions like social variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations of collective control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the second part of your question.

RM: So "huh?"Â is an example of a social variable? It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.Â

BN: You did not respond to the word “Huh?” as an example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social variables and collective control. To correct that disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.Â

BN: If you had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the question about what a social variable is], you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally indicates not understanding what was just said,

RM: That is the way I took it and it’s why I re-framed my question.Â

Â

BN: or alternatively consternation that such a thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that “conventionally indicating” something is a function of collective control.

RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also think the term “collective control” describes many very different phenomena involving control by multiple individuals, So saying that something is explained by “collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was asking for an explanation of how “collective control” explains social variables.

BN: We’ve discussed the nature of social conventions a fair amount.

RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social variables without any need for postulating “collective control” to give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

BN: I confess that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our discussions of language and culture in terms of collective control?

RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I would call “conflictive control” that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was "The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions."Â

RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as social variables. And the basic idea is that these variables (like the pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.Â

BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

RM: I think Bill was “confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.Â

BN: Investigations of collective control showed how humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social variables’,

RM: It depends on what you mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of individual control systems, controlling for the same or similar social perceptions, can produce what would be called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.Â

BN: Here’s one of the posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to this discussion.

···

[From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041
MSST)]

Â

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

Â

BP: Just a couple of remarks for
now. You have said twice now that it would be

difficult to test for controlled
social variables:

Â

BN: >We want to identify, and
then disturb, and measure resistance to the

disturbance of, a >social
artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at

the very first step: the

hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

Â

BP: I can see that this would pose a
problem if the social artifact had any

independent existence of its own:
just where on the social CV would you

push to see if there is resistance?
If you try to push on the distance

between two Arabs, your hand will
encounter only thin air.

Â

BP: It is far easier to imagine
disturbing a variable that a person is

controlling, and this is how I would
proceed in investigating social

reference levels. I would say to my
Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

This, plus appropriate follow-up
interactions, would tell me whether my

friend perceived being Jewish as
requiring the avoidance of things like

bacon. By such means I could
determine, within reasonable bounds, not only

how my friend perceives Jewishness,
but what reference conditions he

maintains and what actions he finds
permissible to carry out, at least with

a friend, to defend those variables
against disturbances.

Â

BP: What I am describing is close
to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the

cited segment. It helps a great deal
to be able to perceive something like

what the other person perceives, in
order to propose specific Tests, but

I’m not convinced that total
immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

tried it.

Â

BP: If we put that aside, I think
that part of my thesis would be upheld by

Dorothy Lee’s experiences. I am, for
all practical purposes, as totally

immersed in my society as possible
for me, yet I don’t think I have ever

met any person who could be
considered representative of everyone else but

me. Furthermore, I am quite sure
that there is no such person. I have

formed some generalizations about
others in my society, but it has always

been quite clear to me that they did
not apply to everyone, and in fact the

older I get, the less general any of
my generalizations seem. If Dorothy

Lee immersed herself in a foriegn
society and came to know it as a native,

then she, too, would have formed
generalizations about the other people,

and they would have been no more
true about everyone in that society than

my generalizations about my own
society are. Well, they probably would have

been more true than mine from the
standpoint of being consistent and

systematic, but that would not make
them any less statistical in nature.

Generalizations, as understood in
the social sciences, by their very nature

are not true of everyone.

Â

BP: You haven’t yet budged me from
my position that social variables exist only

in individuals; I now add, … and
can be detected only through

interactions with individuals. I
will include linguistic phenomena in that

assertion. The way we find out about
cultures is through interacting with

individuals and then forming
generalizations – which are, of course,

perceptions in ourselves of the same
type as the social perceptions we

investigate. Generalizations which
refer to all individuals in a culture

are prima facie false.
Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

as a population are, if correctly
drawn, true but not necessarily

applicable to any individual in that
culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

5.173 inches tall"). Those that
are true of individuals are true only of

specific individuals – the subset
of those tested who behaved exactly

according to hypothesis. And as I’m
sure you will agree, that subset is

never as large as the set of
individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

half as large as the tested set (for
example, it could be a a little over a

third of the population if three
alternatives were tested).

Â

Best,

Â

Bill P.


BestÂ

Rick


Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.02.16.59]

···

Strikes me that this interchange points
to a larger point that has many possible ramifications. Rick and
Bruce perceive different things in the same environmental pattern
“Huh”. Rick states that he does not have a perceptual function
capable of perceiving a collectively controlled social variable
(or any collectively controlled variable?) whereas Bruce states
that he does (as do I). In other threads, over time, we have
discussed the ways in which perceptions may (or may not)
correspond to “Real Reality”.

  Some Perceptual functions may be specified genetically, but the

vast majority are constructed by reorganization, and
reorganization is expedited by failure to control perceived
variables because such failure to control means that the
side-effects of control actions do not have consistent effects on
intrinsic variables. Rick’s reorganization in the context of
learning from Bill Powers, and acting in the social and physical
world more generally has not led him to perceive the relationships
among the effects of controlling by many people that would
constitute a perceptual function capable of detecting collective
control, especially of language. Indeed, when he is controlling
for following Bill’s understanding of PCT, to claim to perceive
collective control of a social variable would be likely to reduce
his quality of control in quite a few other controlled variables.

  Bruce has different experience history, and has not encountered

failure of control because he can perceive socially controlled
variable where Rick cannot. Indeed, I suspect that Bruce’s control
of other variables is enhanced by his ability to perceive
linguistic socially controlled variables, partly because of his
experience in studying both dialects and languages very different
from English. What may be perceived by Rick as all the same thing
might be perceived by Bruce as unrelated things.

  Does this difference mean one is right and the other wrong? The

best answer to that might be the Scottish verdict “Not Proven”,
which is quite distinct from “Not guilty”, which also is available
to a Scottish jury.

  For what it's worth, I seem to perceive the same things as Bruce

describes in this thread, and I perceive myriads of collectively
controlled social variables, from moral and ethical principles to
the usage of “they” to refer to an individual person of
unspecified gender, and the effect of a 'Stop" sign on the road,
which differs appreciably between, say, north and south Italy. (In
the north, it means that a car should stop before proceeding
through the intersection, whereas in the south, as it has been
described to me, it means “make sure nobody else wants that piece
of road, and stop if they do and they have the right of way” – a
collectively controlled social variable in my view; A German
friend added what he said was the German meaning: “carefully stop,
and then proceed if you have the right of way, because if someone
else hits you, they are in the wrong, and if you hit someone else
it’s OK because you were in the right”.).

  As it stands, I don't think this argument can be resolved on the

truth of whether collectively controlled social variables “really”
exist. Maybe it could be resolved by how useful the ability to
perceive them is in controlling other perceptions. For most
people, I suspect the answer would be “Who cares?” because whether
they exist or not has no influence on the perceptions they want to
control. But if they support control of other perceptions for you,
then for you they exist. If failing to perceive them supports
perceptions that would be disturbed by their existence, then they
probably don’t exist for you.

  Martin
        [Rick Marken

2019-09-02_13:52:58]

                    In response to Bruce

Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

                                RM: I'd be interested in

hearing what you think is an example
of a social variable and how work in
“collective control” shows that it
can have a strong theoretical basis
in PCT.

                          BN:

Huh?

          RM: Huh huh?  Actually, I was replying to

this:

                                BN: That is not the

ghost of which I wrote. The dispute
was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps
around 1992, to notions like social
variables or shared perceptions, I’m
sure I don’t remember the precise
words that were in play. Work on
collective control showed how
something like those notions can
have a sound theoretical basis in
PCT.

                    RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an

example of how work on collective control gave
notions like social variables or shared
perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

                BN: Yes, I

understood your question, and I was being
responsive. Your question had two parts. You first
asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and
then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations
of collective control give such variables a strong
theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first
part of your question with an example. After you
recognize that, we can continue with the second part
of your question.

          RM: So "huh?"Â  is an

example of a social variable? It might be the state of a
social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me,
let alone a social variable.Â

              BN: You did

not respond to the word “Huh?” as an example of
a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

          RM: Well, only you would

know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a
conversation about social variables and collective
control. To correct that disturbance I responded by
suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my
question, in order to get an answer that didn’t seem like
a non-sequiter.Â

              BN: If you

had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the
question about what a social variable is], you might
have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation
(indicated by the question mark) conventionally
indicates not understanding what was just said,

          RM: That is the way I took

it and it’s why I re-framed my question.Â

Â

              BN: or

alternatively consternation that such a thing might be
said, and you might have acknowledged that
“conventionally indicating” something is a function of
collective control.

          RM: Yes, I might have done

all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social
variables are. I also think the term “collective control”
describes many very different phenomena involving control
by multiple individuals, So saying that something is
explained by “collective control” says virtually nothing
to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained.
Which is why I was asking for an explanation of howÂ
“collective control” explains social variables.

              BN: We've

discussed the nature of social conventions a fair
amount.

          RM: Indeed we have and I

have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to
you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social
variables without any need for postulating “collective
control” to give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s
copied at the end of htis.

              BN: I confess

that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You
seriously do not remember any of our discussions of
language and culture in terms of collective control?

          RM: I do remember the cool

little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the
data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other
discussions of what I would call “conflictive control”
that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any
everyday social phenomenon.

          BN: The context, as you generously reminded

us, was " The dispute …
over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions
like social variables or shared perceptions."Â

          RM: Someone else must have

reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute.
But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in
reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control
of what I think of as social variables. And the basic
idea is that these variables (like the
pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model)
“exist only in individuals”.Â

          BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he

would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It
looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult
to talk about language and culture within PCT.

          RM: I think Bill was

“confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was
certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism.Â
Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.Â

          BN: Investigations of collective control

showed how humans in social groups create and maintainÂ
such ‘social variables’,

          RM: It depends on what you

mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo
and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of
individual control systems, controlling for the same or
similar social perceptions, can produce what would be
called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s
collective conflict models, which can result in a
virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what
social data that model actually accounts for. And that
“conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the
collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not
being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to
live with sustained error for very long.Â

          BN: Here's one of the

posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to
this discussion.


            [From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041

MSST)]

Â

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

Â

            BP: Just a couple of remarks for

now. You have said twice now that it would be

            difficult to test for controlled

social variables:

Â

            BN: >We want to identify, and

then disturb, and measure resistance to the

            disturbance of, a >social

artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at

            the very first step: the

hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

Â

            BP: I can see that this would pose a

problem if the social artifact had any

            independent existence of its own:

just where on the social CV would you

            push to see if there is resistance?

If you try to push on the distance

            between two Arabs, your hand will

encounter only thin air.

Â

            BP: It is far easier to imagine

disturbing a variable that a person is

            controlling, and this is how I would

proceed in investigating social

            reference levels. I would say to my

Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

            This, plus appropriate follow-up

interactions, would tell me whether my

            friend perceived being Jewish as

requiring the avoidance of things like

            bacon. By such means I could

determine, within reasonable bounds, not only

            how my friend perceives Jewishness,

but what reference conditions he

            maintains and what actions he finds

permissible to carry out, at least with

            a friend, to defend those variables

against disturbances.

Â

            BP: What I am describing is close

to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the

            cited segment. It helps a great deal

to be able to perceive something like

            what the other person perceives, in

order to propose specific Tests, but

            I'm not convinced that total

immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

tried it.

Â

            BP: If we put that aside, I think

that part of my thesis would be upheld by

            Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am, for

all practical purposes, as totally

            immersed in my society as possible

for me, yet I don’t think I have ever

            met any person who could be

considered representative of everyone else but

            me. Furthermore, I am quite sure

that there is no such person. I have

            formed some generalizations about

others in my society, but it has always

            been quite clear to me that they did

not apply to everyone, and in fact the

            older I get, the less general any of

my generalizations seem. If Dorothy

            Lee immersed herself in a foriegn

society and came to know it as a native,

            then she, too, would have formed

generalizations about the other people,

            and they would have been no more

true about everyone in that society than

            my generalizations about my own

society are. Well, they probably would have

            been more true than mine from the

standpoint of being consistent and

            systematic, but that would not make

them any less statistical in nature.

            Generalizations, as understood in

the social sciences, by their very nature

are not true of everyone.

Â

            BP: You haven't yet budged me from

my position that social variables exist only

            in individuals; I now add, ... and

can be detected only through

            interactions with individuals. I

will include linguistic phenomena in that

            assertion. The way we find out about

cultures is through interacting with

            individuals and then forming

generalizations – which are, of course,

            perceptions in ourselves of the same

type as the social perceptions we

            investigate. Generalizations which

refer to all individuals in a culture

            are _prima facie_ false.

Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

            as a population are, if correctly

drawn, true but not necessarily

            applicable to any individual in that

culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

            5.173 inches tall"). Those that

are true of individuals are true only of

            _specific_ individuals -- the subset

of those tested who behaved exactly

            according to hypothesis. And as I'm

sure you will agree, that subset is

            never as large as the set of

individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

            half as large as the tested set (for

example, it could be a a little over a

            third of the population if three

alternatives were tested).

Â

Best,

Â

Bill P.


BestÂ

Rick

Richard S. MarkenÂ

                                "Perfection

is achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but when you

                                have nothing left to take away.�

                                Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â 

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_15:17:53]

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.02.16.59]

  MT:.. Rick states that he does not have a perceptual function

capable of perceiving a collectively controlled social variable
(or any collectively controlled variable?) whereas Bruce states
that he does (as do I).

RM: Actually, I perceive many things that I would call “collectively controlled variables”: A couch lifted by two friends (the collectively controlled variable being the location of the couch), a barn raised by a village of Amish (the controlled variable being the state of completion of the barn). That is, collectively controlled variables are variables that are brought to reference states by the actions of several control systems. I would also call these examples of “collective control”. But there are other examples of collective control where there is no collectively controlled variables involved. The patterns produced by the CROWD demo are one example; the V pattern made by locking birds is another. These patterns are not collectively controlled variables because they cannot be perceived by the birds so they can’t be controlled. They are side-effects of each individual controlling its own perceptions.

RM: So for me, there are many different things that could be called “collective control” and they would all seem to require a different explanation using the PCT Model.  So when Bruce N. says that work in “collective control” shows that “social variables” now have a strong theoretical basis in PCT, I don’t really know what he’s talking about. What I wanted was an example of a social variable and an explanation of how work in collective control now explains it. I guess “Huh?” was said to be a social variable by, as I noted, it doesn’t seem like one to me because it doesn’t seem like a variable; it seems like the state of a variable, a variable that might be called “Things you say in reply to a question posted on the net”. If so, then “Huh?” was the reference state of that variable for Bruce in reply to my post. But I don’t see any “collective control” involved in the production of “Huh”. My guess is that Bruce produced it all by himself in response to what I said; but maybe he got some help from someone else.

RM: Anyway, you guys seem to have a lot invested in this “collective control” stuff so whatever I say will just be a disturbance to be countered. So I’ll just watch from now on.Â

BestÂ

Rick.Â

···
  In other threads, over time, we have

discussed the ways in which perceptions may (or may not)
correspond to “Real Reality”.

  Some Perceptual functions may be specified genetically, but the

vast majority are constructed by reorganization, and
reorganization is expedited by failure to control perceived
variables because such failure to control means that the
side-effects of control actions do not have consistent effects on
intrinsic variables. Rick’s reorganization in the context of
learning from Bill Powers, and acting in the social and physical
world more generally has not led him to perceive the relationships
among the effects of controlling by many people that would
constitute a perceptual function capable of detecting collective
control, especially of language. Indeed, when he is controlling
for following Bill’s understanding of PCT, to claim to perceive
collective control of a social variable would be likely to reduce
his quality of control in quite a few other controlled variables.

  Bruce has different experience history, and has not encountered

failure of control because he can perceive socially controlled
variable where Rick cannot. Indeed, I suspect that Bruce’s control
of other variables is enhanced by his ability to perceive
linguistic socially controlled variables, partly because of his
experience in studying both dialects and languages very different
from English. What may be perceived by Rick as all the same thing
might be perceived by Bruce as unrelated things.

  Does this difference mean one is right and the other wrong? The

best answer to that might be the Scottish verdict “Not Proven”,
which is quite distinct from “Not guilty”, which also is available
to a Scottish jury.

  For what it's worth, I seem to perceive the same things as Bruce

describes in this thread, and I perceive myriads of collectively
controlled social variables, from moral and ethical principles to
the usage of “they” to refer to an individual person of
unspecified gender, and the effect of a 'Stop" sign on the road,
which differs appreciably between, say, north and south Italy. (In
the north, it means that a car should stop before proceeding
through the intersection, whereas in the south, as it has been
described to me, it means “make sure nobody else wants that piece
of road, and stop if they do and they have the right of way” – a
collectively controlled social variable in my view; A German
friend added what he said was the German meaning: “carefully stop,
and then proceed if you have the right of way, because if someone
else hits you, they are in the wrong, and if you hit someone else
it’s OK because you were in the right”.).

  As it stands, I don't think this argument can be resolved on the

truth of whether collectively controlled social variables “really”
exist. Maybe it could be resolved by how useful the ability to
perceive them is in controlling other perceptions. For most
people, I suspect the answer would be “Who cares?” because whether
they exist or not has no influence on the perceptions they want to
control. But if they support control of other perceptions for you,
then for you they exist. If failing to perceive them supports
perceptions that would be disturbed by their existence, then they
probably don’t exist for you.

  Martin
        [Rick Marken

2019-09-02_13:52:58]

                    In response to Bruce

Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

                                RM: I'd be interested in

hearing what you think is an example
of a social variable and how work in
“collective control” shows that it
can have a strong theoretical basis
in PCT.

                          BN:

Huh?

          RM: Huh huh?  Actually, I was replying to

this:

                                BN: That is not the

ghost of which I wrote. The dispute
was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps
around 1992, to notions like social
variables or shared perceptions, I’m
sure I don’t remember the precise
words that were in play. Work on
collective control showed how
something like those notions can
have a sound theoretical basis in
PCT.

                    RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an

example of how work on collective control gave
notions like social variables or shared
perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

                BN: Yes, I

understood your question, and I was being
responsive. Your question had two parts. You first
asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and
then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations
of collective control give such variables a strong
theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first
part of your question with an example. After you
recognize that, we can continue with the second part
of your question.

          RM: So "huh?"Â  is an

example of a social variable? It might be the state of a
social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me,
let alone a social variable.Â

              BN: You did

not respond to the word “Huh?” as an example of
a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

          RM: Well, only you would

know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a
conversation about social variables and collective
control. To correct that disturbance I responded by
suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my
question, in order to get an answer that didn’t seem like
a non-sequiter.Â

              BN: If you

had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the
question about what a social variable is], you might
have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation
(indicated by the question mark) conventionally
indicates not understanding what was just said,

          RM: That is the way I took

it and it’s why I re-framed my question.Â

Â

              BN: or

alternatively consternation that such a thing might be
said, and you might have acknowledged that
“conventionally indicating” something is a function of
collective control.

          RM: Yes, I might have done

all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social
variables are. I also think the term “collective control”
describes many very different phenomena involving control
by multiple individuals, So saying that something is
explained by “collective control” says virtually nothing
to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained.
Which is why I was asking for an explanation of howÂ
“collective control” explains social variables.

              BN: We've

discussed the nature of social conventions a fair
amount.

          RM: Indeed we have and I

have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to
you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social
variables without any need for postulating “collective
control” to give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s
copied at the end of htis.

              BN: I confess

that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You
seriously do not remember any of our discussions of
language and culture in terms of collective control?

          RM: I do remember the cool

little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the
data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other
discussions of what I would call “conflictive control”
that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any
everyday social phenomenon.

          BN: The context, as you generously reminded

us, was " The dispute …
over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions
like social variables or shared perceptions."Â

          RM: Someone else must have

reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute.
But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in
reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control
of what I think of as social variables. And the basic
idea is that these variables (like the
pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model)
“exist only in individuals”.Â

          BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he

would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It
looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult
to talk about language and culture within PCT.

          RM: I think Bill was

“confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was
certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism.Â
Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.Â

          BN: Investigations of collective control

showed how humans in social groups create and maintainÂ
such ‘social variables’,

          RM: It depends on what you

mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo
and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of
individual control systems, controlling for the same or
similar social perceptions, can produce what would be
called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s
collective conflict models, which can result in a
virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what
social data that model actually accounts for. And that
“conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the
collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not
being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to
live with sustained error for very long.Â

          BN: Here's one of the

posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to
this discussion.


            [From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041

MSST)]

Â

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

Â

            BP: Just a couple of remarks for

now. You have said twice now that it would be

            difficult to test for controlled

social variables:

Â

            BN: >We want to identify, and

then disturb, and measure resistance to the

            disturbance of, a >social

artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at

            the very first step: the

hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

Â

            BP: I can see that this would pose a

problem if the social artifact had any

            independent existence of its own:

just where on the social CV would you

            push to see if there is resistance?

If you try to push on the distance

            between two Arabs, your hand will

encounter only thin air.

Â

            BP: It is far easier to imagine

disturbing a variable that a person is

            controlling, and this is how I would

proceed in investigating social

            reference levels. I would say to my

Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

            This, plus appropriate follow-up

interactions, would tell me whether my

            friend perceived being Jewish as

requiring the avoidance of things like

            bacon. By such means I could

determine, within reasonable bounds, not only

            how my friend perceives Jewishness,

but what reference conditions he

            maintains and what actions he finds

permissible to carry out, at least with

            a friend, to defend those variables

against disturbances.

Â

            BP: What I am describing is close

to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the

            cited segment. It helps a great deal

to be able to perceive something like

            what the other person perceives, in

order to propose specific Tests, but

            I'm not convinced that total

immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

tried it.

Â

            BP: If we put that aside, I think

that part of my thesis would be upheld by

            Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am, for

all practical purposes, as totally

            immersed in my society as possible

for me, yet I don’t think I have ever

            met any person who could be

considered representative of everyone else but

            me. Furthermore, I am quite sure

that there is no such person. I have

            formed some generalizations about

others in my society, but it has always

            been quite clear to me that they did

not apply to everyone, and in fact the

            older I get, the less general any of

my generalizations seem. If Dorothy

            Lee immersed herself in a foriegn

society and came to know it as a native,

            then she, too, would have formed

generalizations about the other people,

            and they would have been no more

true about everyone in that society than

            my generalizations about my own

society are. Well, they probably would have

            been more true than mine from the

standpoint of being consistent and

            systematic, but that would not make

them any less statistical in nature.

            Generalizations, as understood in

the social sciences, by their very nature

are not true of everyone.

Â

            BP: You haven't yet budged me from

my position that social variables exist only

            in individuals; I now add, ... and

can be detected only through

            interactions with individuals. I

will include linguistic phenomena in that

            assertion. The way we find out about

cultures is through interacting with

            individuals and then forming

generalizations – which are, of course,

            perceptions in ourselves of the same

type as the social perceptions we

            investigate. Generalizations which

refer to all individuals in a culture

            are _prima facie_ false.

Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

            as a population are, if correctly

drawn, true but not necessarily

            applicable to any individual in that

culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

            5.173 inches tall"). Those that

are true of individuals are true only of

            _specific_ individuals -- the subset

of those tested who behaved exactly

            according to hypothesis. And as I'm

sure you will agree, that subset is

            never as large as the set of

individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

            half as large as the tested set (for

example, it could be a a little over a

            third of the population if three

alternatives were tested).

Â

Best,

Â

Bill P.


BestÂ

Rick

Richard S. MarkenÂ

                                "Perfection

is achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but when you

                                have nothing left to take away.�

                                Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â 

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

[From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

RM: …Â I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social
data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.Â

KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that “real social agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any length of time”? What evidence do you have for this assertion?

KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris HartmanÂ

vs. Richard Marken. And the
real social agents involved keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the sustained errors they experience.Â

RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don’t.

Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are more likely to express dislike for it than those who are winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than Israelis who areÂ

unhappy about that conflict. And I don’t particularly like living in a society with people (those who voted for Trump in particular) whose values are so different than mine. Not do I

like the fact that I am in continual conflict with virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only agreed with me butÂ

also understood why they did! It would be like my relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

Â

KM: You might object that these are social phenomena, although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals caughtÂ

in inner conflicts. Coping
with long-term inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The clients may not like the lack of control, but these conflicts do not magicallyÂ

resolve themselves  just because it’s unpleasant for the person.Â

RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client (conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does not) like not being in control. In your model, every individual who isÂ

participating in the “virtual reference state” of the commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control systems are not in control when there is persistent (and relatively large)Â

error. I agree that there is no magical solution to these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe that’s true even ifÂ

the conflict results in the variable in conflict is being maintained in a virtual reference state.Â

Â

KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are actually sayingÂ

and whether you have
any evidence for the assertions you’re making.Â

RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the same;-)

KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here …

RM: No problem. Â

BestÂ

Rick

···

My best,

Kent

On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

RM: I’d be interested in hearing what you think is an example of a social variable and how work in “collective control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

BN: Huh?

RM: Huh huh? Actually, I was replying to this:

BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play. Work on collective
control showed how something like those notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example of how work on collective control gave notions like social variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations
of collective control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the second part of your question.

RM: So "huh?"Â is an example of a social variable? It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.Â

BN: You did not respond to the word “Huh?” as an
example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social variables and collective control. To correct that disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought
might be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.Â

BN: If you had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the question about what a social variable is], you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the question
mark) conventionally indicates not understanding what was just said,

RM: That is the way I took it and it’s why I re-framed my question.Â

Â

BN: or alternatively consternation that such a thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that “conventionally indicating” something is a function of collective control.

RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also think the term “collective control” describes many very different phenomena involving control by multiple
individuals, So saying that something is explained by “collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was asking for an explanation of how “collective control” explains social variables.

BN: We’ve discussed the nature of social conventions a fair amount.

RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social variables without any need for postulating “collective control” to
give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

BN: I confess that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our discussions of language and culture in terms of collective control?

RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I would call “conflictive control” that
seemed to have no obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was "The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions."Â

RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control of
what I think of as social variables. And the basic idea is that these variables (like the pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.Â

BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

RM: I think Bill was “confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.Â

BN: Investigations of collective control showed how humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social variables’,

RM: It depends on what you mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of individual control systems, controlling for the same or similar
social perceptions, can produce what would be called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that
“conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.Â

BN: Here’s one of the posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to this discussion.


[From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

Â

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

Â

BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said twice now that it would be

difficult to test for controlled social variables:

Â

BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and measure resistance to the

disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at

the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

Â

BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the social artifact had any

independent existence of its own: just where on the social CV would you

push to see if there is resistance? If you try to push on the distance

between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only thin air.

Â

BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a variable that a person is

controlling, and this is how I would proceed in investigating social

reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions, would tell me whether my

friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the avoidance of things like

bacon. By such means I could determine, within reasonable bounds, not only

how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what reference conditions he

maintains and what actions he finds permissible to carry out, at least with

a friend, to defend those variables against disturbances.

