# Testing for coercion, New Demo

[From Rick Marken (980504.2145 PDT)]

Bruce Nevin (980504.2000 EDT) --

Punishment involves coercion, but also requires the punisher to know
something about the punished person's desires, in order deliberately
to thwart them. Perhaps it is punishment, Tim, that you have
something against?

Good point. It does sound like Tim is conceiving of "coercion" as
"punishment". Is that right, Tim?

I would like to note that I now have a new demo up at my web site:

I call it "Different Worlds" and it is a demonstration of how
interpersonal conflict results when two control systems control
the same environmental variable ("world") and how such conflict
is avoided when these control systms control different environmental
variables. The different "worlds" that you can control are, perhaps,
not very sexy; just sums of different pairs of numbers. But they
are different aspects of the environment (of three numbers) in
which this demo takes place.

You will see that you can control the sum of two pairs of the
three numbers but that you can't control the third pair. This is
because another (fairly strong) control system is controlling
the sum of this pair od numbers (relative to the reference value
printed on the display). When you try to control th is sum you
are ina conflict with another control system. The other system
always wins this conflict (keeping the sum close to the changing
reference value that is shown) because it is able to have a greater
effect on the variables than you.

Actually, the demo is a pretty good demonstration of coercion.
You are the coercee when you try to control the sum controlled
by the other control system (the coercer). The coercer doesn't
care about your goal regarding what the sum of these two numbers
should be; it just makes the sum match its reference; it coerces
the sum that you (and the coercer) are controlling to the value
it (the coercer) wants. Note that if you decide to keep the sum
equal to the coercer's reference for the sum, the coercer hasn't
stopped coercing; the coercer is still there, making the sum be
what it (the coercer) wants it to be, with no regard for your
wishes at all.

Anyway, give it a try. Suggestions are welcome; criticisms are
tolerated; scorn is ignored;-)

Best

Rick

···

--

Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

[From Tim Carey (980505.1650)]

[From Rick Marken (980504.2145 PDT)]

Good point. It does sound like Tim is conceiving of "coercion" as
"punishment". Is that right, Tim?

It might be, I'm not sure of what I think at the moment.

I would like to note that I now have a new demo up at my web site:

Anyway, give it a try.

Great demo Rick, I had a lot of fun playing with it. It's easy to use and
simple to understand. I can see how it represents yours and Bill's idea of
coercion, it just doesn't fit mine because I didn't feel coerced by it. I
quickly got the idea that I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do so I
shrugged and did something else.

Cheers,

Tim

[From Bruce Gregory (980505.1008 EDT)]

Tim Carey (980505.1650)

Great demo Rick, I had a lot of fun playing with it. It's easy to use and
simple to understand. I can see how it represents yours and Bill's idea of
coercion, it just doesn't fit mine because I didn't feel coerced by it. I
quickly got the idea that I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do so I
shrugged and did something else.

Perhaps Rick could arrange for you to get an electric shock whenever you
tried to do something else. Of course, he would have to be able to convince
himself that this is what you _are_ doing.

Best offer

[From Bruce Gregory (980505.1018 EDT)]

Rick Marken (980504.2145 PDT)

I would like to note that I now have a new demo up at my web site:

I call it "Different Worlds" and it is a demonstration of how
interpersonal conflict results when two control systems control
the same environmental variable ("world") and how such conflict
is avoided when these control systems control different environmental
variables. The different "worlds" that you can control are, perhaps,
not very sexy; just sums of different pairs of numbers. But they
are different aspects of the environment (of three numbers) in
which this demo takes place.

Is the title of this demo meant to convey that an environmental variable is
a world? I would think that most people would find this confusing. I limit
the term "world" to the ensemble of perceptual variables controlled by an
organism. Perhaps this is confusing as well.

Best Offer

[From Rick Marken (980505.0915)]

Bruce Nevin (980505.0943 EDT) re the "Different Worlds" demo.

All I get here is being unable to control.

Actually, that's about all you're supposed to get;-)

I can get that by trying to open a locked door.

Yes, real coercion feels like running into a brick wall (or
a lock).

What if someone locked me in? Is it coercion even though they are no
longer actively controlling that part of the environment?

Yes! You can tell they are still a coercer becuase if you managed
to escape they would try to catch you and throw you back in.

What if they accidentally locked me in.

Not coercion. The coecer didn't intend to control for you being
"in".

Or what if they parked a forklift next to the door so it can't
open, having no reason to expect anyone to use that door. This
fits the proposed definition of coercion.

Not quite. Part of the definition of coersion is that the coercer
_intends_ to perceive some aspect of the behavior of the coercee
in a particular state. The forklift driver doesn't intend to
keep you in the room. The control system in the "Different Worlds"
demo does _intend_ to keep the sum of the lower two number in
a particular state. When you are also trying to keep that sum in
a particular state, that sum is an aspect of _your_ behavior; so
the control system becomes a coercer of you.

Coercion seems to me to involve perceiving conflict with the
other's control efforts and continuing to control anyway,
thwarting the other's control.

But its still coercion, even if the coercer doesn't perceive any
conflict with the coercee's control efforts.

Since controllers tend to object to interference by others, it
seems likely that the overwhelming counter-controller who is
ignorant of interfering with others is the exception rather than
the ordinary case.

Actually, it seems to be the _rule_ rather than the expection.
People who are part of coercive systems (all of us) seem, in
general, unaware of the fact that they are part of coercive
systems. This is because msot of the time the coercees are
"behaving themselves". I think this is why Tim thinks that the
Australian school system is not coercive. It's why I think that
I am not a coercive parent, husband or citizen. Coercion only
becomes visible in those relatively rare cases where people dare
to do what the rules of the system (as understood by members
who identify themsevles as part of the system) forbid or fail
to do what the rules of the system require. The Nazi's probably
didn't feel very coercive at all; they probably very rarely
experienced any conflict with the coercees (most of the German
public); they hardly ever had to torture anyone or hang them
with piano wire. Active coercion is only seen at the "fringes";
the few coercees who are willing to "buck the system" -- people
like Jesse James, Tim McVeigh, Rosa Parks and Mahatma Ghandi
(as you can see, whether you see a person as a good "system
bucker" -- incorrigible coercee -- or not depends on how you feel

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

X-UIDL: 77a677497526d90b90870f97860def95

[From Bruce Nevin (980505.0943 EDT)]

Tim Carey (980505.1650) --

[...] I didn't feel coerced by it. I
quickly got the idea that I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do so I
shrugged and did something else.

That is indeed one common way to deal with being unable to control.

Rick Marken (980504.2145 PDT) --

Rick, in this demo the opposing controller is invisible. It is easy to conclude that the Up and Down buttons are broken. They're not effective means for controlling the sum of a pair of numbers.

For example, the top two numbers were 5 and 7. I wanted to make them total 10 so I clicked Down. The numbers instantly went to 11 and -12. The logic of Up and Down was not obvious from there. Experimentally clicking either one changed only the value of the bottom number, which was irrelevant to me. The obvious conclusion was that the Up/Down mechanism was broken. The only evidence that there was an opposing control system was your verbal description, Rick, but I had little basis for believing you ;->

When the opposing controller is visibly doing what I might be doing (were I in its position of our relationship) then I might experience myself as being coerced. All I get here is being unable to control. I can get that by trying to open a locked door. Suppose there is a person on the other side holding the knob. In the first case, I am unable to control because of environmental contingencies, in the second case I am unable to control because of the opposing actions of another control system affecting the same part of the environment that I have to affect in order to control a perception. What if someone locked me in? Is it coercion even though they are no longer actively controlling that part of the environment? Let's say it is. They set up an environmental contingency that thwarts my control. What if they accidentally locked me in. Or what if they parked a forklift next to the door so it can't open, having no reason to expect anyone to use that door. This fits the proposed definition of coercion. They are controlling, ignoring my reference levels, and their behavior (control of perceptions) thwarts mine.

Coercion seems to me to involve perceiving conflict with the other's control efforts and continuing to control anyway, thwarting the other's control. Since controllers tend to object to interference by others, it seems likely that the overwhelming counter-controller who is ignorant of interfering with others is the exception rather than the ordinary case. Typically, the one interfered with either gets out of the way of the hurrying 6'8" sumo wrestler pretty much as a force of nature, as one would get out of the path of a falling tree, or escalates the conflict to "show him what's what" in the expectation of winning the conflict or at least of getting his attention.

I'm glad I don't commute to work any more.

Bruce Nevin