(Speculation) Control against reorganization?

[Martin Taylor 990204 09:20]

The interchange about the culpability, despicability, or otherwise of
Bill Clinton seemed at first to have very little to do with the theoretical
side of PCT, but I think it does, and with the question raised a while
back about what PCT has to say about the origins of particular moral
positions.

Before you read this, please note that this message contains a high
proportion of speculation, as opposed to well supported theory or
experiment.

···

-----------------------

I take as my text the following interchange between Ken Kitzke and Rick
Marken:

[From Kenny Kitzke (990203.1100)]
<Rick Marken (990203.1100)>

<Adultery, as Martin Taylor (990202 20:02) noted, is no one's
business but the adulterer's and the adulteree's.>

This is sick. This is stupid. I hope you are joking? What happened to
the respect in your wimpy, relative moral belief references for their
spouses?

I take this to mean that in Ken's set of moral principles there is one
that gives him a set of reference perceptions that taken together require
people outside the family to know about, to judge, and to punish instances
of adultery.

In other messages, Ken has given us words leading us to believe that his
moral principles are provided by the Bible, and in particular by Christ.
But here we seem to have a contradiction, if I remember my Bible at all.
For it was Christ himself who protected a "woman taken in adultery" from
the "correct" legal punishment. Christ asserted that there was a highly
restricted class of person who was eligible to judge and to punish adultery
(he did not, as I recall, say anything about "to know"). Only persons
who were "without sin" could do so, not the general public. The implication
is that there is nobody without sin (and I believe many Christian churches
have a doctrine of "original sin" that ensures this to be so).

In my comment (slightly mis-stated by Rick, since in the message he
references, I allowed it to be the family's business), I tried to take
the same position as Christ, not because Christ stated that position,
but because Christ's position corresponds to my own moral principles,
wherever they come from.

Ken, though, whose moral principles explicitly derive from Christ's
statements (as cited by authors living a generation or three later),
takes a diametrically opposed position.

It seems that it is possible to sustain a set of conflicting reference
levels based on controlling perceptions derived from "moral principles."
The resulting conflict should, in the orthodox view of PCT, create a
sustained error and result in reorganization. But what we usually seem
to observe in such people is an extreme rigidity, not rapid reorganization.

In the earlier discussion last month on "belief," which led into the
thread on morals, an early assertion by Bill was that a "belief" was a
reference perception for a controlled perception. Is it possible that
the rigidity we observe among people who have conflicts that they
themselves do not perceive is an example of just this? Can it be that
some kinds of control act against a disturbance to the perceptual control
hierarchy itself, a disturbance that is the influence (from outside the
perceptual control hierarchy) of the reorganizing system. In other
words, can we, and do we, control against reorganization? And is this
the opposite of "willingness to learn?"

------------------------

A related question. Ken (sorry to pick on Ken again, because he is only an
exemplar, even if a rather prototypical one) uses the word "liberal" as
if it were pejorative. A lot of people do, in the USA, and I am wondering
what objectionable characteristics they ascribe to "liberals." In my
Oxford dictionary (the one with the magnifying glass) there are 6 major
meanings for "liberal," most of which refer to characteristics I would
think admirable. I am wondering if there is a seventh meaning in the
US, or if one or more of these--to me admirable--characteristics is
perceived as despicable by those who use the word in a pejorative sense.

These are the main meanings:

1.(now rare) Pertaining to general intellectual enlargement and refinement;
not restricted to the requirements of technical or professional training.
2. Free in bestowing; bountiful, generous, open-hearted.
3. Free from restraint; free in speech or action
4. Free from narrow prejudice; open minded, candid.
5. Of political opinions: favourable to constitutional changes and legal
or administrative reforms tending in the direction of freedom or
democracy.
6. A member of the Liberal party.

And there is a "chiefly US" theological meaning--one who holds 'liberal'
views in theology--which seems to be derived from the first five above.

If these six meanings (of which the sixth is I think rare in the US) cover
the characteristics that make "liberals" so bad, I wonder which of them
is the one that so disturbs the people who use the word as an epithet?

