Teaching PCT

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.1640)]

I am about midway through my Freshman seminar on PCT and it's going pretty poorly. I can't seem to light the kids' fire (though I have one student who seems to be a fan). I can't seem to teach PCT in a way that makes it interesting to lay people. And the kids in this class are basically lay people. Most are not Psychology majors and they are right out of high school. I don't know how to present the stuff I find interesting in a way that excites interest in these kids.

Today I gave a lecture on PCT methodology that I though would be real interesting. I explained "the test" and illustrated it with what I thought were fun examples (seeing if you are being "tailed", for example). And I gave as homework the "fun" of doing the coin game with friends. And then I showed them my mind reading demo. I always think this is going to just blow people away but it never does; when will I ever learn. About the only comment I got on the mind reading demo was "that seems kind of simple" which, I agreed, it was.

I guess I just find things interesting that other people don't. Though I do remember giving a very successful all day seminar on PCT about 10 years ago. I don't know why it worked so well then. Maybe it's because the audience was older people. Who knows?

The funny thing about my return to teaching is that I am having the most fun (and success, in terms of student feedback) teaching Statistics. I think it's because I'm best at teaching when my goal is to make a difficult (and required) subject understandable. I think I'm worst at teaching when I feel like I'm trying to "sell" an idea. Now that I think of it, I think the seminar with the older folks went well because I was _invited_ to talk about my interests. So I didn't feel like I selling, just informing. But this Freshman seminar is more like a selling situation. I had to sell the course to the administration (and the students, so I would have enough attending); I wasn't asked to give a seminar on PCT.

I guess I'll just have to stop worrying about it and keep trying to make it relatively interesting. Maybe I'll just stick to Statistics in the future and save PCT for those who want it (and if you are on CSGNet I'll assume you want it;-)

Well, thanks for letting me vent; I feel much better now;-)

Best

Rick

···

---

Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

[Martin Taylor 2007.02.07.20.23]

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.1640)]

I am about midway through my Freshman seminar on PCT and it's going pretty poorly. I can't seem to light the kids' fire (though I have one student who seems to be a fan). I can't seem to teach PCT in a way that makes it interesting to lay people.

I can't remember who it was, but I remember at the first CSG meeting I attended (93) someone talking about how he got through to lay people. It seemed to make sense.

My memory is quite probably faulty, but what I remember is that he talked about how you might deal with a situation that troubled you. First he talked about whether you have the power to change the situation, power implying strength as well as mechanism. Then he talked about whether you could see what the situation would be if it were as you wanted (reference). Only then did he talk about whether you could see what the situation actually was and could see how it different from what you really wanted.

His secret was to talk about the action side first, even though this is the side that is least important for PCT. It is what most people think of, and what they don't think of is that power has to be deployed in some way that produces a desireable effect, which in turn implies that there must be some idea of what is and of what "ought to" be. By the time that has percolated, it's a short step to realize that behaviour is the control of perception rather than being the result of perception.

Probably unhelpful. It's the best I can do at the moment.

Martin

[From David Goldstein (2007.02.07.2009)]

Rick,

What do you think the students want from the course?

David

···

Rick Marken marken@MINDREADINGS.COM wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.1640)]

I am about midway through my Freshman seminar on PCT and it’s going
pretty poorly. I can’t seem to light the kids’ fire (though I have one
student who seems to be a fan). I can’t seem to teach PCT in a way
that makes it interesting to lay people. And the kids in this class are
basically lay people. Most are not Psychology majors and they are right
out of high school. I don’t know how to present the stuff I find
interesting in a way that excites interest in these kids.

Today I gave a lecture on PCT methodology that I
though would be real
interesting. I explained “the test” and illustrated it with what I
thought were fun examples (seeing if you are being “tailed”, for
example). And I gave as homework the “fun” of doing the coin game with
friends. And then I showed them my mind reading demo. I always think
this is going to just blow people away but it never does; when will I
ever learn. About the only comment I got on the mind reading demo was
“that seems kind of simple” which, I agreed, it was.

I guess I just find things interesting that other people don’t. Though
I do remember giving a very successful all day seminar on PCT about 10
years ago. I don’t know why it worked so well then. Maybe it’s because
the audience was older people. Who knows?

The funny thing about my return to teaching is that I am having the
most fun (and success, in terms of student feedback) teaching
Statistics. I think it’s because I’m best at teaching
when my goal is
to make a difficult (and required) subject understandable. I think I’m
worst at teaching when I feel like I’m trying to “sell” an idea. Now
that I think of it, I think the seminar with the older folks went well
because I was invited to talk about my interests. So I didn’t feel
like I selling, just informing. But this Freshman seminar is more like
a selling situation. I had to sell the course to the administration
(and the students, so I would have enough attending); I wasn’t asked to
give a seminar on PCT.

