Tennis Players, Ball Players and Decisions

[From Fred Nickols (2004.12.06.1552 EDT)] --

I've been looking into decision-making recently (paid work, of course), and
I posted a request to another list for some "names" related to
decision-making. One respondent gave me a link to a Professor's web site at
a well-known business school (No, it's not Harvard). There, I came across a
piece by said professor, which begins as follows:

        "A tennis player's forehand looks like a single fluid movement, but
it's a series of actions. She grips the racket, gets in position, watches
her opponent's approaching shot, pivots her shoulders and hips, turns her
foot, transfers her weight, keeps her forearm parallel to the ground, holds
the racket head at a precise angle, draws back the racket, steps forward,
shifts her weight again, swings the racket forward, keeps her arm straight
and her wrist firm, contacts the ball and follows through with a long
sweeping motion.

        Decisions are made the same way. Each one is the last step in a
series of actions. However, many decision makers, like tennis players, are
unaware of these steps as they occur. And a mistake or miscalculation at any
point in the process can send a decision sailing out of bounds."

Clearly, what the professor describes in those two paragraphs is NOT a
PCT-based view of the tennis player. It is instead what I call a "plans and
programs" view (i.e., the tennis player's behavior is accounted for by plans
and programs carried out by the body in response to commands issued by the
brain). In any event, the professor's description led me to respond back to
the other list that I didn't that description, that I thought it was more
reflective of the professor's analysis than it was of the tennis player's
behavior. My post to this effect then drew the following reply:

Yes, Prof. X did decompose the tennis player down pretty fine, but
indeed each little piece does represent a 'decision' for a specific
action from alternatives at the muscular level. Proof? Witness the
non-expert tennis player who gets some of the actions correct, but
not quite all of them.

I believe that these 'minute' but critical decisions/actions are made
in the case of the knowledgeable tennis player by the medulla oblongata -
the part of the brain responsible for individual muscle action, and that
keeps us balanced & vertical (most of the time :). 'Thinking' processes
are simply too slow to handle all the tiny little decisions necessary to
swipe the tennis ball so it stays in bounds and where it is desired
(desired by the cognitive thinking process?)

We do not think our way through balancing & riding a bicycle - we practice
and skin knees until we teach the medulla oblongata to do it.

To which, I responded as follows:

Ordinarily, I treat anything X says with considerable gravity. In this
case, I won't be disrespectful of X but I will say that I don't buy the
"proof" offered above - nor do I buy the "plans and programs" view of
behavior behind it. The 'proof' is an inference or a hypothesis and it is
certainly X's conclusion or belief but it is not 'proof' - at least not
proof I would accept.

For "desired" in the second paragraph above I would substitute "intended"
because I do believe that tennis players and other athletes do indeed
formulate intentions, short-term and long-term. I just don't think they
engage in a lot of conscious deliberations in the heat of action; instead, I
think their behavior is much better accounted for by the closed-loop,
feedback-governed model that stands at the heart of William T. Powers'
Perceptual Control Theory (PCT). In short, our behavior acts to control our
perceptions and to keep them aligned with our reference conditions (e.g.,
intentions).

Try this little experiment. Go to a table in your house that has at least
four chairs. Set a glass of water somewhere on the table and then take a
sip of water. Set the glass somewhere else on the table and then take a
different seat and take another sip of water. Do this until you've been in
all four seats, placed the glass in four different positions and taken a sip
while sitting in each of the four chairs. I think what you'll find is that
what you control in the course of this experiment are your perceptions of
things like "sitting in different chairs," "taking a sip of water," "placing
the glass in different positions," etc. What you're not doing is engaging
in a whole lot of conscious, deliberate thought, plans and programs
involving reaching, grasping, lifting, sipping, setting down, placing,
standing, walking, sitting, etc. These kinds of descriptors reflect the
observer's viewpoint, not the subject's.

End of relayed stuff...

It is not my intention here to drag CSG members into a discussion on another
list. Instead, I have a few questions for list members here.

Where can I find Rick's paper on the outfielder and the behavior of catching
a fly ball? Seems to me that it bears on the tennis player example.

Does the experiment I suggested make any sense in terms of what I think I
was trying to illustrate; namely, that we don't carry out plans and programs
but instead simply control our perceptions related to certain situations for
which we have reference conditions?

Finally, has anyone done any PCT-based work on decision-making?

Thanks..

Fred Nickols
nickols@att.net

Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT
Senior Consultant
Distance Consulting
"Assistance at A Distance"
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.06.1445)]

Fred Nickols (2004.12.06.1552 EDT) --

Clearly, what the professor describes in those two paragraphs is NOT a
PCT-based view of the tennis player. It is instead what I call a "plans and
programs" view

I agree.

My post to this effect then drew the following reply:

Yes, Prof. X did decompose the tennis player down pretty fine, but
indeed each little piece does represent a 'decision' for a specific
action from alternatives at the muscular level. Proof? Witness the
non-expert tennis player who gets some of the actions correct, but
not quite all of them.

I agree that this is not much of a proof. But it's hard to tell what these
people even mean by "decisions". What I would ask is "where's the model"?
That is, where is their model that implements their ideas about decision
making and imitates some of the behaviors of the tennis player, such as
hitting the ball.

It is not my intention here to drag CSG members into a discussion on another
list. Instead, I have a few questions for list members here.

Where can I find Rick's paper on the outfielder and the behavior of catching
a fly ball? Seems to me that it bears on the tennis player example.

