Some brief (perhaps unwise) comments about empirical support for PCT


      I have not read in hard copy all of the last two days comments
      on the lack of PCT research. I did glance through Tom's post
      (sorry no date reference) rather carefully and noted the
      exchanges between Abbott, Martin and Rick and I have been
      thinking about the problems of PCT research. What I say here is
      far too brief, off the "top of my head" and not properly
      referenced but I do believe that it gets to what I think is
      the "heart" of the "lack of PCT research" problem (if it is
      a problem).

     Let me start with a bold assertion: compared with any area of
     "research" in the so-called "behavioral science" the "research"
     done under the name of PCT is quite meager and unconvincing.
     All of it has been done under the circumstances where the
     experimentor has defined the reference signal, the disturbance,
     the mode of behavior to be used to counter the disturbance and
     and the meaning of the empirical results. In none of our
     studies using the "tracking design" as a "model" either as
     research or as demonstration do we use THE TEST to "find" a
     "controlled variable" that we (the experimentor, research or
     teacher) DON'T ALREADY KNOW. This can be said for all of the
     the computer programs devised by Bill, Rick, Tom (I have used
     all of them in research except Tom's) and all of the demos
     that I and all of us (see issue of CL for example) have use
     to "show how a negative feedback control system a la human
     being" works. The Crowd program is one that shows how "simulated
     actors" as "control systems" engage in "individual locomotion"
     that appears to look like what Clark and I have have observed
     and that Clark and Ron did in their research (a publication
     by the way which is not often noted in the PCT literature).
     But, as I noted in a post on 0929, there are serious problems
     with the program when it comes to all but thes simplist movements.
     The program does not YET simulate most of the collective locomotion
     forms that we have observed. I could go on but I think I have
     said enough about PCT research.

     THE POINT: Until we can do research on "reference signals" that we
     do not strongly influence or that we do not simply use as a
     "demonstration" very few people who might be interested in making
     sense out of what people do to, with, for, and against one another
     will take us seriously. We can continue to say "we don't see that
     as a behavior" because you have not characterized it in PCT terms
     but that does not work or it is not convincing (that is what is
     happening on the net recently in the conversations between Abbott
     and others). Every time someone suggests that an experiment be
     devised that does use "tracking" as research design there is
     resistence. How about some advise on the design for an experiment
     which simple involves people interacting with each other?

     I am sorry this is so brief and undocumented but I think I can
     support my claims with evidence from PCT research.

     Regards, Chuck