Â

BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the

cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to perceive something like

what the other person perceives, in order to propose specific Tests, but

I’m not convinced that total immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

tried it.

Â

BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my thesis would be upheld by

Dorothy Lee’s experiences. I am, for all practical purposes, as totally

immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I don’t think I have ever

met any person who could be considered representative of everyone else but

me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no such person. I have

formed some generalizations about others in my society, but it has always

been quite clear to me that they did not apply to everyone, and in fact the

older I get, the less general any of my generalizations seem. If Dorothy

Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came to know it as a native,

then she, too, would have formed generalizations about the other people,

and they would have been no more true about everyone in that society than

my generalizations about my own society are. Well, they probably would have

been more true than mine from the standpoint of being consistent and

systematic, but that would not make them any less statistical in nature.

Generalizations, as understood in the social sciences, by their very nature

are not true of everyone.

Â

BP: You haven’t yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only

in individuals; I now add, … and can be detected only through

interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that

assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with

individuals and then forming generalizations – which are, of course,

perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we

investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture

are prima facie false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily

applicable to any individual in that culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

5.173 inches tall"). Those that are true of individuals are true only of

specific individuals – the subset of those tested who behaved exactly

according to hypothesis. And as I’m sure you will agree, that subset is

never as large as the set of individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

half as large as the tested set (for example, it could be a a little over a

third of the population if three alternatives were tested).

Â

Best,

Â

Bill P.


BestÂ

Rick

Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

have nothing left to take away.�

                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.05.12.25]

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_15:17:53]

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.02.16.59]

            MT:..

Rick states that he does not have a perceptual function
capable of perceiving a collectively controlled social
variable (or any collectively controlled variable?)
whereas Bruce states that he does (as do I).

        RM: Actually, I perceive many things that I would call

“collectively controlled variables”: A couch lifted by two
friends (the collectively controlled variable being the
location of the couch), a barn raised by a village of Amish
(the controlled variable being the state of completion of
the barn). That is, collectively controlled variables are
variables that are brought to reference states by the
actions of several control systems. I would also call these
examples of “collective control”. But there are other
examples of collective control where there is no
collectively controlled variables involved. The patterns
produced by the CROWD demo are one example; the V pattern
made by locking birds is another. These patterns are not
collectively controlled variables because they cannot be
perceived by the birds so they can’t be controlled. They are
side-effects of each individual controlling its own
perceptions.

So far, I think we are i complete agreement. There is a real

difference between the side-effects of collective control and the
control done by what Kent abd I have, for the last few years, called
a “Giant Virtual Controller” (GVC). For the benefit of other
readers, here is what I think we agree on. In Kent’s CSG-93 demo,
the GVC controls a variable that is being controlled by two
independent controllers but to two different reference values. In
that very special situation, the GVC controls a perception of the
same environmental variable. The GVC has a reference value that is a
weighted average of the two independent reference values weighted by
the individual loop gains, and a loop gain that is the sum of the
two independent loop gains.

Kent's demo used an unresolvable conflict situation, but that's not

necessary. The same GVC structure applies when the current value of
the environmental variable is not in the region that would be
perceived as being between the two reference values as in the case
of the couch-movers. The individual controllers are collaborating,
and I have called this situation “Collaborative Collective Control”
as distinct from “Conflictive Collective Control”. Conflictive
Collective Control may arise in this situation when the couch whose
location was being collaboratively controlled arrives near the
virtual reference location, and one says “A bit left” and the other
says “No, a bit right”. They may arrive at what I call the
“Professor Higgins” resolution when “rather than do either, we do
something that neither wants at all”. Both perceptions remain in
error, but probably within their overlapping tolerance zones,
meaning “It’s not exactly what I want, but it’s close enough to
allow me not to be in conflict about it with my friend”.

        RM: So for me, there are many different things that could

be called “collective control” and they would all seem to
require a different explanation using the PCT Model.

Indeed. I have privately identified 6 major types, all of which

deserve the title “Collective Control”. The two mentioned above are
both subtypes of Simple Collective Control, in which all the
controllers influence the same environmental property. The taxonomy
becomes more complex when more controllers are involved, just as PCT
itself becomes more complex when we talk about a hierarchy of
controllers rather than just one. In both cases, it’s a question of
dimensionality. The more dimensions are involved, the trickier it is
to see how the functions interact.

Just as one example of a different type of Collective Control,

imagine some people who all want a post to be set in the ground
vertically. None of them can do it alone. Rather than simply milling
around with the post lying on the ground, one of them suggests “Why
don’t you three try to lift the top while the rest of us try to hold
the bottom where it should be”. So they achieve a more or less
vertical post. But it is not set in the ground. Someone else says
"Joe, why don’t you get a spirit level and let us know whether it is
tilting north or south, and Ann, if you could find another, you
might check if it is leaning east or west while someone pounds it
in. Sam says “I’ll pound, if nobody objects”. Eventually they all
agree that the pole is set closely enough to vertical to satisfy
them.

I call that "Informally led Collective Planning Control" (though I

use a shorter term in my taxonomy). The contrast is between that and
“Formally led Planning Control” in which the groups had a member who
they all treat as leader by controlling for setting reference values
equal to the leader’s apparent wishes. In the example, the leader
wanted the pole to be set vertical, but the group members did not
necessarily perceive that a vertically set pole would be the end
result of their work with spirit levels and mallet. Only the
pre-specified leader would have had that perception, but the various
collectively controlled perceptions of the spirit-level readings and
mallet dynamics remove the error in the leader’s perception.

Neither of those is the kind of collective control of which Bruce

speaks, which is something like a vastly expanded network of
interacting effects of the kind in my “Informally Led Collective
Planning Control” without any leaders. I will expand on what I mean
by this at the end of this message.

  So
when Bruce N. says that work in “collective control” shows
that “social variables” now have a strong theoretical
basis in PCT, I don’t really know what he’s talking about.

No. That was the point of my message. You don't perceive what he

does. I’m sure I don’t either, not exactly, since nobody can be sure
they perceive the world in that same way as anyone else, but I think
I’m close enough that what he said made sense to me.

          What I wanted was an example of a social variable and an

explanation of how work in collective control now explains
it. I guess “Huh?” was said to be a social variable by, as
I noted, it doesn’t seem like one to me because it doesn’t
seem like a variable; it seems like the state of a
variable, a variable that might be called " Things
you say in reply to a question posted on the net".

That's what I mean. I read "Huh" not only as a "T        hing you say in reply to a question posted on

the net", which it was, but also as an example of a socially
controlled variable, a meaning that could in other circumstances
be represented by “Que?” or in a more prolix form by “Here’s an
example of a sequence of letters that in English has the
socially controlled meaning “* I’m not clear about what you
said”* or something like that”. Another society has
collectively controlled “Que?” to have the same meaning. The
form of the sequence of letters is the socially controlled
variable.

          If

so, then “Huh?” was the reference state of that variable
for Bruce in reply to my post. But I don’t see any
“collective control” involved in the production of “Huh”.

Nor do I. The collective control is somewhere well above that,

resulting in “Huh” becoming the reference value for the sequence of
letters Bruce produced. Just like any other language production,
including this message.

Random actions of the group might, over millions of years, result in

the emergence of a vertically set pole, but the hypothesized group
already had skills that fit together to produce that result in the
imaginations of one or two of the group. Similarly with language.
The interlocking network of possible meanings that is a language is
not learned all at once by a newborn baby. What it can achieve by
language (e.g. crying and looking what Mama perceives as “unhappy”)
includes getting fed or having a pin removed. The meaning is in the
action that results in reduction of error in a perception baby
controls. Just as in the development of the muscular control
hierarchy reorganization builds level upon level over time, so does
what might be called a “language control” part of the hierarchy,
building complexity that achieves different kind of meaning in the
baby’s environment, whether it be acoustically or if the baby’s
relations are deaf, by gesture. The people in the environment
control the growing child’s reference values for the meanings to be
achieved by particular complexes of sounds, gesture, or later,
written symbols. If the child makes a sound sequence, perhaps
consisting of words already available, and the adult says “What do
you mean” or “Do you mean …” they are controlling the form of the
child’ reference values for getting what it wants from adults. Those
thousand or millions of reference values correspond to means of
controlling for perceiving different actions when adults (or
playmates) are disturbed by emitting those sequences.

That's why Bruce could perceive his "Huh" as a socially controlled

variable. For him to say “Nonsense” or “Railway Car” would not have
served his purpose – as, in this instance, neither did “Huh”.

          My guess is that Bruce produced it all by himself in

response to what I said; but maybe he got some help from
someone else.

        RM: Anyway, you guys seem to have a lot invested in this

“collective control” stuff so whatever I say will just be a
disturbance to be countered. So I’ll just watch from now on.

There's no necessary reason for that to be true. Like you, we simply

control for others to perceive what “correct PCT” might actually
imply. You might enquire about collective control, which will indeed
imply that if I (we?) control a perception of you being able to see
collective control where it functionally applies, that perception
doesn’t match its reference value of “Rick perceives what I (we?)
do”. But then, since the current state of that variable is
definitely far from its reference value, enquiry might actually
serve to reduce the error, whereas assertion probably serves to
increase it.

Martin
···

BestÂ

Rick.Â

            In

other threads, over time, we have discussed the ways in
which perceptions may (or may not) correspond to “Real
Reality”.

            Some Perceptual functions may be specified genetically,

but the vast majority are constructed by reorganization,
and reorganization is expedited by failure to control
perceived variables because such failure to control
means that the side-effects of control actions do not
have consistent effects on intrinsic variables. Rick’s
reorganization in the context of learning from Bill
Powers, and acting in the social and physical world more
generally has not led him to perceive the relationships
among the effects of controlling by many people that
would constitute a perceptual function capable of
detecting collective control, especially of language.
Indeed, when he is controlling for following Bill’s
understanding of PCT, to claim to perceive collective
control of a social variable would be likely to reduce
his quality of control in quite a few other controlled
variables.

            Bruce has different experience history, and has not

encountered failure of control because he can perceive
socially controlled variable where Rick cannot. Indeed,
I suspect that Bruce’s control of other variables is
enhanced by his ability to perceive linguistic socially
controlled variables, partly because of his experience
in studying both dialects and languages very different
from English. What may be perceived by Rick as all the
same thing might be perceived by Bruce as unrelated
things.

            Does this difference mean one is right and the other

wrong? The best answer to that might be the Scottish
verdict “Not Proven”, which is quite distinct from “Not
guilty”, which also is available to a Scottish jury.

            For what it's worth, I seem to perceive the same things

as Bruce describes in this thread, and I perceive
myriads of collectively controlled social variables,
from moral and ethical principles to the usage of “they”
to refer to an individual person of unspecified gender,
and the effect of a 'Stop" sign on the road, which
differs appreciably between, say, north and south Italy.
(In the north, it means that a car should stop before
proceeding through the intersection, whereas in the
south, as it has been described to me, it means “make
sure nobody else wants that piece of road, and stop if
they do and they have the right of way” – a
collectively controlled social variable in my view; A
German friend added what he said was the German meaning:
“carefully stop, and then proceed if you have the right
of way, because if someone else hits you, they are in
the wrong, and if you hit someone else it’s OK because
you were in the right”.).

            As it stands, I don't think this argument can be

resolved on the truth of whether collectively controlled
social variables “really” exist. Maybe it could be
resolved by how useful the ability to perceive them is
in controlling other perceptions. For most people, I
suspect the answer would be “Who cares?” because whether
they exist or not has no influence on the perceptions
they want to control. But if they support control of
other perceptions for you, then for you they exist. If
failing to perceive them supports perceptions that would
be disturbed by their existence, then they probably
don’t exist for you.

            Martin
                  [Rick

Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

                              In

response to Bruce Nevin
(20190830.16:30 ET)

                                          RM: I'd be

interested in hearing what
you think is an example of
a social variable and how
work in “collective
control” shows that it can
have a strong theoretical
basis in PCT.

                                    BN:

Huh?

                    RM: Huh huh?  Actually,

I was replying to this:

                                          BN: That is not the

ghost of which I wrote.
The dispute was over
Bill’s resistance, perhaps
around 1992, to notions
like social variables or
shared perceptions, I’m
sure I don’t remember the
precise words that were in
play. Work on collective
control showed how
something like those
notions can have a sound
theoretical basis in PCT.

                              RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to

see an example of how work on
collective control gave notions like
social variables or shared perceptions
a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

                          BN: Yes, I

understood your question, and I was being
responsive. Your question had two parts.
You first asked for an example of a
‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d
like to hear how investigations of
collective control give such variables a
strong theoretical basis in PCT. I replied
to the first part of your question with an
example. After you recognize that, we can
continue with the second part of your
question.

                    RM: So "huh?"Â 

is an example of a social variable? It might be
the state of a social variable but it doesn’t
seem like a variable to me, let alone a social
variable.Â

                        BN: You did

not respond to the word “Huh?” as an * example* of a collectively controlled (‘social’)
variable.

                    RM: Well, only

you would know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a
disturbance to a conversation about social
variables and collective control. To correct
that disturbance I responded by suggesting what
I thought might be a better way to ask my
question, in order to get an answer that didn’t
seem like a non-sequiter.Â

                        BN: If you

had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response
to the question about what a social variable
is], you might have commented that the word
“Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the
question mark) conventionally indicates not
understanding what was just said,

                    RM: That is the

way I took it and it’s why I re-framed my
question.Â

Â

                        BN: or

alternatively consternation that such a
thing might be said, and you might have
acknowledged that “conventionally
indicating” something is a function of
collective control.

                    RM: Yes, I might

have done all that but I was asking you (not
myself) what social variables are. I also think
the term “collective control” describes many
very different phenomena involving control by
multiple individuals, So saying that something
is explained by “collective control” says
virtually nothing to me about how a particular
phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was
asking for an explanation of how “collective
control” explains social variables.

                        BN: We've

discussed the nature of social conventions a
fair amount.

                    RM: Indeed we

have and I have copied part of a post from Bill
Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT
explanation of the control of social variables
without any need for postulating “collective
control” to give them a “strong theoretical
basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

                        BN: I

confess that the ‘consternation’ meaning is
also relevant. You seriously do not remember
any of our discussions of language and
culture in terms of collective control?

                    RM: I do

remember the cool little simulations I did that
were aimed at explaining the data you presented
on pronunciation drift. And some other
discussions of what I would call “conflictive
control” that seemed to have no obvious
relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

                    BN: The context, as you

generously reminded us, was " The dispute …
over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992,
to notions like social variables or shared
perceptions."Â

                    RM: Someone else

must have reminded us of that; I have no memory
of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did
find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you,
that presents his (and my) take on control of
what I think of as social variables. And the
basic idea is that these variables (like the
pronunciation variables in my
pronunciation drift model) “exist only in
individuals”.Â

                    BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was,

he said he would want to see the input and
output functions, etc. It looked like this
resistance was going to make it difficult to
talk about language and culture within PCT.

                    RM: I think Bill

was “confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to
science; he was certainly not confirmed (or
confined) to materialism. Check out any of
Bill’s papers on consciousness.Â

                    BN: Investigations of

collective control showed how humans in social
groups create and maintain such ‘social
variables’,

                    RM: It depends

on what you mean by “collective control”. I
think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation
drift” model show how collections of individual
control systems, controlling for the same or
similar social perceptions, can produce what
would be called social phenomena. I have also
seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which
can result in a virtually controlled variable,
though I haven’t seen what social data that
model actually accounts for. And that
“conflictive control” model also has all the
actors in the collective conflict experiencing
error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t
think real social agents like to live with
sustained error for very long.Â

                    BN: Here's one

of the posts from Bill that I found that I think
is relevant to this discussion.


                      [From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041

MSST)]

Â

                      Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14

EST)–

Â

                      BP: Just a couple of remarks for

now. You have said twice now that it would be

                      difficult to test for controlled

social variables:

Â

                      BN: >We want to identify, and

then disturb, and measure resistance to the

                      disturbance of, a >social

artifact, but we are arrested in our progress
at

                      the very first step: the

hypothesis that posits the controlled
variable.

Â

                      BP: I can see that this would pose

a problem if the social artifact had any

                      independent existence of its own:

just where on the social CV would you

                      push to see if there is

resistance? If you try to push on the distance

                      between two Arabs, your hand will

encounter only thin air.

Â

                      BP: It is far easier to imagine

disturbing a variable that a person is

                      controlling, and this is how I

would proceed in investigating social

                      reference levels. I would say to

my Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

                      This, plus appropriate follow-up

interactions, would tell me whether my

                      friend perceived being Jewish as

requiring the avoidance of things like

                      bacon. By such means I could

determine, within reasonable bounds, not only

                      how my friend perceives

Jewishness, but what reference conditions he

                      maintains and what actions he

finds permissible to carry out, at least with

                      a friend, to defend those

variables against disturbances.

Â

                      BP: What I am describing is close

to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the

                      cited segment. It helps a great

deal to be able to perceive something like

                      what the other person perceives,

in order to propose specific Tests, but

                      I'm not convinced that total

immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

tried it.

Â

                      BP: If we put that aside, I think

that part of my thesis would be upheld by

                      Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am,

for all practical purposes, as totally

                      immersed in my society as possible

for me, yet I don’t think I have ever

                      met any person who could be

considered representative of everyone else but

                      me. Furthermore, I am quite sure

that there is no such person. I have

                      formed some generalizations about

others in my society, but it has always

                      been quite clear to me that they

did not apply to everyone, and in fact the

                      older I get, the less general any

of my generalizations seem. If Dorothy

                      Lee immersed herself in a foriegn

society and came to know it as a native,

                      then she, too, would have formed

generalizations about the other people,

                      and they would have been no more

true about everyone in that society than

                      my generalizations about my own

society are. Well, they probably would have

                      been more true than mine from the

standpoint of being consistent and

                      systematic, but that would not

make them any less statistical in nature.

                      Generalizations, as understood in

the social sciences, by their very nature

are not true of everyone.

Â

                      BP: You haven't yet budged me from

my position that social variables exist only

                      in individuals; I now add, ... and

can be detected only through

                      interactions with individuals. I

will include linguistic phenomena in that

                      assertion. The way we find out

about cultures is through interacting with

                      individuals and then forming

generalizations – which are, of course,

                      perceptions in ourselves of the

same type as the social perceptions we

                      investigate. Generalizations which

refer to all individuals in a culture

                      are _prima facie_ false.

Generalizations which refer to a culture
treated

                      as a population are, if correctly

drawn, true but not necessarily

                      applicable to any individual in

that culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

                      5.173 inches tall"). Those that

are true of individuals are true only of

                      _specific_ individuals -- the

subset of those tested who behaved exactly

                      according to hypothesis. And as

I’m sure you will agree, that subset is

                      never as large as the set of

individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

                      half as large as the tested set

(for example, it could be a a little over a

                      third of the population if three

alternatives were tested).

Â

Best,

Â

Bill P.


BestÂ

Rick

                                        Richard

S. MarkenÂ

                                          "Perfection is

achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but
when you

                                          have nothing left to take

away.�

                                          Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â 

   --Antoine de
Saint-Exupery


Richard S. MarkenÂ

                                "Perfection

is achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but when you
have
nothing left to take away.�
   Â
            --Antoine de
Saint-Exupery

[Rick Marken 2019-09-07_13:56:01]

[Kent McClelland 2019.09.06.1150]

KM: I bristled when you said that “real social agents like to live with sustained error for very longâ€?,

RM: I think you meant to say that you bristled because I said social agents don’t like to live with sustained error, because that’s what I said.

KM: because the way I read it, you were dismissing my model of conflictive control as not applying much to real life,

RM: I think your model of conflictive control is, indeed, relevant to many real life situations. My main problems with it are 1) you have never tested the model’s ability to account for actual conflict data and 2) you have said that the model accounts for “social stability” but, again, you have never presented the results of a test of your model’s ability to account for some phenomenon that you claim to be an example of social stability. So it’s impossible for me to evaluate your claims about the merits of your model. That’s why I can’t really use your work as an example of PCT research on social phenomena.Â

KM: You speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to produce evidence for my theory of collective control. From my perspective, the evidence is in plain sight. It’s contained in the “generalizationsâ€? that Bill Powers talked about in the passage you quoted in your response to Bruce’s post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

    BP: You haven’t yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only

    in individuals; I now add, … and can be detected only through

    interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that

    assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with

    individuals and then forming generalizations – which are, of course,

    perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we

    investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture

    are prima facie false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

    as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily

    applicable to any individual in that culture …

KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these sociological generalizations are not true of every individual in the populations studied, but the overall patterns are “social factsâ€? in the sense that the patterns can be verified by repeated examinations by independent observers. The patterns represent the data that sociological theories must be able to explain. How is it that these broad patterns have come to exist, continue over time, and tend to change relatively slowly? These generalizations are precisely the evidence for which theories of society and culture must account.

RM: I guess my idea of what constitutes evidence for the correctness of a theory is just different than yours. For me that evidence is the fit of theory to data. An example of this kind of evidence is Tom Bourbon’s work on two-person interaction. My control model to account for Labov’s data on phonemic drift is another. The nice thing about testing models against data is that it forces the researcher to identify the correspondences between features of the phenomenon to be explained and those of the model that is doing the explaining. If you did this with you model on “collective control” it would be clear, for example, what feature of a specific example of “social stability” corresponds to the “virtual reference state” in your model of “collective control”.

Â

KM: I disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social variables exist only in individuals … and can be detected only through interactions with individuals.â€? His view of society as consisting merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other is, in my opinion, a drastically oversimplified and inadequate account of how society works and how these broad generalization come to be. What Bill’s simplistic conception of society leaves out are the many kinds of humanly constructed physical and organizational infrastructure that help keep social patterns in place.

RM: I don’t think it leaves it out at all. All that infrastructure results from individuals acting to control their own perceptions, and sometimes these actions are a disturbance to variables controlled by other individuals. But if you really don’t like the idea that society “consists merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other” then why did you develop a model of “social stability” (or “collective control”) that does precisely that.Â

KM: (In Bill’s defense, let me say that I think his views on the social applications of PCT evolved somewhat over the last 20 years of his life, away from the extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He certainly never gave me any static about my published articles on collective control, all of which postdate the quotation above. My most recent article on the topic was one he generously praised.)

RM: Maybe Bill liked it was because your model was a good demonstration of how a social variable – the virtual reference state of a variable in conflict --Â can emerge from the actions of a group of “atomized individuals” controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other.Â

KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s theory clearer by finally doing something I promised to do for you many months ago, which was to give you an example of how "technologies for making familiar objects and accomplishing common tasksâ€? can be understood as products of collective control.

RM: Nothing you say here is something that can’t be explained as the result of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions. Of course, among the perceptions each individual must be controlling is a perception of being cooperative and perceiving the benefits for such cooperation. Controlling for cooperation is necessary for the kind of specialization you describe. Each person – woodworker, toolmaker, lumberjack – has agreed to specialize in doing part of what is required to build a table, instead of each controlling for producing the whole table themselves. They are giving up control (of producing the table) to get better control (being able buy the table and many other things that they couldn’t have gotten if they had had to spend all their time doing what is needed to build a table --cutting the lumber, forging the tools, putting it all together, etc). I have not been able to see anything in your conflict model of “collective control” that could explain how this happens.Â

Â

KM: I’ve offered the theory of collective control to account for phenomena like these. I argue (in my chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of PCT) that the existence and maintenance of these kinds of social and cultural arrangements can be understood as products of vast networks of collective control, which involve giant virtual controllers that are composed of individual people controlling their own perceptions at many different perceptual levels, but often perceptions that are similar to those controlled by the others also involved.

RM:Â I’d find your arguments more convincing if you could should me how your collective control model could do something like the woodworking you describe.Â

KM: The people participating in this collective control enterprise do not all control the same perceptions, certainly not at the same time, but they control different perceptions in the service of a common objective, which is to make woodworking happen.

RM: Righto. But that’s not what your collective control model does, is it? You model has different individuals controlling the SAME perception relative to different reference specifications.Â

Â

KM: I regard it as collective control

RM: I do too! What I don’t call “collective control” is what your model does, because none of the individuals involved in the conflict is in control. “Collective conflict” would be a more accurate description of what your model does. And, as you say, this kind of conflict is certainly pervasive in social interactions. But it seems to me that it is only interesting as something to be eliminated as much as possible. It doesn’t seem like a good basis for having a stable society.

Â

KM: So that’s my theory to account for this social phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on to apply them in a different way than he did. If you don’t like my theory, what’s yours?

RM:Â It’s that these social phenomena result from atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions, and that the main perceptions controlled are the one’s Bill called “system concepts”, such as the concept of a society.Â

KM: Very possibly, you don’t find the question of how these kinds of sociocultural formations are created and maintained very interesting.

 RM: Actually I find them terribly interesting.Â

KM: Perhaps the only thing that counts for you as evidence is something that can be reduced to simple computer models and investigated in the laboratory.

RM: Certainly not the only thing. But a very important thing!Â

Â

KM: The question of how the technology of woodworking works obviously has a far greater scope, one that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab setting.

RM: I actually have worked on economic models in an effort to account for aggregate socioeconomic data, such as data on how goods (like tables) and services (like building stuff) are collectively controlled in an economy. Indeed. I noted that an economy can be viewed as “control writ large”.Â

KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique of work on broader topics than individual behavior, it would make sense, from my point of view, for you to do your homework first by reading carefully and thinking about what Bruce or Martin or I or others who have applied PCT to these areas have written about these topics. One of your favorite arguments, I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not contained within the narrow confines of your own understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an example ofâ€? whatever it is that someone else has put forward as a possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps this isn’t fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to actually do any thinking at all about the topic but are just favoring us with your offhand observations. If we’re to have exchanges in this forum about topics where you may be a little out of your depth, it would please me if you took a little more scholarly approach to it, with some respect for what other people are saying and awareness of the possible limitations of your own point of view.

RM: When I’ve asked for an example of something when discussing your work I believe it has been for an example of a social variable that is an example of a variable being maintained in a virtual reference state, as per your collective conflict model. I can think of one – the position of the flag in a tug of war. Another might be the geopolitical boundaries of Israel-Palestine. But there’s not many that I encounter in my everyday life, such as the table in your woodworking example or the orchestra I’m listening to now. Neither the table nor the orchestra seem like they are the virtual reference states of variables that are being controlled relative to different reference states.Â

RM: But, as Ricky Nelson said, you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself!

BestÂ

Rick

···

My best,

Kent

On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

[From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

RM: … I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that “real social agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any length of time”? What evidence do you have for this assertion?

KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman

vs. Richard Marken. And the real social agents involved keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the sustained errors they experience.

RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don’t.

Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are more likely to express dislike for it than those who are winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than Israelis who are

unhappy about that conflict. And I don’t particularly like living in a society with people (those who voted for Trump in particular) whose values are so different than mine. Not do I

like the fact that I am in continual conflict with virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only agreed with me but

also understood why they did! It would be like my relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

Â

KM: You might object that these are social phenomena, although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals caught

in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The clients may not like the lack of control, but these conflicts do not magically

resolve themselves just because it’s unpleasant for the person.

RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client (conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does not) like not being in control. In your model, every individual who is

participating in the “virtual reference state” of the commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control systems are not in control when there is persistent (and relatively large)

error. I agree that there is no magical solution to these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe that’s true even if

the conflict results in the variable in conflict is being maintained in a virtual reference state.

Â

KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are actually saying

and whether you have any evidence for the assertions you’re making.

RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the same;-)

KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here …

RM: No problem.Â

Best

Rick

My best,

Kent

On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

RM: I’d be interested in hearing what you think is an example of a social variable and how work in “collective control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

BN: Huh?

RM: Huh huh? Actually, I was replying to this:

BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play. Work on collective control showed how something like those notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example of how work on collective control gave notions like social variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations of collective control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the second part of your question.

RM: So "huh?"Â is an example of a social variable? It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.

BN: You did not respond to the word “Huh?” as an example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social variables and collective control. To correct that disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.

BN: If you had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the question about what a social variable is], you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally indicates not understanding what was just said,

RM: That is the way I took it and it’s why I re-framed my question.

Â

BN: or alternatively consternation that such a thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that “conventionally indicating” something is a function of collective control.

RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also think the term “collective control” describes many very different phenomena involving control by multiple individuals, So saying that something is explained by “collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was asking for an explanation of how “collective control” explains social variables.

BN: We’ve discussed the nature of social conventions a fair amount.

RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social variables without any need for postulating “collective control” to give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

BN: I confess that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our discussions of language and culture in terms of collective control?

RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I would call “conflictive control” that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was “The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions.”

RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as social variables. And the basic idea is that these variables (like the pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.

BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

RM: I think Bill was “confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.

BN: Investigations of collective control showed how humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social variables’,

RM: It depends on what you mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of individual control systems, controlling for the same or similar social perceptions, can produce what would be called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

BN: Here’s one of the posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to this discussion.


[From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

Â

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

Â

BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said twice now that it would be

difficult to test for controlled social variables:

Â

BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and measure resistance to the

disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at

the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

Â

BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the social artifact had any

independent existence of its own: just where on the social CV would you

push to see if there is resistance? If you try to push on the distance

between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only thin air.

Â

BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a variable that a person is

controlling, and this is how I would proceed in investigating social

reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions, would tell me whether my

friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the avoidance of things like

bacon. By such means I could determine, within reasonable bounds, not only

how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what reference conditions he

maintains and what actions he finds permissible to carry out, at least with

a friend, to defend those variables against disturbances.

Â

BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the

cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to perceive something like

what the other person perceives, in order to propose specific Tests, but

I’m not convinced that total immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

tried it.

Â

BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my thesis would be upheld by

Dorothy Lee’s experiences. I am, for all practical purposes, as totally

immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I don’t think I have ever

met any person who could be considered representative of everyone else but

me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no such person. I have

formed some generalizations about others in my society, but it has always

been quite clear to me that they did not apply to everyone, and in fact the

older I get, the less general any of my generalizations seem. If Dorothy

Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came to know it as a native,

then she, too, would have formed generalizations about the other people,

and they would have been no more true about everyone in that society than

my generalizations about my own society are. Well, they probably would have

been more true than mine from the standpoint of being consistent and

systematic, but that would not make them any less statistical in nature.

Generalizations, as understood in the social sciences, by their very nature

are not true of everyone.

Â

BP: You haven’t yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only

in individuals; I now add, … and can be detected only through

interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that

assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with

individuals and then forming generalizations – which are, of course,

perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we

investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture

are prima facie false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily

applicable to any individual in that culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

5.173 inches tall"). Those that are true of individuals are true only of

specific individuals – the subset of those tested who behaved exactly

according to hypothesis. And as I’m sure you will agree, that subset is

never as large as the set of individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

half as large as the tested set (for example, it could be a a little over a

third of the population if three alternatives were tested).

Â

Best,

Â

Bill P.


Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

have nothing left to take away.�

                 --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

have nothing left to take away.�

                 --Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.07.17.25]

[Rick Marken 2019-09-07_13:56:01]

Kent's message on which Rick comments somehow never made it into my

mailbox, so I have to go by the bits Rick quotes to determine what
Kent wrote. Most of Rick’s comments seem to argue that Kent does not
believe that Giant Virtual Controllers (GVCs) result from the
control actions of individual controllers. That has not been my
impression over several years of dealing with Kent on different
kinds of Collective Control. All Giant Virtual Controllers exist
only because individuals control the perceptions they do. That does
not at all imply that the GVCs control any of the variables
controlled by the individuals who are members of a GVC. Often they
do, but that’s not a logical necessity. What IS a logical necessity
is that the variables controlled by GVCs lie in the same descriptive
space (hyperspace for the more mathematically inclined) as the
totality of the control systems that contribute to the GVC.

Conflictive Collective Control is not the only form of collective

control. Here the names of are five more: Collaborative Collective
Control, Coordinated Collective Control, Guided Collective Control,
Giant Real Collective Control, and Hierarchic Collective Control.

It is important not to confuse collective control with the

side-effects of collective control, such as climate change and
monetary inflation (I will discuss the latter in Manchester). It is
also important to recognize that not all Collective Control is based
on conflict, though Giant Virtual Controllers can engage in
conflict, just as individual controllers can – as for example in a
Presidential Election, which in the USA consists primarily of a GVC
called “Democrats” conflicting with a GVC called “Republicans”. All
of the people who are members of either GVC – those controlling for
perceiving themselves to vote one of two possible ways – control
myriads of other perceptions, but the result is two Collaborative
GVCs in conflict. The GVCs themselves are unlikely to exist because
of conflict among their members, and the Collective conflict is not
based on conflict between any pairs of individual controllers.

Collective control is no more simple than is individual control or

any of the other kinds of interactions among individual control
loops. You don’t dismiss hierarchic control because a control loop
controls only one perceptual variable, and likewise you should not
dismiss Collective Control because it gives rise to phenomena not
accounted for by effects in a single control loop.

Martin
···
        [Kent McClelland

2019.09.06.1150]

        KM: I bristled when you

said that “real social agents like to live with sustained
error for very long�,

        RM: I think you meant to say that you bristled because I

said social agents don’t like to live with sustained
error, because that’s what I said.

        KM: because the way I

read it, you were dismissing my model of conflictive control
as not applying much to real life,

        RM: I think your model of conflictive control is, indeed,

relevant to many real life situations. My main problems with
it are 1) you have never tested the model’s ability to
account for actual conflict data and 2) you have said that
the model accounts for “social stability” but, again, you
have never presented the results of a test of your model’s
ability to account for some phenomenon that you claim to be
an example of social stability. So it’s impossible for me to
evaluate your claims about the merits of your model. That’s
why I can’t really use your work as an example of PCT
research on social phenomena.Â

        KM: You speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to

produce evidence for my theory of collective control. From
my perspective, the evidence is in plain sight. It’s
contained in the “generalizations� that Bill Powers talked
about in the passage you quoted in your response to Bruce’s
post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

        Â  Â  Â  Â  BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that

social variables exist only

        Â  Â  Â  Â  in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected

only through

        Â  Â  Â  Â  interactions with individuals. I will include

linguistic phenomena in that

        Â  Â  Â  Â  assertion. The way we find out about cultures is

through interacting with

        Â  Â  Â  Â  individuals and then forming generalizations --

which are, of course,

        Â  Â  Â  Â  perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the

social perceptions we

        Â  Â  Â  Â  investigate. Generalizations which refer to all

individuals in a culture

        Â  Â  Â  Â  are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which refer

to a culture treated

        Â  Â  Â  Â  as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but

not necessarily

        Â  Â  Â  Â  applicable to any individual in that culture …




        KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these sociological

generalizations are not true of every individual in the
populations studied, but the overall patterns are “social
facts� in the sense that the patterns can be verified by
repeated examinations by independent observers. The patterns
represent the data that sociological theories must be able
to explain. How is it that these broad patterns have come to
exist, continue over time, and tend to change relatively
slowly? These generalizations are precisely the evidence for
which theories of society and culture must account.

        RM: I guess my idea of what constitutes evidence for the

correctness of a theory is just different than yours. For me
that evidence is the fit of theory to data. An example of
this kind of evidence is Tom Bourbon’s work on two-person
interaction. My control model to account for Labov’s data on
phonemic drift is another. The nice thing about testing
models against data is that it forces the researcher to
identify the correspondences between features of the
phenomenon to be explained and those of the model that is
doing the explaining. If you did this with you model on
“collective control” it would be clear, for example, what
feature of a specific example of “social stability”
corresponds to the “virtual reference state” in your model
of “collective control”.

Â

        KM: I disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social

variables exist only in individuals … and can be detected
only through interactions with individuals.� His view of
society as consisting merely of atomized individuals
controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances
for each other is, in my opinion, a drastically
oversimplified and inadequate account of how society works
and how these broad generalization come to be. What Bill’s
simplistic conception of society leaves out are the many
kinds of humanly constructed physical and organizational
infrastructure that help keep social patterns in place.

        RM: I don't think it leaves it out at all. All that

infrastructure results from individuals acting to control
their own perceptions, and sometimes these actions are a
disturbance to variables controlled by other individuals.
But if you really don’t like the idea that society “consists
merely of atomized individuals controlling their own
perceptions and creating disturbances for each other” then
why did you develop a model of “social stability” (or
“collective control”) that does precisely that.Â

        KM: (In Bill’s defense,

let me say that I think his views on the social applications
of PCT evolved somewhat over the last 20 years of his life,
away from the extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He
certainly never gave me any static about my published
articles on collective control, all of which postdate the
quotation above. My most recent article on the topic was one
he generously praised.)

        RM: Maybe Bill liked it was because your model was a good

demonstration of how a social variable – the virtual
reference state of a variable in conflict --Â can emerge
from the actions of a group of “atomized individuals”
controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances
for each other.Â

        KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s theory

clearer by finally doing something I promised to do for you
many months ago, which was to give you an example of how
"technologies for making familiar objects and accomplishing
common tasks� can be understood as products of collective
control.

        RM: Nothing you say here is something that can't be

explained as the result of atomized individuals controlling
their own perceptions. Of course, among the perceptions each
individual must be controlling is a perception of being cooperative
and perceiving the benefits for such cooperation.
Controlling for cooperation is necessary for the kind of
specialization you describe. Each person – woodworker,
toolmaker, lumberjack – has agreed to specialize in doing
part of what is required to build a table, instead of each
controlling for producing the whole table themselves. They
are giving up control (of producing the table) to get better
control (being able buy the table and many other things that
they couldn’t have gotten if they had had to spend all their
time doing what is needed to build a table --cutting the
lumber, forging the tools, putting it all together, etc). I
have not been able to see anything in your conflict model of
“collective control” that could explain how this happens.Â

Â

        KM: I’ve offered the

theory of collective control to account for phenomena like
these. I argue (in my chapter for the forthcoming Handbook
of PCT) that the existence and maintenance of these kinds of
social and cultural arrangements can be understood as
products of vast networks of collective control, which
involve giant virtual controllers that are composed of
individual people controlling their own perceptions at many
different perceptual levels, but often perceptions that are
similar to those controlled by the others also involved.

        RM:Â  I'd find your arguments more convincing if you could

should me how your collective control model could do
something like the woodworking you describe.Â

        KM: The people participating in this collective control

enterprise do not all control the same perceptions,
certainly not at the same time, but they control different
perceptions in the service of a common objective, which is
to make woodworking happen.

        RM: Righto. But that's not what your collective control

model does, is it? You model has different individuals
controlling the SAME perception relative to different
reference specifications.Â

Â

        KM: I regard it as

collective control

        RM: I do too! What I don't call "collective control" is

what your model does, because none of the individuals
involved in the conflict is in control. “Collective
conflict” would be a more accurate description of what your
model does. And, as you say, this kind of conflict is
certainly pervasive in social interactions. But it seems to
me that it is only interesting as something to be eliminated
as much as possible. It doesn’t seem like a good basis for
having a stable society.

Â

        KM: So that’s my theory to account for this social

phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes
the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on to apply
them in a different way than he did. If you don’t like my
theory, what’s yours?

        RM:Â  It's that these social phenomena result from

atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions, and
that the main perceptions controlled are the one’s Bill
called “system concepts”, such as the concept of a society.Â

        KM: Very possibly, you

don’t find the question of how these kinds of sociocultural
formations are created and maintained very interesting.

 RM: Actually I find them terribly interesting.Â

        KM: Perhaps the only

thing that counts for you as evidence is something that can
be reduced to simple computer models and investigated in the
laboratory.

        RM: Certainly not the only thing. But a very important

thing!Â

Â

        KM: The question of how

the technology of woodworking works obviously has a far
greater scope, one that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab
setting.

        RM: I actually have worked on economic models in an

effort to account for aggregate socioeconomic data, such as
data on how goods (like tables) and services (like building
stuff) are collectively controlled in an economy. Indeed. I
noted that an economy can be viewed as “control writ
large”.Â

        KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique of work on

broader topics than individual behavior, it would make
sense, from my point of view, for you to do your homework
first by reading carefully and thinking about what Bruce or
Martin or I or others who have applied PCT to these areas
have written about these topics. One of your favorite
arguments, I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not
contained within the narrow confines of your own
understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an example of�
whatever it is that someone else has put forward as a
possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps this isn’t
fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to actually do any
thinking at all about the topic but are just favoring us
with your offhand observations. If we’re to have exchanges
in this forum about topics where you may be a little out of
your depth, it would please me if you took a little more
scholarly approach to it, with some respect for what other
people are saying and awareness of the possible limitations
of your own point of view.

        RM: When I've asked for an example of something when

discussing your work I believe it has been for an example of
a social variable that is an example of a variable being
maintained in a virtual reference state, as per your
collective conflict model. I can think of one – the
position of the flag in a tug of war. Another might be the
geopolitical boundaries of Israel-Palestine. But there’s not
many that I encounter in my everyday life, such as the table
in your woodworking example or the orchestra I’m listening
to now. Neither the table nor the orchestra seem like they
are the virtual reference states of variables that are being
controlled relative to different reference states.Â

        RM: But, as Ricky Nelson said, you can't please everyone

so you gotta please yourself!

BestÂ

Rick

        My best,



        Kent







        > On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu            > > > wrote:

        >

        > [Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

        >

        > [From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

        >

        > RM: … I have also seen Kent's collective conflict

models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable,
though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually
accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has
all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error
and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social
agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

        >

        > KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that "real social

agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any
length of time"? What evidence do you have for this
assertion?

        >

        > KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that

have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis
vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman

        > vs. Richard Marken. And the real social agents involved

keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in
spite of all the sustained errors they experience.

        >

        > RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really

evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence
that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that
they say they don’t.

        > Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are

more likely to express dislike for it than those who are
winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than
Israelis who are

        > unhappy about that conflict. And I don't particularly

like living in a society with people (those who voted for
Trump in particular) whose values are so different than
mine. Not do I

        > like the fact that I am in continual conflict with

virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do
with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only
agreed with me but

        > also understood why they did! It would be like my

relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free
relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I
have now.

        >Â 

        > KM: You might object that these are social phenomena,

although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking
about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals
caught

        > in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term inner

conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The
clients may not like the lack of control, but these
conflicts do not magically

        > resolve themselves  just because it’s unpleasant for

the person.

        >

        > RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client

(conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does
not) like not being in control. In your model, every
individual who is

        > participating in the "virtual reference state" of the

commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control
systems are not in control when there is persistent (and
relatively large)

        > error. I agree that there is no magical solution to

these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not
evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe
that’s true even if

        > the conflict results in the variable in conflict is

being maintained in a virtual reference state.

        >Â 

        > KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in

order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not
hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are
actually saying

        > and whether you have any evidence for the assertions

you’re making.

        >

        > RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the

same;-)

        >

        > KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here ...

        >

        > RM: No problem. 

        >

        > Best

        >

        > Rick

        >

        > My best,

        >

        > Kent

        >

        >

        >> On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu            > > > wrote:

        >>

        >> [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

        >>

        >> In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

        >>

        >> RM: I'd be interested in hearing what you think is

an example of a social variable and how work in “collective
control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis
in PCT.

        >>

        >> BN: Huh?

        >>

        >> RM: Huh huh?  Actually, I was replying to this:

        >>

        >> BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The

dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to
notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m
sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play.
Work on collective control showed how something like those
notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

        >>

        >> RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example

of how work on collective control gave notions like social
variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis
in PCT?

        >>

        >> BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was

being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first
asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you
aid you’d like to hear how investigations of collective
control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in
PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an
example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the
second part of your question.

        >>

        >> RM: So "huh?"Â  is an example of a social variable?

It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t
seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.

        >>

        >> BN: You did not respond to the word "Huh?" as an

example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

        >>

        >> RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to

“Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social
variables and collective control. To correct that
disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might
be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an
answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.

        >>

        >> BN: If you had [recognized that "Huh?" was a

response to the question about what a social variable is],
you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its
intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally
indicates not understanding what was just said,

        >>

        >> RM: That is the way I took it and it's why I

re-framed my question.

        >>Â 

        >> BN: or alternatively consternation that such a

thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that
“conventionally indicating” something is a function of
collective control.

        >>

        >> RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was

asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also
think the term “collective control” describes many very
different phenomena involving control by multiple
individuals, So saying that something is explained by
“collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how
a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was
asking for an explanation of how “collective control”
explains social variables.

        >>

        >> BN: We've discussed the nature of social

conventions a fair amount.

        >>

        >> RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post

from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation
of the control of social variables without any need for
postulating “collective control” to give them a “strong
theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

        >>

        >> BN: I confess that the 'consternation' meaning is

also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our
discussions of language and culture in terms of collective
control?

        >>

        >> RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did

that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on
pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I
would call “conflictive control” that seemed to have no
obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

        >>

        >> BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was

“The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around
1992, to notions like social variables or shared
perceptions.”

        >>

        >> RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I

have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I
did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that
presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as
social variables. And the basic idea is that these
variables (like the pronunciation variables in my
pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.

        >>

        >> BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he

said he would want to see the input and output functions,
etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it
difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

        >>

        >> RM: I think Bill was "confirmed " (did you mean

confined?") to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or
confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on
consciousness.

        >>

        >> BN: Investigations of collective control showed how

humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social
variables’,

        >>

        >> RM: It depends on what you mean by "collective

control". I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation
drift” model show how collections of individual control
systems, controlling for the same or similar social
perceptions, can produce what would be called social
phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict
models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable,
though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually
accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has
all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error
and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social
agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

        >>

        >> BN: Here's one of the posts from Bill that I found

that I think is relevant to this discussion.

        >> -----

        >> [From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

        >>Â 

        >> Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)--

        >>Â 

        >> BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said

twice now that it would be

        >> difficult to test for controlled social variables:

        >>Â 

        >> BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and

measure resistance to the

        >> disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are

arrested in our progress at

        >> the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits

the controlled variable.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the

social artifact had any

        >> independent existence of its own: just where on the

social CV would you

        >> push to see if there is resistance? If you try to

push on the distance

        >> between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only

thin air.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a

variable that a person is

        >> controlling, and this is how I would proceed in

investigating social

        >> reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend,

“Want half of my BLT?”

        >> This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions,

would tell me whether my

        >> friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the

avoidance of things like

        >> bacon. By such means I could determine, within

reasonable bounds, not only

        >> how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what

reference conditions he

        >> maintains and what actions he finds permissible to

carry out, at least with

        >> a friend, to defend those variables against

disturbances.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the

same as, what Lee says in the

        >> cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to

perceive something like

        >> what the other person perceives, in order to

propose specific Tests, but

        >> I'm not convinced that total immersion is

essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

        >> tried it.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my

thesis would be upheld by

        >> Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am, for all practical

purposes, as totally

        >> immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I

don’t think I have ever

        >> met any person who could be considered

representative of everyone else but

        >> me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no

such person. I have

        >> formed some generalizations about others in my

society, but it has always

        >> been quite clear to me that they did not apply to

everyone, and in fact the

        >> older I get, the less general any of my

generalizations seem. If Dorothy

        >> Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came

to know it as a native,

        >> then she, too, would have formed generalizations

about the other people,

        >> and they would have been no more true about

everyone in that society than

        >> my generalizations about my own society are. Well,

they probably would have

        >> been more true than mine from the standpoint of

being consistent and

        >> systematic, but that would not make them any less

statistical in nature.

        >> Generalizations, as understood in the social

sciences, by their very nature

        >> are not true of everyone.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that

social variables exist only

        >> in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected

only through

        >> interactions with individuals. I will include

linguistic phenomena in that

        >> assertion. The way we find out about cultures is

through interacting with

        >> individuals and then forming generalizations --

which are, of course,

        >> perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the

social perceptions we

        >> investigate. Generalizations which refer to all

individuals in a culture

        >> are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which

refer to a culture treated

        >> as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but

not necessarily

        >> applicable to any individual in that culture ("The

Achumawi male is 5 feet

        >> 5.173 inches tall"). Those that are true of

individuals are true only of

        >> _specific_ individuals -- the subset of those

tested who behaved exactly

        >> according to hypothesis. And as I'm sure you will

agree, that subset is

        >> never as large as the set of individuals tested.

Sometimes it is not even

        >> half as large as the tested set (for example, it

could be a a little over a

        >> third of the population if three alternatives were

tested).

        >>Â 

        >> Best,

        >>Â 

        >> Bill P.

        >>

        >> ---------------------

        >>

        >> Best

        >>

        >> Rick

        >> --

        >> Richard S. Marken

        >> "Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing

more to add, but when you

        >> have nothing left to take away.�

        >>Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â --Antoine de

Saint-Exupery

        >>

        >

        >

        >

        > --

        > Richard S. Marken

        > "Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more

to add, but when you

        > have nothing left to take away.�

        >Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â --Antoine de

Saint-Exupery

        >


Richard S. MarkenÂ

                                "Perfection

is achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but when you
have
nothing left to take away.�
   Â
            --Antoine de
Saint-Exupery

Here, Martin, was my message. Thanks for your comments!

Kent

···

Begin forwarded message:

From:“McClelland, Kent” mcclel@grinnell.edu

**Subject:**Re: Social Variables and Collective Control

**Date:**September 6, 2019 at 11:52:22 AM CDT

**To:**Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com

[Kent McClelland 2019.09.06.1150]

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them.

My only evidence that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don’t. …

KM: Whether people like being in conflict or not is pretty much irrelevant, from my point of view. The fact is, long-term interpersonal conflicts are an important feature of social reality, as we experience it. I bristled when you said that “real social agents
like to live with sustained error for very long�, because the way I read it, you were dismissing my model of conflictive control as not applying much to real life, since the implication is that people in conflicts will soon find a way to get out of them. All
the evidence I’ve seen suggests that this is not the case, and that, on the contrary, the model is widely applicable to everyday social interactions.

KM: To me, the important point is that in spite of the fact that people don’t enjoy the loss of control that comes from unresolved conflicts, they often continue to pursue them, presumably because they like the alternative even less (e.g., retreating with one’s
tail between one’s legs from the field of battle, surrendering to a stronger opponent, or whatever). Which is not to say that some people in some situations don’t enjoy engaging in conflicts. Military camaraderie or imagining oneself as a hero fighting for
one’s ideals can be a powerful motivator (i.e., a perception to control with high gain). In any case, the question is not whether people enjoy conflict, but why they keep at it, even when it isn’t enjoyable.

KM: You speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to produce evidence for my theory of collective control. From my perspective, the evidence is in plain sight. It’s contained in the “generalizations� that Bill Powers talked about in the passage you quoted
in your response to Bruce’s post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

BP: You haven’t yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only

in individuals; I now add, … and can be detected only through

interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that

assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with

individuals and then forming generalizations – which are, of course,

perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we

investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture

are prima facie false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily

applicable to any individual in that culture …

KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these sociological generalizations are not true of every individual in the populations studied, but the overall patterns are “social facts� in the sense that the patterns can be verified by repeated examinations by independent
observers. The patterns represent the data that sociological theories must be able to explain. How is it that these broad patterns have come to exist, continue over time, and tend to change relatively slowly? These generalizations are precisely the evidence
for which theories of society and culture must account.

KM: I disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social variables exist only in individuals … and can be detected only through interactions with individuals.â€? His view of society as consisting merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions
and creating disturbances for each other is, in my opinion, a drastically oversimplified and inadequate account of how society works and how these broad generalization come to be. What Bill’s simplistic conception of society leaves out are the many kinds of
humanly constructed physical and organizational infrastructure that help keep social patterns in place. (In Bill’s defense, let me say that I think his views on the social applications of PCT evolved somewhat over the last 20 years of his life, away from the
extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He certainly never gave me any static about my published articles on collective control, all of which postdate the quotation above. My most recent article on the topic was one he generously praised.)

KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s theory clearer by finally doing something I promised to do for you many months ago, which was to give you an example of how "technologies for making familiar objects and accomplishing common tasks� can be understood
as products of collective control.

KM: The particular technology I want to discuss is woodworking, which many people in our society (mostly men) practice as a hobby by making handcrafted furniture or toys or decorative objects out of wood. Most woodworkers, however, don’t go out and cut down
trees themselves or use tools that they themselves have created to shape wood into these objects.

KM: They buy the wood from lumber stores, buy manufactured tools to work with, and often follow plans or ideas offered by other people. To get wood to work with, they avail themselves of an elaborate organizational infrastructure of companies that go out into
the forests and cut down the trees, saw them up into lumber, and ship the lumber to the retail stores that sell it to the customer. A similarly elaborate organizational structure supports the manufacture and distribution of woodworking tools. Both of these
industries depend on an extensive physical infrastructure of tools, factories, offices, and communications equipment.

KM: To get ideas for what to make and how to make these handcrafted objects, woodworkers have lots of written and visual materials to turn to, including books on woodworking, magazines, and online videos. blogs, and chat rooms. Organized classes in woodworking
are also offered by schools and community organizations. Each of these sources of information is supported by an elaborate physical and organizational infrastructure of factories, offices, and communications equipment. Undergirding all of these commercial
and community ventures is a governmental infrastructure of laws and regulations, as well as a money supply provided by the government for expediting the many commercial transactions involved.

KM: The craft of woodworking, then, as practiced in modern society, cannot be understood simply as a matter of individual people controlling their own perceptions, or even of individuals interacting with and imitating other individuals. The physical and organizational
arrangements that have been put in place to enable this technological pursuit are both extensive and complex. How then might sociologists or anthropologists account for the existence of this set of broad and durable social patterns?

KM: I’ve offered the theory of collective control to account for phenomena like these. I argue (in my chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of PCT) that the existence and maintenance of these kinds of social and cultural arrangements can be understood as products
of vast networks of collective control, which involve giant virtual controllers that are composed of individual people controlling their own perceptions at many different perceptual levels, but often perceptions that are similar to those controlled by the
others also involved.