One paper, entitled "Psychology as the Center Fielder Views It", was
published in _American Journal of Psychology_ in 2000. The abstract and
reference information is at:

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/journals/ajptoc/ajp114_2abstracts.html#Marken

The paper is reprinted in _More Mind Readings_.

I think you also might like to refer them to the catching simulation itself,
which is at:

http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/CatchXY.html

I think the write up at the site is OK. You might want to point out that it
looks very much like the simulated fielder is _anticipating_ where the ball
will go and continuously _making decisions_ about how fast to run in order
to catch the ball. But, in fact, the model fielder is not doing any
anticipating and it is mot making any decisions in the sense of evaluating
alternatives and selecting the one with the most "utility". The model
fielder is just continuously controlling two present time perceptions: of
vertical velocity and lateral displacement from the center of view.

Another paper on catching fly balls is called "Fielder's Choice" and it may
be interesting to you because it is specifically about why "choice" or
"decision" models -- which are plan and program type theories of behavior --
are not applicable to behaviors, like catching, that occur in a closed loop.
That paper, which was never published, is available at my web site at:

http://mindreadings.com/Fielders_Choice.pdf

And finally, I just found out last week that the _Journal of Experimental
Psychology_ has accepted my PCT-based commentary on some recent work on ball
catching that is aimed at determining the informational basis of fly ball
catching. My commentary shows that it is impossible to determine the
informational basis of fly ball catching (what we would called the
controlled perceptual variables involved in catching) without doing some
version of the test for the controlled variable. In the article I use a
model to demonstrate in some detail how one might go about testing to
determine the informational basis of catching fly balls.

Does the experiment I suggested make any sense in terms of what I think I
was trying to illustrate; namely, that we don't carry out plans and programs
but instead simply control our perceptions related to certain situations for
which we have reference conditions?

Yes, I think so. I think it also illustrates how readily (and without any
conscious deciding) we deal with disturbances (changing positions of the
glass and seat at the table) and, thus, consistently produce the results we
intend to produce (a sip of water).

Finally, has anyone done any PCT-based work on decision-making?

I think PCT-based work on decision making would be work on conflict
resolution. The decision making literature aims to explain how people should
(or do) choose between equally desirable, but incompatible actions. That is,
the decision between doing A versus doing B is a decision only if you cannot
do (control for) both. If a person wants both A and B is, thus, in a
conflict. I have done some studies of conflict (and, thus, of decision
making from a PCT perspective) but not that much. There is one demonstration
of conflict at

http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/Conflict.html

which, I think, could be the start of a PCT-based program of research on
decision making.

Best regards

Rick

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MindReadings.com
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Cell: 310 729 1400

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[From Bill Powers (2004.12.07.1150 MST)]

Fred Nickols (2004.12.06.1552 EDT) --

Clearly, what the professor describes in those two paragraphs is NOT a
PCT-based view of the tennis player. It is instead what I call a "plans and
programs" view (i.e., the tennis player's behavior is accounted for by plans
and programs carried out by the body in response to commands issued by the
brain).

I think it's best not to deny that people make plans and carry out
programs, because they do such things all the time. The big point we get
from PCT is that they don't plan _actions_. What they plan are sequences of
perception that they intend to bring about. They can't plan the actions
that will bring about those perceptions when the time comes, because people
can predict exactly where they will be, what they will be doing, and what
will be going on in the world around them when the time comes to act. They
can't predict disturbances. Fortunately, control systems don't have to
predict disturbances because they act directly on the perception that's
disturbed.

Best,

Bill P>

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.07.1200)]

Bill Powers (2004.12.07.1150 MST)--

Fred Nickols (2004.12.06.1552 EDT) --

Clearly, what the professor describes in those two paragraphs is NOT a
PCT-based view of the tennis player. It is instead what I call a "plans and
programs" view (i.e., the tennis player's behavior is accounted for by plans
and programs carried out by the body in response to commands issued by the
brain).

I think it's best not to deny that people make plans and carry out
programs, because they do such things all the time. The big point we get
from PCT is that they don't plan _actions_. What they plan are sequences of
perception that they intend to bring about. They can't plan the actions
that will bring about those perceptions when the time comes, because people
can['t --RM] predict exactly where they will be, what they will be doing,
and what will be going on in the world around them when the time comes to
act. They can't predict disturbances. Fortunately, control systems don't
have to predict disturbances because they act directly on the perception
that's disturbed.

Yes. Great point! (Note correction of a typo in the above). We obviously do
make plans based on anticipated futures; contingent plans, too, which are
programs where we plan alternatives contingent on what actually occurs. But,
of course, the contingencies involve selecting alternative perceptions to
control rather than alternative actions to take.

Best regards

Rick

···

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MindReadings.com
Home: 310 474 0313
Cell: 310 729 1400

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[From Bill Powers (2004.12.07.1404 MST)]

Rick Marken (2004.12.07.1200) --

because people can['t --RM] predict exactly

Can, can't, what's the difference?

Picky, picky.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.07.1430)]

Bill Powers (2004.12.07.1404 MST)]

Rick Marken (2004.12.07.1200) --

because people can['t --RM] predict exactly

Can, can't, what's the difference?

Picky, picky.

That's the same way I feel about bridge. These people I play with here
expect me to actually remember all these picky details, like which cards in
each suit have already been played and when it's appropriate to bid a jump
shift :wink: Unfortunately, the game always turns on these picky details, which
is why I almost always lose.

By the way, while playing today I realized that the bridge finesse is a nice
example of control of a cognitive program type perception. In the simplest
case, I'm leading from, say, dummy into my hand where I have A Q xx. I lead
a low value (x) from dummy hoping that east (on my right) has the K. What I
see is one of two possible sequences before I play from my hand:

1) x from dummy, x from east

2) x from dummy, K from east

If I see (1) I play the Q, if I see (2) I play the A and it doesn't matter
what west plays (unless he trumps).

If I play the Q then the next thing I see is either a K or an x from west.
If it's an x the finesse has succeeded in the sense that I got the Q trick
that I would not have gotten otherwise. If I see the K then the finesse has
failed.

What is interesting to me about the finesse is not only that it is a nice
example of control of a program type perception but also that while you are
doing the finesse you are anticipating what will happen at the next step.
That is, when I lead from the board I am expecting to see a low card (x)
played from east. If east plays the K that is kind of a surprise. Of course,
the surprise (resulting, presumably, from the error that results when the
perception, of K, doesn't match the reference, for x) is reduced quickly
when I cancel the error by playing the A. If west plays the expected low
card I cover with the Q and am again surprised by almost anything played by
west. If west plays low I'm surprised (pleasantly) because the finesse
worked (the perception is what I wanted, so error is eliminated); if west
plays the K I'm surprised (unpleasantly) because the finesse failed.

I guess what I realized is that this kind of anticipation -- in the sense of
having a reference for a perception that you want but have no control over,
such as the card played by east or west during a finesse -- is going to be
involved in the control of many perceptions that occur over time (such as
sequences and programs), where some components of the perception are not
under your control.

OK. It's not a brilliant observation. But it's a way to rationalize some
benefit from this silly card game.

Best regards

Rick

···

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MindReadings.com
Home: 310 474 0313
Cell: 310 729 1400

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[From Bjorn Simonsen (2004.12.08,10:25EST)]

From Bill Powers (2004.12.07.1150 MST)

The big point we get
from PCT is that they don't plan _actions_. What they plan are sequences of
perception that they intend to bring about.

May I go into details. It may often be difficult to express the difference
between planning actions and planning sequences of perception. I think we
can describe the difference in many ways. One is that the control of wished
perceptions (plans) are at a higher level than the control of the sequenced
perceptions .
If we one day control the perception of one of the sequenced perceptions, it
is sensible to assume a certain disturbance. When we the day after control
the perception that constitute the plan, we do that at a superior level and
the output function may send a different reference to the level below than
the reference we wished to perceive the day before.
This is a situation prepared for conflict (as Rick told us[From Rick Marken
(2004.12.06.1445)].
I think knowledge about PCT has an informative value for both coaches in
different sports and leaders who Fred Nickols supervise. They will get
their results when the effect of conflicts are eliminated.

bjorn

[From Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)]

<Bjorn Simonsen (2004.12.08,10:25EST)>

As both a tennis player and a management and leadership consultant, I can attest that PCT is valuable in both playing tennis and making decisions.

I play about 40 competitive tennis matches a year. I love the game. How does a guy 60 years old, fat and diabetic manage to beat opponents half his age who run marathons and take lessons from a pro? It is not by hitting the ball better!

Here is a perfect application of the mind and body interacting along with one’s inner spirit of competitiveness. The whole 12 levels of human perception being controlled simultaneously and interactively.

And, I play a lot of doubles now too because of my physical impairments. This brings in interaction between humans. It is fun and fascinating.

I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis competitor. It is absolutely amazing that my mixed doubles partner and I won our division last year and will have to move up to the highest level of competition in the league. The physical skills of the men there are so superior to mine, it’s laughable. But, tennis is more than a physical game and how well you run or how hard you can hit a ball. It has mind (concentration, strategy, etc.) elements and spirit (attitude, desire and self satisfaction and emotion control) elements that contribute to winning a match.

BTW, PCT has also been extremely helpful in handling organization management and group leadership problems more successfully. I have taught courses on group decision making methods with remarkable results. I facilitate consensus decision making (which eliminates or minimizes conflict between group members) with people who think reaching 100% consensus is impossible. Why? It is their perception based on past experience.

Knowing how to go up a level and change those perceptions is a major part of what PCTers might call “reorganization.” I prefer calling it “learning” for practical if not theoretical reasons.

Great topic, Fred, and all!

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.08.1140)]

Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)

I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis competitor.

Could you explain how it did that?

Do you think it can improve my bridge game?

RSM

···

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MindReadings.com
Home: 310 474 0313
Cell: 310 729 1400

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From [Marc Abrams (2004.12.08.1721)]

Rick still remains picky, picky, picky. :slight_smile:

Marc

In a message dated 12/8/2004 2:48:37 PM Eastern Standard Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

···

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.08.1140)]

Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)

I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis competitor.

Could you explain how it did that?

Do you think it can improve my bridge game?

RSM

Richard S. Marken
MindReadings.com
Home: 310 474 0313
Cell: 310 729 1400


This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and
may contain privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use,
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[from bryan thalhammer (2004.12.08.1815 CST)]

Kenny and Rick,

I found some things Kenny's previous messages that are troublesome.

1. Kenny wrote:
[Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)]

Here is a perfect application of the mind and body interacting along with
one's inner spirit of competitiveness. The whole 12 levels of human
perception being controlled simultaneously and interactively.

Last I checked, the PCT model proposes 11 levels: "The current version of
Perceptual Control Theory includes eleven levels of perception in the
hierarchy..." (Goldstein, last accessed at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/Goldstein1.html). It bugged me that I
didnt recall 12 being part of the model, but I do recall a 12th spiritual
level being proposed. I don't think so. We are talking about a
scientifically testable proposal, not something that involves, by definition
something in the metaphysical realm, cannot be tested. Thus let us stick to
the PCT model as it is, test those levels and then, once we continue to
amass evidence, propose new explanations where it seems the evidence is not
able to describe physically testable phenomenons--but not in spiritual
matters, which just gets us in trouble.

2. PCT cannot make us a better anything. It is not a program of development
or self-improvement, it is a model of living behavior. In this post, PCT is
proposed as a cure for bad tennis? :wink: I think that this is either
inaccurate or said in jest. :smiley:

[Rick Marken (2004.12.08.1140)]

> Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)

> I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis
competitor.

Could you explain how it did that?

Do you think it can improve my bridge game?

RSM...

Rick points out that if PCT could improve tennis, then why it could it not
also improve bridge [and interpersonal relations, world peace, and even
computer interface glitches.... :wink: ].

Kenny writes:
[Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)]

Knowing how to go up a level and change those perceptions is a major
part of what PCTers might call "reorganization." I prefer calling
it "learning" for practical if not theoretical reasons.

Yes, there is a Method of Levels, but that is a strategy for using what PCT
describes. I would say that while this might be as interesting as a 12th
level, I would say we need to avoid talking about PCT as a method.
Reorganization is what we propose goes on at times, but we cannot learn
reorganization, just as we cannot learn better ways to control perceptions.
Reorganization is a description of hierarchical development, and learning is
a less exact term that is, according to professor friend of mine, is VETBT,
vague enough to be true.

Our task is to explain how it works, not to postulate a better way to
control perceptions.

--Bryan

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2000.12.09,11:12 EST)]
[from bryan thalhammer (2004.12.08.1815 CST)]

2. PCT cannot make us a better anything. It is not a
program of development or self-improvement, it is a
model of living behavior. In this post, PCT is
proposed as a cure for bad tennis? :wink: I think that
this is either inaccurate or said in jest. :smiley:

Nobody can describe human behavior as the result of cerebral activity. It is
because nobody knows how the interaction between all the neurons function.
PCT is a model and a theory that explains the interaction between neurons.
It is the best I have.
According to this theory (not according to how the neurons really interact)
we can explain human behavior. Knowing about PCT/HPCT _can_ make us better
anything (according to PCT- "the best we have"), but PCT/HPCT _is not a
program of development or self-improvement_. But knowledge about PCT/HPCT
can "Facilitate job performance with goal-based learning activities".

I will mention an example where knowledge about PCT can make Rick a better
bridge player. (or a smoker to a non-smoker, a leader to a better leader and
......).

At every moment all people behave as they behave. The best bridge player in
Rick's group behaves different than Rick. I know Rick just from CSG and I
don't know the one who is the best player. The reason for Rick's missing
performances in the bridge game is his conflicts.
He asks Kenneth Kitzke how to be a better bridge player (> Do you think it
can improve my bridge game?) He has a wish to be a better bridge player. At
the same time he doesn't care about the bridge game (>..........from this
silly card game). He doesn't want to be silly. Having those two references
and playing the bridge game must be an awful situation. Rick behaves as he
behave, all people behave as they behave and PCT/HPCT explain their behavior
(according to the theory - the best we have). If Rick knew anything about
PCT (:slight_smile: ), he could have followed the HPCT instructions and moved up a
level. It doesn't help to practice and practice at the Relationship level
when he is governed by two incompatible references. He should go up to the
Program level and construct an "I wish to be the best bridge player in my
group Program". It isn't easy, but that is the way. The only way. And
sometimes it is as difficult as when a smoker moves up a level to be a
non-smoker.

I mentioned this as an example. The way I know Rick is as a well-informed
PCT-er. So I don't think he really has a conflict. I think he for one or
another reason selects the bridge game as a social intermezzo and he doesn't
really care about being silly in the game.

bjorn

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2004.12.08.1300 CST)]

Dear all,

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2000.12.09,11:12 EST)]

[from bryan thalhammer (2004.12.08.1815 CST)]

But knowledge about PCT/HPCT can "Facilitate job
performance with goal-based learning activities".

Yes, I agree that knowledge of PCT/HPCT can help to design goal-based
learning activities. It is another thing to say that PCT itself helps one to
be a better "anything." That is conflating the theory with its potential
applications. Sometimes that confusion has led to disputes over the
appropriate terminology to use in a discussion.

Sometimes the differences between theoretical and applied research, and
between research and practice can be difficult to maintain in written
descriptions. A lot of shorthand is involved when we speak, but when we
write, the differences can get cloudy.

Sometimes the cloudiness is unintentional just because you have to have all
those concepts and jargon terminology hanging on a clothes line in front of
you as you type. Other times there is a bias that overtakes the theoretical
that creeps in to conflate the strictly theoretical with a simplified
explanation for clients or a non-academic audience or a desire by the writer
to extend the theory past its original conception.

I think the problem is to know the difference between unintentional language
drift or shorthand (the use of pre-PCT descriptions of behavior: decide,
select, react, etc.) and the intentional bending of the theory (i.e, the
notion of a 12th level) or introduction of a feature before more fundamental
features have been substantiated by research data.

Or anyway, that is how I was told we are supposed to proceed.

--Bryan

To Ken Kitzke from Phil Runkel:

When I was doing organizational consulting and aiding groups in reaching consensus, I did it without benefit of PCT. I have since thought that I would have done better with PCT, so I am pleased to hear of your own experience and conviction. Thanks. --Phil

···

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

From:
Kenneth Kitzke Value Creation Systems

To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.UIUC.EDU

Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 7:10 AM

Subject: Re: Tennis Players, Ball Players and Decisions

[From Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)]

<Bjorn Simonsen (2004.12.08,10:25EST)>

As both a tennis player and a management and leadership consultant, I can attest that PCT is valuable in both playing tennis and making decisions.

I play about 40 competitive tennis matches a year. I love the game. How does a guy 60 years old, fat and diabetic manage to beat opponents half his age who run marathons and take lessons from a pro? It is not by hitting the ball better!

Here is a perfect application of the mind and body interacting along with one’s inner spirit of competitiveness. The whole 12 levels of human perception being controlled simultaneously and interactively.

And, I play a lot of doubles now too because of my physical impairments. This brings in interaction between humans. It is fun and fascinating.

I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis competitor. It is absolutely amazing that my mixed doubles partner and I won our division last year and will have to move up to the highest level of competition in the league. The physical skills of the men there are so superior to mine, it’s laughable. But, tennis is more than a physical game and how well you run or how hard you can hit a ball. It has mind (concentration, strategy, etc.) elements and spirit (attitude, desire and self satisfaction and emotion control) elements that contribute to winning a match.

BTW, PCT has also been extremely helpful in handling organization management and group leadership problems more successfully. I have taught courses on group decision making methods with remarkable results. I facilitate consensus decision making (which eliminates or minimizes conflict between group members) with people who think reaching 100% consensus is impossible. Why? It is their perception based on past experience.

Knowing how to go up a level and change those perceptions is a major part of what PCTers might call “reorganization.” I prefer calling it “learning” for practical if not theoretical reasons.

Great topic, Fred, and all!

[From Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.10)]

In a message dated 12/9/2004 8:12:02 PM Eastern Standard Time, runk@DARKWING.UOREGON.EDU writes:

When I was doing organizational consulting and aiding groups in reaching consensus, I did it without benefit of PCT. I have since thought that I would have done better with PCT, so I am pleased to hear of your own experience and conviction. Thanks. --Phil

Good to hear from you Phil. When you go silent for a span, I wonder if you are on a respirator or are perhaps just sitting on some beach in Bermuda observing and pondering the sights.

Much of the content of my decision making workshops was developed before I had any understanding of PCT. BTW, it is obvious to me that people can do all kinds of things well (lead groups, facilitate groups, play tennis, play bridge, have a successful marriage, conduct experiments, make models, etc.,) without any knowledge of PCT.

So, I dealt with classic categories of management decision making: autocratic, participative, democratic and consensus. We would try to learn which of these methods worked best under what circumstances. I think you can sense some PCT implications in that perception without any use of PCT terminology.

What understanding PCT seems to do is give you a better understanding of why some things humans do work better than others under different circumstances. PCT gives you an understanding of why (up a level) managers will not even try consensus producing methods when the circumstances would seem to favor it:

  • they are sure (from experience) that producing consensus is impossible in groups of say 6 or 8

  • they are sure even if you could, it would take too long.

So, I have learned that to change such higher level perceptions concerning the value of reaching consensus, the individual must experience a real case where group consensus produces superior results and that there are methods of reaching consensus which significantly shorten the time.

This is why it is a worshop; not a lecture. Even explaining the theory is not necessarily helpful. When these managers go up a level and look at what the results the concensus exercises they did produced, they alter their negative perceptions (you might call this reorganization but I prefer to call it adult intentional learning). Suddenly, they now perceive consensus decision making as the greatest thing since canned beer. It helps them obtain the results they want. It is a pleasurable experience. Not just their mind, but their spirit of confidence and self worth changes.

What do they say about such a workshop? It was great! Well worth the fee and time. I wish someone had shown me this 20 years ago. And, besides making a living this way, guess what such input does to my spirit and my desire to do it again?

In a message dated 12/8/2004 2:48:37 PM Eastern Standard Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.08.1140)]

Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)

I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis competitor.

Could you explain how it did that?
Yes, I could. I could probably write a book about it. Not wanting to spend that much time, I’ll just mention a few examples of what I meant.

First, my comment was a reaction to the idea about making decisions that would allow you to hit a tennis ball better. At my age of 60, and a deteriorated health and physical condition, one might expect me to lose most tennis matches to players in my division who are 10, 20 or 30 years younger than I. Guys who are physically fit: strong and quick with the stamina of marathon runners. [I doubt if I could run a quarter of a mile.] Guys who hit the ball harder, much harder than I do.

You can hardly imagine the amazement, and often the anger, when younger and more physically fit players lose a match to me. Some throw their racquet down in disgust. One who needed to beat me to move up a division (and fully expected he would), was so distraught he left the court without shaking hands or saying good bye. Others go on and on about how I gave them the toughest match so far this year (even if they won). Shaking their head, they are baffled about “how they just couldn’t get in their groove.”

So, what do I know about playing a tennis match that they don’t? They think they can control their play; their actions. They think they can control me and my actions/play by their superior physical actions.

I know I control my perceptions (not my actions) via an internal feedback loop. And, I know that they do too!

So, I come to the match with some different ways to compete. In my tennis bag are an understanding of controlled perceptual input variables, of a test for what is being controlled, that all behavior is purposeful but often for hidden intents, of a structural hierarchy of control loops setting reference signals for lower loops for continually varying external conditions, of a need to go up a level when sustained perceptual error is being experienced and of how counter control can work.

I have an advantage because of my understanding behavior as the control of perception; of being able to look beyond (actually above in the hierarchy) observed actions; both mine and my opponent’s. So I come to play by controlling my perceptions of my body, my mind and my spirit.