I guess I’ll just have to stop worrying about it and keep trying to
make it relatively interesting. Maybe I’ll just stick to Statistics in
the future and save PCT for those who want it (and if you are on CSGNet
I’ll assume you want it;-)

Well, thanks for letting me vent; I feel much better now;-)

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home
310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

[Bruce Nevin 2007.02.07 21:46 EST]

Martin Taylor 2007.02.07.20.23 --

I'm glad you remembered that.

1. Effective output functions, evidence of ability to control the CV
(without talking explicitly about control or the CV as such).

2. CV in terms of reference, desired states of variables.

3. CV in terms of (perceptions of) environment variables and the
discrepancy or error between CV and reference, and talking about control
as such.

The implication is that people concern themselves with their ability to
control, then with their references, and then with actually controlling,
in that order, and that pitching to their concerns in that order is more
effective than trying to sell concepts about control from the get.
Losing control is perilous, so concern about that comes before other
desires.

  /B

···

-----Original Message-----
From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.UIUC.EDU] On Behalf Of Martin Taylor
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 8:30 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.UIUC.EDU
Subject: Re: Teaching PCT

[Martin Taylor 2007.02.07.20.23]

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.1640)]

I am about midway through my Freshman seminar on PCT and it's going
pretty poorly. I can't seem to light the kids' fire (though I have one
student who seems to be a fan). I can't seem to teach PCT in a way
that makes it interesting to lay people.

I can't remember who it was, but I remember at the first CSG meeting I
attended (93) someone talking about how he got through to lay people. It
seemed to make sense.

My memory is quite probably faulty, but what I remember is that he
talked about how you might deal with a situation that troubled you.
First he talked about whether you have the power to change the
situation, power implying strength as well as mechanism. Then he talked
about whether you could see what the situation would be if it were as
you wanted (reference). Only then did he talk about whether you could
see what the situation actually was and could see how it different from
what you really wanted.

His secret was to talk about the action side first, even though this is
the side that is least important for PCT. It is what most people think
of, and what they don't think of is that power has to be deployed in
some way that produces a desireable effect, which in turn implies that
there must be some idea of what is and of what "ought to" be. By the
time that has percolated, it's a short step to realize that behaviour is
the control of perception rather than being the result of perception.

Probably unhelpful. It's the best I can do at the moment.

Martin

[From Bill Powers (2007.02.07.1955 MST)]

Rick Marken (2007.02.07.1640) --

I guess I just find things interesting that other people don't. Though I do remember giving a very successful all day seminar on PCT about 10 years ago. I don't know why it worked so well then. Maybe it's because the audience was older people. Who knows?

This paragraph spawned an idea that might be useful. It reminded me of the student-sponsored seminar I did for several quarters at Northwestern. At the first meeting, I presented a masterly and eloquent argument showing why stimulus-response theory could not be right, and why control theory probably was right. After I finished, without much reaction and with five minutes of class to go, one student raised a hand sort of tentatively and asked "What's stimulus-response theory?"

You may be assuming that your freshmen know far more than they actually know about anything. The older people you taught did know something, a lot more than any freshmen could know. You can't teach advanced theory to the totally ignorant. First you have to educate them in the basics, whatever they are.

I think you need to find out what theories of behavior your students have brought to class with them, if any. Do they even have a concept of explaining behavior? Why would anyone want to explain behavior? What does an explanation look like? What's to explain? People behave -- So? I think you have to realize that inside those adult-looking bodies are children. They might believe that you can read their minds, and make them do things they don't want to do, and discover all their horrible little secrets. You are a PSYCHOLOGIST! The last thing on their minds is whether control theory is nice to know about. So you have to find out what IS on their minds, and build from there. Even if the biggest discovery they are going to make is that they control perceptions, not actions. You can't go from A to Z without first getting to B.

Maybe that will suggest something to you.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.2215)]

Gee, that got people's attention;-) Thanks for all the comments.

Martin Taylor (2007.02.07.20.23)--

I can't remember who it was, but I remember at the first CSG meeting I attended (93) someone talking about how he got through to lay people. It seemed to make sense.

Thanks for the comments Martin. But I don't think the problem is "getting through" to them. I think it's a problem of making it seem interesting, and that's my problem, not theirs. I think the kids understand PCT well enough; at least they don't complain about it being unclear. I started them off talking about behavior and about the nature of control. I basically tried to get them to understand that behavior is not an objective phenomenon, as indicated by the fact that you often find yourself asking "what is he/she doing?" when you can see exactly what the person is doing. Once I explained the nature of control -- and the fact that behavior can be seen to involve control (I used examples of controlling from McPhee's "Control of Nature" and well as some finger tracking examples of controlling) -- I then explained the theory. I think the problem I'm having is making it interesting. And, again, that's my problem, not the students'. When I teach Statistics I can make it interesting; when I teach PCT I instantly go into boring mode;-)

David Goldstein (2007.02.07.2009)]
�
Rick,
�
What do you think the students want from the course?