KM: The people participating in this collective control enterprise do not all control the same perceptions, certainly not at the same time, but they control different perceptions in the service of a common objective, which is to make woodworking happen. I regard
it as collective control because, at some level, they all control the same perception: a perception of woodworking as an enjoyable hobby, even though how each individual understands that perception might be different. Clearly, part of the technology of woodworking
is the knowledge contained in lots of different individual people’s heads, but if we consider the physical and organizational infrastructure, there’s lots more involved, as well.

KM: Although conflict would not seem to be something that’s too big a part of the woodworking world, I have no doubt that conflict shows up somewhere in the collective control networks that contribute to this overall enterprise. Perhaps there are public exhibitions
of craft objects that produce hard feelings among the individual woodworkers competing with each other for best in show. (Not being a woodworker myself, I wouldn’t know, but I’d bet on it.) Certainly there must be conflict among the commercial enterprises
that compete for the woodworking hobbyist’s money. Whether the interactions are collaborative or conflictive, however, all of them are part of the overall collective control enterprise.

KM: So that’s my theory to account for this social phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on to apply them in a different way than he did. If you don’t like my theory, what’s yours? Very possibly,
you don’t find the question of how these kinds of sociocultural formations are created and maintained very interesting. It’s a sociological thing, I guess. You’re a psychologist, like Bill, you have your own set of disciplinary interests, which don’t need
to much extend beyond the question of how to account for the behavior of individuals. Perhaps the only thing that counts for you as evidence is something that can be reduced to simple computer models and investigated in the laboratory. The question of how
the technology of woodworking works obviously has a far greater scope, one that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab setting.

KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique of work on broader topics than individual behavior, it would make sense, from my point of view, for you to do your homework first by reading carefully and thinking about what Bruce or Martin or I or others who
have applied PCT to these areas have written about these topics. One of your favorite arguments, I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not contained within the narrow confines of your own understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an example of� whatever
it is that someone else has put forward as a possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps this isn’t fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to actually do any thinking at all about the topic but are just favoring us with your offhand observations. If we’re
to have exchanges in this forum about topics where you may be a little out of your depth, it would please me if you took a little more scholarly approach to it, with some respect for what other people are saying and awareness of the possible limitations of
your own point of view.

My best,

Kent

On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

[From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

RM: … I have also seen KKent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective
conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that “real social agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any length of time”? What evidence do you have for this assertion?

KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman

vs. Richard Marken. And the real social agents involved keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the sustained errors they experience.

RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don’t.

Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are more likely to express dislike for it than those who are winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than Israelis who are

unhappy about that conflict. And I don’t particularly like living in a society with people (those who voted for Trump in particular) whose values are so different than mine. Not do I

like the fact that I am in continual conflict with virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only agreed with me but

also understood why they did! It would be like my relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

KM: You might object that these are social phenomena, although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals caught

in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The clients may not like the lack of control, but these conflicts do not magically

resolve themselves just because it’s unpleasant for the person.

RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client (conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does not) like not being in control. In your model, every individual who is

participating in the “virtual reference state” of the commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control systems are not in control when there is persistent (and relatively large)

error. I agree that there is no magical solution to these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe that’s true even if

the conflict results in the variable in conflict is being maintained in a virtual reference state.

KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are actually saying

and whether you have any evidence for the assertions you’re making.

RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the same;-)

KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here …

RM: No problem.

Best

Rick

My best,

Kent

On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

RM: I’d be interested in hearing what you think is an example of a social variable and how work in “collective control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

BN: Huh?

RM: Huh huh? Actually, I was replying to this:

BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play. Work on collective control showed
how something like those notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example of how work on collective control gave notions like social variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations of collective control give such variables a strong theoretical
basis in PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the second part of your question.

RM: So “huh?” is an example of a social variable? It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.

BN: You did not respond to the word “Huh?” as an example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social variables and collective control. To correct that disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my question, in order
to get an answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.

BN: If you had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the question about what a social variable is], you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally indicates not understanding what was just
said,

RM: That is the way I took it and it’s why I re-framed my question.

BN: or alternatively consternation that such a thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that “conventionally indicating” something is a function of collective control.

RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also think the term “collective control” describes many very different phenomena involving control by multiple individuals, So saying that something is explained
by “collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was asking for an explanation of how “collective control” explains social variables.

BN: We’ve discussed the nature of social conventions a fair amount.

RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social variables without any need for postulating “collective control” to give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s copied
at the end of htis.

BN: I confess that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our discussions of language and culture in terms of collective control?

RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I would call “conflictive control” that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any everyday
social phenomenon.

BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was “The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions.”

RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as social variables. And the basic idea
is that these variables (like the pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.

BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

RM: I think Bill was “confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.

BN: Investigations of collective control showed how humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social variables’,

RM: It depends on what you mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of individual control systems, controlling for the same or similar social perceptions, can produce what would be called
social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors
in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

BN: Here’s one of the posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to this discussion.


[From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said twice now that it would be

difficult to test for controlled social variables:

BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and measure resistance to the

disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at

the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the social artifact had any

independent existence of its own: just where on the social CV would you

push to see if there is resistance? If you try to push on the distance

between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only thin air.

BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a variable that a person is

controlling, and this is how I would proceed in investigating social

reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions, would tell me whether my

friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the avoidance of things like

bacon. By such means I could determine, within reasonable bounds, not only

how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what reference conditions he

maintains and what actions he finds permissible to carry out, at least with

a friend, to defend those variables against disturbances.

BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the

cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to perceive something like

what the other person perceives, in order to propose specific Tests, but

I’m not convinced that total immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

tried it.

BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my thesis would be upheld by

Dorothy Lee’s experiences. I am, for all practical purposes, as totally

immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I don’t think I have ever

met any person who could be considered representative of everyone else but

me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no such person. I have

formed some generalizations about others in my society, but it has always

been quite clear to me that they did not apply to everyone, and in fact the

older I get, the less general any of my generalizations seem. If Dorothy

Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came to know it as a native,

then she, too, would have formed generalizations about the other people,

and they would have been no more true about everyone in that society than

my generalizations about my own society are. Well, they probably would have

been more true than mine from the standpoint of being consistent and

systematic, but that would not make them any less statistical in nature.

Generalizations, as understood in the social sciences, by their very nature

are not true of everyone.

BP: You haven’t yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only

in individuals; I now add, … and can be detected only through

interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that

assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with

individuals and then forming generalizations – which are, of course,

perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we

investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture

are prima facie false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily

applicable to any individual in that culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

5.173 inches tall"). Those that are true of individuals are true only of

specific individuals – the subset of those tested who behaved exactly

according to hypothesis. And as I’m sure you will agree, that subset is

never as large as the set of individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

half as large as the tested set (for example, it could be a a little over a

third of the population if three alternatives were tested).

Best,

Bill P.


Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

have nothing left to take away.�

                           --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

have nothing left to take away.�

                           --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Rick Marken 2019-09-07_17:36:18]

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.07.17.25]

MT: Kent's message on which Rick comments somehow never made it into my

mailbox, so I have to go by the bits Rick quotes to determine what
Kent wrote. Most of Rick’s comments seem to argue that Kent does not
believe that Giant Virtual Controllers (GVCs) result from the
control actions of individual controllers.

RM: That was not what I was arguing. Indeed, I’m pretty sure that Kent does believe (and has demonstrated) that what you call GVCs result from the control actions of individual controllers.Â

RM: So you might want to give it another try after you’ve read Kent’s post.

BestÂ

Rick

Â

···
That has not been my

impression over several years of dealing with Kent on different
kinds of Collective Control. All Giant Virtual Controllers exist
only because individuals control the perceptions they do. That does
not at all imply that the GVCs control any of the variables
controlled by the individuals who are members of a GVC. Often they
do, but that’s not a logical necessity. What IS a logical necessity
is that the variables controlled by GVCs lie in the same descriptive
space (hyperspace for the more mathematically inclined) as the
totality of the control systems that contribute to the GVC.

Conflictive Collective Control is not the only form of collective

control. Here the names of are five more: Collaborative Collective
Control, Coordinated Collective Control, Guided Collective Control,
Giant Real Collective Control, and Hierarchic Collective Control.

It is important not to confuse collective control with the

side-effects of collective control, such as climate change and
monetary inflation (I will discuss the latter in Manchester). It is
also important to recognize that not all Collective Control is based
on conflict, though Giant Virtual Controllers can engage in
conflict, just as individual controllers can – as for example in a
Presidential Election, which in the USA consists primarily of a GVC
called “Democrats” conflicting with a GVC called “Republicans”. All
of the people who are members of either GVC – those controlling for
perceiving themselves to vote one of two possible ways – control
myriads of other perceptions, but the result is two Collaborative
GVCs in conflict. The GVCs themselves are unlikely to exist because
of conflict among their members, and the Collective conflict is not
based on conflict between any pairs of individual controllers.

Collective control is no more simple than is individual control or

any of the other kinds of interactions among individual control
loops. You don’t dismiss hierarchic control because a control loop
controls only one perceptual variable, and likewise you should not
dismiss Collective Control because it gives rise to phenomena not
accounted for by effects in a single control loop.

Martin
        [Kent McClelland

2019.09.06.1150]

        KM: I bristled when you

said that “real social agents like to live with sustained
error for very long�,

        RM: I think you meant to say that you bristled because I

said social agents don’t like to live with sustained
error, because that’s what I said.

        KM: because the way I

read it, you were dismissing my model of conflictive control
as not applying much to real life,

        RM: I think your model of conflictive control is, indeed,

relevant to many real life situations. My main problems with
it are 1) you have never tested the model’s ability to
account for actual conflict data and 2) you have said that
the model accounts for “social stability” but, again, you
have never presented the results of a test of your model’s
ability to account for some phenomenon that you claim to be
an example of social stability. So it’s impossible for me to
evaluate your claims about the merits of your model. That’s
why I can’t really use your work as an example of PCT
research on social phenomena.Â

        KM: You speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to

produce evidence for my theory of collective control. From
my perspective, the evidence is in plain sight. It’s
contained in the “generalizationsâ€? that Bill Powers talked
about in the passage you quoted in your response to Bruce’s
post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

        Â  Â  Â  Â  BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that

social variables exist only

        Â  Â  Â  Â  in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected

only through

        Â  Â  Â  Â  interactions with individuals. I will include

linguistic phenomena in that

        Â  Â  Â  Â  assertion. The way we find out about cultures is

through interacting with

        Â  Â  Â  Â  individuals and then forming generalizations --

which are, of course,

        Â  Â  Â  Â  perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the

social perceptions we

        Â  Â  Â  Â  investigate. Generalizations which refer to all

individuals in a culture

        Â  Â  Â  Â  are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which refer

to a culture treated

        Â  Â  Â  Â  as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but

not necessarily

                applicable to any individual in that culture …




        KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these sociological

generalizations are not true of every individual in the
populations studied, but the overall patterns are “social
facts� in the sense that the patterns can be verified by
repeated examinations by independent observers. The patterns
represent the data that sociological theories must be able
to explain. How is it that these broad patterns have come to
exist, continue over time, and tend to change relatively
slowly? These generalizations are precisely the evidence for
which theories of society and culture must account.

        RM: I guess my idea of what constitutes evidence for the

correctness of a theory is just different than yours. For me
that evidence is the fit of theory to data. An example of
this kind of evidence is Tom Bourbon’s work on two-person
interaction. My control model to account for Labov’s data on
phonemic drift is another. The nice thing about testing
models against data is that it forces the researcher to
identify the correspondences between features of the
phenomenon to be explained and those of the model that is
doing the explaining. If you did this with you model on
“collective control” it would be clear, for example, what
feature of a specific example of “social stability”
corresponds to the “virtual reference state” in your model
of “collective control”.

Â

        KM: I disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social

variables exist only in individuals … and can be detected
only through interactions with individuals.� His view of
society as consisting merely of atomized individuals
controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances
for each other is, in my opinion, a drastically
oversimplified and inadequate account of how society works
and how these broad generalization come to be. What Bill’s
simplistic conception of society leaves out are the many
kinds of humanly constructed physical and organizational
infrastructure that help keep social patterns in place.

        RM: I don't think it leaves it out at all. All that

infrastructure results from individuals acting to control
their own perceptions, and sometimes these actions are a
disturbance to variables controlled by other individuals.
But if you really don’t like the idea that society “consists
merely of atomized individuals controlling their own
perceptions and creating disturbances for each other” then
why did you develop a model of “social stability” (or
“collective control”) that does precisely that.Â

        KM: (In Bill’s defense,

let me say that I think his views on the social applications
of PCT evolved somewhat over the last 20 years of his life,
away from the extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He
certainly never gave me any static about my published
articles on collective control, all of which postdate the
quotation above. My most recent article on the topic was one
he generously praised.)

        RM: Maybe Bill liked it was because your model was a good

demonstration of how a social variable – the virtual
reference state of a variable in conflict --Â can emerge
from the actions of a group of “atomized individuals”
controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances
for each other.Â

        KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s theory

clearer by finally doing something I promised to do for you
many months ago, which was to give you an example of how
"technologies for making familiar objects and accomplishing
common tasks� can be understood as products of collective
control.

        RM: Nothing you say here is something that can't be

explained as the result of atomized individuals controlling
their own perceptions. Of course, among the perceptions each
individual must be controlling is a perception of being cooperative
and perceiving the benefits for such cooperation.
Controlling for cooperation is necessary for the kind of
specialization you describe. Each person – woodworker,
toolmaker, lumberjack – has agreed to specialize in doing
part of what is required to build a table, instead of each
controlling for producing the whole table themselves. They
are giving up control (of producing the table) to get better
control (being able buy the table and many other things that
they couldn’t have gotten if they had had to spend all their
time doing what is needed to build a table --cutting the
lumber, forging the tools, putting it all together, etc). I
have not been able to see anything in your conflict model of
“collective control” that could explain how this happens.Â

Â

        KM: I’ve offered the

theory of collective control to account for phenomena like
these. I argue (in my chapter for the forthcoming Handbook
of PCT) that the existence and maintenance of these kinds of
social and cultural arrangements can be understood as
products of vast networks of collective control, which
involve giant virtual controllers that are composed of
individual people controlling their own perceptions at many
different perceptual levels, but often perceptions that are
similar to those controlled by the others also involved.

        RM:Â  I'd find your arguments more convincing if you could

should me how your collective control model could do
something like the woodworking you describe.Â

        KM: The people participating in this collective control

enterprise do not all control the same perceptions,
certainly not at the same time, but they control different
perceptions in the service of a common objective, which is
to make woodworking happen.

        RM: Righto. But that's not what your collective control

model does, is it? You model has different individuals
controlling the SAME perception relative to different
reference specifications.Â

Â

        KM: I regard it as

collective control

        RM: I do too! What I don't call "collective control" is

what your model does, because none of the individuals
involved in the conflict is in control. “Collective
conflict” would be a more accurate description of what your
model does. And, as you say, this kind of conflict is
certainly pervasive in social interactions. But it seems to
me that it is only interesting as something to be eliminated
as much as possible. It doesn’t seem like a good basis for
having a stable society.

Â

        KM: So that’s my theory to account for this social

phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes
the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on to apply
them in a different way than he did. If you don’t like my
theory, what’s yours?

        RM:Â  It's that these social phenomena result from

atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions, and
that the main perceptions controlled are the one’s Bill
called “system concepts”, such as the concept of a society.Â

        KM: Very possibly, you

don’t find the question of how these kinds of sociocultural
formations are created and maintained very interesting.

 RM: Actually I find them terribly interesting.Â

        KM: Perhaps the only

thing that counts for you as evidence is something that can
be reduced to simple computer models and investigated in the
laboratory.

        RM: Certainly not the only thing. But a very important

thing!Â

Â

        KM: The question of how

the technology of woodworking works obviously has a far
greater scope, one that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab
setting.

        RM: I actually have worked on economic models in an

effort to account for aggregate socioeconomic data, such as
data on how goods (like tables) and services (like building
stuff) are collectively controlled in an economy. Indeed. I
noted that an economy can be viewed as “control writ
large”.Â

        KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique of work on

broader topics than individual behavior, it would make
sense, from my point of view, for you to do your homework
first by reading carefully and thinking about what Bruce or
Martin or I or others who have applied PCT to these areas
have written about these topics. One of your favorite
arguments, I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not
contained within the narrow confines of your own
understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an example ofâ€?
whatever it is that someone else has put forward as a
possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps this isn’t
fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to actually do any
thinking at all about the topic but are just favoring us
with your offhand observations. If we’re to have exchanges
in this forum about topics where you may be a little out of
your depth, it would please me if you took a little more
scholarly approach to it, with some respect for what other
people are saying and awareness of the possible limitations
of your own point of view.

        RM: When I've asked for an example of something when

discussing your work I believe it has been for an example of
a social variable that is an example of a variable being
maintained in a virtual reference state, as per your
collective conflict model. I can think of one – the
position of the flag in a tug of war. Another might be the
geopolitical boundaries of Israel-Palestine. But there’s not
many that I encounter in my everyday life, such as the table
in your woodworking example or the orchestra I’m listening
to now. Neither the table nor the orchestra seem like they
are the virtual reference states of variables that are being
controlled relative to different reference states.Â

        RM: But, as Ricky Nelson said, you can't please everyone

so you gotta please yourself!

BestÂ

Rick

        My best,



        Kent







        > On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu            > > > > wrote:

        >

        > [Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

        >

        > [From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

        >

        > RM: … I have also seen Kent's collective confllict

models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable,
though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually
accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has
all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error
and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social
agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

        >

        > KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that "real social

agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any
length of time"? What evidence do you have for this
assertion?

        >

        > KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that

have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis
vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman

        > vs. Richard Marken. And the real social agents involved

keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in
spite of all the sustained errors they experience.

        >

        > RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really

evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence
that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that
they say they don’t.

        > Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are

more likely to express dislike for it than those who are
winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than
Israelis who are

        > unhappy about that conflict. And I don't particularly

like living in a society with people (those who voted for
Trump in particular) whose values are so different than
mine. Not do I

        > like the fact that I am in continual conflict with

virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do
with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only
agreed with me but

        > also understood why they did! It would be like my

relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free
relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I
have now.

        >Â 

        > KM: You might object that these are social phenomena,

although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking
about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals
caught

        > in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term inner

conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The
clients may not like the lack of control, but these
conflicts do not magically

        > resolve themselves  just because it’s unpleasant for

the person.

        >

        > RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client

(conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does
not) like not being in control. In your model, every
individual who is

        > participating in the "virtual reference state" of the

commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control
systems are not in control when there is persistent (and
relatively large)

        > error. I agree that there is no magical solution to

these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not
evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe
that’s true even if

        > the conflict results in the variable in conflict is

being maintained in a virtual reference state.

        >Â 

        > KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in

order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not
hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are
actually saying

        > and whether you have any evidence for the assertions

you’re making.

        >

        > RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the

same;-)

        >

        > KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here ...

        >

        > RM: No problem. 

        >

        > Best

        >

        > Rick

        >

        > My best,

        >

        > Kent

        >

        >

        >> On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu            > > > > wrote:

        >>

        >> [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

        >>

        >> In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

        >>

        >> RM: I'd be interested in hearing what you think is

an example of a social variable and how work in “collective
control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis
in PCT.

        >>

        >> BN: Huh?

        >>

        >> RM: Huh huh?  Actually, I was replying to this:

        >>

        >> BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The

dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to
notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m
sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play.
Work on collective control showed how something like those
notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

        >>

        >> RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example

of how work on collective control gave notions like social
variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis
in PCT?

        >>

        >> BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was

being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first
asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you
aid you’d like to hear how investigations of collective
control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in
PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an
example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the
second part of your question.

        >>

        >> RM: So "huh?"Â  is an example of a social variable?

It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t
seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.

        >>

        >> BN: You did not respond to the word "Huh?" as an

example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

        >>

        >> RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to

“Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social
variables and collective control. To correct that
disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might
be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an
answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.

        >>

        >> BN: If you had [recognized that "Huh?" was a

response to the question about what a social variable is],
you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its
intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally
indicates not understanding what was just said,

        >>

        >> RM: That is the way I took it and it's why I

re-framed my question.

        >>Â 

        >> BN: or alternatively consternation that such a

thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that
“conventionally indicating” something is a function of
collective control.

        >>

        >> RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was

asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also
think the term “collective control” describes many very
different phenomena involving control by multiple
individuals, So saying that something is explained by
“collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how
a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was
asking for an explanation of how “collective control”
explains social variables.

        >>

        >> BN: We've discussed the nature of social

conventions a fair amount.

        >>

        >> RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post

from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation
of the control of social variables without any need for
postulating “collective control” to give them a “strong
theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

        >>

        >> BN: I confess that the 'consternation' meaning is

also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our
discussions of language and culture in terms of collective
control?

        >>

        >> RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did

that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on
pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I
would call “conflictive control” that seemed to have no
obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

        >>

        >> BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was

“The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around
1992, to notions like social variables or shared
perceptions.”

        >>

        >> RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I

have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I
did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that
presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as
social variables. And the basic idea is that these
variables (like the pronunciation variables in my
pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.

        >>

        >> BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he

said he would want to see the input and output functions,
etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it
difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

        >>

        >> RM: I think Bill was "confirmed " (did you mean

confined?") to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or
confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on
consciousness.

        >>

        >> BN: Investigations of collective control showed how

humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social
variables’,

        >>

        >> RM: It depends on what you mean by "collective

control". I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation
drift” model show how collections of individual control
systems, controlling for the same or similar social
perceptions, can produce what would be called social
phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict
models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable,
though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually
accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has
all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error
and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social
agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

        >>

        >> BN: Here's one of the posts from Bill that I found

that I think is relevant to this discussion.

        >> -----

        >> [From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

        >>Â 

        >> Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)--

        >>Â 

        >> BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said

twice now that it would be

        >> difficult to test for controlled social variables:

        >>Â 

        >> BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and

measure resistance to the

        >> disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are

arrested in our progress at

        >> the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits

the controlled variable.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the

social artifact had any

        >> independent existence of its own: just where on the

social CV would you

        >> push to see if there is resistance? If you try to

push on the distance

        >> between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only

thin air.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a

variable that a person is

        >> controlling, and this is how I would proceed in

investigating social

        >> reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend,

“Want half of my BLT?”

        >> This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions,

would tell me whether my

        >> friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the

avoidance of things like

        >> bacon. By such means I could determine, within

reasonable bounds, not only

        >> how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what

reference conditions he

        >> maintains and what actions he finds permissible to

carry out, at least with

        >> a friend, to defend those variables against

disturbances.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the

same as, what Lee says in the

        >> cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to

perceive something like

        >> what the other person perceives, in order to

propose specific Tests, but

        >> I'm not convinced that total immersion is

essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

        >> tried it.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my

thesis would be upheld by

        >> Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am, for all practical

purposes, as totally

        >> immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I

don’t think I have ever

        >> met any person who could be considered

representative of everyone else but

        >> me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no

such person. I have

        >> formed some generalizations about others in my

society, but it has always

        >> been quite clear to me that they did not apply to

everyone, and in fact the

        >> older I get, the less general any of my

generalizations seem. If Dorothy

        >> Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came

to know it as a native,

        >> then she, too, would have formed generalizations

about the other people,

        >> and they would have been no more true about

everyone in that society than

        >> my generalizations about my own society are. Well,

they probably would have

        >> been more true than mine from the standpoint of

being consistent and

        >> systematic, but that would not make them any less

statistical in nature.

        >> Generalizations, as understood in the social

sciences, by their very nature

        >> are not true of everyone.

        >>Â 

        >> BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that

social variables exist only

        >> in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected

only through

        >> interactions with individuals. I will include

linguistic phenomena in that

        >> assertion. The way we find out about cultures is

through interacting with

        >> individuals and then forming generalizations --

which are, of course,

        >> perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the

social perceptions we

        >> investigate. Generalizations which refer to all

individuals in a culture

        >> are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which

refer to a culture treated

        >> as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but

not necessarily

        >> applicable to any individual in that culture ("The

Achumawi male is 5 feet

        >> 5.173 inches tall"). Those that are true of

individuals are true only of

        >> _specific_ individuals -- the subset of those

tested who behaved exactly

        >> according to hypothesis. And as I'm sure you will

agree, that subset is

        >> never as large as the set of individuals tested.

Sometimes it is not even

        >> half as large as the tested set (for example, it

could be a a little over a

        >> third of the population if three alternatives were

tested).

        >>Â 

        >> Best,

        >>Â 

        >> Bill P.

        >>

        >> ---------------------

        >>

        >> Best

        >>

        >> Rick

        >> --

        >> Richard S. Marken

        >> "Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing

more to add, but when you

        >> have nothing left to take away.�

        >>Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â --Antoine de

Saint-Exupery

        >>

        >

        >

        >

        > --

        > Richard S. Marken

        > "Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more

to add, but when you

        > have nothing left to take away.�

        >Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â --Antoine de

Saint-Exupery

        >


Richard S. MarkenÂ

                                "Perfection

is achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but when you
have
nothing left to take away.�
   Â
            --Antoine de
Saint-Exupery


Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.09.09.29]

Will do, but not when I'm packing for my flight this evening.

Two points, though, which may or may not be relevant to your
comments, but they are relevant to the nature of collective
control… (1) Disturbing another’s controlled perception is only one of four
distinct ways in which the control actions of controller A might
influence the performance of controller B, and each of the four ways
might be by side-effect of A’s controlling or by intent. The four
ways are (a) disturbance, (b) influencing the path from disturbing
source to B’s controlled environmental variable (e.g. holding an
umbrella over someone in a rainstorm), © influencing the path from
B’s output to the controlled environmental variable (e.g. offering
scissors to someone vainly trying to tear open a plastic bag). and
(d) influencing the path from B’s controlled environmental variable
to their input (e.g. taking away a magnifying glass B wanted to use
to read fine print). These 8 possibilities lead to 64 possible
feedback loops that pass through both controllers of which more than
one is involved in the various kinds of collective control. (2) Except in specific circumstances, it is rare for collective
control to depend on the individual controllers controlling the same
external variable. The various possible feedback loops through A and
B may have positive or negative loop gain. The “conflict” loop in
which two controllers try to set the same variable to two different
reference values is a double-disturbance loop, in the terms of the
previous paragraph, an “a-a” loop, just one of the 64 possibilities.
Not all of the 64 result in the creation of a GVC, but some of them
do, and when more controllers are involved the 64 possibilities
become a very much larger number very quickly. When thinking about
Collective Control, it is important to keep this number issue in
mind, but what really matters is the few of these that result in
stable networks, probably modular (like the individual control
hierarchy). That’s mainly what Kent has been talking about since we
have been discussing collective control over the last several years.
Enough for now. But what matters to me is not what you may have
intended by what you say, but what the science says about how the
world works.
Martin

···

On 2019/09/7 8:37 PM, Richard Marken
( via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

rsmarken@gmail.com

[Rick Marken 2019-09-07_17:36:18]

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.07.17.25]

          MT: Kent's message on which Rick comments somehow never

made it into my mailbox, so I have to go by the bits Rick
quotes to determine what Kent wrote. Most of Rick’s
comments seem to argue that Kent does not believe that
Giant Virtual Controllers (GVCs) result from the control
actions of individual controllers.