Why is this a related question? I speculate that meanings 1, 3, 4,
and 5 all tie into the possibility that the "liberal" person is
one who is not (or not at high gain) controlling against reorganization.
All of them suggest that the person is open to external influences that
might change the way they perceive the world. For a person who is
controlling for no reorganization, it may be a strong disturbance to
perceive that other people do not control their reorganization rate so
strongly. The suppression of such "non-control against reorganization"
people could be one way of countering that kind of disturbance.

In considering whether this message is total nonsense, please remember
that most controlled perceptions are never made conscious, and that this
is particularly true of those perceptions that are continuously and
successfully controlled. It is hard to be conscious of either very high
level controlled perceptions or very low-level ones.

Martin

[From Bruce Gregory (990204.1035 EST)]

Martin Taylor 990204 09:20

In the earlier discussion last month on "belief," which led into the
thread on morals, an early assertion by Bill was that a "belief" was a
reference perception for a controlled perception. Is it possible that
the rigidity we observe among people who have conflicts that they
themselves do not perceive is an example of just this? Can it be that
some kinds of control act against a disturbance to the
perceptual control
hierarchy itself, a disturbance that is the influence (from
outside the
perceptual control hierarchy) of the reorganizing system. In other
words, can we, and do we, control against reorganization? And is this
the opposite of "willingness to learn?"

I find this suggestion quite plausible. This morning on NPR I heard a
self-proclaimed Christian tell us that "Christ told us to be wise as a
serpent..." Hello? I thought all of our problems began with listening to
a serpent in the Garden of Eden. This sounds like a naked contradiction
to some of us, but I am confident that Christians have a way around it.
A way to control against reorganization, if you like. The perception
being controlled is the infallible truth of the Bible (or the Koran or
the intent of the Founding Fathers). If there appear to be conflicts,
they must be explained away to defend this perception against
disturbance. One can always fall back on the "explanation" that God's
ways are only dimly knowable to us. Fundamentalists assume that there is
a "literal" interpretation of the holy texts. Those of us who value
consistency appreciate that any conclusion you like can be derived from
an inconsistent set of principles.

Bruce Gregory

[From Rick Marken (990204.0900)]

Martin Taylor (990204 09:20) --

A very clear and interesting post. Martin.

In the earlier discussion last month on "belief," which led into the
thread on morals, an early assertion by Bill was that a "belief" was a
reference perception for a controlled perception. Is it possible that
the rigidity we observe among people who have conflicts that they
themselves do not perceive is an example of just this?

I think the "conflicts" you mention here are what Bill calls "logical
conflicts" in Ch. 17 of B:CP. They are really statements that contradict
one another: "I am a Christian"; "Christians believe all people are sinners",
"Sinners cannot judge other sinners"; "Bill Clinton is a sinner"; "Bill
Clinton should be judged". This kind of conflict is not the same as a
control based conflict, where two control systems fight to try to get the
same perceptual variable into two different states. Logical conflicts like
this can be a disturbance to perceptions of logical consistency. But if
a
person is not controlling for logical consistency, then there is no
disturbance. Even if a person _is_ controlling for logical consistency
(and some theologians have explicitly tried to control such perceptions)
it's really not that hard to deal with such disturbances verbally
(creating
consistency via imagination).

Can it be that some kinds of control act against a disturbance to the
perceptual control hierarchy itself, a disturbance that is the influence
(from outside the perceptual control hierarchy) of the reorganizing system.
In other words, can we, and do we, control against reorganization? And is
this the opposite of "willingness to learn?"

I think we _do_ control against reorganization to some extent because
reorganization involves error and error (after a while) hurts. But I
don't think reorganization is involved in the inconsistencies you point
out. I don't think the rigidity we see in people controlling for religious
perceptions is the same as the rigidity we see in people (like me)
controlling for other system concepts (like PCT); it's just control
of perception.