Good question, David. I don't really know. Probably a nice intermission from their required courses. It's just a one unit course (and it's P/NP so there are not tests, just a paper at the end) and it's supposed to give Freshmen a chance to see what professors in different departments are up to. These Freshman seminars are also designed to give professors a chance to deal with subjects of particular interest to them. But I think what the students want (that I'm not providing) is a little excitement; a little profundity; a little fun. I find the material exciting, profound and even fun but I don't think the kids do. That's not their fault; it's mine. But I will ask them at the next meeting what they would like to get out of the course.

This is Phil Runkel responding to Rick Marken's disapointment with his freshmen in psychology.
�
Rick:� I'm sorry about the response of your freshmen.�

Thanks, Phil. But the problem is me, not my Freshmen. They are bright and skeptical. I'm the one who is not doing a good job of presenting this in a fun way -- in a way way that gets them involved.

But I am not surprised.� I think the thing to remember in walking into any teaching situation is:� Are they here voluntarily?�

Yes. This course is an elective; they can take it simply for their enlightenment.
�

The students in your statistics class, I think, are a case in the middle.�

Actually, Statistics is a required course for the Psych major. So they are not there voluntarily. I think I do well in Statistics, not because the students want to be there but because they _don't_ want to be there, and I can make it tolerablely interesting, understandable and even fun for them.

Bill Powers (2007.02.07.1955 MST)]

You may be assuming that your freshmen know far more than they actually know about anything.

Yes, that may be. I thought of that. But I'm keeping it pretty non-technical. What I'm seeing is more a lack of interest than of understanding. I'm just not making it as exciting as it could be. I'm competing (in a way) with the Intro Psych class, which has all kinds of fun materials all ready to go. I think my class is like black and white compared to the full color of a regular intro to psych course.

I think you need to find out what theories of behavior your students have brought to class with them, if any. Do they even have a concept of explaining behavior? Why would anyone want to explain behavior? What does an explanation look like? What's to explain? People behave -- So? I think you have to realize that inside those adult-looking bodies are children.

Yes, I know. I could do a better job of finding out what they know and what they want to know (as David suggested). But I think I just have to do a better job of making it _interesting_. I have had my moments; it hasn't been all terrible. I just haven't felt like I've presented the material in a particularly compelling manner.

They might believe that you can read their minds, and make them do things they don't want to do, and discover all their horrible little secrets. You are a PSYCHOLOGIST! The last thing on their minds is whether control theory is nice to know about. So you have to find out what IS on their minds, and build from there. Even if the biggest discovery they are going to make is that they control perceptions, not actions. You can't go from A to Z without first getting to B.

I really don't think it's a comprehension problem. These are very bright kids. I'm sure they will understand that people control perceptions; they didn't seem to have a problem with that idea. What I was picking up is more like "so what"?

Maybe that will suggest something to you.

I keep re-conceptualizing as I go. Some things I've done have been relatively effective, some haven't.

I think the main problem is that what excites me about PCT is not what would excite most people. PCT is exciting to me because of its revolutionary implications for psychological science. It's the science aspect of PCT that plucks my twanger. But I advertised the course (in the catalog) as something that would be "relevant to your life". I did that in order to sell it -- you have to get enough students to make the course go -- but if I do it again I might be more comfortable changing the course description so that it is more clearly a psychological science course. Maybe that really is the problem; it's hard for me to present PCT as a "pop psych" kind of thing because I'm just not a pop psych kind of guy. But when I get "sciency" in the course I feel like I'm not giving them what they came for, based on the course description. So I feel bad: conflict strikes again.

But I'll just keep pluggin' away. I'm doing the darn course as an experiment. And I can do it again -- better, I hope, using the lessons learned from this experience -- next quarter, if I can get enough kids to enroll (after word gets out that Marken in a really boring guy;-))

Thanks for all the help everyone.

Best

Rick

···

---

Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

[David Goldstein (2007.02.08.0330)]

Rick,

I am kind of teaching a course to the staff at the residential center
where I work. The course consists of four one hour sessions spread over
four weeks. My hope is that this will have a positive interaction on the
way the staff interact with residents.

We are using Tim Carey's wonderful book, which as you know, teaches PCT
in the first half and MOL in the second half.

There is no paper but I am having each staff person coming into my
office and doing a 10-minute MOL session which is recorded on a digital
movie camera.

Each class conssists of three parts: (a) 20 minutes of PCT, (b)
20minutes of MOL and (c) 20 minutes of watching and talking about a
10-minute MOL session.

This seems to be an interesting way of organizaing the course to the
staff. They enjoy the 10-minute recording the most.

I am thinking that including the book Wonder Weeks would be a good
addition for your class. I bought this for my daughter to use with my
grandson, who is now 14 months old.