        RM: That was not what I was arguing. Indeed, I'm pretty

sure that Kent does believe (and has demonstrated) that what
you call GVCs result from the control actions of individual
controllers.Â

        RM: So you might want to give it another try after you've

read Kent’s post.

BestÂ

Rick

Â

          That has not been my impression over

several years of dealing with Kent on different kinds of
Collective Control. All Giant Virtual Controllers exist
only because individuals control the perceptions they do.
That does not at all imply that the GVCs control any of
the variables controlled by the individuals who are
members of a GVC. Often they do, but that’s not a logical
necessity. What IS a logical necessity is that the
variables controlled by GVCs lie in the same descriptive
space (hyperspace for the more mathematically inclined) as
the totality of the control systems that contribute to the
GVC.

          Conflictive Collective Control is not the only form of

collective control. Here the names of are five more:
Collaborative Collective Control, Coordinated Collective
Control, Guided Collective Control, Giant Real Collective
Control, and Hierarchic Collective Control.

          It is important not to confuse collective control with the

side-effects of collective control, such as climate change
and monetary inflation (I will discuss the latter in
Manchester). It is also important to recognize that not
all Collective Control is based on conflict, though Giant
Virtual Controllers can engage in conflict, just as
individual controllers can – as for example in a
Presidential Election, which in the USA consists primarily
of a GVC called “Democrats” conflicting with a GVC called
“Republicans”. All of the people who are members of either
GVC – those controlling for perceiving themselves to vote
one of two possible ways – control myriads of other
perceptions, but the result is two Collaborative GVCs in
conflict. The GVCs themselves are unlikely to exist
because of conflict among their members, and the
Collective conflict is not based on conflict between any
pairs of individual controllers.

          Collective control is no more simple than is individual

control or any of the other kinds of interactions among
individual control loops. You don’t dismiss hierarchic
control because a control loop controls only one
perceptual variable, and likewise you should not dismiss
Collective Control because it gives rise to phenomena not
accounted for by effects in a single control loop.

          Martin
                  [Kent

McClelland 2019.09.06.1150]

                  KM: I bristled

when you said that “real social agents like to
live with sustained error for very long�,

                  RM: I think you meant to say that you bristled

because I said social agents don’t like to
live with sustained error, because that’s what I
said.

                  KM: because the

way I read it, you were dismissing my model of
conflictive control as not applying much to real
life,

                  RM: I think your model of conflictive control

is, indeed, relevant to many real life situations.
My main problems with it are 1) you have never
tested the model’s ability to account for actual
conflict data and 2) you have said that the model
accounts for “social stability” but, again, you
have never presented the results of a test of your
model’s ability to account for some phenomenon
that you claim to be an example of social
stability. So it’s impossible for me to evaluate
your claims about the merits of your model. That’s
why I can’t really use your work as an example of
PCT research on social phenomena.Â

                  KM: You speak

of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to
produce evidence for my theory of collective
control. From my perspective, the evidence is in
plain sight. It’s contained in the
“generalizations� that Bill Powers talked about in
the passage you quoted in your response to Bruce’s
post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  BP: You haven't yet budged me from my

position that social variables exist only

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  in individuals; I now add, ... and can be

detected only through

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  interactions with individuals. I will

include linguistic phenomena in that

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  assertion. The way we find out about

cultures is through interacting with

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  individuals and then forming

generalizations – which are, of course,

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  perceptions in ourselves of the same type

as the social perceptions we

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  investigate. Generalizations which refer

to all individuals in a culture

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations

which refer to a culture treated

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  as a population are, if correctly drawn,

true but not necessarily

                  Â  Â  Â  Â  applicable to any individual in that

culture …

                  KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these

sociological generalizations are not true of every
individual in the populations studied, but the
overall patterns are “social facts� in the sense
that the patterns can be verified by repeated
examinations by independent observers. The
patterns represent the data that sociological
theories must be able to explain. How is it that
these broad patterns have come to exist, continue
over time, and tend to change relatively slowly?
These generalizations are precisely the evidence
for which theories of society and culture must
account.

                  RM: I guess my idea of what constitutes

evidence for the correctness of a theory is just
different than yours. For me that evidence is the
fit of theory to data. An example of this kind of
evidence is Tom Bourbon’s work on two-person
interaction. My control model to account for
Labov’s data on phonemic drift is another. The
nice thing about testing models against data is
that it forces the researcher to identify the
correspondences between features of the phenomenon
to be explained and those of the model that is
doing the explaining. If you did this with you
model on “collective control” it would be clear,
for example, what feature of a specific example of
“social stability” corresponds to the “virtual
reference state” in your model of “collective
control”.

Â

                  KM: I

disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social
variables exist only in individuals … and can be
detected only through interactions with
individuals.� His view of society as consisting
merely of atomized individuals controlling their
own perceptions and creating disturbances for each
other is, in my opinion, a drastically
oversimplified and inadequate account of how
society works and how these broad generalization
come to be. What Bill’s simplistic conception of
society leaves out are the many kinds of humanly
constructed physical and organizational
infrastructure that help keep social patterns in
place.

                  RM: I don't think it leaves it out at all. All

that infrastructure results from individuals
acting to control their own perceptions, and
sometimes these actions are a disturbance to
variables controlled by other individuals. But if
you really don’t like the idea that society
“consists merely of atomized individuals
controlling their own perceptions and creating
disturbances for each other” then why did you
develop a model of “social stability” (or
“collective control”) that does precisely that.Â

                  KM: (In Bill’s

defense, let me say that I think his views on the
social applications of PCT evolved somewhat over
the last 20 years of his life, away from the
extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He
certainly never gave me any static about my
published articles on collective control, all of
which postdate the quotation above. My most recent
article on the topic was one he generously
praised.)

                  RM: Maybe Bill liked it was because your model

was a good demonstration of how a social variable
– the virtual reference state of a variable in
conflict --Â can emerge from the actions of a
group of “atomized individuals” controlling their
own perceptions and creating disturbances for each
other.Â

                  KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s

theory clearer by finally doing something I
promised to do for you many months ago, which was
to give you an example of how "technologies for
making familiar objects and accomplishing common
tasks� can be understood as products of collective
control.

                  RM: Nothing you say here is something that

can’t be explained as the result of atomized
individuals controlling their own perceptions. Of
course, among the perceptions each individual must
be controlling is a perception of being cooperative
and perceiving the benefits for such cooperation.
Controlling for cooperation is necessary for the
kind of specialization you describe. Each person
– woodworker, toolmaker, lumberjack – has agreed
to specialize in doing part of what is required to
build a table, instead of each controlling for
producing the whole table themselves. They are
giving up control (of producing the table) to get
better control (being able buy the table and many
other things that they couldn’t have gotten if
they had had to spend all their time doing what is
needed to build a table --cutting the lumber,
forging the tools, putting it all together, etc).Â
I have not been able to see anything in your
conflict model of “collective control” that could
explain how this happens.Â

Â

                  KM: I’ve

offered the theory of collective control to
account for phenomena like these. I argue (in my
chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of PCT) that
the existence and maintenance of these kinds of
social and cultural arrangements can be understood
as products of vast networks of collective
control, which involve giant virtual controllers
that are composed of individual people controlling
their own perceptions at many different perceptual
levels, but often perceptions that are similar to
those controlled by the others also involved.

                  RM:Â  I'd find your arguments more convincing if

you could should me how your collective control
model could do something like the woodworking you
describe.Â

                  KM: The people

participating in this collective control
enterprise do not all control the same
perceptions, certainly not at the same time, but
they control different perceptions in the service
of a common objective, which is to make
woodworking happen.

                  RM: Righto. But that's not what your collective

control model does, is it? You model has different
individuals controlling the SAME perception
relative to different reference specifications.Â

Â

                  KM: I regard it

as collective control

                  RM: I do too! What I don't call "collective

control" is what your model does, because none of
the individuals involved in the conflict is in
control. “Collective conflict” would be a more
accurate description of what your model does. And,
as you say, this kind of conflict is certainly
pervasive in social interactions. But it seems to
me that it is only interesting as something to be
eliminated as much as possible. It doesn’t seem
like a good basis for having a stable society.

Â

                  KM: So that’s

my theory to account for this social phenomenon.
My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes
the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on
to apply them in a different way than he did. If
you don’t like my theory, what’s yours?

                  RM:Â  It's that these social phenomena result

from atomized individuals controlling their own
perceptions, and that the main perceptions
controlled are the one’s Bill called “system
concepts”, such as the concept of a society.Â

                  KM: Very

possibly, you don’t find the question of how these
kinds of sociocultural formations are created and
maintained very interesting.

                  Â RM: Actually I find them terribly

interesting.Â

                  KM: Perhaps the

only thing that counts for you as evidence is
something that can be reduced to simple computer
models and investigated in the laboratory.

                  RM: Certainly not the only thing. But a very

important thing!Â

Â

                  KM: The

question of how the technology of woodworking
works obviously has a far greater scope, one that
doesn’t neatly fit into the lab setting.

                  RM: I actually have worked on economic models

in an effort to account for aggregate
socioeconomic data, such as data on how goods
(like tables) and services (like building stuff)
are collectively controlled in an economy. Indeed.
I noted that an economy can be viewed as “control
writ large”.Â

                  KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique

of work on broader topics than individual
behavior, it would make sense, from my point of
view, for you to do your homework first by reading
carefully and thinking about what Bruce or Martin
or I or others who have applied PCT to these areas
have written about these topics. One of your
favorite arguments, I’ve noticed, when you
encounter something not contained within the
narrow confines of your own understanding of PCT,
is “I can’t think of an example of� whatever it is
that someone else has put forward as a
possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps
this isn’t fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to
actually do any thinking at all about the topic
but are just favoring us with your offhand
observations. If we’re to have exchanges in this
forum about topics where you may be a little out
of your depth, it would please me if you took a
little more scholarly approach to it, with some
respect for what other people are saying and
awareness of the possible limitations of your own
point of view.

                  RM: When I've asked for an example of something

when discussing your work I believe it has been
for an example of a social variable that is an
example of a variable being maintained in a
virtual reference state, as per your collective
conflict model. I can think of one – the position
of the flag in a tug of war. Another might be the
geopolitical boundaries of Israel-Palestine. But
there’s not many that I encounter in my everyday
life, such as the table in your woodworking
example or the orchestra I’m listening to now.
Neither the table nor the orchestra seem like they
are the virtual reference states of variables that
are being controlled relative to different
reference states.Â

                  RM: But, as Ricky Nelson said, you can't please

everyone so you gotta please yourself!

BestÂ

Rick

                  My best,



                  Kent







                  > On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken

<csgnet@lists.illinois.edu >
wrote:

                  >

                  > [Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

                  >

                  > [From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

                  >

                  > RM: … I have also seen Kent's collective

conflict models, which can result in a virtually
controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what
social data that model actually accounts for. And
that “conflictive control” model also has all the
actors in the collective conflict experiencing
error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t
think real social agents like to live with
sustained error for very long.

                  >

                  > KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that

“real social agents don’t like to live with
sustained error for any length of time”? What
evidence do you have for this assertion?

                  >

                  > KM: I could spend hours listing social

conflicts that have devolved into messy long-term
standoffs, from Israelis vs. Palestinians to
Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman

                  > vs. Richard Marken. And the real social

agents involved keep on actively pursuing these
conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the sustained
errors they experience.

                  >

                  > RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not

really evidence that people like being in them. My
only evidence that people don’t like being in
sustained conflict is that they say they don’t.

                  > Of course, the people currently losing the

conflict are more likely to express dislike for it
than those who are winning. I bet there are a lot
more Palestinians than Israelis who are

                  > unhappy about that conflict. And I don't

particularly like living in a society with people
(those who voted for Trump in particular) whose
values are so different than mine. Not do I

                  > like the fact that I am in continual conflict

with virtually everyone on CSGNet about something
having to do with PCT. I would feel a lot better
if people not only agreed with me but

                  > also understood why they did! It would be

like my relationship with Bill, a nearly
completely conflict free relationship and that
felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

                  >Â 

                  > KM: You might object that these are social

phenomena, although I thought that was what you
and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but
it also applies with individuals caught

                  > in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term

inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL
therapists. The clients may not like the lack of
control, but these conflicts do not magically

                  > resolve themselves  just because it’s

unpleasant for the person.

                  >

                  > RM: I was saying what you are saying; the

client (conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost
certainly does not) like not being in control. In
your model, every individual who is

                  > participating in the "virtual reference

state" of the commonly controlled variable is not
in control. Control systems are not in control
when there is persistent (and relatively large)

                  > error. I agree that there is no magical

solution to these conflicts but their persistence
is certainly not evidence that the parties enjoy
being in them. And I believe that’s true even if

                  > the conflict results in the variable in

conflict is being maintained in a virtual
reference state.

                  >Â 

                  > KM: Before you start offering sweeping

assertions in order to cast doubt on other
people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a
little longer about what you yourself are actually
saying

                  > and whether you have any evidence for the

assertions you’re making.

                  >

                  > RM: I try to. And I think you might consider

doing the same;-)

                  >

                  > KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade

here …

                  >

                  > RM: No problem. 

                  >

                  > Best

                  >

                  > Rick

                  >

                  > My best,

                  >

                  > Kent

                  >

                  >

                  >> On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard

Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu >
wrote:

                  >>

                  >> [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

                  >>

                  >> In response to Bruce Nevin

(20190830.16:30 ET)

                  >>

                  >> RM: I'd be interested in hearing what you

think is an example of a social variable and how
work in “collective control” shows that it can
have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

                  >>

                  >> BN: Huh?

                  >>

                  >> RM: Huh huh?  Actually, I was replying to

this:

                  >>

                  >> BN: That is not the ghost of which I

wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance,
perhaps around 1992, to notions like social
variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I don’t
remember the precise words that were in play. Work
on collective control showed how something like
those notions can have a sound theoretical basis
in PCT.

                  >>

                  >> RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see

an example of how work on collective control gave
notions like social variables or shared
perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

                  >>

                  >> BN: Yes, I understood your question, and

I was being responsive. Your question had two
parts. You first asked for an example of a ‘social
variable’, and then you aid you’d like to hear how
investigations of collective control give such
variables a strong theoretical basis in PCT. I
replied to the first part of your question with an
example. After you recognize that, we can continue
with the second part of your question.

                  >>

                  >> RM: So "huh?"Â  is an example of a social

variable? It might be the state of a social
variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to
me, let alone a social variable.

                  >>

                  >> BN: You did not respond to the word

“Huh?” as an example of a collectively controlled
(‘social’) variable.

                  >>

                  >> RM: Well, only you would know that. I

responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a
conversation about social variables and collective
control. To correct that disturbance I responded
by suggesting what I thought might be a better way
to ask my question, in order to get an answer that
didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.

                  >>

                  >> BN: If you had [recognized that "Huh?"

was a response to the question about what a social
variable is], you might have commented that the
word “Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the
question mark) conventionally indicates not
understanding what was just said,

                  >>

                  >> RM: That is the way I took it and it's

why I re-framed my question.

                  >>Â 

                  >> BN: or alternatively consternation that

such a thing might be said, and you might have
acknowledged that “conventionally indicating”
something is a function of collective control.

                  >>

                  >> RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I

was asking you (not myself) what social variables
are. I also think the term “collective control”
describes many very different phenomena involving
control by multiple individuals, So saying that
something is explained by “collective control”
says virtually nothing to me about how a
particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I
was asking for an explanation of how “collective
control” explains social variables.

                  >>

                  >> BN: We've discussed the nature of social

conventions a fair amount.

                  >>

                  >> RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part

of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving
the PCT explanation of the control of social
variables without any need for postulating
“collective control” to give them a “strong
theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of
htis.

                  >>

                  >> BN: I confess that the 'consternation'

meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not
remember any of our discussions of language and
culture in terms of collective control?

                  >>

                  >> RM: I do remember the cool little

simulations I did that were aimed at explaining
the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And
some other discussions of what I would call
“conflictive control” that seemed to have no
obvious relationship to any everyday social
phenomenon.

                  >>

                  >> BN: The context, as you generously

reminded us, was “The dispute … over Bill’s
resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like
social variables or shared perceptions.”

                  >>

                  >> RM: Someone else must have reminded us of

that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But,
as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill,
in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take
on control of what I think of as social
variables. And the basic idea is that these
variables (like the pronunciation variables in my
pronunciation drift model) “exist only in
individuals”.

                  >>

                  >> BN: Confirmed to materialist science as

he was, he said he would want to see the input and
output functions, etc. It looked like this
resistance was going to make it difficult to talk
about language and culture within PCT.

                  >>

                  >> RM: I think Bill was "confirmed " (did

you mean confined?") to science; he was certainly
not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check
out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.

                  >>

                  >> BN: Investigations of collective control

showed how humans in social groups create and
maintain such ‘social variables’,

                  >>

                  >> RM: It depends on what you mean by

“collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo
and my “pronunciation drift” model show how
collections of individual control systems,
controlling for the same or similar social
perceptions, can produce what would be called
social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s
collective conflict models, which can result in a
virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t
seen what social data that model actually accounts
for. And that “conflictive control” model also has
all the actors in the collective conflict
experiencing error and, thus, not being in
control. I don’t think real social agents like to
live with sustained error for very long.

                  >>

                  >> BN: Here's one of the posts from Bill

that I found that I think is relevant to this
discussion.

                  >> -----

                  >> [From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

                  >>Â 

                  >> Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)--

                  >>Â 

                  >> BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You

have said twice now that it would be

                  >> difficult to test for controlled social

variables:

                  >>Â 

                  >> BN: >We want to identify, and then

disturb, and measure resistance to the

                  >> disturbance of, a >social artifact,

but we are arrested in our progress at

                  >> the very first step: the >hypothesis

that posits the controlled variable.

                  >>Â 

                  >> BP: I can see that this would pose a

problem if the social artifact had any

                  >> independent existence of its own: just

where on the social CV would you

                  >> push to see if there is resistance? If

you try to push on the distance

                  >> between two Arabs, your hand will

encounter only thin air.

                  >>Â 

                  >> BP: It is far easier to imagine

disturbing a variable that a person is

                  >> controlling, and this is how I would

proceed in investigating social

                  >> reference levels. I would say to my

Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

                  >> This, plus appropriate follow-up

interactions, would tell me whether my

                  >> friend perceived being Jewish as

requiring the avoidance of things like

                  >> bacon. By such means I could determine,

within reasonable bounds, not only

                  >> how my friend perceives Jewishness, but

what reference conditions he

                  >> maintains and what actions he finds

permissible to carry out, at least with

                  >> a friend, to defend those variables

against disturbances.

                  >>Â 

                  >> BP: What I am describing is close to, but

not the same as, what Lee says in the

                  >> cited segment. It helps a great deal to

be able to perceive something like

                  >> what the other person perceives, in order

to propose specific Tests, but

                  >> I'm not convinced that total immersion is

essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

                  >> tried it.

                  >>Â 

                  >> BP: If we put that aside, I think that

part of my thesis would be upheld by

                  >> Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am, for all

practical purposes, as totally

                  >> immersed in my society as possible for

me, yet I don’t think I have ever

                  >> met any person who could be considered

representative of everyone else but

                  >> me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that

there is no such person. I have

                  >> formed some generalizations about others

in my society, but it has always

                  >> been quite clear to me that they did not

apply to everyone, and in fact the

                  >> older I get, the less general any of my

generalizations seem. If Dorothy

                  >> Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society

and came to know it as a native,

                  >> then she, too, would have formed

generalizations about the other people,

                  >> and they would have been no more true

about everyone in that society than

                  >> my generalizations about my own society

are. Well, they probably would have

                  >> been more true than mine from the

standpoint of being consistent and

                  >> systematic, but that would not make them

any less statistical in nature.

                  >> Generalizations, as understood in the

social sciences, by their very nature

                  >> are not true of everyone.

                  >>Â 

                  >> BP: You haven't yet budged me from my

position that social variables exist only

                  >> in individuals; I now add, ... and can be

detected only through

                  >> interactions with individuals. I will

include linguistic phenomena in that

                  >> assertion. The way we find out about

cultures is through interacting with

                  >> individuals and then forming

generalizations – which are, of course,

                  >> perceptions in ourselves of the same type

as the social perceptions we

                  >> investigate. Generalizations which refer

to all individuals in a culture

                  >> are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations

which refer to a culture treated

                  >> as a population are, if correctly drawn,

true but not necessarily

                  >> applicable to any individual in that

culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

                  >> 5.173 inches tall"). Those that are true

of individuals are true only of

                  >> _specific_ individuals -- the subset of

those tested who behaved exactly

                  >> according to hypothesis. And as I'm sure

you will agree, that subset is

                  >> never as large as the set of individuals

tested. Sometimes it is not even

                  >> half as large as the tested set (for

example, it could be a a little over a

                  >> third of the population if three

alternatives were tested).

                  >>Â 

                  >> Best,

                  >>Â 

                  >> Bill P.

                  >>

                  >> ---------------------

                  >>

                  >> Best

                  >>

                  >> Rick

                  >> --

                  >> Richard S. Marken

                  >> "Perfection is achieved not when you have

nothing more to add, but when you

                  >> have nothing left to take away.�

                  >>Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â --Antoine

de Saint-Exupery

                  >>

                  >

                  >

                  >

                  > --

                  > Richard S. Marken

                  > "Perfection is achieved not when you have

nothing more to add, but when you

                  > have nothing left to take away.�

                  >Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â --Antoine de

Saint-Exupery

                  >


Richard S.
MarkenÂ

                                          "Perfection

is achieved not when you
have nothing more to add,
but when you
have
nothing left to take
away.�
Â
            Â
  --Antoine de
Saint-Exupery


Richard S. MarkenÂ

                                "Perfection

is achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but when you
have
nothing left to take away.�
   Â
            --Antoine de
Saint-Exupery

[When I originally posted this message, I sent it by mistake only to Rick, not to the CSG list. Since there have been comments on the list about Rick’s reply (which seemed inadequate to me), here is the original message.]

[Kent McClelland 2019.09.06.1150]

  [Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

  RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them.
  My only evidence that people don't like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don’t. �

KM: Whether people like being in confflict or not is pretty much irrelevant, from my point of view. The fact is, long-term interpersonal conflicts are an important feature of social reality, as we experience it. I bristled when you said that “real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long�?, because the way I read it, you were dismissing my model of conflictive control as not applying much to real life, since the implication is that people in conflicts will soon find a way to get out of them. All the evidence I’ve seen suggests that this is not the case, and that, on the contrary, the model is widely applicable to everyday social interactions.

KM: To me, the important point is that in spite of the fact that people don’t enjoy the loss of control that comes from unresolved conflicts, they often continue to pursue them, presumably because they like the alternative even less (e.g., retreating with one’s tail between one’s legs from the field of battle, surrendering to a stronger opponent, or whatever). Which is not to say that some people in some situations don’t enjoy engaging in conflicts. Military camaraderie or imagining oneself as a hero fighting for one’s ideals can be a powerful motivator (i.e., a perception to control with high gain). In any case, the question is not whether people enjoy conflict, but why they keep at it, even when it isn’t enjoyable.

KM: You speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to produce evidence for my theory of collective control. From my perspective, the evidence is in plain sight. It’s contained in the “generalizations�? that Bill Powers talked about in the passage you quoted in your response to Bruce’s post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

  BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only
  in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected only through
  interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that
  assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with
  individuals and then forming generalizations -- which are, of course,
  perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we
  investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture
  are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated
  as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily
  applicable to any individual in that culture �

KM: I certainly agree with Billl that these sociological generalizations are not true of every individual in the populations studied, but the overall patterns are “social facts�? in the sense that the patterns can be verified by repeated examinations by independent observers. The patterns represent the data that sociological theories must be able to explain. How is it that these broad patterns have come to exist, continue over time, and tend to change relatively slowly? These generalizations are precisely the evidence for which theories of society and culture must account.

KM: I disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social variables exist only in individuals ... and can be detected only through interactions with individuals.�? His view of society as consisting merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other is, in my opinion, a drastically oversimplified and inadequate account of how society works and how these broad generalization come to be. What Bill's simplistic conception of society leaves out are the many kinds of humanly constructed physical and organizational infrastructure that help keep social patterns in place. (In Bill’s defense, let me say that I think his views on the social applications of PCT evolved somewhat over the last 20 years of his life, away from the extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He certainly never gave me any static about my published articles on collective control, all of which postdate the quotation above. My most recent article on the topic was one he generously praised.)

KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s theory clearer by finally doing something I promised to do for you many months ago, which was to give you an example of how "technologies for making familiar objects and accomplishing common tasks�? can be understood as products of collective control.

KM: The particular technology I want to discuss is woodworking, which many people in our society (mostly men) practice as a hobby by making handcrafted furniture or toys or decorative objects out of wood. Most woodworkers, however, don’t go out and cut down trees themselves or use tools that they themselves have created to shape wood into these objects.

KM: They buy the wood from lumber stores, buy manufactured tools to work with, and often follow plans or ideas offered by other people. To get wood to work with, they avail themselves of an elaborate organizational infrastructure of companies that go out into the forests and cut down the trees, saw them up into lumber, and ship the lumber to the retail stores that sell it to the customer. A similarly elaborate organizational structure supports the manufacture and distribution of woodworking tools. Both of these industries depend on an extensive physical infrastructure of tools, factories, offices, and communications equipment.

KM: To get ideas for what to make and how to make these handcrafted objects, woodworkers have lots of written and visual materials to turn to, including books on woodworking, magazines, and online videos. blogs, and chat rooms. Organized classes in woodworking are also offered by schools and community organizations. Each of these sources of information is supported by an elaborate physical and organizational infrastructure of factories, offices, and communications equipment. Undergirding all of these commercial and community ventures is a governmental infrastructure of laws and regulations, as well as a money supply provided by the government for expediting the many commercial transactions involved.

KM: The craft of woodworking, then, as practiced in modern society, cannot be understood simply as a matter of individual people controlling their own perceptions, or even of individuals interacting with and imitating other individuals. The physical and organizational arrangements that have been put in place to enable this technological pursuit are both extensive and complex. How then might sociologists or anthropologists account for the existence of this set of broad and durable social patterns?

KM: I’ve offered the theory of collective control to account for phenomena like these. I argue (in my chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of PCT) that the existence and maintenance of these kinds of social and cultural arrangements can be understood as products of vast networks of collective control, which involve giant virtual controllers that are composed of individual people controlling their own perceptions at many different perceptual levels, but often perceptions that are similar to those controlled by the others also involved.

