Tests, Control, Perception

[From Rick Marken (951110.1330)]

Bruce Abbott (951110.1250 EST) --

What do you call "the methods of psychology"?

The methods described in your (and my) methods text.

What do you mean by "the nature of the system"?

The nature of the relationship between variables in the system and its
environment.

I asked:

What do you think is wrong with psychological science as it is currently
being conducted?

You described four things that you think are wrong with psychological
science. Not one has anything to do with the possibility that the system
under study might be controlling its perceptual input variables. I guess this
is why you're comfortable with the fact that you textbook says nothing about
how to test for controlled variables.

Your "evidence that the results of conventional research tell us
nothing about the nature of the behaving system" is based on taking one
specific method (group-statistical approach) and determining what it tells
you about the controled perception of one particular individual (very
little).

This is NOT the evidence to which I was referring. All the evidence that
conventional research tells us nothing about the nature of the behaving
system comes from _single subject_ experiments and demos. The main one I am
thinking of is Gary Cziko's version of the rubber band demo that shows that
the nature of the relationship between stimulus (disturbance) and response
depends on the thickness of the rubber bands; so the subject's apparent
"responsiveness" to the experimenter's tugs on one end of the rubber band
actually reflects a characteristic of the environment, not the subject.

I said:

All we are saying is "give the _test for controlled variable_ a chance".

You say:

It that was all you were saying, I wouldn't be arguing with you. You are
saying much more, you are saying "your methods are useless." They are not.

If you would do Gary's demo you would see why I say that conventional
behavioral research methods are useless. I'm not saying it to be mean; I'm
not saying it to scare people away; I'm saying it because it is true. IV-DV
research, even when done one subject at a time (as it is in EAB and
psychophysics) tells us nothing useful about the behavior of the subject if
the subject is a closed loop system.

If behavioral scientists continue to use conventional IV-DV methodology (even
if they do it one subject at a time) they will continue to fail to learn
anything about what their subjects are controlling. If students continue to
be taught that the correct way to study living system is to use conventional
IV-DV methodology, they will not learn how to study living control systems.

I don't mind trying to encourage people to start using The Test and let
conventional methods die of their own irrelevance. But it's hard to get
things rolling with The Test if teachers are busy telling their pupils that
The Test is just a theory-specific approach to studying behavior and that the
conventional IV-DV approach to studying behavior is just fine. If PCT is to
have a future, we must teach students how to study purposeful systems.

Me:

Do you agree that variations in what you experience (p) are at all times
a joint result of variations in what the world is doing (d) and in what
you are doing (o)? That is, do you agree that p = o + d ?

You:

No. I experience (p) a lot of things that appear to have no direct
relationship to what the world is currently doing (d) and what I am
currently doing (o). [For example, I perceive that Bill Clinton is
President, and there doesn't seem to be anything I do that changes that.]

But your perception of Clinton as President does depend on what you do; you
read the paper, watch TV or listen to the radio. You might not be able to
control some aspect of a perception (like the fact that Clinton is called
"President" in the Newspaper; that's a disturbance anyway) but your
experience of this environmental event depends on what you do.

My point was that everything that falls on your sensory surface -- everything
-- is being influenced by what your body is doing at the moment. There is no
way out of it; what's happening at the surface of you depends comtinuously on
what you are doing.

On the other hand, I do agree that what I am doing (o) and what the world is
doing (d) combine to produce my perception (p) of the variations in the
perceptions I am controlling, and of those which may be altered as a
side-effect of my actions. To that extent, I agree that p = o + d.

OK. That's a start. Now, do you also agree that variations in what you do (o)
are at least in part a result of variations in what you experience (p). That
is, do you agree that o = f(p)?

Chris Cherpas (951110.0921 PT) --

PCT-ers: what's the problem with saying that "behavior controls the
environment AND the environment controls behavior?"

Because there is no evidence of the latter; the idea that the inanimate
environment controls at all is called "animism".

Do PCT-ers understand that radical behaviorism considers what happens
within the skin to be part of the functional environment controlling
behavior?

Yes.

do PCT-ers think that radical behaviorists see a stimulus as producing a
response and that's it for the causal stream?

No. We think they think that the response causes a new stimulus after the
stimulus has produced the response: a circular _sequence_ of cause and
effect. Real causal loops don't work that way; all the causal relationships
in the loop are happening at the same time; the stimulus is producing a
response WHILE the response is producing the stimulus. When you solve the
equations for the causal relationships (S-R and R-S) in the loop
simultaneously, you find that the perceptual representation of S is
controlled (if the feedback in the loop is negative).

Martin Taylor (951110 13:30) --

I don't think you need go even so far as to commit yourself to a "neural"
representation...PCT seems to be valid also for organisms that don't have
neurons.

I agree completely. Thanks, Martin.

Best

Rick

<[Bill Leach 951110.23:48 U.S. Eastern Time Zone]

[Rick Marken (951110.1330)]

You described four things that you think are wrong with psychological
science. Not one has anything to do with the possibility that the system
under study might be controlling its perceptual input variables. I guess
this is why you're comfortable with the fact that you textbook says
nothing about how to test for controlled variables.

Rick, it seems to me that 1 &/or 2 address this even if not as
explicitely as you might like to see:

1. ... grounded in the physical sciences ... relevant engineering ...

2. ... key to understanding ... is the control system.

Absolutely basic to control science is the FACT that what a control
system controls is the value of the input parameter at the input to the
comparitor (ie: the systems own perception of the CV).

But your perception of Clinton as President does depend on what you do;
...

I think that you are stretching things a bit here. Bruce's example of
President Clinton is hardly an example of a controlled perception. Many
discussions concerning HPCT have delt with "uncontrolled" perceptions.
We all perceive many things every day that change but do not seem to
result in any disturbance to any of our control systems.

Just as in some output may be incidental to control, some input is
incidental to control. A perception that is not controlled might not
even have a reference. Even recognizing that some control loop(s) are
busy "storing away" these uncontrolled perception might have little or
nothing to do with the nature of the perception much less its' value.

And yes, I know that there are a lot of "mights" or "maybes" in their but
regardless, we don't really seem to have much with regard to perceptions
that do not have "obvious" control loops.

-bill