Some general points: (a) learning about MOL will make your students
better listeners which might help them in their people relationships,
(b) leanrning about PCT will help them be more less prejudiced and more
individualized when they interact with and observe people, and (c)
learning about Wonder Weeks will help them when they become parents or
help them understand themselves pr their families from talking with
their parents, or brothers/sisters, about when the students were
infants.

David

···

-----Original Message-----
From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.UIUC.EDU] On Behalf Of Rick Marken
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 1:15 AM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.UIUC.EDU
Subject: Re: Teaching PCT

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.2215)]

David Goldstein (2007.02.07.2009)]
�
Rick,
�
What do you think the students want from the course?

Good question, David. I don't really know. Probably a nice
intermission from their required courses. It's just a one unit course
(and it's P/NP so there are not tests, just a paper at the end) and
it's supposed to give Freshmen a chance to see what professors in
different departments are up to. These Freshman seminars are also
designed to give professors a chance to deal with subjects of
particular interest to them. But I think what the students want (that
I'm not providing) is a little excitement; a little profundity; a
little fun. I find the material exciting, profound and even fun but I
don't think the kids do. That's not their fault; it's mine. But I will
ask them at the next meeting what they would like to get out of the
course.

[From Dick Robertson, 2007.01.08.1030CDT]

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.1640)]

I am about midway through my Freshman seminar on

PCT and it's going

pretty poorly. I can't seem to light the kids'

fire (though I have

one student who seems to be a fan).

Yup, that sounds about right. You didn't say how big
the class is, but after promoting PCT in several
classes of about 20, over three or four years, I had
about 5 real fans. Three of them, with whom I still
have occassional contact, are still fans and
actually use it in thinking about their various
activities. The others-I have lost contact with, but
I wouldn't be surprised if they do too. If you
really get it, it's natural to use it.

I can't add much to Phil Runkel's fine comment. My
students were fully focussed on what any class could
do for them: was it required for the major? Was it
easy? (I.e. Could you grasp it from your own common
sense, you wouldn't have to stop and think about it
much.) Could you see how it would help you earn a
living?

I don't know about yours, but my students were very
eager about that last one. They wanted to get out of
there and make a salary, as that spelled
independence for them.
Intellectual curiosity would have to wait.

I find it interesting that a similar question--about
what proportion of the population really goes for a
new idea--came up one time in one of Carl Rogers's
classes. (Remember his Client Centered therapy was
revolutionary at a time when Psychoanalysis was the
exclusive gospel on therapy.) He judged that in his
expericne about 10-15% have intellectual curiousity
among their higher priorities.

I can't seem to teach PCT in a way that makes it

interesting to lay people. And the >kids in this
class are basically lay people. Most are not
Psychology majors and >they are right out of high
school.

Don't desert that one fan. He/she is the wave of the
future; though I understand you have to sell a
product that keeps your contracts being renewed.

I don't know how to present the stuff I find
interesting in a way that excites interest in these
kids.

Take Phil's and my word for it; there ain't no way,
for reasons like those above.

About the only comment I got on the mind reading demo
was "that seems kind of simple" which, I agreed,

it was.

No, it's not; it's profound, but to see that, you
would have to wonder about how behavior works.(I. e.
it didn't resolve any error signal in his conception
of reality, because his conception of reality didn't
have any error signals about how behavior works; his
error signals are with how to control a livelihood
(I suspect).

Listen, among my close friends (We meet on most
Thursday nights. We call ourselves, "Beer Night.")
is a psychiatrist, a world-renowned psychotherapy
researcher, a mechanical engineer, two clinical
psychologists--None of them is curious about how
behavior works.

I guess I just find things interesting that other

people don't.

Hey, isn't it fun being one of only 10% of the
population?

Though I do remember giving a very successful all

day seminar on PCT about

10 years ago. I don't know why it worked so well

then. Maybe it's

because the audience was older people. Who knows?

There ya go.

The funny thing about my return to teaching is

that I am having the

most fun (and success, in terms of student

feedback) teaching

Statistics. I think it's because I'm best at

teaching when my goal

is to make a difficult (and required) subject

understandable. I think

I'm worst at teaching when I feel like I'm trying

to "sell" an idea.

Instead of selling, I wonder whether you can hook at
least some of them with discovering how to solve
control-type puzzles (3-coin game; ecoli, etc.) IF
you can convince them that solving puzzles can lead
to job advancement in industry and business. Just a
thought--you might already have tried.

Well, thanks for letting me vent; I feel much

better now;-)

Best

Dick R.

···

Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2007 6:37 pm
Subject: Teaching PCT

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.08.0900)]

David Goldstein (2007.02.08.0330) --

Boy, you stay up late!

Thanks for the info on your course. I am planning to do a section on MOL and I am having them read a section from Tim's book. And I'll probably say something about the developmental implications of PCT. It's probably not going as badly as I implied; I guess that after some very successful experiences teaching Statistics and Research Methods I'm just kind of disappointed with the apparent lack of excitement evinced by the students in a course that I really care about.