KM: The people participating in this collective control enterprise do not all control the same perceptions, certainly not at the same time, but they control different perceptions in the service of a common objective, which is to make woodworking happen. I regard it as collective control because, at some level, they all control the same perception: a perception of woodworking as an enjoyable hobby, even though how each individual understands that perception might be different. Clearly, part of the technology of woodworking is the knowledge contained in lots of different individual people’s heads, but if we consider the physical and organizational infrastructure, there’s lots more involved, as well.

KM: Although conflict would not seem to be something that’s too big a part of the woodworking world, I have no doubt that conflict shows up somewhere in the collective control networks that contribute to this overall enterprise. Perhaps there are public exhibitions of craft objects that produce hard feelings among the individual woodworkers competing with each other for best in show. (Not being a woodworker myself, I wouldn’t know, but I’d bet on it.) Certainly there must be conflict among the commercial enterprises that compete for the woodworking hobbyist's money. Whether the interactions are collaborative or conflictive, however, all of them are part of the overall collective control enterprise.

KM: So that’s my theory to account for this social phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on to apply them in a different way than he did. If you don’t like my theory, what’s yours? Very possibly, you don’t find the question of how these kinds of sociocultural formations are created and maintained very interesting. It’s a sociological thing, I guess. You’re a psychologist, like Bill, you have your own set of disciplinary interests, which don’t need to much extend beyond the question of how to account for the behavior of individuals. Perhaps the only thing that counts for you as evidence is something that can be reduced to simple computer models and investigated in the laboratory. The question of how the technology of woodworking works obviously has a far greater scope, one that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab setting.

KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique of work on broader topics than individual behavior, it would make sense, from my point of view, for you to do your homework first by reading carefully and thinking about what Bruce or Martin or I or others who have applied PCT to these areas have written about these topics. One of your favorite arguments, I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not contained within the narrow confines of your own understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an example of�? whatever it is that someone else has put forward as a possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps this isn’t fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to actually do any thinking at all about the topic but are just favoring us with your offhand observations. If we’re to have exchanges in this forum about topics where you may be a little out of your depth, it would please me if you took a little more scholarly approach to it, with some respect for what other people are saying and awareness of the possible limitations of your own point of view.

My best,

Kent

···

On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu> wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

[From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

RM: � I have also seen Kent's colleective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven't seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that "conflictive control" model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don't think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that "real social agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any length of time"? What evidence do you have for this assertion?

KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman
vs. Richard Marken. And the real social agents involved keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the sustained errors they experience.

RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence that people don't like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don't.
Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are more likely to express dislike for it than those who are winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than Israelis who are
unhappy about that conflict. And I don't particularly like living in a society with people (those who voted for Trump in particular) whose values are so different than mine. Not do I
like the fact that I am in continual conflict with virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only agreed with me but
also understood why they did! It would be like my relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

KM: You might object that these are social phenomena, although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals caught
in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The clients may not like the lack of control, but these conflicts do not magically
resolve themselves just because it’s unpleasant for the person.

RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client (conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does not) like not being in control. In your model, every individual who is
participating in the "virtual reference state" of the commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control systems are not in control when there is persistent (and relatively large)
error. I agree that there is no magical solution to these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe that's true even if
the conflict results in the variable in conflict is being maintained in a virtual reference state.

KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are actually saying
and whether you have any evidence for the assertions you’re making.

RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the same;-)

KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here ...

RM: No problem.

Best

Rick

My best,

Kent

On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu> wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

RM: I'd be interested in hearing what you think is an example of a social variable and how work in "collective control" shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

BN: Huh?

RM: Huh huh? Actually, I was replying to this:

BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The dispute was over Bill's resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I'm sure I don't remember the precise words that were in play. Work on collective control showed how something like those notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example of how work on collective control gave notions like social variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first asked for an example of a 'social variable', and then you aid you'd like to hear how investigations of collective control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the second part of your question.

RM: So "huh?" is an example of a social variable? It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn't seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.

BN: You did not respond to the word "Huh?" as an example of a collectively controlled ('social') variable.

RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to "Huh?" as a disturbance to a conversation about social variables and collective control. To correct that disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an answer that didn't seem like a non-sequiter.

BN: If you had [recognized that "Huh?" was a response to the question about what a social variable is], you might have commented that the word "Huh?" and its intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally indicates not understanding what was just said,

RM: That is the way I took it and it's why I re-framed my question.

BN: or alternatively consternation that such a thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that "conventionally indicating" something is a function of collective control.

RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also think the term "collective control" describes many very different phenomena involving control by multiple individuals, So saying that something is explained by "collective control" says virtually nothing to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was asking for an explanation of how "collective control" explains social variables.

BN: We've discussed the nature of social conventions a fair amount.

RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social variables without any need for postulating "collective control" to give them a "strong theoretical basis". It's copied at the end of htis.

BN: I confess that the 'consternation' meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our discussions of language and culture in terms of collective control?

RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I would call "conflictive control" that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was "The dispute ... over Bill's resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions."

RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as social variables. And the basic idea is that these variables (like the pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model) "exist only in individuals".

BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

RM: I think Bill was "confirmed " (did you mean confined?") to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill's papers on consciousness.

BN: Investigations of collective control showed how humans in social groups create and maintain such 'social variables',

RM: It depends on what you mean by "collective control". I think Bill's CROWD demo and my "pronunciation drift" model show how collections of individual control systems, controlling for the same or similar social perceptions, can produce what would be called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent's collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven't seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that "conflictive control" model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don't think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

BN: Here's one of the posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to this discussion.
-----
[From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)--

BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said twice now that it would be
difficult to test for controlled social variables:

BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and measure resistance to the
disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at
the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the social artifact had any
independent existence of its own: just where on the social CV would you
push to see if there is resistance? If you try to push on the distance
between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only thin air.

BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a variable that _a person_ is
controlling, and this is how I would proceed in investigating social
reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend, "Want half of my BLT?"
This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions, would tell me whether my
friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the avoidance of things like
bacon. By such means I could determine, within reasonable bounds, not only
how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what reference conditions he
maintains and what actions he finds permissible to carry out, at least with
a friend, to defend those variables against disturbances.

BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the
cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to perceive something like
what the other person perceives, in order to propose specific Tests, but
I'm not convinced that total immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven't
tried it.

BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my thesis would be upheld by
Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am, for all practical purposes, as totally
immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I don't think I have ever
met any person who could be considered representative of everyone else but
me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no such person. I have
formed some generalizations about others in my society, but it has always
been quite clear to me that they did not apply to everyone, and in fact the
older I get, the less general any of my generalizations seem. If Dorothy
Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came to know it as a native,
then she, too, would have formed generalizations about the other people,
and they would have been no more true about everyone in that society than
my generalizations about my own society are. Well, they probably would have
been more true than mine from the standpoint of being consistent and
systematic, but that would not make them any less statistical in nature.
Generalizations, as understood in the social sciences, by their very nature
are not true of everyone.

BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only
in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected only through
interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that
assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with
individuals and then forming generalizations -- which are, of course,
perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we
investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture
are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated
as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily
applicable to any individual in that culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet
5.173 inches tall"). Those that are true of individuals are true only of
_specific_ individuals -- the subset of those tested who behaved exactly
according to hypothesis. And as I'm sure you will agree, that subset is
never as large as the set of individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even
half as large as the tested set (for example, it could be a a little over a
third of the population if three alternatives were tested).

Best,

Bill P.

---------------------

Best

Rick
--
Richard S. Marken
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�?
                               --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

--
Richard S. Marken
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�?
                               --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.09.12.30]

···

PS. (Just before I close down) Since I
will be using the concept of a “PCT-motif” several times in my
talk on Friday,it might help if I point out that a GVC is an
example of a PCT-motif. If there are 64 ways in which controller A
and controller B can interact, the same is true of controller A
with controller C and of controller B with controller C, all of
which are logically independent of each other. When there are N
interacting control loops, there are 64N conceivable
sets of interactions among them, of which only a few patterns
would ever be observed often enough to be visible among the crowd.
Those are “PCT-motifs” of which the control hierarchy is the one
usually discussed on CSGnet. Simple conflict is another. The ones
I will be using in my talk are primarily the Trade motif, and the
conflict motif and the hierarchy motif which form supporting
motifs of the Trade motif in the same way that lower-level
controlled perceptions support higher-level ones.

  Martin

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.09.09.29]

  Will do, but not when I'm packing for my flight this evening.

Two points, though, which may or may not be relevant to your
comments, but they are relevant to the nature of collective
control… (1) Disturbing another’s controlled perception is only one of four
distinct ways in which the control actions of controller A might
influence the performance of controller B, and each of the four
ways might be by side-effect of A’s controlling or by intent. The
four ways are (a) disturbance, (b) influencing the path from
disturbing source to B’s controlled environmental variable (e.g.
holding an umbrella over someone in a rainstorm), © influencing
the path from B’s output to the controlled environmental variable
(e.g. offering scissors to someone vainly trying to tear open a
plastic bag). and (d) influencing the path from B’s controlled
environmental variable to their input (e.g. taking away a
magnifying glass B wanted to use to read fine print). These 8
possibilities lead to 64 possible feedback loops that pass through
both controllers of which more than one is involved in the various
kinds of collective control. (2) Except in specific circumstances, it is rare for collective
control to depend on the individual controllers controlling the
same external variable. The various possible feedback loops
through A and B may have positive or negative loop gain. The
“conflict” loop in which two controllers try to set the same
variable to two different reference values is a double-disturbance
loop, in the terms of the previous paragraph, an “a-a” loop, just
one of the 64 possibilities. Not all of the 64 result in the
creation of a GVC, but some of them do, and when more controllers
are involved the 64 possibilities become a very much larger number
very quickly. When thinking about Collective Control, it is
important to keep this number issue in mind, but what really
matters is the few of these that result in stable networks,
probably modular (like the individual control hierarchy). That’s
mainly what Kent has been talking about since we have been
discussing collective control over the last several years.
Enough for now. But what matters to me is not what you may have
intended by what you say, but what the science says about how the
world works.
Martin

    On 2019/09/7 8:37 PM, Richard Marken

(
via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

rsmarken@gmail.com

[Rick Marken 2019-09-07_17:36:18]

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.07.17.25]

            MT: Kent's message on which Rick comments somehow never

made it into my mailbox, so I have to go by the bits
Rick quotes to determine what Kent wrote. Most of Rick’s
comments seem to argue that Kent does not believe that
Giant Virtual Controllers (GVCs) result from the control
actions of individual controllers.

          RM: That was not what I was arguing. Indeed, I'm pretty

sure that Kent does believe (and has demonstrated) that
what you call GVCs result from the control actions of
individual controllers.Â

          RM: So you might want to give it another try after

you’ve read Kent’s post.

BestÂ

Rick

Â

            That has not been my impression

over several years of dealing with Kent on different
kinds of Collective Control. All Giant Virtual
Controllers exist only because individuals control the
perceptions they do. That does not at all imply that the
GVCs control any of the variables controlled by the
individuals who are members of a GVC. Often they do, but
that’s not a logical necessity. What IS a logical
necessity is that the variables controlled by GVCs lie
in the same descriptive space (hyperspace for the more
mathematically inclined) as the totality of the control
systems that contribute to the GVC.

            Conflictive Collective Control is not the only form of

collective control. Here the names of are five more:
Collaborative Collective Control, Coordinated Collective
Control, Guided Collective Control, Giant Real
Collective Control, and Hierarchic Collective Control.

            It is important not to confuse collective control with

the side-effects of collective control, such as climate
change and monetary inflation (I will discuss the latter
in Manchester). It is also important to recognize that
not all Collective Control is based on conflict, though
Giant Virtual Controllers can engage in conflict, just
as individual controllers can – as for example in a
Presidential Election, which in the USA consists
primarily of a GVC called “Democrats” conflicting with a
GVC called “Republicans”. All of the people who are
members of either GVC – those controlling for
perceiving themselves to vote one of two possible ways
– control myriads of other perceptions, but the result
is two Collaborative GVCs in conflict. The GVCs
themselves are unlikely to exist because of conflict
among their members, and the Collective conflict is not
based on conflict between any pairs of individual
controllers.

            Collective control is no more simple than is individual

control or any of the other kinds of interactions among
individual control loops. You don’t dismiss hierarchic
control because a control loop controls only one
perceptual variable, and likewise you should not dismiss
Collective Control because it gives rise to phenomena
not accounted for by effects in a single control loop.

            Martin
                    [Kent

McClelland 2019.09.06.1150]

                    KM: I

bristled when you said that “real social agents
like to live with sustained error for very
long�,

                    RM: I think you meant to say that you

bristled because I said social agents don’t
like to live with sustained error,
because that’s what I said.

                    KM: because

the way I read it, you were dismissing my model
of conflictive control as not applying much to
real life,

                    RM: I think your model of conflictive control

is, indeed, relevant to many real life
situations. My main problems with it are 1) you
have never tested the model’s ability to account
for actual conflict data and 2) you have said
that the model accounts for “social stability”
but, again, you have never presented the results
of a test of your model’s ability to account for
some phenomenon that you claim to be an example
of social stability. So it’s impossible for me
to evaluate your claims about the merits of your
model. That’s why I can’t really use your work
as an example of PCT research on social
phenomena.Â

                    KM: You

speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me
to produce evidence for my theory of collective
control. From my perspective, the evidence is in
plain sight. It’s contained in the
“generalizations� that Bill Powers talked about
in the passage you quoted in your response to
Bruce’s post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  BP: You haven't yet budged me from my

position that social variables exist only

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  in individuals; I now add, ... and can

be detected only through

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  interactions with individuals. I will

include linguistic phenomena in that

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  assertion. The way we find out about

cultures is through interacting with

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  individuals and then forming

generalizations – which are, of course,

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  perceptions in ourselves of the same

type as the social perceptions we

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  investigate. Generalizations which refer

to all individuals in a culture

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations

which refer to a culture treated

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  as a population are, if correctly drawn,

true but not necessarily

                    Â  Â  Â  Â  applicable to any individual in that

culture …

                    KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these

sociological generalizations are not true of
every individual in the populations studied, but
the overall patterns are “social facts� in the
sense that the patterns can be verified by
repeated examinations by independent observers.
The patterns represent the data that
sociological theories must be able to explain.
How is it that these broad patterns have come to
exist, continue over time, and tend to change
relatively slowly? These generalizations are
precisely the evidence for which theories of
society and culture must account.

                    RM: I guess my idea of what constitutes

evidence for the correctness of a theory is just
different than yours. For me that evidence is
the fit of theory to data. An example of this
kind of evidence is Tom Bourbon’s work on
two-person interaction. My control model to
account for Labov’s data on phonemic drift is
another. The nice thing about testing models
against data is that it forces the researcher to
identify the correspondences between features of
the phenomenon to be explained and those of the
model that is doing the explaining. If you did
this with you model on “collective control” it
would be clear, for example, what feature of a
specific example of “social stability”
corresponds to the “virtual reference state” in
your model of “collective control”.

Â

                    KM: I

disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that
"social variables exist only in individuals …
and can be detected only through interactions
with individuals.� His view of society as
consisting merely of atomized individuals
controlling their own perceptions and creating
disturbances for each other is, in my opinion, a
drastically oversimplified and inadequate
account of how society works and how these broad
generalization come to be. What Bill’s
simplistic conception of society leaves out are
the many kinds of humanly constructed physical
and organizational infrastructure that help keep
social patterns in place.

                    RM: I don't think it leaves it out at all.

All that infrastructure results from individuals
acting to control their own perceptions, and
sometimes these actions are a disturbance to
variables controlled by other individuals. But
if you really don’t like the idea that society
“consists merely of atomized individuals
controlling their own perceptions and creating
disturbances for each other” then why did you
develop a model of “social stability” (or
“collective control”) that does precisely that.Â

                    KM: (In

Bill’s defense, let me say that I think his
views on the social applications of PCT evolved
somewhat over the last 20 years of his life,
away from the extreme positions he took in the
early 90s. He certainly never gave me any static
about my published articles on collective
control, all of which postdate the quotation
above. My most recent article on the topic was
one he generously praised.)

                    RM: Maybe Bill liked it was because your

model was a good demonstration of how a social
variable – the virtual reference state of a
variable in conflict --Â can emerge from the
actions of a group of “atomized individuals”
controlling their own perceptions and creating
disturbances for each other.Â

                    KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of

Bill’s theory clearer by finally doing something
I promised to do for you many months ago, which
was to give you an example of how "technologies
for making familiar objects and accomplishing
common tasks� can be understood as products of
collective control.

                    RM: Nothing you say here is something that

can’t be explained as the result of atomized
individuals controlling their own perceptions.
Of course, among the perceptions each individual
must be controlling is a perception of being cooperative
and perceiving the benefits for such
cooperation. Controlling for cooperation is
necessary for the kind of specialization you
describe. Each person – woodworker, toolmaker,
lumberjack – has agreed to specialize in doing
part of what is required to build a table,
instead of each controlling for producing the
whole table themselves. They are giving up
control (of producing the table) to get better
control (being able buy the table and many other
things that they couldn’t have gotten if they
had had to spend all their time doing what is
needed to build a table --cutting the lumber,
forging the tools, putting it all together,
etc). I have not been able to see anything in
your conflict model of “collective control” that
could explain how this happens.Â

Â

                    KM: I’ve

offered the theory of collective control to
account for phenomena like these. I argue (in my
chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of PCT)
that the existence and maintenance of these
kinds of social and cultural arrangements can be
understood as products of vast networks of
collective control, which involve giant virtual
controllers that are composed of individual
people controlling their own perceptions at many
different perceptual levels, but often
perceptions that are similar to those controlled
by the others also involved.

                    RM:Â  I'd find your arguments more convincing

if you could should me how your collective
control model could do something like the
woodworking you describe.Â

                    KM: The

people participating in this collective control
enterprise do not all control the same
perceptions, certainly not at the same time, but
they control different perceptions in the
service of a common objective, which is to make
woodworking happen.

                    RM: Righto. But that's not what your

collective control model does, is it? You model
has different individuals controlling the SAME
perception relative to different reference
specifications.Â

Â

                    KM: I regard

it as collective control

                    RM: I do too! What I don't call "collective

control" is what your model does, because none
of the individuals involved in the conflict is
in control. “Collective conflict” would be a
more accurate description of what your model
does. And, as you say, this kind of conflict is
certainly pervasive in social interactions. But
it seems to me that it is only interesting as
something to be eliminated as much as possible.
It doesn’t seem like a good basis for having a
stable society.

Â

                    KM: So

that’s my theory to account for this social
phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT,
but it takes the ideas that Bill envisioned in
B:CP and goes on to apply them in a different
way than he did. If you don’t like my theory,
what’s yours?

                    RM:Â  It's that these social phenomena result

from atomized individuals controlling their own
perceptions, and that the main perceptions
controlled are the one’s Bill called “system
concepts”, such as the concept of a society.Â

                    KM: Very

possibly, you don’t find the question of how
these kinds of sociocultural formations are
created and maintained very interesting.

                    Â RM: Actually I find them terribly

interesting.Â

                    KM: Perhaps

the only thing that counts for you as evidence
is something that can be reduced to simple
computer models and investigated in the
laboratory.

                    RM: Certainly not the only thing. But a very

important thing!Â

Â

                    KM: The

question of how the technology of woodworking
works obviously has a far greater scope, one
that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab setting.

                    RM: I actually have worked on economic models

in an effort to account for aggregate
socioeconomic data, such as data on how goods
(like tables) and services (like building stuff)
are collectively controlled in an economy.
Indeed. I noted that an economy can be viewed as
“control writ large”.Â

                    KM: But if you do want to venture into a

critique of work on broader topics than
individual behavior, it would make sense, from
my point of view, for you to do your homework
first by reading carefully and thinking about
what Bruce or Martin or I or others who have
applied PCT to these areas have written about
these topics. One of your favorite arguments,
I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not
contained within the narrow confines of your own
understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an
example of� whatever it is that someone else has
put forward as a possibility. To me it sounds
like (and perhaps this isn’t fair) you haven’t
taken the trouble to actually do any thinking at
all about the topic but are just favoring us
with your offhand observations. If we’re to have
exchanges in this forum about topics where you
may be a little out of your depth, it would
please me if you took a little more scholarly
approach to it, with some respect for what other
people are saying and awareness of the possible
limitations of your own point of view.

                    RM: When I've asked for an example of

something when discussing your work I believe it
has been for an example of a social variable
that is an example of a variable being
maintained in a virtual reference state, as per
your collective conflict model. I can think of
one – the position of the flag in a tug of war.
Another might be the geopolitical boundaries of
Israel-Palestine. But there’s not many that I
encounter in my everyday life, such as the table
in your woodworking example or the orchestra I’m
listening to now. Neither the table nor the
orchestra seem like they are the virtual
reference states of variables that are being
controlled relative to different reference
states.Â

                    RM: But, as Ricky Nelson said, you can't

please everyone so you gotta please yourself!

BestÂ

Rick

                    My best,



                    Kent







                    > On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken

<csgnet@lists.illinois.edu >
wrote:

                    >

                    > [Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

                    >

                    > [From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

                    >

                    > RM: … I have also seen Kent's collectiive

conflict models, which can result in a virtually
controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what
social data that model actually accounts for.
And that “conflictive control” model also has
all the actors in the collective conflict
experiencing error and, thus, not being in
control. I don’t think real social agents like
to live with sustained error for very long.

                    >

                    > KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that

“real social agents don’t like to live with
sustained error for any length of time”? What
evidence do you have for this assertion?

                    >

                    > KM: I could spend hours listing social

conflicts that have devolved into messy
long-term standoffs, from Israelis vs.
Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris
Hartman

                    > vs. Richard Marken. And the real social

agents involved keep on actively pursuing these
conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the
sustained errors they experience.

                    >

                    > RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not

really evidence that people like being in them.
My only evidence that people don’t like being in
sustained conflict is that they say they don’t.

                    > Of course, the people currently losing the

conflict are more likely to express dislike for
it than those who are winning. I bet there are a
lot more Palestinians than Israelis who are

                    > unhappy about that conflict. And I don't

particularly like living in a society with
people (those who voted for Trump in particular)
whose values are so different than mine. Not do
I

                    > like the fact that I am in continual

conflict with virtually everyone on CSGNet about
something having to do with PCT. I would feel a
lot better if people not only agreed with me but

                    > also understood why they did! It would be

like my relationship with Bill, a nearly
completely conflict free relationship and that
felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

                    >Â 

                    > KM: You might object that these are social

phenomena, although I thought that was what you
and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but
it also applies with individuals caught

                    > in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term

inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL
therapists. The clients may not like the lack of
control, but these conflicts do not magically

                    > resolve themselves  just because it’s

unpleasant for the person.

                    >

                    > RM: I was saying what you are saying; the

client (conflicted person) may not (indeed,
almost certainly does not) like not being in
control. In your model, every individual who is

                    > participating in the "virtual reference

state" of the commonly controlled variable is
not in control. Control systems are not in
control when there is persistent (and relatively
large)

                    > error. I agree that there is no magical

solution to these conflicts but their
persistence is certainly not evidence that the
parties enjoy being in them. And I believe
that’s true even if

                    > the conflict results in the variable in

conflict is being maintained in a virtual
reference state.

                    >Â 

                    > KM: Before you start offering sweeping

assertions in order to cast doubt on other
people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a
little longer about what you yourself are
actually saying

                    > and whether you have any evidence for the

assertions you’re making.

                    >

                    > RM: I try to. And I think you might

consider doing the same;-)

                    >

                    > KM: Thanks for bearing with my little

tirade here …

                    >

                    > RM: No problem. 

                    >

                    > Best

                    >

                    > Rick

                    >

                    > My best,

                    >

                    > Kent

                    >

                    >

                    >> On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard

Marken <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu >
wrote:

                    >>

                    >> [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

                    >>

                    >> In response to Bruce Nevin

(20190830.16:30 ET)

                    >>

                    >> RM: I'd be interested in hearing what

you think is an example of a social variable and
how work in “collective control” shows that it
can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

                    >>

                    >> BN: Huh?

                    >>

                    >> RM: Huh huh?  Actually, I was replying

to this:

                    >>

                    >> BN: That is not the ghost of which I

wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance,
perhaps around 1992, to notions like social
variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I
don’t remember the precise words that were in
play. Work on collective control showed how
something like those notions can have a sound
theoretical basis in PCT.

                    >>

                    >> RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to

see an example of how work on collective control
gave notions like social variables or shared
perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

                    >>

                    >> BN: Yes, I understood your question,

and I was being responsive. Your question had
two parts. You first asked for an example of a
‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d like
to hear how investigations of collective control
give such variables a strong theoretical basis
in PCT. I replied to the first part of your
question with an example. After you recognize
that, we can continue with the second part of
your question.

                    >>

                    >> RM: So "huh?"Â  is an example of a

social variable? It might be the state of a
social variable but it doesn’t seem like a
variable to me, let alone a social variable.

                    >>

                    >> BN: You did not respond to the word

“Huh?” as an example of a collectively
controlled (‘social’) variable.

                    >>

                    >> RM: Well, only you would know that. I

responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a
conversation about social variables and
collective control. To correct that disturbance
I responded by suggesting what I thought might
be a better way to ask my question, in order to
get an answer that didn’t seem like a
non-sequiter.

                    >>

                    >> BN: If you had [recognized that "Huh?"

was a response to the question about what a
social variable is], you might have commented
that the word “Huh?” and its intonation
(indicated by the question mark) conventionally
indicates not understanding what was just said,

                    >>

                    >> RM: That is the way I took it and it's

why I re-framed my question.

                    >>Â 

                    >> BN: or alternatively consternation that

such a thing might be said, and you might have
acknowledged that “conventionally indicating”
something is a function of collective control.

                    >>

                    >> RM: Yes, I might have done all that but

I was asking you (not myself) what social
variables are. I also think the term “collective
control” describes many very different phenomena
involving control by multiple individuals, So
saying that something is explained by
“collective control” says virtually nothing to
me about how a particular phenomenon is
explained. Which is why I was asking for an
explanation of how “collective control”
explains social variables.

                    >>

                    >> BN: We've discussed the nature of

social conventions a fair amount.

                    >>

                    >> RM: Indeed we have and I have copied

part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you,
giving the PCT explanation of the control of
social variables without any need for
postulating “collective control” to give them a
“strong theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the
end of htis.

                    >>

                    >> BN: I confess that the 'consternation'

meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not
remember any of our discussions of language and
culture in terms of collective control?

                    >>

                    >> RM: I do remember the cool little

simulations I did that were aimed at explaining
the data you presented on pronunciation drift.
And some other discussions of what I would call
“conflictive control” that seemed to have no
obvious relationship to any everyday social
phenomenon.

                    >>

                    >> BN: The context, as you generously

reminded us, was “The dispute … over Bill’s
resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like
social variables or shared perceptions.”