I see no signs of conflict (no oscillation, no failure to resist
disturbances) or reorganization (no anxiety, no random flailing)
in the behavior of religious zealots. I think there people are
_very_ skillful controllers of their system concepts. The output
they use to control their perceptions are _words_; these people
use words the way a skillful surgeon uses a scalpel. Disturbances,
such as logical contradictions (like those you and Bruce Gregory
(990204.1035 EST) have noted) and data (like the contents of the
museum of natural history), have virtually no effect on their
controlled perceptions.

The only thing, I think, that distinguishes those who control for
religious system concepts from those who control for scientific
system concepts is the willingness to revise their system concepts
based on observation; scientists (some) are willing; religious types
are not. Indeed, I think that part of most religious system concepts
is a _principle_ that says you should not revise the system concept
no matter what; you must maintain the system concept _on faith_, even
in the face of evidence that is inconsistent with that concept. I
think we see evidence of this principle in Ken Kitzke's refusal to
even consider the possibility of revising his economic system concept
based on evidence. The scientific system concept I control requires
that, in principle, I should be willing to revise system concepts
(like PCT) based on experimental evidence.

I think it is this principle -- the principle of being willing
to revise references for system concepts based on perceptual
evidence -- that is the point where scientific and religious types
conflict (in the PCT sense); they want the same principle perception
in two very different states. I think Richard Feynman made precisely
this point in one of his lectures in Seattle back in the 1960s. It's
not the _content_ of the beliefs (references for lower level perceptual
variables) that distinguishes a scientific from a religious system
concept; it's the principle of being willing to change beliefs based
data.

Best

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Rick Marken (990204.1015)]

Bruce Gregory (990204.1255 EST) re: Rick Marken (990204.0900)

Nice post. I think you hit the nail on the head.

Thanks!

By the way, I just noticed an error in that post. I said:

I don't think the rigidity we see in people controlling
for religious perceptions is the same as the rigidity we see
in people (like me) controlling for other system concepts
(like PCT); it's just control of perception.

That was a mistyping that resulted from interrupted attempts
to revise the post; nothing Freudian;-) What I meant to say was:

I DO think the rigidity we see in people controlling for
religious perceptions is the same as the rigidity we see
in people (like me) controlling for other system concepts
(like PCT).

In both cases people are skillfully controlling for system
concept perceptions. The only difference (as I noted in the
post) is that the rigidity of control of scientific as opposed
to religious system concepts is (or, I think, _should be_)
tempered by the principle of willingness to change system
concepts based on the evidence.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Rick Marken (990204.1100)]

Oded Maler (990204)

I cannot resist spoiling the picture of "we scientists
revise our beliefs based on evidence" and "they
fundamentalists do not".

You are spoiling a picture that is quite different from
the one I tried to describe in my post [Rick Marken
(990204.0900)]. My point in that post was that the
scientific system concept includes the _principle_ of
revision of belief based on evidence; that's a principle that
scientists are taught to control for. All religious system
concepts that I know of include a principle that says,
basically, don't revise belief based on evidence. In
science, beliefs are supposed to be contingent on evidence;
in religion, evidence is basically contingent on belief.

In fact, the scientific principle of belief contingent
on evidence runs counter to our natures as perceptual
control systems; we are organized to make the evidence
(perception) match our belief (reference). This is
why, as you astutely point out:

there are very few people [scientists or religious types]
who reorganize frequently as a result of evidence

Now that I think about it, the principles of science run
completely counter to the principles of human nature as
described by PCT while the principles of religion are
completely consistent with the principles of human nature
as described by PCT. No wonder religion is so popular. It's
as easy as keeping a cursor on target.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bruce Gregory (990204.1255 EST)]

Rick Marken (990204.0900)

I think it is this principle -- the principle of being willing
to revise references for system concepts based on perceptual
evidence -- that is the point where scientific and religious types
conflict (in the PCT sense); they want the same principle perception
in two very different states. I think Richard Feynman made precisely
this point in one of his lectures in Seattle back in the 1960s. It's
not the _content_ of the beliefs (references for lower level
perceptual
variables) that distinguishes a scientific from a religious system
concept; it's the principle of being willing to change beliefs based
data.

Nice post. I think you hit the nail on the head.

Bruce Gregory

[From Oded Maler (990204)]

Bruce Gregory (990204.1255 EST)

Rick Marken (990204.0900)

> I think it is this principle -- the principle of being willing
> to revise references for system concepts based on perceptual
> evidence -- that is the point where scientific and religious types
> conflict (in the PCT sense); they want the same principle perception
> in two very different states. I think Richard Feynman made precisely
> this point in one of his lectures in Seattle back in the 1960s. It's
> not the _content_ of the beliefs (references for lower level
> perceptual
> variables) that distinguishes a scientific from a religious system
> concept; it's the principle of being willing to change beliefs based
> data.

Nice post. I think you hit the nail on the head.

While rejecting as amusing non-sense all the stories invented by
generations of gentiles around the late Rabi Yeshua Ben Yosef (and
rejecting as well certain Judeo-Christian dogmas) I cannot resist
spoiling the picture of "we scientists revise our beliefs based on
evidence" and "they fundamentalists do not". Incidently I started
reading another book by R.A. Wilson (Prometheus rising) where he
says: "Whatever the thinker thinks, the prover proves"- that is,
whatever that creative part of your mind wants to think, the other
"rigorous" part will find ways to show plausible. And this is not
limited to believers in scriptures, it's a property of the human mind
including scientists and pseudo-scientists. Science as a social
activity has some mechanisms for incorporating evidence and perhaps
approaching the truth, but not scientists as individuals.

I think there are very few people who reorganize frequently as a
result of evidence. Most stay with their original set of beliefs
while some others get stuck in the result of their first, or, at
most second major belief revision.

--Oded

[From Bruce Gregory (930204.1345 EST)]

Rick Marken (990204.1015)

> I don't think the rigidity we see in people controlling
> for religious perceptions is the same as the rigidity we see
> in people (like me) controlling for other system concepts
> (like PCT); it's just control of perception.

That was a mistyping that resulted from interrupted attempts
to revise the post; nothing Freudian;-) What I meant to say was:

I DO think the rigidity we see in people controlling for
religious perceptions is the same as the rigidity we see
in people (like me) controlling for other system concepts
(like PCT).

I read your original posting as if you had written what you meant to
write!

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Gregory (930204.1350 EST)]

Oded Maler (990204)

I think there are very few people who reorganize frequently as a
result of evidence. Most stay with their original set of beliefs
while some others get stuck in the result of their first, or, at
most second major belief revision.

While this is no doubt true, I have just finished teaching a course that
included the history of plate tectonics. In this discipline, a very
extensive reorganization of a field of science did take place in a very
short period of time as a result of new evidence that was predicted by
one model and could not be readily explained by competing models. One
could argue that the community that adopted the model was not the
community committed to the older models, but the change in textbooks,
for example, was truly revolutionary.

Bruce Gregory

[From Kenny Kitzke 990204.1100EST]

<Martin Taylor 990204 09:20>

<The interchange about the culpability, despicability, or otherwise of
Bill Clinton seemed at first to have very little to do with the theoretical
side of PCT, but I think it does, and with the question raised a while
back about what PCT has to say about the origins of particular moral
positions.>

How pleasantly constructive. This is great. Can we talk about moral
positions passions or beliefs in humans without piling on Ken for his
peculiar beliefs? I am growing weary of being piled on alone. But, for
anyone who wants to keep asking (like my friend Fred), I promised to give
an answer.

<I take this to mean that in Ken's set of moral principles there is one
that gives him a set of reference perceptions that taken together require
people outside the family to know about, to judge, and to punish instances
of adultery.>

Why take it onto yourself? Just ask Ken. My remark was not concerning
family. You may have said that but I was responding to Rick's remark, not
yours. Yours is more moral IMHO. :sunglasses:

Ken's moral principles hold that if what happens between adulterers is only
their business, we would have a lot more adultery in society and far fewer
happy spouses. But, the only adultery I can control is my own. And, my
wife would leave me in a heartbeat if I did what Mr. Bill did to Hillary.
Of course, my wife is no Hillary, thank God.

Adultery is an action that some purposeful humans enjoy. Even when
adultery at work is a crime as in the military, some still satisfy their
sexual satisfaction urges for self-gratification. Even high level officers
are removed from the US military for sexual contact or even harrassment
trying to get contact. Of course, our Mr. Bill is above that law, even
though he is the Chief of the US Military.

<But here we seem to have a contradiction, if I remember my Bible at all.
For it was Christ himself who protected a "woman taken in adultery" from
the "correct" legal punishment.>

He protected her because her accusers did not find a man to stone and
probably knew that all of them were culpable. He also said go and sin no
more to the adulteress. He would forgive her past immoral behavior. That
is what he would say to Mr. Bill and do. So do I. I do not really
understand what you see as a contradiction? Pursue it if you want.

The rest of your post is interesting and more what I would like to see
discussed on this forum than *my* Christian beliefs. I'm out of the closet
so to speak and I wish it didn't disturb some so much. Of course, I can't
control what others say on this forum.

But, I do not agree with your premise that we can set conflicting reference
levels. I thought both Rick and you and maybe even Bill agreed that
references at different levels cannot conflict. They address dissimilar
things.

I can see holding moral beliefs at the principle level which could come
into conflict when perceiving our behavior or the environment. I'm not
sure about the sustained error part. If it happens, I do think we do
reorganize if there is no behavior that can meet all our references.

<It seems that it is possible to sustain a set of conflicting reference
levels based on controlling perceptions derived from "moral principles."
The resulting conflict should, in the orthodox view of PCT, create a
sustained error and result in reorganization. But what we usually seem
to observe in such people is an extreme rigidity, not rapid
reorganization.>

Let's say a man has a moral belief to eat no pork. His associate invites
him and his wife over for dinner. The associate's wife bring a nice juicy
ham to the dinner table. Now he has a possible moral conflict that may
require reorganization. I would see many ways for him to vary his behavior
or reorganize and maintain control. I don't know why this would be any
different than lower level conflicts like sitting near a window for fresh
air and feeling cold.

You will have to give me an example that justifies your observation at
extreme rigidity rather than rapid reorganization. If behavior can solve
it, there is no reason to reorganize. Until you can better define an
hypothesis for this rigidity, I cannot comment much more and will await
what others perceive about your speculation.

<Can it be that
some kinds of control act against a disturbance to the perceptual control
hierarchy itself, a disturbance that is the influence (from outside the
perceptual control hierarchy) of the reorganizing system. In other
words, can we, and do we, control against reorganization? And is this
the opposite of "willingness to learn?">

These are great questions for the PCT experts, those who clain to
understand how human behavior works. I really like the following ones as
they would not be my first impression:

<In considering whether this message is total nonsense, please remember
that most controlled perceptions are never made conscious, and that this
is particularly true of those perceptions that are continuously and
successfully controlled. It is hard to be conscious of either very high
level controlled perceptions or very low-level ones.>

BTW, I don't think in terms of liberals. I used the word only for effect
to play tit for tat with descriptions used by others about conservatives.
I have no interest in trying to define the term. I would not call this
controlling for not learning. I would call it having no reference for
learning what liberal really means in politics. I have a perception that
is impossible.

Regards,

Kenny

[From Bruce Gregory (990204.1400 EST)]

Rick Marken (990204.1100)

Now that I think about it, the principles of science run
completely counter to the principles of human nature as
described by PCT while the principles of religion are
completely consistent with the principles of human nature
as described by PCT. No wonder religion is so popular. It's
as easy as keeping a cursor on target.

I've come to same conclusion about science and human nature. Students
have great trouble learning science because it is completely
"unnatural". So they treat it as a belief system which makes it as easy
as keeping a cursor on a target.

Bruce Gregory

[from Jeff Vancouver 990204.1100 EST]

I have been trying to avoid engagement in recent conversations as they are
more opinion about politics than PCT. However, Martins sucked me in.

[Martin Taylor 990204 09:20]
It seems that it is possible to sustain a set of conflicting reference
levels based on controlling perceptions derived from "moral principles."
The resulting conflict should, in the orthodox view of PCT, create a
sustained error and result in reorganization. But what we usually seem
to observe in such people is an extreme rigidity, not rapid reorganization.

In the earlier discussion last month on "belief," which led into the
thread on morals, an early assertion by Bill was that a "belief" was a
reference perception for a controlled perception. Is it possible that
the rigidity we observe among people who have conflicts that they
themselves do not perceive is an example of just this? Can it be that
some kinds of control act against a disturbance to the perceptual control
hierarchy itself, a disturbance that is the influence (from outside the
perceptual control hierarchy) of the reorganizing system. In other
words, can we, and do we, control against reorganization? And is this
the opposite of "willingness to learn?"

I think (based on my interpretation of psychological literature, but not
necessary strong tests of my theory) that reorganization or higher-level
systems requires a limited resource, which for lack of a better term, is
often called attention. I translate psychology's concept of attention into
"use of imagination mode." Imagination mode is evoked during
reorganization when sufficent memories of subgoal-perception relationships
are available. By subgoal-perception relationships I am refering to
knowledges of a state of a perceptual variable after having sent a set of
goal signals to lower-level control systems. Experientially, the idea "if
I do this, that will happen" where we control theories understand "do this"
is really "accomplish this." Anyway, I speculate that to avoid crossing
wires when evoking these memories, the brain must only allow limited
evoking. Hence, the limitation in attention. Given that we believe
control systems regulate stuff, I figure a control system (or set of them)
regulate attention. Hence, it is not that we are hesistant to learn, but
that priorities in learning must occur because are learning (which is
reorganization) is limited, IMHO.

Regarding liberals:

I am not sure it is the definition of liberal that is the problem, but
associated qualifiers. Specifically, tax-and-spend liberals. Liberals and
conservatives want a lot of the same things, which include concern for self
and others. The difference is largely in how each thinks the system ought
to run to best achieve those goals.

Sincerely,

Jeff

[From Kenny Kitzke (990204.2100EST)]

<Rick Marken (990204.1015)>

<I DO think the rigidity we see in people controlling for
religious perceptions is the same as the rigidity we see
in people (like me) controlling for other system concepts
(like PCT).>

Me too. Moral beliefs are important references for human behavior
regardless what system they provide input to. So, how about hacking on
yours instead of mine for a while? :sunglasses:

<In both cases people are skillfully controlling for system
concept perceptions. The only difference (as I noted in the
post) is that the rigidity of control of scientific as opposed
to religious system concepts is (or, I think, _should be_)
tempered by the principle of willingness to change system
concepts based on the evidence..

The evidence is that few scientists have accepted PCT as an explanation of
behavior. Science may be more rigid than moral beliefs. My beliefs about
PCT and morality have changed dramatically. Or, is this data irrelevant to
what you want to perceive.

Respectfully,

kenny

[From Kenny Kitzke (990204.2100EST)]

<Rick Marken (990204.1100)>

<Now that I think about it, the principles of science run
completely counter to the principles of human nature as
described by PCT while the principles of religion are
completely consistent with the principles of human nature
as described by PCT. No wonder religion is so popular. It's
as easy as keeping a cursor on target.>

It is amazing what happens when you think.

This is a tremendous leap forward for you Rick. Now you know why you and
PCT are so unpopular. And, with any luck you will be abandoning a systems
concept of science that is inconsistent with human nature.

Hey, if you want to really think, try the Bible. It has answers to
physical questions that scientists have not answered to this day. I'll
recommend a version to you. Put it right next to B:CP on your book shelf.
And study them both like I do. It's fun. It's educational.

You are one funny guy Rick.

Kenny