Best

Rick

Rick,

I am kind of teaching a course to the staff at the residential center
where I work. The course consists of four one hour sessions spread over
four weeks. My hope is that this will have a positive interaction on the
way the staff interact with residents.

We are using Tim Carey's wonderful book, which as you know, teaches PCT
in the first half and MOL in the second half.

There is no paper but I am having each staff person coming into my
office and doing a 10-minute MOL session which is recorded on a digital
movie camera.

Each class conssists of three parts: (a) 20 minutes of PCT, (b)
20minutes of MOL and (c) 20 minutes of watching and talking about a
10-minute MOL session.

This seems to be an interesting way of organizaing the course to the
staff. They enjoy the 10-minute recording the most.

I am thinking that including the book Wonder Weeks would be a good
addition for your class. I bought this for my daughter to use with my
grandson, who is now 14 months old.

Some general points: (a) learning about MOL will make your students
better listeners which might help them in their people relationships,
(b) leanrning about PCT will help them be more less prejudiced and more
individualized when they interact with and observe people, and (c)
learning about Wonder Weeks will help them when they become parents or
help them understand themselves pr their families from talking with
their parents, or brothers/sisters, about when the students were
infants.

David

From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.UIUC.EDU] On Behalf Of Rick Marken
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 1:15 AM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.UIUC.EDU
Subject: Re: Teaching PCT

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.07.2215)]

David Goldstein (2007.02.07.2009)]
�
Rick,
�
What do you think the students want from the course?

Good question, David. I don't really know. Probably a nice
intermission from their required courses. It's just a one unit course
(and it's P/NP so there are not tests, just a paper at the end) and
it's supposed to give Freshmen a chance to see what professors in
different departments are up to. These Freshman seminars are also
designed to give professors a chance to deal with subjects of
particular interest to them. But I think what the students want (that
I'm not providing) is a little excitement; a little profundity; a
little fun. I find the material exciting, profound and even fun but I
don't think the kids do. That's not their fault; it's mine. But I will
ask them at the next meeting what they would like to get out of the
course.

Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

···

-----Original Message-----

[From Rick Marken (2007.01.08.1245)]

Dick Robertson (2007.01.08.1030CDT)

Thanks for the reassuring post, Dick! I haven't gotten to your reorganization study yet in the course but I'm sure that things will pick up considerably when I get there;-)

(though I have one student who seems to be a fan).

Yup, that sounds about right. You didn't say how big
the class is, but after promoting PCT in several
classes of about 20, over three or four years, I had
about 5 real fans.

The final enrollment is 17. At one point I had 20 with more people trying to get in but I think I lost a few after the first couple of classes. The one fan is a lovely young lady who may be more interested in me as a father figure (I'm afraid) than in PCT as a model of behavior.

Don't desert that one fan. He/she is the wave of the future; though I understand you have to sell a product that keeps your contracts being renewed.

Yes. Actually, I've got a couple fans who are interested in research. I won't desert them.

I don't know how to present the stuff I find interesting in a way that excites interest in these kids.

Take Phil's and my word for it; there ain't no way, for reasons like those above.

I agree with that. When you change something to make things better it's just as likely to make things worse. I'll just keep tryin'.

About the only comment I got on the mind reading demo was "that seems kind of simple" which, I agreed, it was.

No, it's not; it's profound, but to see that, you would have to wonder about how behavior works.

Yes, I agree. I did feel bad about the "simple" comment. The demo has made an impression on some people and not others. I guess it didn't make much of an impression on that student, anyway.

Hey, isn't it fun being one of only 10% of the population?

It's what keeps me goin'.

Instead of selling, I wonder whether you can hook at least some of them with discovering how to solve control-type puzzles (3-coin game; ecoli, etc.) IF you can convince them that solving puzzles can lead to job advancement in industry and business. Just a thought--you might already have tried.

Good idea. I'll try to think of something. I did have them do a homework assignment of writing up their experience of doing the coin game; we'll see what they come up with, if anything;-)

Thanks Dick. Very helpful.

Best regards

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

From Phil Runkel concerning miscellaneous thoughts:

I've been sick for a clutch of days, so I am late in saying thanks to Erling Jorgensen and Bill Powers for their comments on my little example.

But now that I think my physical state is improving, I'll point to some news that leaves me feeling wry. No doubt others on CSGnet also received an e-mail from Pabst Scientific Publishers in Deutchland announcing some topics of upcoming special issues of the journal "Psychological Science." Reading their list of topics, I felt as if I were back in 1951, when I became a graduate student. Out of seven "special issues," two concerned applications of statistics. The other five were all devoted to psychological testing: "high ability assessment," for example. And "objective personality tests." And "assessment of learning abilities." The remaining two concerned modern recipes for doing research on similar matters.

Psychological science keeps circling.