                    >>

                    >> RM: Someone else must have reminded us

of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute.
But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from
Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and
my) take on control of what I think of as social
variables. And the basic idea is that these
variables (like the pronunciation variables in
my pronunciation drift model) “exist only in
individuals”.

                    >>

                    >> BN: Confirmed to materialist science as

he was, he said he would want to see the input
and output functions, etc. It looked like this
resistance was going to make it difficult to
talk about language and culture within PCT.

                    >>

                    >> RM: I think Bill was "confirmed " (did

you mean confined?") to science; he was
certainly not confirmed (or confined) to
materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on
consciousness.

                    >>

                    >> BN: Investigations of collective

control showed how humans in social groups
create and maintain such ‘social variables’,

                    >>

                    >> RM: It depends on what you mean by

“collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo
and my “pronunciation drift” model show how
collections of individual control systems,
controlling for the same or similar social
perceptions, can produce what would be called
social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s
collective conflict models, which can result in
a virtually controlled variable, though I
haven’t seen what social data that model
actually accounts for. And that “conflictive
control” model also has all the actors in the
collective conflict experiencing error and,
thus, not being in control. I don’t think real
social agents like to live with sustained error
for very long.

                    >>

                    >> BN: Here's one of the posts from Bill

that I found that I think is relevant to this
discussion.

                    >> -----

                    >> [From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041

MSST)]

                    >>Â 

                    >> Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)--

                    >>Â 

                    >> BP: Just a couple of remarks for now.

You have said twice now that it would be

                    >> difficult to test for controlled social

variables:

                    >>Â 

                    >> BN: >We want to identify, and then

disturb, and measure resistance to the

                    >> disturbance of, a >social artifact,

but we are arrested in our progress at

                    >> the very first step: the >hypothesis

that posits the controlled variable.

                    >>Â 

                    >> BP: I can see that this would pose a

problem if the social artifact had any

                    >> independent existence of its own: just

where on the social CV would you

                    >> push to see if there is resistance? If

you try to push on the distance

                    >> between two Arabs, your hand will

encounter only thin air.

                    >>Â 

                    >> BP: It is far easier to imagine

disturbing a variable that a person is

                    >> controlling, and this is how I would

proceed in investigating social

                    >> reference levels. I would say to my

Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”

                    >> This, plus appropriate follow-up

interactions, would tell me whether my

                    >> friend perceived being Jewish as

requiring the avoidance of things like

                    >> bacon. By such means I could determine,

within reasonable bounds, not only

                    >> how my friend perceives Jewishness, but

what reference conditions he

                    >> maintains and what actions he finds

permissible to carry out, at least with

                    >> a friend, to defend those variables

against disturbances.

                    >>Â 

                    >> BP: What I am describing is close to,

but not the same as, what Lee says in the

                    >> cited segment. It helps a great deal to

be able to perceive something like

                    >> what the other person perceives, in

order to propose specific Tests, but

                    >> I'm not convinced that total immersion

is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t

                    >> tried it.

                    >>Â 

                    >> BP: If we put that aside, I think that

part of my thesis would be upheld by

                    >> Dorothy Lee's experiences. I am, for

all practical purposes, as totally

                    >> immersed in my society as possible for

me, yet I don’t think I have ever

                    >> met any person who could be considered

representative of everyone else but

                    >> me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that

there is no such person. I have

                    >> formed some generalizations about

others in my society, but it has always

                    >> been quite clear to me that they did

not apply to everyone, and in fact the

                    >> older I get, the less general any of my

generalizations seem. If Dorothy

                    >> Lee immersed herself in a foriegn

society and came to know it as a native,

                    >> then she, too, would have formed

generalizations about the other people,

                    >> and they would have been no more true

about everyone in that society than

                    >> my generalizations about my own society

are. Well, they probably would have

                    >> been more true than mine from the

standpoint of being consistent and

                    >> systematic, but that would not make

them any less statistical in nature.

                    >> Generalizations, as understood in the

social sciences, by their very nature

                    >> are not true of everyone.

                    >>Â 

                    >> BP: You haven't yet budged me from my

position that social variables exist only

                    >> in individuals; I now add, ... and can

be detected only through

                    >> interactions with individuals. I will

include linguistic phenomena in that

                    >> assertion. The way we find out about

cultures is through interacting with

                    >> individuals and then forming

generalizations – which are, of course,

                    >> perceptions in ourselves of the same

type as the social perceptions we

                    >> investigate. Generalizations which

refer to all individuals in a culture

                    >> are _prima facie_ false.

Generalizations which refer to a culture treated

                    >> as a population are, if correctly

drawn, true but not necessarily

                    >> applicable to any individual in that

culture ("The Achumawi male is 5 feet

                    >> 5.173 inches tall"). Those that are

true of individuals are true only of

                    >> _specific_ individuals -- the subset of

those tested who behaved exactly

                    >> according to hypothesis. And as I'm

sure you will agree, that subset is

                    >> never as large as the set of

individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even

                    >> half as large as the tested set (for

example, it could be a a little over a

                    >> third of the population if three

alternatives were tested).

                    >>Â 

                    >> Best,

                    >>Â 

                    >> Bill P.

                    >>

                    >> ---------------------

                    >>

                    >> Best

                    >>

                    >> Rick

                    >> --

                    >> Richard S. Marken

                    >> "Perfection is achieved not when you

have nothing more to add, but when you

                    >> have nothing left to take away.�

                    >>Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â 

 --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

                    >>

                    >

                    >

                    >

                    > --

                    > Richard S. Marken

                    > "Perfection is achieved not when you have

nothing more to add, but when you

                    > have nothing left to take away.�

                    >Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â --Antoine

de Saint-Exupery

                    >


Richard S.
MarkenÂ

                                            "Perfection

is achieved not when you
have nothing more to
add, but when you
have
nothing left to take
away.�
Â
           Â
   --Antoine de
Saint-Exupery


Richard S. MarkenÂ

                                  "Perfection

is achieved not when you have
nothing more to add, but when you
have
nothing left to take away.�
  Â
            Â
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Martin and others…

I never thought you’ll go that far in making distortions to PCT, but there it is, “PCT-motil”??? What’s that ? And GVC ??? I think it would be fair enough to Bill’s memory that you left out PCT and start talking about your MCT (Martin Control Theory) and other personal theories. They have practically bery little to do with PCT. So whatever you are talking about should be wearing it’s original name like “MCT-motil”, because that’s what it is. Whatever you are talking about has maybe something to do with PCT, but mostly you show quite great misunderstanding of PCT.

Whatever is happening on CSGnet is perfect confussion I never saw before. Everybody have own theory about PCT and and they are contradicting or making wrong sinergy (like “controlled variable” in enviroment). I’ll rather not talk about how much who understands how organisms function. I thought that everybody on CSGnet will work into direction of understanding PCT, but obviously that will not happen so soon or maybe never.

I really intended to answer many posts and try to straight the failure picture you all created about PCT. But what’s the use. We can talk about disaster. And Powers Ladies just observe and probably sing hymn to protagonists of PCT disaster. PCT is definitelly vannishing in myriad strange theories RCT, MCT, BNCT, etc…

So sorry Bruce Nevin and Rick. This time you’ll not be my targets although I promised. I’ll leave you think what you want. You have anyway strongest support possible here on CSGnet and I somehow doubt that you’ll leave your old psychological knowledge which is obviously deviating from PCT miles away. I saw your good position in executive board. How such IAPCT Executive board can function if president, vice-president etc. do not understand PCT ? Increadible.

It seems that most of members on CSGnet still don’t understand how basic PCT loop function.

And most of members (including Powers ladies) never agreed that diagram LCS III and definitions of control are representing PCT. So I’ll ask you again including Powers ladies : do you agree with PCT definitions of control loop (B:CP) and diagram LCS III ??? We need some references that will somehow represent the starting point of any real PCT analysis. Powers ladies do you understand what I’m talking about ???

PCT Definitions of control loop as the core part of Glossary in B:CP :

Bill P (B:CP):

  1. CONTROL : Achievement and maintenance of a preselected state in the controlling system, through actions on the environment that also cancel the effects of disturbances.

Bill P (B:CP):

  1. OUTPUT FUNCTION : The portion of a system that converts the magnitude or state of a signal inside the system into a corresponding set of effects on the immediate environment of the system

Bill P (LCS III):…the output function shown in it’s own box represents the means this system has for causing changes in it’s environment.

Bill P (LCS III):

  1. FEED-BACK FUNCTION : The box represents the set of physical laws, properties, arrangements, linkages, by which the action of this system feeds-back to affect its own input, the controlled variable. That’s what feed-back means : it’s an effect of a system’s output on it’s own input.

Bill P (B:CP) :

  1. INPUT FUNCTION : The portion of a system that receives signals or stimuli from outside the system, and generates a perceptual signal that is some function of the received signals or stimuli.

Bill P (B:CP) :

  1. COMPARATOR : The portion of control system that computes the magnitude and direction of mismatch between perceptual and reference signal.

Bill P (B:CP)

  1. ERROR : The discrepancy between a perceptual signal and a reference signal, which drives a control system’s output function. The discrepancy between a controlled quantity and it’s present reference level, which causes observable behavior.

Bill P (B:CP) :

  1. ERROR SIGNAL : A signal indicating the magnitude and direction of error.

image002109.jpg

HB : The only bright star as I see actual disastress picture on CSGnet is Eva, who is really trying to follow original PCT… But one thing is that I don’t understand. Why you Eva want to make some extra new model ? Probably of organisms functioning.

EdH : I’m sort of contented with my hypothesis once I include Martin’s suggestion, but I don’t know if this is yet correct. Of course, hypotheses need testing through observations or simulations. But I first need to build the model

HB : Basic model is already made. It just needs improvement.

image001137.png

Boris

···

From: Martin Taylor (mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Sent: Monday, September 9, 2019 6:42 PM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Social Variables and Collective Control

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.09.12.30]

PS. (Just before I close down) Since I will be using the concept of a “PCT-motif” several times in my talk on Friday,it might help if I point out that a GVC is an example of a PCT-motif. If there are 64 ways in which controller A and controller B can interact, the same is true of controller A with controller C and of controller B with controller C, all of which are logically independent of each other. When there are N interacting control loops, there are 64N conceivable sets of interactions among them, of which only a few patterns would ever be observed often enough to be visible among the crowd. Those are “PCT-motifs” of which the control hierarchy is the one usually discussed on CSGnet. Simple conflict is another. The ones I will be using in my talk are primarily the Trade motif, and the conflict motif and the hierarchy motif which form supporting motifs of the Trade motif in the same way that lower-level controlled perceptions support higher-level ones.

Martin

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.09.09.29]

On 2019/09/7 8:37 PM, Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-07_17:36:18]

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.07.17.25]

MT: Kent’s message on which Rick comments somehow never made it into my mailbox, so I have to go by the bits Rick quotes to determine what Kent wrote. Most of Rick’s comments seem to argue that Kent does not believe that Giant Virtual Controllers (GVCs) result from the control actions of individual controllers.

RM: That was not what I was arguing. Indeed, I’m pretty sure that Kent does believe (and has demonstrated) that what you call GVCs result from the control actions of individual controllers.

RM: So you might want to give it another try after you’ve read Kent’s post.

Will do, but not when I’m packing for my flight this evening.

Two points, though, which may or may not be relevant to your comments, but they are relevant to the nature of collective control…

(1) Disturbing another’s controlled perception is only one of four distinct ways in which the control actions of controller A might influence the performance of controller B, and each of the four ways might be by side-effect of A’s controlling or by intent. The four ways are (a) disturbance, (b) influencing the path from disturbing source to B’s controlled environmental variable (e.g. holding an umbrella over someone in a rainstorm), © influencing the path from B’s output to the controlled environmental variable (e.g. offering scissors to someone vainly trying to tear open a plastic bag). and (d) influencing the path from B’s controlled environmental variable to their input (e.g. taking away a magnifying glass B wanted to use to read fine print). These 8 possibilities lead to 64 possible feedback loops that pass through both controllers of which more than one is involved in the various kinds of collective control.

(2) Except in specific circumstances, it is rare for collective control to depend on the individual controllers controlling the same external variable. The various possible feedback loops through A and B may have positive or negative loop gain. The “conflict” loop in which two controllers try to set the same variable to two different reference values is a double-disturbance loop, in the terms of the previous paragraph, an “a-a” loop, just one of the 64 possibilities. Not all of the 64 result in the creation of a GVC, but some of them do, and when more controllers are involved the 64 possibilities become a very much larger number very quickly. When thinking about Collective Control, it is important to keep this number issue in mind, but what really matters is the few of these that result in stable networks, probably modular (like the individual control hierarchy). That’s mainly what Kent has been talking about since we have been discussing collective control over the last several years.

Enough for now. But what matters to me is not what you may have intended by what you say, but what the science says about how the world works.

Martin

Best

Rick

That has not been my impression over several years of dealing with Kent on different kinds of Collective Control. All Giant Virtual Controllers exist only because individuals control the perceptions they do. That does not at all imply that the GVCs control any of the variables controlled by the individuals who are members of a GVC. Often they do, but that’s not a logical necessity. What IS a logical necessity is that the variables controlled by GVCs lie in the same descriptive space (hyperspace for the more mathematically inclined) as the totality of the control systems that contribute to the GVC.

Conflictive Collective Control is not the only form of collective control. Here the names of are five more: Collaborative Collective Control, Coordinated Collective Control, Guided Collective Control, Giant Real Collective Control, and Hierarchic Collective Control.

It is important not to confuse collective control with the side-effects of collective control, such as climate change and monetary inflation (I will discuss the latter in Manchester). It is also important to recognize that not all Collective Control is based on conflict, though Giant Virtual Controllers can engage in conflict, just as individual controllers can – as for example in a Presidential Election, which in the USA consists primarily of a GVC called “Democrats” conflicting with a GVC called “Republicans”. All of the people who are members of either GVC – those controlling for perceiving themselves to vote one of two possible ways – control myriads of other perceptions, but the result is two Collaborative GVCs in conflict. The GVCs themselves are unlikely to exist because of conflict among their members, and the Collective conflict is not based on conflict between any pairs of individual controllers.

Collective control is no more simple than is individual control or any of the other kinds of interactions among individual control loops. You don’t dismiss hierarchic control because a control loop controls only one perceptual variable, and likewise you should not dismiss Collective Control because it gives rise to phenomena not accounted for by effects in a single control loop.

Martin

[Kent McClelland 2019.09.06.1150]

KM: I bristled when you said that “real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long”,

RM: I think you meant to say that you bristled because I said social agents don’t like to live with sustained error, because that’s what I said.

KM: because the way I read it, you were dismissing my model of conflictive control as not applying much to real life,

RM: I think your model of conflictive control is, indeed, relevant to many real life situations. My main problems with it are 1) you have never tested the model’s ability to account for actual conflict data and 2) you have said that the model accounts for “social stability” but, again, you have never presented the results of a test of your model’s ability to account for some phenomenon that you claim to be an example of social stability. So it’s impossible for me to evaluate your claims about the merits of your model. That’s why I can’t really use your work as an example of PCT research on social phenomena.

KM: You speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to produce evidence for my theory of collective control. From my perspective, the evidence is in plain sight. It’s contained in the “generalizations” that Bill Powers talked about in the passage you quoted in your response to Bruce’s post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

    BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only
    in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected only through
    interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that
    assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with
    individuals and then forming generalizations -- which are, of course,
    perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we
    investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture
    are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated
    as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily
    applicable to any individual in that culture …

KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these sociological generalizations are not true of every individual in the populations studied, but the overall patterns are “social facts” in the sense that the patterns can be verified by repeated examinations by independent observers. The patterns represent the data that sociological theories must be able to explain. How is it that these broad patterns have come to exist, continue over time, and tend to change relatively slowly? These generalizations are precisely the evidence for which theories of society and culture must account.

RM: I guess my idea of what constitutes evidence for the correctness of a theory is just different than yours. For me that evidence is the fit of theory to data. An example of this kind of evidence is Tom Bourbon’s work on two-person interaction. My control model to account for Labov’s data on phonemic drift is another. The nice thing about testing models against data is that it forces the researcher to identify the correspondences between features of the phenomenon to be explained and those of the model that is doing the explaining. If you did this with you model on “collective control” it would be clear, for example, what feature of a specific example of “social stability” corresponds to the “virtual reference state” in your model of “collective control”.

KM: I disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social variables exist only in individuals … and can be detected only through interactions with individuals.” His view of society as consisting merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other is, in my opinion, a drastically oversimplified and inadequate account of how society works and how these broad generalization come to be. What Bill’s simplistic conception of society leaves out are the many kinds of humanly constructed physical and organizational infrastructure that help keep social patterns in place.

RM: I don’t think it leaves it out at all. All that infrastructure results from individuals acting to control their own perceptions, and sometimes these actions are a disturbance to variables controlled by other individuals. But if you really don’t like the idea that society “consists merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other” then why did you develop a model of “social stability” (or “collective control”) that does precisely that.

KM: (In Bill’s defense, let me say that I think his views on the social applications of PCT evolved somewhat over the last 20 years of his life, away from the extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He certainly never gave me any static about my published articles on collective control, all of which postdate the quotation above. My most recent article on the topic was one he generously praised.)

RM: Maybe Bill liked it was because your model was a good demonstration of how a social variable – the virtual reference state of a variable in conflict – can emerge from the actions of a group of “atomized individuals” controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other.

KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s theory clearer by finally doing something I promised to do for you many months ago, which was to give you an example of how "technologies for making familiar objects and accomplishing common tasks” can be understood as products of collective control.

RM: Nothing you say here is something that can’t be explained as the result of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions. Of course, among the perceptions each individual must be controlling is a perception of being cooperative and perceiving the benefits for such cooperation. Controlling for cooperation is necessary for the kind of specialization you describe. Each person – woodworker, toolmaker, lumberjack – has agreed to specialize in doing part of what is required to build a table, instead of each controlling for producing the whole table themselves. They are giving up control (of producing the table) to get better control (being able buy the table and many other things that they couldn’t have gotten if they had had to spend all their time doing what is needed to build a table --cutting the lumber, forging the tools, putting it all together, etc). I have not been able to see anything in your conflict model of “collective control” that could explain how this happens.

KM: I’ve offered the theory of collective control to account for phenomena like these. I argue (in my chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of PCT) that the existence and maintenance of these kinds of social and cultural arrangements can be understood as products of vast networks of collective control, which involve giant virtual controllers that are composed of individual people controlling their own perceptions at many different perceptual levels, but often perceptions that are similar to those controlled by the others also involved.

RM: I’d find your arguments more convincing if you could should me how your collective control model could do something like the woodworking you describe.

KM: The people participating in this collective control enterprise do not all control the same perceptions, certainly not at the same time, but they control different perceptions in the service of a common objective, which is to make woodworking happen.

RM: Righto. But that’s not what your collective control model does, is it? You model has different individuals controlling the SAME perception relative to different reference specifications.

KM: I regard it as collective control

RM: I do too! What I don’t call “collective control” is what your model does, because none of the individuals involved in the conflict is in control. “Collective conflict” would be a more accurate description of what your model does. And, as you say, this kind of conflict is certainly pervasive in social interactions. But it seems to me that it is only interesting as something to be eliminated as much as possible. It doesn’t seem like a good basis for having a stable society.

KM: So that’s my theory to account for this social phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on to apply them in a different way than he did. If you don’t like my theory, what’s yours?

RM: It’s that these social phenomena result from atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions, and that the main perceptions controlled are the one’s Bill called “system concepts”, such as the concept of a society.

KM: Very possibly, you don’t find the question of how these kinds of sociocultural formations are created and maintained very interesting.

RM: Actually I find them terribly interesting.

KM: Perhaps the only thing that counts for you as evidence is something that can be reduced to simple computer models and investigated in the laboratory.

RM: Certainly not the only thing. But a very important thing!

KM: The question of how the technology of woodworking works obviously has a far greater scope, one that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab setting.

RM: I actually have worked on economic models in an effort to account for aggregate socioeconomic data, such as data on how goods (like tables) and services (like building stuff) are collectively controlled in an economy. Indeed. I noted that an economy can be viewed as “control writ large”.

KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique of work on broader topics than individual behavior, it would make sense, from my point of view, for you to do your homework first by reading carefully and thinking about what Bruce or Martin or I or others who have applied PCT to these areas have written about these topics. One of your favorite arguments, I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not contained within the narrow confines of your own understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an example of” whatever it is that someone else has put forward as a possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps this isn’t fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to actually do any thinking at all about the topic but are just favoring us with your offhand observations. If we’re to have exchanges in this forum about topics where you may be a little out of your depth, it would please me if you took a little more scholarly approach to it, with some respect for what other people are saying and awareness of the possible limitations of your own point of view.

RM: When I’ve asked for an example of something when discussing your work I believe it has been for an example of a social variable that is an example of a variable being maintained in a virtual reference state, as per your collective conflict model. I can think of one – the position of the flag in a tug of war. Another might be the geopolitical boundaries of Israel-Palestine. But there’s not many that I encounter in my everyday life, such as the table in your woodworking example or the orchestra I’m listening to now. Neither the table nor the orchestra seem like they are the virtual reference states of variables that are being controlled relative to different reference states.

RM: But, as Ricky Nelson said, you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself!

Best

Rick

My best,

Kent

On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

[From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

RM: … I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that “real social agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any length of time”? What evidence do you have for this assertion?

KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman
vs. Richard Marken. And the real social agents involved keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the sustained errors they experience.

RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don’t.
Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are more likely to express dislike for it than those who are winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than Israelis who are
unhappy about that conflict. And I don’t particularly like living in a society with people (those who voted for Trump in particular) whose values are so different than mine. Not do I
like the fact that I am in continual conflict with virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only agreed with me but
also understood why they did! It would be like my relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

KM: You might object that these are social phenomena, although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals caught
in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The clients may not like the lack of control, but these conflicts do not magically
resolve themselves just because it’s unpleasant for the person.

RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client (conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does not) like not being in control. In your model, every individual who is
participating in the “virtual reference state” of the commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control systems are not in control when there is persistent (and relatively large)
error. I agree that there is no magical solution to these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe that’s true even if
the conflict results in the variable in conflict is being maintained in a virtual reference state.

KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are actually saying
and whether you have any evidence for the assertions you’re making.

RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the same;-)

KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here …

RM: No problem.

Best

Rick

My best,

Kent

On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

RM: I’d be interested in hearing what you think is an example of a social variable and how work in “collective control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

BN: Huh?

RM: Huh huh? Actually, I was replying to this:

BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play. Work on collective control showed how something like those notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example of how work on collective control gave notions like social variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations of collective control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the second part of your question.

RM: So “huh?” is an example of a social variable? It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.

BN: You did not respond to the word “Huh?” as an example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social variables and collective control. To correct that disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.

BN: If you had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the question about what a social variable is], you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally indicates not understanding what was just said,

RM: That is the way I took it and it’s why I re-framed my question.

BN: or alternatively consternation that such a thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that “conventionally indicating” something is a function of collective control.

RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also think the term “collective control” describes many very different phenomena involving control by multiple individuals, So saying that something is explained by “collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was asking for an explanation of how “collective control” explains social variables.

BN: We’ve discussed the nature of social conventions a fair amount.

RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social variables without any need for postulating “collective control” to give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

BN: I confess that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our discussions of language and culture in terms of collective control?

RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I would call “conflictive control” that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was “The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions.”

RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as social variables. And the basic idea is that these variables (like the pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.

BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

RM: I think Bill was “confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.

BN: Investigations of collective control showed how humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social variables’,

RM: It depends on what you mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of individual control systems, controlling for the same or similar social perceptions, can produce what would be called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

BN: Here’s one of the posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to this discussion.

[From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said twice now that it would be
difficult to test for controlled social variables:

BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and measure resistance to the
disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at
the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the social artifact had any
independent existence of its own: just where on the social CV would you
push to see if there is resistance? If you try to push on the distance
between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only thin air.

BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a variable that a person is
controlling, and this is how I would proceed in investigating social
reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”
This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions, would tell me whether my
friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the avoidance of things like
bacon. By such means I could determine, within reasonable bounds, not only
how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what reference conditions he
maintains and what actions he finds permissible to carry out, at least with
a friend, to defend those variables against disturbances.

BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the
cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to perceive something like
what the other person perceives, in order to propose specific Tests, but
I’m not convinced that total immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t
tried it.

BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my thesis would be upheld by
Dorothy Lee’s experiences. I am, for all practical purposes, as totally
immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I don’t think I have ever
met any person who could be considered representative of everyone else but
me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no such person. I have
formed some generalizations about others in my society, but it has always
been quite clear to me that they did not apply to everyone, and in fact the
older I get, the less general any of my generalizations seem. If Dorothy
Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came to know it as a native,
then she, too, would have formed generalizations about the other people,
and they would have been no more true about everyone in that society than
my generalizations about my own society are. Well, they probably would have
been more true than mine from the standpoint of being consistent and
systematic, but that would not make them any less statistical in nature.
Generalizations, as understood in the social sciences, by their very nature
are not true of everyone.

BP: You haven’t yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only
in individuals; I now add, … and can be detected only through
interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that
assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with
individuals and then forming generalizations – which are, of course,
perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we
investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture
are prima facie false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated
as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily
applicable to any individual in that culture (“The Achumawi male is 5 feet
5.173 inches tall”). Those that are true of individuals are true only of
specific individuals – the subset of those tested who behaved exactly
according to hypothesis. And as I’m sure you will agree, that subset is
never as large as the set of individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even
half as large as the tested set (for example, it could be a a little over a
third of the population if three alternatives were tested).

Best,

Bill P.


Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Richard S. Marken
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Boris:

You didn’t mention me by name but I do have a question. I actually think I have a pretty good grasp of PCT - and a grasp of what Bill was trying to communicate. There is nothing about PCT in your post below with which I disagree. I will leave it to the others who you have criticized to speak for themselves. So, what is it about my view of PCT that gives you pause?.

image002109.jpg

···

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“My Objective is to Help You Achieve Yours”

www.nickols.us

Dear Fred,

It seems that you are alone. I hope you’ll not understand me wrong because I didn’t answer you yet. I really don’t know what to do.

image002109.jpg

image001137.png

···

From: Fred Nickols fwnickols@gmail.com
Sent: Monday, September 16, 2019 9:54 PM
To: Boris Hartman boris.hartman@masicom.net
Cc: csgnet csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Social Variables and Collective Control

Boris:

You didn’t mention me by name but I do have a question. I actually think I have a pretty good grasp of PCT - and a grasp of what Bill was trying to communicate.

FN : There is nothing about PCT in your post below with which I disagree.

HB : Good. So you agree also with LCS III diagram and definitions of PCT (B:CP). Where do you see principles of PCT in your diagram ? Why don’t you use Bills’ diagram and explanation of PCT Loop ?