I’m not the first tennis player to realize how competitive tennis is as much a mental game as a physical one. About the time Bill Powers was writing B:CP, W. Timothy Gallwey was writing The Inner Game of Tennis. You can tell how old it is because the tennis ball on the cover is white! But, in it are some powerful concepts of self, involving self-control, confidence, concentration, etc., concepts similar to a PCT understanding of the loop(s) inside us (some unconscious) as opposed to the outside environment of the game we sense as a ball coming over the net.

So, because of PCT, I am very observant of my opponent, starting with how they did last year, what their record is this year, who they beat and who they lost to and by how much, of what s/he does real time, everything from the car they drive, the clothes they wear, what they say when we meet, and, of course, how they play in practice and then once the match starts. Why? Because I am guessing at, and testing for, what they control for in their body, mind and spirit.

Concerning their body, I am looking for whether they favor their forehand, come to the net, play long rallies, how they serve or return serve, hit top spin or slices–all kinds of body control.

Concerning their mind, I am observing whether they have a plan or style of play, whether they get angry easily or are easily distracted.

Concerning their spirit, I am observing whether they are highly competitive, have a strong desire to win at any cost, whether they are there more for the exercise or social purpose than for winning.

Why all these mental gymnastics? To be able to find and disturb the variables they try to control. The more disturbance I can introduce, the more error I can generate, the more the opponent seems to lose their need/desire to win. And, the easier it becomes for me to win.

So, one aspect of my PCT game is to vary my play to keep producing disturbance to variables they seem to be controlling. If someone seems to control for hitting hard shots from the base line, I hit them weak, short shots that force them to the net. Then, I pass them or lob them to win a point. If they control for hitting forehands, I disturb them with some nice wide backhands. Or, I will counter control them by purposely hitting slow shots to their backhands that they can easily run around and hit their forehand. Just when they get comfortable controlling for forehand returns, I will hit a hard cross court forehand that they do not have time to get to or make a forehand return error that even disturbs their confidence.

In PCT tennis, I learned to not pay much attention to what I am doing with my body. When the coaches say, your grip is wrong, your stance is wrong, your toss is too high, your footwork stinks, your racquet face is too open, your arm is too straight, you dropped your wrist, you need to react quicker, you need to keep your eye on the ball, you need to hit it more in front of you, finish your stroke, and a million other maladies, I think it just makes you conscious of the wrong things.

Instead, I allow my body to do what it can basically automatically. It is difficult to improve your game while you are playing a match. I do that too, but when I practice.

So, I guess from my PCT view, I pay little attention to what my body does. I pay attention to controlling my mind, whether I am observing the opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, controlled variables, mental actions and displayed attitude or spirit.

And, I think most importantly, I use my human spirit to control my own mind. I resist getting angry about losing a point because I am too slow or tired. I resist getting distracted by balls rolling on the court, kids making noise, the high school band practicing, the noisy tractor mowing the grass, bad calls, etc. I enjoy a tough physical and mental match, win or lose. I want to be known for giving the benefit of the doubt on close line calls. I play tennis because I enjoy competing with my body, mind and spirit.

I can say I generally get more competitive as the match goes on. And, I can assure you this happens despite getting weaker physically. It is because of what I observed about my opponent and how I have learned to disturb his/her variables enough to reduce their physical advantage.

Well, I hope that gives you some concept of why I think I am more competitive at tennis because of my understanding of PCT to explain behavior, both my opponent’s and mine during a match.

And, of course, there are opponents whose physical play is just too superior for any PCT advantage I have to produce a win. There are also opponents who, without knowing PCT, are more aware of “The Inner Game” and are doing to me something akin to what I am trying to do to them. They just overall control their body, mind and spirit that results in “game, set and match” in their favor. When I lose for that reason, I am satisfied with my self and am most gracious to my conqueror.

I usually do get disturbed when I lose because I did not do a good job controlling my own body, mind and spirit and yet desired a win. When I lose to someone I know from past, or current match, experience I was capable of beating but was not up to sufficient control that day.

Usually that starts with a poor spirit/attitude and will that I bring to the match. Perhaps a goal of getting a match played and over with (as something else is more heavy on my mind) instead of a victory. Or, because the match does not have a higher level purpose for me like winning a prize, or a division move up or down. It may even be just knowing that my USTA Super Seniors Team Player and friend opponent, Bill, needs a win to keep from being moved down a division for next year—I purposely throw the match to give him a little help.

Do you think it can improve my bridge game?

RSM
I would think so, but that would be a very different game. I would not know from my own experience (haven’t played bridge since I learned PCT). What do you, or any other bridge players think? I see differences especially in contract bridge. I would think that duplicate might be a better way to experiment with whether PCT helps make you a better bridge player.

Best wishes,

Kenny

The LawstSheep

[From Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.10.11PM EST)]

In a message dated 12/8/2004 7:19:39 PM Eastern Standard Time, bryanth@SOLTEC.NET writes:

[from bryan thalhammer (2004.12.08.1815 CST)]

Kenny and Rick,

I found some things Kenny’s previous messages that are troublesome.

  1. Kenny wrote:
    [Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)]

Here is a perfect application of the mind and body interacting along with
one’s inner spirit of competitiveness. The whole 12 levels of human
perception being controlled simultaneously and interactively.

Last I checked, the PCT model proposes 11 levels: “The current version of
Perceptual Control Theory includes eleven levels of perception in the
hierarchy…” (Goldstein, last accessed at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/Goldstein1.html). It bugged me that I
didnt recall 12 being part of the model, but I do recall a 12th spiritual
level being proposed. I don’t think so. We are talking about a
scientifically testable proposal, not something that involves, by definition
something in the metaphysical realm, cannot be tested. Thus let us stick to
the PCT model as it is, test those levels and then, once we continue to
amass evidence, propose new explanations where it seems the evidence is not
able to describe physically testable phenomenons–but not in spiritual
matters, which just gets us in trouble.
Bry, you obviously do not comprehend, or recollect, what my proposed Twelfth Level of perception was. It was a perception of self. And, it is a very easy and logical extension of Power’s proposed hierarchy. It is a collection of systems concepts that you want to apply to yourself. Even Rick Marken once gave it some credence of a possibility.

I think it provides a better potential explanation of why we do what we do, including sensing emotions and developing attitudes about ourselves.

And, you might want to take a little time to understand better what I mean by the human spirit in our nature. It has nothing to do with meta physical constructs, or God. It has to do with a capacity that allows us to imagine, create, to yearn to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong for us. These things are as real and verifiable as this post.

Even Bill Powers has postulated a Reorganization System in our nature that can alter the hierarchy of perceptional loops in our minds. I choose to call it something else, our Spirit nature.

Further, Bill Powers admits he has many open ends to his proposed 11-Level hierarchy. I don’t think he insists on sticking to what he proposed. Why do you?

  1. PCT cannot make us a better anything. It is not a program of development
    or self-improvement, it is a model of living behavior. In this post, PCT is
    proposed as a cure for bad tennis? :wink: I think that this is either
    inaccurate or said in jest. :smiley:
    Of course PCT can’t do anything. It has no power of itself. It does not even exist in any tangible way. It does not have any physical existance outside of one’s mind. It is as “meta” as you can get in some respects. Much of HPCT is pure speculation. I think Bill’s willingness to perceive it as a good foundation and not a total answer for all human activity is one reason I continue to consider it and improve it, or its application.

Perhaps you need to reread what I wrote? It was an understanding of behavior using the PCT model that I do claim helps me be a better tennis competitor. Read my answer to Rick and fire away at that if you like. It was no jest. And, I believe I have data to show that I do beat players who by observing their physical play, I should have no chance to beat.

[Rick Marken (2004.12.08.1140)]

Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)

I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis
competitor.

Could you explain how it did that?

Do you think it can improve my bridge game?

RSM…

Rick points out that if PCT could improve tennis, then why it could it not
also improve bridge [and interpersonal relations, world peace, and even
computer interface glitches… :wink: ].
I do think that understanding PCT helps our understanding of behavior and how it can improve oneself and one’s relationships with other human beings.

Kenny writes:
[Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)]

Knowing how to go up a level and change those perceptions is a major
part of what PCTers might call “reorganization.” I prefer calling
it “learning” for practical if not theoretical reasons.

Yes, there is a Method of Levels, but that is a strategy for using what PCT
describes. I would say that while this might be as interesting as a 12th
level, I would say we need to avoid talking about PCT as a method.
Reorganization is what we propose goes on at times, but we cannot learn
reorganization, just as we cannot learn better ways to control perceptions.
Reorganization is a description of hierarchical development, and learning is
a less exact term that is, according to professor friend of mine, is VETBT,
vague enough to be true.

Our task is to explain how it works, not to postulate a better way to
control perceptions.

–Bryan
I think there is much yet to do to explain how “reorganization” takes place and what the system that does it in humans might be.

Sorry, but I do think we can chose to “reorganize” even in the strict PCT sense. And, I think Bill Power’s ended up modifying his B:CP view on this slightly as well. This does not mean it can’t still be a type of induced, random process when everything else that can be derived from the hierarchy fails to control some “intrinsic” human variable. I suspect that humans have more possibilities to learn, develop, reorganize their hierarchy’s than do bacteria, sea slugs or even dogs. Or, don’t you agree with that perception?

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2004.12.10.1310)]

Kenny,

In response to your reply. Thank you very much for replying. I want to make clear that my critique is not against you personally, but as a tool to separate anecdote from data, theory from practice, and pure from applied research, and all that… I am nowhere near the best writer on this forum to do this, but it is my intent to try my best, such as it is.

I still however, affirm that the PCT Model proposed by Powers as published in various journals and online is an 11 level model, with options for more. However, if we [you] post about a modification, then ya gotta state it as YOUR conception rather than stating without footnotes that PCT is a 12-level proposal. That is my only concern. And it is a concern for those readers who may have read about Control Theory in B:CP, which listed the levels differently, and are now plowing through other works, such as I have listed, which describe PCT or Perceptual Control Theory as the current tentatively agreed-upon 11 level proposal.

If you are proposing a 12th level, as you have previously, like Rick, I can say, yes, fine, that is interesting, but as he would also request of you, please show some method by which you want to test it. Let’s see:

“And, you might want to take a little time to understand better what I mean by the human spirit in our nature. It has nothing to do with meta physical constructs, or God. It has to do with a capacity that allows us to imagine, create, to yearn to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong for us. These things are as real and verifiable as this post.”

Human spirit needs definition in the purely physical sense. What is wrong with System Image? I had thought that the System Image level 11 had the summative ability to describe what a living control sytem with (at least some) frontal lobes does to maintain the Self Image (see Robertson’s papers). Even cats and horses and even squirrels display some integral sense of self in terms of position, dominance, and so on, which are amalgams of principles and programs, I would guess. There is this notion that what we perceive as ourselves or our individual psyche is really the sum total of underlying perceptions, as in one’s marbles, losing them or keeping them, as the case may be, and PCT seems to suggest that the system image level is comprised of more distinct than less distinct components.

Imagination is accounted for by Powers and Marken, etc. in the ability to control perceptions at higher levels without necessarily letting outputs be expressed (not very much or not at all) into the environment, so no 12 level is called for at this time. I also need to distinguish the difference between urges to create, yearning, and imagination and the control process of error reduction that is already a part of the model, again seemingly there is no need to have a 12th level to explain perceptual control.

Finally, stating that the concepts involved in a 12th level are real (proved??) and verifiable as typing words in a forum does not necessarily provide supportive data for a 12th level, only that perceptual control may be ongoing, which is circular.

Using the word “Spirit” is troublesome to me. I know, you can squiggle out of it by cleaving to the Human Spirit more secular concept rather than metaphysical spiritual one, but the word carries too much baggage from religious contructs to be useful in a scientific discussion, where the goal is to explain a physical phenomenon with scientifically gathered data, not anecdote or philosophy. In other words, putting Spirit into PCT model may get misinterpreted and will get people distracted. So, “Spirit” to me is not the best word to use here, but others might not have such an adverse reaction. I leave it to them to decide for themselves. I prefer to leave Spirit out of it completely.

While Reorganization has been said to be akin to learning, I don’t quite think the meaning included some purposeful intent from some 12th level. I would have to agree with Bill, Dick, Phil, and Rick, that Reorganization is a part of the chronic error reduction process, more “automatic” or internal and not really subject to “executive control” (a term from a different theory, not PCT). Choosing to reorganize is a similar misappropriation or blending of terminology. While we can jest in saying “I see you have chosen…” in effect, one is suspecting the object of ones controlling behavior. but choosing to reorganize simply does not have a place in a PCT discussion, because it is mixing non-PCT terminology with a proposed explanation of a phenomenenon of development. The same process of reorganizing can be had by animals as by humans, except there are probably a lot more control systems to reorganize in humans than in other beings.

I also wrote that we should be very careful of confusing discussions of PCT the theory and applications of PCT, so that the readers are very clear what PCT describes and what applications such as MOL can do and are good for. I am not immune to this tendency. I still maintain that the trouble all of us get into is in the verbal use of shorthand in our writing:

“Sometimes the cloudiness is unintentional just because you have to have all those concepts and jargon terminology hanging on a clothes line in front of you as you type. Other times there is a bias that overtakes the theoretical that creeps in to conflate the strictly theoretical with a simplified explanation for clients or a non-academic audience or a desire by the writer to extend the theory past its original conception.”

My perception here is that we try to make the list more readable by new readers, in particular, so that we avoid the Glasser and Ford mutual misinterpretations and so on, and make a clearer distinction between pure and applied and theory and application when we post. Otherwise, we rekindle the flame wars. I cannot say I am perfect, but that is what I think we can strive for as a writing group.

Cheers,

–Bryan

···

[From Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.10.11PM EST)]

Bry, you obviously do not comprehend, or recollect, what my proposed Twelfth Level of perception was. It was a perception of self. And, it is a very easy and logical extension of Power’s proposed hierarchy. It is a collection of systems concepts that you want to apply to yourself. Even Rick Marken once gave it some credence of a possibility …

Of course PCT can’t do anything. It has no power of itself. It does not even exist in any tangible way …

Sorry, but I do think we can chose to “reorganize” even in the strict PCT sense. …

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.10.1111)]

Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.10) --

Rick Marken (2004.12.08.1140)

Kenny Kitzke (2004.12.08)

I am certain that understanding PCT has made me a better tennis competitor.

Could you explain how it did that?

So, one aspect of my PCT game is to vary my play to keep producing
disturbance to variables they seem to be controlling.

There is actually a lovely book on winning at tennis and other sports by
disturbing your opponent's controlled variables. It's Stephen Potter's
_Gamesmanship_ and it predates PCT by nearly 20 years. I highly recommend
it.

So, I guess from my PCT view, I pay little attention to what my body does. I
pay attention to controlling my mind...

And, I think most importantly, I use my human spirit to control my own mind.

So you are a better tennis player because PCT taught you to control your
mind with your human spirit? Are you sure you're not confusing PCT with some
other belief system?

Do you think it can improve my bridge game?

I would think so, but that would be a very different game...I would
think that duplicate might be a better way to experiment with whether
PCT helps make you a better bridge player.

I play mostly duplicate and we're playing tonight so I'll get to try out
your tips right away. First, I'll take your advice and start disturbing the
variables my _opponents_ are controlling for. I've been making the mistake
of disturbing the variables that my _partner_ is controlling for. Big
mistake. I'll also make sure I'm controlling my mind with my human spirit.

I'll let you know how it goes.

RSM

···

--
Richard S. Marken
MindReadings.com
Home: 310 474 0313
Cell: 310 729 1400

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From [Marc Abrams 2004.12.10.1545)]

In a message dated 12/10/2004 2:15:56 PM Eastern Standard Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

···

[From Rick Marken (2004.12.10.1111)]

I’ve been making the mistake
of disturbing the variables that my partner is controlling for. Big
mistake. I’ll also make sure I’m controlling my mind with my human spirit.

Although you are being your usual disingenuous self. Ken has a valid point.

The more you try and focus in on, and try to figure out, what others are trying to control for you are playing a losing hand. The only person you will ever know is yourself, and the last time I looked Bridge was played with your ‘mind’ and not a glove.

Even in doing the ‘Test’, you are testing for something you think the other person is controlling for. There is no way for you to ever know exactly what the person is reacting to in the test. It is simply another guess. Maybe a bit better well founded, but a guess just the same.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m sure you will

Marc