--Phil R.

[From Fred Nickols (2007.02.10.0754)]

From Phil Runkel concerning miscellaneous thoughts:

I've been sick for a clutch of days, so I am late in saying thanks to
Erling Jorgensen and Bill Powers for their comments on my little
example.

Glad you're feeling better. I enjoy and profit from your contributions to the list.

But now that I think my physical state is improving, I'll point to
some news that leaves me feeling wry. No doubt others on CSGnet also
received an e-mail from Pabst Scientific Publishers in Deutchland
announcing some topics of upcoming special issues of the journal
"Psychological Science." Reading their list of topics, I felt as if
I were back in 1951, when I became a graduate student. Out of seven
"special issues," two concerned applications of statistics. The
other five were all devoted to psychological testing: "high ability
assessment," for example. And "objective personality tests." And
"assessment of learning abilities." The remaining two concerned
modern recipes for doing research on similar matters.

Psychological science keeps circling.

It's worse than that. The news surrounding the recent flap involving the female astronaut who drove from Houston to Orlando to get at another woman has contained several references to the astronaut's screening program and related suggestions to resume the psychological testing and profiling that was long ago dropped. The human race seems predisposed toward adopting (and readopting) snake oil any time there is a flap of any kind. Writ large we have Iraq; writ small we have personality testing.

Regards,

Fred Nickols
nickols@att.net

[From Rick Marken (970312.0810]

Lars Christian Smith (970311 21:00 CET) --

I don't understand your statement that "it would not be fair to the
students". Don't student take courses primarily in order to get an
education? What would be unfair about it?

What would be unfair would be to teach the _entire psychology curriculum_ the
way I think it should be taught -- based on PCT. It would be unfair because
(as I said) many undergraduate students are planning to go on to graduate
training in psychology or related fields. In order to get into graduate
training programs these students must take exams (like the Graduate Record
Exam, GRE). Once they are in these graduate programs they are expected to
have taken the standard psychology curriculum. In particular, they are
expected to know conventional research methodology and statistics (IV-DV,
between/within groups design, ANOVA, significance tests, factorial studies,
etc etc). I wouldn't waste time teaching most of this stuff in a PCT
curriculum, and THAT would be VERY unfair to students who are going on to
graduate study.

I don't think, however, that there is anything unfair about teaching an
advanced course or a special seminar on PCT. As I said, I did this when
I was a professor. My problem was that I still had to teach all the other
psychology courses in the conventional way (in order to be fair to the
students going on to graduate training). Teaching these courses conflicted
with my own understanding of how organisms work. Imagine, for example,
having to teach students how to do conventinoal IV-DV research when you know
full well that this kind of research tells you nothing about behavior. But
I did teach conventional methods (knowing full well that it was BS) for
three or four years before the cognitive dissonance was just too much.

I also think it is "fair" to teach students PCT in graduate programs of the
kind i.kurtzer (970311) is looking for. There was no graduate school at
Augsburg (although I did try -- with my usual lack of success-- to corrupt
people in psychology graduate programs at the U of Minnesota, which was
across the street) so I never led any PCT masters or doctoral theses. I might
have been able to put up with teaching some of the undergraduate psychology
crap if I could have done PCT research with graduate students; but, alas, it
was not to be. On that note, however, I would like to join with isaac
(i.kurtzer) in bemoaning the amazing lack of PCT graduate work (masters
theses, PhD theses) that has been produced by students of PCT people who
ARE at institutions with graduate programs. Where are all the masters and
doctoral theses based on PCT? Where are the graduate students at CSG
meetings? What's going on?

Best

Rick

I would like to suggest that the CSG and its associated members is the
best place for the teaching of PCT.

Could a course be organizized, based on the material available on the
internet, which would lead to a certification in PCT for people who take
it. It could be open to students, and people who already have their
degree.

It could be a self-study program.

What do you all think?

···

From: David Goldstein
Subject: Teaching PCT
Date: 03/13/97

[From Hank Folson (970313.0630)]

Lars Christian Smith (970311 21:00 CET) --

>I don't understand your statement that "it would not be fair to the
>students". Don't student take courses primarily in order to get an
>education? What would be unfair about it?

I would add to Rick's comments (Rick Marken (970312.0810)), another way to
look at the situation: Imagine you are a Geology professor in the 1480's.
You have discovered the work of an Italian, W.T. Powersini, and are now
convinced that the world is round, even though everyone else knows it is
as flat as a pizza....

Sincerely, Hank Folson

(031397.0950)

Goldstein (031397.0559)

<<I would like to suggest that the CSG and its associated members is the best
place for the teaching of PCT.>>

Can't think of anyone else more qualified...nice compliment.

<<Could a course be organizized, based on the material available on the
internet, which would lead to a certification in PCT for people who take it.
It could be open to students, and people who already have their degree.>>

What would be the advantage of "certification?" And certified for what, to
do what? In the ASQC we have Certified Quality Engineers, Managers,
Auditors, Technicians, etc. I think it helps some and not others, and there
is a problem with deciding by what measure is someone "certified."

Interesting thought, David. Do you think that many people would be
interested? Guess you can't tell unless you ask. Bill Powers is certified
right now (and he'd be the be the one to best answer your question)...and I'd
say Rick Marken is "certifiable," as are a host of others as I can tell from
the net.

Still out here,
Chris

Ignore my previous error filled post
[From Hank Folson (970313.0631)]

Lars Christian Smith (970311 21:00 CET) --

>I don't understand your statement that "it would not be fair to the
>students". Don't student take courses primarily in order to get an
>education? What would be unfair about it?

I would add to Rick's comments (Rick Marken (970312.0810)), another way to
look at the situation: Imagine you are a Geography professor in the
1480's. You have discovered the work of an Italian, W.T. Powersini, and
are now convinced that the world is round, even though everyone else knows
it is flat....

Sincerely, Hank Folson

[From Rick Marken (2006.05.14.2220)]

Bjorn Simonsen (2006.05.14:10 EUST)--

Can we say that a distinction between a cognitive psychologist and a PCT-er is that cognitive psychologists think people just behave in accordance with their memory. They skip disturbances in the environment equivalent Skinner who denied that thoughts and feelings existed.

I think that's a reasonably fair way to put it. Having just completed a semester of teaching Cognitive Psychology I would agree that the main thing missing from cognitive explanations of behavior is an understanding of the fact that behavior is produced in a constantly changing (disturbance prone) environment.

I learned quite a bit from teaching the Cognition course (as it's called at LMU). First, I learned that undergraduate psychology majors are not post-graduates. They don't take classes in order to learn so much as they take them to fulfill requirements. And in order to fulfill requirements they have to pass the tests (and other assignments). By and large, my students were less interested in _what_ I taught than in what was going to be on the test. But I did have a couple of people (one an adult student returning for another degree) who were really interested in the class, knew that they were getting a different perspective on psychology and enjoyed it a lot.

I'm sure I'll do a much better with the Cognition course the next time I teach it. I think I have figured out a pretty good way to organize the course around PCT while including much of what is already in the Cognition text. For example, I was able to do an interesting couple of lectures on inter - and intra - personal conflict while dealing with the text chapter on "decision making". And I was able to do a section on the PCT theory of emotion while dealing with the text chapter on artificial intelligence (I asked the class to consider whether machines could "feel").

So, all in all, I think the course went quite well. I have a much better idea of how to do it now. I would probably find a different textbook for next time; the one I used had the right topics but was too boring. But all-in-all I think PCT provides a great organizing framework for looking at all the conventional topics of Cognitive Psychology, such as neurocognition, perception, attention, consciousness, memory, problem solving, cognitive development etc. And it can be used without too much fear of contradicting the prevailing wisdom. What I mainly did was try to take the classic "observations" of the field (like the Shepard/Metzler mental rotation study of imagery) and discuss them from a control theory perspective, which was pretty easy to do since all of these observations involve purposeful activities (the purpose of the mental rotation is to see if the two objects match). As they say, it's all control.

Best

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

From [Marc Abrams (2006.05.15.0754)]

In a message dated 5/15/2006 1:21:02 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

[From Rick Marken (2006.05.14.2220)]

Bjorn Simonsen (2006.05.14:10 EUST)–

Can we say that a distinction between a cognitive psychologist and a
PCT-er is that cognitive psychologists think people just behave in
accordance with their memory. They skip disturbances in the
environment equivalent Skinner who denied that thoughts and feelings
existed.

I think that’s a reasonably fair way to put it. Having just completed
a semester of teaching Cognitive Psychology I would agree that the main
thing missing from cognitive explanations of behavior is an
understanding of the fact that behavior is produced in a constantly
changing (disturbance prone) environment.

I learned quite a bit from teaching the Cognition course (as it’s
called at LMU). First, I learned that undergraduate psychology majors
are not post-graduates. They don’t take classes in order to learn so
much as they take them to fulfill requirements. And in order to fulfill
requirements they have to pass the tests (and other assignments). By
and large, my students were less interested in what I taught than in
what was going to be on the test. But I did have a couple of people
(one an adult student returning for another degree) who were really
interested in the class, knew that they were getting a different
perspective on psychology and enjoyed it a lot.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear this. Good for you.

I’m sure I’ll do a much better with the Cognition course the next time
I teach it. I think I have figured out a pretty good way to organize
the course around PCT while including much of what is already in the
Cognition text. For example, I was able to do an interesting couple of
lectures on inter - and intra - personal conflict while dealing with
the text chapter on “decision making”. And I was able to do a section
on the PCT theory of emotion while dealing with the text chapter on
artificial intelligence (I asked the class to consider whether machines
could “feel”).
Care to share those experiences with CSGnet?

So, all in all, I think the course went quite well. I have a much
better idea of how to do it now. I would probably find a different
textbook for next time; the one I used had the right topics but was
too boring. But all-in-all I think PCT provides a great organizing
framework for looking at all the conventional topics of Cognitive
Psychology, such as neurocognition, perception, attention,
consciousness, memory, problem solving, cognitive development etc.
I agree, and that is exactly what we are doing and pursuing in the Psychology Chapter of the SD Society

And
it can be used without too much fear of contradicting the prevailing
wisdom.
I agree.

What I mainly did was try to take the classic “observations” of
the field (like the Shepard/Metzler mental rotation study of imagery)
and discuss them from a control theory perspective, which was pretty
easy to do since all of these observations involve purposeful
activities (the purpose of the mental rotation is to see if the two
objects match). As they say, it’s all control.
Not entirely, but enough to make it real interesting.

There is a whole bright world out there Rick that can contribute to our understanding of control.

To put labels on things and say that cog sci is mostly about memory is missing the point entirely. The real question is whether or not it has anything interesting to say to help advance our understanding of control, and I believe it does. Not only with cog sci, but with all the social sciences.

Since as you say; “it’s all control” than understanding how things are explained in each discipline should provide useful information about aspects of control, and depending on the discipline, control at various levels of abstraction.

Regards,

Marc

[From Rick Marken (2006.05.15.1120)]

Marc Abrams (2006.05.15.0754)

Rick Marken (2006.05.14.2220) --

And I was able to do a section
on the PCT theory of emotion while dealing with the text chapter on
artificial intelligence (I asked the class to consider whether machines
could "feel").

Care to share those experiences with CSGnet?

The experiences or the lectures? As for the experience, I can't tell you but I know it's mine. The lectures are notes so they're difficult to share right now. I'll turn them into PowerPoint charts for the next time I do the course, which might not be for a year.

But all-in-all I think PCT provides a great organizing
framework for looking at all the conventional topics of Cognitive
Psychology, such as neurocognition, perception, attention,
consciousness, memory, problem solving, cognitive development etc.�

I agree, and that is exactly what we are doing and pursuing in the Psychology Chapter of the SD Society

And it can be used without too much fear of contradicting the prevailing wisdom.

I agree.

But this has to be done carefully. What I meant is that I was able to teach the course without "teaching against the text" to omuch. I did have to teach against text to some extent since the basic model in Cognition is the information processing model, which is an input-output model. I had to explain why feedback invalidates this model and requires a new concept of the role of the brain in cognition. I explained that when feedback is taken into account we see the brain, not as an information processor but, rather, as an input specifier. Once I explained this point of view I was able to use it as a way of looking at many of the findings described in the text regarding imagery, memory and the like. So I was contradicting a lot of the prevailing wisdom but I was doing it in a way that was pretty subtle.

I also minimized the amount of explicit contradiction by choosing a text that didn't require to much in the way of contradicting. One of the texts that I _didn't_ pick had a whole chapter on control theory. But it was the usual input-output to control approach and it focused only on "motor control". So I didn't take that text because I would have had to spend a lot of time contradicting it. But if I do the class again I will try to get a better textbook than the one I used. One that is much more concise. The major texts (like the one I used) are generally pretty awful but I wanted to use a major text because I consider it my responsibility to expose the students to the body of work that is currently considered Cognitive Psychology. What I tried to do (pretty successfully) was try to place this conventional material into the PCT rather than the information processing framework.

There is a whole bright world out there Rick that can contribute to our understanding of control.

There is indeed. It's the world of PCT.

�To put labels on things and say that cog sci is mostly about memory is missing the point entirely. The real question is whether or not it has anything interesting to say to help advance our understanding of control, and I believe it does. Not only with cog sci, but with all the social sciences.

Actually, my conclusion is quite the opposite. My return to teaching has convinced me that there is very little in Cognitive Psychology (or any other area of conventional psychology) that can advance our understanding of control. Most of the findings in Cognitive Psychology are based on statistical studies using the input - output (information processing) model. These kinds of results can't really tell us much about control. But some can be used to illustrate how control might work at the cognitive level. For example, I developed a little hierarchical control (of imagination) model of the Shepard/Metzler mental rotation study (which I always thought was quite cool and is considered a landmark in Cognitive Psychology) to show how some people might be doing it. It was probably a bit complex for the students but I think I can do it more clearly and simply next time.

Since as you say; "it's all control" than understanding how things are explained in each discipline should provide useful information�about aspects of control, and depending on the discipline, control�at various levels of abstraction.

I do think it's important for people to understand the conventional view in these disciplines before moving on to PCT. But I don't think the material in these disciplines will provide any useful information about control. How can it? These disciplines don't even know that control exists.


Regards,

Marc

Richard S. Marken Consulting
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400