FN : I will leave it to the others who you have criticized to speak for themselves. So, what is it about my view of PCT that gives you pause?

HB : If you’ll read back you’ll see that my answer was about my decission whether I’ll answer you or not privatelly.

HB : And I ask to try to explain with your model behaviors which I proposed many times… Remember ?

HB earlier : Then I want you to explain behaviors with your model which you created from your “one experiment – one theory” :

  • forehand or backhand shot in tennis or table tennis, (you can use also forehand shot in Ricks’ game).

  • throw of the basket-ball,

  • sunbathing,

  • sleepig, sitting and thinking,

  • walking, observing, talking, running and

  • all other everyday behaviors that you can think of.

When you’ll analyze my proposed behaviors I hope you’ll see problem of your wrong generalized model. PCT is also general model of how organisms function. Both can’t be general models because they are total opposition.

William T. Powers at all (50th Anniversary, 2011) : Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) provides a general theory of functioning for organisms

HB : General theory means that PCT is able to explain any behavior. How many behaviors can you explain with you model with “target variable” outside ?

HB : I’m sorry Fred I’m still thinking. There is no trust between us or with others. Let us give time time. If I’m honest I’m waiting for some books : LCS IV and Martins book. Then it’s possible that I’ll expose my view of PCT in relation to those books. It will be clear who understands what.

I hope it’s obviously that conflict about who understands what about PCT is moving into public. I hope that fary tales will finnish on CSGnet. For ex. Rick, Bruce N. etc.

Best regards,

Boris

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“My Objective is to Help You Achieve Yours”

www.nickols.us

On Mon, Sep 16, 2019 at 2:23 PM “Boris Hartman” csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

Martin and others…

I never thought you’ll go that far in making distortions to PCT, but there it is, “PCT-motil”??? What’s that ? And GVC ??? I think it would be fair enough to Bill’s memory that you left out PCT and start talking about your MCT (Martin Control Theory) and other personal theories. They have practically bery little to do with PCT. So whatever you are talking about should be wearing it’s original name like “MCT-motil”, because that’s what it is. Whatever you are talking about has maybe something to do with PCT, but mostly you show quite great misunderstanding of PCT.

Whatever is happening on CSGnet is perfect confussion I never saw before. Everybody have own theory about PCT and and they are contradicting or making wrong sinergy (like “controlled variable” in enviroment). I’ll rather not talk about how much who understands how organisms function. I thought that everybody on CSGnet will work into direction of understanding PCT, but obviously that will not happen so soon or maybe never.

I really intended to answer many posts and try to straight the failure picture you all created about PCT. But what’s the use. We can talk about disaster. And Powers Ladies just observe and probably sing hymn to protagonists of PCT disaster. PCT is definitelly vannishing in myriad strange theories RCT, MCT, BNCT, etc…

So sorry Bruce Nevin and Rick. This time you’ll not be my targets although I promised. I’ll leave you think what you want. You have anyway strongest support possible here on CSGnet and I somehow doubt that you’ll leave your old psychological knowledge which is obviously deviating from PCT miles away. I saw your good position in executive board. How such IAPCT Executive board can function if president, vice-president etc. do not understand PCT ? Increadible.

It seems that most of members on CSGnet still don’t understand how basic PCT loop function.

And most of members (including Powers ladies) never agreed that diagram LCS III and definitions of control are representing PCT. So I’ll ask you again including Powers ladies : do you agree with PCT definitions of control loop (B:CP) and diagram LCS III ??? We need some references that will somehow represent the starting point of any real PCT analysis. Powers ladies do you understand what I’m talking about ???

PCT Definitions of control loop as the core part of Glossary in B:CP :

Bill P (B:CP):

  1. CONTROL : Achievement and maintenance of a preselected state in the controlling system, through actions on the environment that also cancel the effects of disturbances.

Bill P (B:CP):

  1. OUTPUT FUNCTION : The portion of a system that converts the magnitude or state of a signal inside the system into a corresponding set of effects on the immediate environment of the system

Bill P (LCS III):…the output function shown in it’s own box represents the means this system has for causing changes in it’s environment.

Bill P (LCS III):

  1. FEED-BACK FUNCTION : The box represents the set of physical laws, properties, arrangements, linkages, by which the action of this system feeds-back to affect its own input, the controlled variable. That’s what feed-back means : it’s an effect of a system’s output on it’s own input.

Bill P (B:CP) :

  1. INPUT FUNCTION : The portion of a system that receives signals or stimuli from outside the system, and generates a perceptual signal that is some function of the received signals or stimuli.

Bill P (B:CP) :

  1. COMPARATOR : The portion of control system that computes the magnitude and direction of mismatch between perceptual and reference signal.

Bill P (B:CP)

  1. ERROR : The discrepancy between a perceptual signal and a reference signal, which drives a control system’s output function. The discrepancy between a controlled quantity and it’s present reference level, which causes observable behavior.

Bill P (B:CP) :

  1. ERROR SIGNAL : A signal indicating the magnitude and direction of error.

HB : The only bright star as I see actual disastress picture on CSGnet is Eva, who is really trying to follow original PCT… But one thing is that I don’t understand. Why you Eva want to make some extra new model ? Probably of organisms functioning.

EdH : I’m sort of contented with my hypothesis once I include Martin’s suggestion, but I don’t know if this is yet correct. Of course, hypotheses need testing through observations or simulations. But I first need to build the model

HB : Basic model is already made. It just needs improvement.

Boris

From: Martin Taylor (mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Sent: Monday, September 9, 2019 6:42 PM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Social Variables and Collective Control

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.09.12.30]

PS. (Just before I close down) Since I will be using the concept of a “PCT-motif” several times in my talk on Friday,it might help if I point out that a GVC is an example of a PCT-motif. If there are 64 ways in which controller A and controller B can interact, the same is true of controller A with controller C and of controller B with controller C, all of which are logically independent of each other. When there are N interacting control loops, there are 64N conceivable sets of interactions among them, of which only a few patterns would ever be observed often enough to be visible among the crowd. Those are “PCT-motifs” of which the control hierarchy is the one usually discussed on CSGnet. Simple conflict is another. The ones I will be using in my talk are primarily the Trade motif, and the conflict motif and the hierarchy motif which form supporting motifs of the Trade motif in the same way that lower-level controlled perceptions support higher-level ones.

Martin

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.09.09.29]

On 2019/09/7 8:37 PM, Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-07_17:36:18]

[Martin Taylor 2019.09.07.17.25]

MT: Kent’s message on which Rick comments somehow never made it into my mailbox, so I have to go by the bits Rick quotes to determine what Kent wrote. Most of Rick’s comments seem to argue that Kent does not believe that Giant Virtual Controllers (GVCs) result from the control actions of individual controllers.

RM: That was not what I was arguing. Indeed, I’m pretty sure that Kent does believe (and has demonstrated) that what you call GVCs result from the control actions of individual controllers.

RM: So you might want to give it another try after you’ve read Kent’s post.

Will do, but not when I’m packing for my flight this evening.

Two points, though, which may or may not be relevant to your comments, but they are relevant to the nature of collective control…

(1) Disturbing another’s controlled perception is only one of four distinct ways in which the control actions of controller A might influence the performance of controller B, and each of the four ways might be by side-effect of A’s controlling or by intent. The four ways are (a) disturbance, (b) influencing the path from disturbing source to B’s controlled environmental variable (e.g. holding an umbrella over someone in a rainstorm), © influencing the path from B’s output to the controlled environmental variable (e.g. offering scissors to someone vainly trying to tear open a plastic bag). and (d) influencing the path from B’s controlled environmental variable to their input (e.g. taking away a magnifying glass B wanted to use to read fine print). These 8 possibilities lead to 64 possible feedback loops that pass through both controllers of which more than one is involved in the various kinds of collective control.

(2) Except in specific circumstances, it is rare for collective control to depend on the individual controllers controlling the same external variable. The various possible feedback loops through A and B may have positive or negative loop gain. The “conflict” loop in which two controllers try to set the same variable to two different reference values is a double-disturbance loop, in the terms of the previous paragraph, an “a-a” loop, just one of the 64 possibilities. Not all of the 64 result in the creation of a GVC, but some of them do, and when more controllers are involved the 64 possibilities become a very much larger number very quickly. When thinking about Collective Control, it is important to keep this number issue in mind, but what really matters is the few of these that result in stable networks, probably modular (like the individual control hierarchy). That’s mainly what Kent has been talking about since we have been discussing collective control over the last several years.

Enough for now. But what matters to me is not what you may have intended by what you say, but what the science says about how the world works.

Martin

Best

Rick

That has not been my impression over several years of dealing with Kent on different kinds of Collective Control. All Giant Virtual Controllers exist only because individuals control the perceptions they do. That does not at all imply that the GVCs control any of the variables controlled by the individuals who are members of a GVC. Often they do, but that’s not a logical necessity. What IS a logical necessity is that the variables controlled by GVCs lie in the same descriptive space (hyperspace for the more mathematically inclined) as the totality of the control systems that contribute to the GVC.

Conflictive Collective Control is not the only form of collective control. Here the names of are five more: Collaborative Collective Control, Coordinated Collective Control, Guided Collective Control, Giant Real Collective Control, and Hierarchic Collective Control.

It is important not to confuse collective control with the side-effects of collective control, such as climate change and monetary inflation (I will discuss the latter in Manchester). It is also important to recognize that not all Collective Control is based on conflict, though Giant Virtual Controllers can engage in conflict, just as individual controllers can – as for example in a Presidential Election, which in the USA consists primarily of a GVC called “Democrats” conflicting with a GVC called “Republicans”. All of the people who are members of either GVC – those controlling for perceiving themselves to vote one of two possible ways – control myriads of other perceptions, but the result is two Collaborative GVCs in conflict. The GVCs themselves are unlikely to exist because of conflict among their members, and the Collective conflict is not based on conflict between any pairs of individual controllers.

Collective control is no more simple than is individual control or any of the other kinds of interactions among individual control loops. You don’t dismiss hierarchic control because a control loop controls only one perceptual variable, and likewise you should not dismiss Collective Control because it gives rise to phenomena not accounted for by effects in a single control loop.

Martin

[Kent McClelland 2019.09.06.1150]

KM: I bristled when you said that “real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long”,

RM: I think you meant to say that you bristled because I said social agents don’t like to live with sustained error, because that’s what I said.

KM: because the way I read it, you were dismissing my model of conflictive control as not applying much to real life,

RM: I think your model of conflictive control is, indeed, relevant to many real life situations. My main problems with it are 1) you have never tested the model’s ability to account for actual conflict data and 2) you have said that the model accounts for “social stability” but, again, you have never presented the results of a test of your model’s ability to account for some phenomenon that you claim to be an example of social stability. So it’s impossible for me to evaluate your claims about the merits of your model. That’s why I can’t really use your work as an example of PCT research on social phenomena.

KM: You speak of evidence and have repeatedly asked me to produce evidence for my theory of collective control. From my perspective, the evidence is in plain sight. It’s contained in the “generalizations” that Bill Powers talked about in the passage you quoted in your response to Bruce’s post [Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58].

    BP: You haven't yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only
    in individuals; I now add, ... and can be detected only through
    interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that
    assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with
    individuals and then forming generalizations -- which are, of course,
    perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we
    investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture
    are _prima facie_ false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated
    as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily
    applicable to any individual in that culture …

KM: I certainly agree with Bill that these sociological generalizations are not true of every individual in the populations studied, but the overall patterns are “social facts” in the sense that the patterns can be verified by repeated examinations by independent observers. The patterns represent the data that sociological theories must be able to explain. How is it that these broad patterns have come to exist, continue over time, and tend to change relatively slowly? These generalizations are precisely the evidence for which theories of society and culture must account.

RM: I guess my idea of what constitutes evidence for the correctness of a theory is just different than yours. For me that evidence is the fit of theory to data. An example of this kind of evidence is Tom Bourbon’s work on two-person interaction. My control model to account for Labov’s data on phonemic drift is another. The nice thing about testing models against data is that it forces the researcher to identify the correspondences between features of the phenomenon to be explained and those of the model that is doing the explaining. If you did this with you model on “collective control” it would be clear, for example, what feature of a specific example of “social stability” corresponds to the “virtual reference state” in your model of “collective control”.

KM: I disagree, however, with Bill’s theory that "social variables exist only in individuals … and can be detected only through interactions with individuals.” His view of society as consisting merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other is, in my opinion, a drastically oversimplified and inadequate account of how society works and how these broad generalization come to be. What Bill’s simplistic conception of society leaves out are the many kinds of humanly constructed physical and organizational infrastructure that help keep social patterns in place.

RM: I don’t think it leaves it out at all. All that infrastructure results from individuals acting to control their own perceptions, and sometimes these actions are a disturbance to variables controlled by other individuals. But if you really don’t like the idea that society “consists merely of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other” then why did you develop a model of “social stability” (or “collective control”) that does precisely that.

KM: (In Bill’s defense, let me say that I think his views on the social applications of PCT evolved somewhat over the last 20 years of his life, away from the extreme positions he took in the early 90s. He certainly never gave me any static about my published articles on collective control, all of which postdate the quotation above. My most recent article on the topic was one he generously praised.)

RM: Maybe Bill liked it was because your model was a good demonstration of how a social variable – the virtual reference state of a variable in conflict – can emerge from the actions of a group of “atomized individuals” controlling their own perceptions and creating disturbances for each other.

KM: Perhaps I can make the inadequacies of Bill’s theory clearer by finally doing something I promised to do for you many months ago, which was to give you an example of how "technologies for making familiar objects and accomplishing common tasks” can be understood as products of collective control.

RM: Nothing you say here is something that can’t be explained as the result of atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions. Of course, among the perceptions each individual must be controlling is a perception of being cooperative and perceiving the benefits for such cooperation. Controlling for cooperation is necessary for the kind of specialization you describe. Each person – woodworker, toolmaker, lumberjack – has agreed to specialize in doing part of what is required to build a table, instead of each controlling for producing the whole table themselves. They are giving up control (of producing the table) to get better control (being able buy the table and many other things that they couldn’t have gotten if they had had to spend all their time doing what is needed to build a table --cutting the lumber, forging the tools, putting it all together, etc). I have not been able to see anything in your conflict model of “collective control” that could explain how this happens.

KM: I’ve offered the theory of collective control to account for phenomena like these. I argue (in my chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of PCT) that the existence and maintenance of these kinds of social and cultural arrangements can be understood as products of vast networks of collective control, which involve giant virtual controllers that are composed of individual people controlling their own perceptions at many different perceptual levels, but often perceptions that are similar to those controlled by the others also involved.

RM: I’d find your arguments more convincing if you could should me how your collective control model could do something like the woodworking you describe.

KM: The people participating in this collective control enterprise do not all control the same perceptions, certainly not at the same time, but they control different perceptions in the service of a common objective, which is to make woodworking happen.

RM: Righto. But that’s not what your collective control model does, is it? You model has different individuals controlling the SAME perception relative to different reference specifications.

KM: I regard it as collective control

RM: I do too! What I don’t call “collective control” is what your model does, because none of the individuals involved in the conflict is in control. “Collective conflict” would be a more accurate description of what your model does. And, as you say, this kind of conflict is certainly pervasive in social interactions. But it seems to me that it is only interesting as something to be eliminated as much as possible. It doesn’t seem like a good basis for having a stable society.

KM: So that’s my theory to account for this social phenomenon. My theory is solidly based on PCT, but it takes the ideas that Bill envisioned in B:CP and goes on to apply them in a different way than he did. If you don’t like my theory, what’s yours?

RM: It’s that these social phenomena result from atomized individuals controlling their own perceptions, and that the main perceptions controlled are the one’s Bill called “system concepts”, such as the concept of a society.

KM: Very possibly, you don’t find the question of how these kinds of sociocultural formations are created and maintained very interesting.

RM: Actually I find them terribly interesting.

KM: Perhaps the only thing that counts for you as evidence is something that can be reduced to simple computer models and investigated in the laboratory.

RM: Certainly not the only thing. But a very important thing!

KM: The question of how the technology of woodworking works obviously has a far greater scope, one that doesn’t neatly fit into the lab setting.

RM: I actually have worked on economic models in an effort to account for aggregate socioeconomic data, such as data on how goods (like tables) and services (like building stuff) are collectively controlled in an economy. Indeed. I noted that an economy can be viewed as “control writ large”.

KM: But if you do want to venture into a critique of work on broader topics than individual behavior, it would make sense, from my point of view, for you to do your homework first by reading carefully and thinking about what Bruce or Martin or I or others who have applied PCT to these areas have written about these topics. One of your favorite arguments, I’ve noticed, when you encounter something not contained within the narrow confines of your own understanding of PCT, is “I can’t think of an example of” whatever it is that someone else has put forward as a possibility. To me it sounds like (and perhaps this isn’t fair) you haven’t taken the trouble to actually do any thinking at all about the topic but are just favoring us with your offhand observations. If we’re to have exchanges in this forum about topics where you may be a little out of your depth, it would please me if you took a little more scholarly approach to it, with some respect for what other people are saying and awareness of the possible limitations of your own point of view.

RM: When I’ve asked for an example of something when discussing your work I believe it has been for an example of a social variable that is an example of a variable being maintained in a virtual reference state, as per your collective conflict model. I can think of one – the position of the flag in a tug of war. Another might be the geopolitical boundaries of Israel-Palestine. But there’s not many that I encounter in my everyday life, such as the table in your woodworking example or the orchestra I’m listening to now. Neither the table nor the orchestra seem like they are the virtual reference states of variables that are being controlled relative to different reference states.

RM: But, as Ricky Nelson said, you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself!

Best

Rick

My best,

Kent

On Sep 3, 2019, at 6:09 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-03_16:07:14]

[From Kent McClelland 2019.09.03.1400]

RM: … I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

KM: Say what? What gave you the idea that “real social agents don’t like to live with sustained error for any length of time”? What evidence do you have for this assertion?

KM: I could spend hours listing social conflicts that have devolved into messy long-term standoffs, from Israelis vs. Palestinians to Trump-lovers vs. haters to Boris Hartman
vs. Richard Marken. And the real social agents involved keep on actively pursuing these conflicts endlessly, in spite of all the sustained errors they experience.

RM: The fact that conflicts persist is not really evidence that people like being in them. My only evidence that people don’t like being in sustained conflict is that they say they don’t.
Of course, the people currently losing the conflict are more likely to express dislike for it than those who are winning. I bet there are a lot more Palestinians than Israelis who are
unhappy about that conflict. And I don’t particularly like living in a society with people (those who voted for Trump in particular) whose values are so different than mine. Not do I
like the fact that I am in continual conflict with virtually everyone on CSGNet about something having to do with PCT. I would feel a lot better if people not only agreed with me but
also understood why they did! It would be like my relationship with Bill, a nearly completely conflict free relationship and that felt a LOT better than the conflicts I have now.

KM: You might object that these are social phenomena, although I thought that was what you and Bruce were talking about in this thread, but it also applies with individuals caught
in inner conflicts. Coping with long-term inner conflicts is what sends clients to MOL therapists. The clients may not like the lack of control, but these conflicts do not magically
resolve themselves just because it’s unpleasant for the person.

RM: I was saying what you are saying; the client (conflicted person) may not (indeed, almost certainly does not) like not being in control. In your model, every individual who is
participating in the “virtual reference state” of the commonly controlled variable is not in control. Control systems are not in control when there is persistent (and relatively large)
error. I agree that there is no magical solution to these conflicts but their persistence is certainly not evidence that the parties enjoy being in them. And I believe that’s true even if
the conflict results in the variable in conflict is being maintained in a virtual reference state.

KM: Before you start offering sweeping assertions in order to cast doubt on other people’s ideas, it might not hurt to think a little longer about what you yourself are actually saying
and whether you have any evidence for the assertions you’re making.

RM: I try to. And I think you might consider doing the same;-)

KM: Thanks for bearing with my little tirade here …

RM: No problem.

Best

Rick

My best,

Kent

On Sep 2, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2019-09-02_13:52:58]

In response to Bruce Nevin (20190830.16:30 ET)

RM: I’d be interested in hearing what you think is an example of a social variable and how work in “collective control” shows that it can have a strong theoretical basis in PCT.

BN: Huh?

RM: Huh huh? Actually, I was replying to this:

BN: That is not the ghost of which I wrote. The dispute was over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions, I’m sure I don’t remember the precise words that were in play. Work on collective control showed how something like those notions can have a sound theoretical basis in PCT.

RM: So is it any clearer if I ask to see an example of how work on collective control gave notions like social variables or shared perceptions a strong theoretical basis in PCT?

BN: Yes, I understood your question, and I was being responsive. Your question had two parts. You first asked for an example of a ‘social variable’, and then you aid you’d like to hear how investigations of collective control give such variables a strong theoretical basis in PCT. I replied to the first part of your question with an example. After you recognize that, we can continue with the second part of your question.

RM: So “huh?” is an example of a social variable? It might be the state of a social variable but it doesn’t seem like a variable to me, let alone a social variable.

BN: You did not respond to the word “Huh?” as an example of a collectively controlled (‘social’) variable.

RM: Well, only you would know that. I responded to “Huh?” as a disturbance to a conversation about social variables and collective control. To correct that disturbance I responded by suggesting what I thought might be a better way to ask my question, in order to get an answer that didn’t seem like a non-sequiter.

BN: If you had [recognized that “Huh?” was a response to the question about what a social variable is], you might have commented that the word “Huh?” and its intonation (indicated by the question mark) conventionally indicates not understanding what was just said,

RM: That is the way I took it and it’s why I re-framed my question.

BN: or alternatively consternation that such a thing might be said, and you might have acknowledged that “conventionally indicating” something is a function of collective control.

RM: Yes, I might have done all that but I was asking you (not myself) what social variables are. I also think the term “collective control” describes many very different phenomena involving control by multiple individuals, So saying that something is explained by “collective control” says virtually nothing to me about how a particular phenomenon is explained. Which is why I was asking for an explanation of how “collective control” explains social variables.

BN: We’ve discussed the nature of social conventions a fair amount.

RM: Indeed we have and I have copied part of a post from Bill Powers, a reply to you, giving the PCT explanation of the control of social variables without any need for postulating “collective control” to give them a “strong theoretical basis”. It’s copied at the end of htis.

BN: I confess that the ‘consternation’ meaning is also relevant. You seriously do not remember any of our discussions of language and culture in terms of collective control?

RM: I do remember the cool little simulations I did that were aimed at explaining the data you presented on pronunciation drift. And some other discussions of what I would call “conflictive control” that seemed to have no obvious relationship to any everyday social phenomenon.

BN: The context, as you generously reminded us, was “The dispute … over Bill’s resistance, perhaps around 1992, to notions like social variables or shared perceptions.”

RM: Someone else must have reminded us of that; I have no memory of the 1992 dispute. But, as I mentioned, I did find a nice post from Bill, in reply to you, that presents his (and my) take on control of what I think of as social variables. And the basic idea is that these variables (like the pronunciation variables in my pronunciation drift model) “exist only in individuals”.

BN: Confirmed to materialist science as he was, he said he would want to see the input and output functions, etc. It looked like this resistance was going to make it difficult to talk about language and culture within PCT.

RM: I think Bill was “confirmed " (did you mean confined?”) to science; he was certainly not confirmed (or confined) to materialism. Check out any of Bill’s papers on consciousness.

BN: Investigations of collective control showed how humans in social groups create and maintain such ‘social variables’,

RM: It depends on what you mean by “collective control”. I think Bill’s CROWD demo and my “pronunciation drift” model show how collections of individual control systems, controlling for the same or similar social perceptions, can produce what would be called social phenomena. I have also seen Kent’s collective conflict models, which can result in a virtually controlled variable, though I haven’t seen what social data that model actually accounts for. And that “conflictive control” model also has all the actors in the collective conflict experiencing error and, thus, not being in control. I don’t think real social agents like to live with sustained error for very long.

BN: Here’s one of the posts from Bill that I found that I think is relevant to this discussion.

[From Bill Powers (2003.03.12.1041 MSST)]

Bruce Nevin (2003.03.12 11:14 EST)–

BP: Just a couple of remarks for now. You have said twice now that it would be
difficult to test for controlled social variables:

BN: >We want to identify, and then disturb, and measure resistance to the
disturbance of, a >social artifact, but we are arrested in our progress at
the very first step: the >hypothesis that posits the controlled variable.

BP: I can see that this would pose a problem if the social artifact had any
independent existence of its own: just where on the social CV would you
push to see if there is resistance? If you try to push on the distance
between two Arabs, your hand will encounter only thin air.

BP: It is far easier to imagine disturbing a variable that a person is
controlling, and this is how I would proceed in investigating social
reference levels. I would say to my Jewish friend, “Want half of my BLT?”
This, plus appropriate follow-up interactions, would tell me whether my
friend perceived being Jewish as requiring the avoidance of things like
bacon. By such means I could determine, within reasonable bounds, not only
how my friend perceives Jewishness, but what reference conditions he
maintains and what actions he finds permissible to carry out, at least with
a friend, to defend those variables against disturbances.

BP: What I am describing is close to, but not the same as, what Lee says in the
cited segment. It helps a great deal to be able to perceive something like
what the other person perceives, in order to propose specific Tests, but
I’m not convinced that total immersion is essential. Maybe it is; I haven’t
tried it.

BP: If we put that aside, I think that part of my thesis would be upheld by
Dorothy Lee’s experiences. I am, for all practical purposes, as totally
immersed in my society as possible for me, yet I don’t think I have ever
met any person who could be considered representative of everyone else but
me. Furthermore, I am quite sure that there is no such person. I have
formed some generalizations about others in my society, but it has always
been quite clear to me that they did not apply to everyone, and in fact the
older I get, the less general any of my generalizations seem. If Dorothy
Lee immersed herself in a foriegn society and came to know it as a native,
then she, too, would have formed generalizations about the other people,
and they would have been no more true about everyone in that society than
my generalizations about my own society are. Well, they probably would have
been more true than mine from the standpoint of being consistent and
systematic, but that would not make them any less statistical in nature.
Generalizations, as understood in the social sciences, by their very nature
are not true of everyone.

BP: You haven’t yet budged me from my position that social variables exist only
in individuals; I now add, … and can be detected only through
interactions with individuals. I will include linguistic phenomena in that
assertion. The way we find out about cultures is through interacting with
individuals and then forming generalizations – which are, of course,
perceptions in ourselves of the same type as the social perceptions we
investigate. Generalizations which refer to all individuals in a culture
are prima facie false. Generalizations which refer to a culture treated
as a population are, if correctly drawn, true but not necessarily
applicable to any individual in that culture (“The Achumawi male is 5 feet
5.173 inches tall”). Those that are true of individuals are true only of
specific individuals – the subset of those tested who behaved exactly
according to hypothesis. And as I’m sure you will agree, that subset is
never as large as the set of individuals tested. Sometimes it is not even
half as large as the tested set (for example, it could be a a little over a
third of the population if three alternatives were tested).

Best,

Bill P.


Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Richard S. Marken
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery