Tests, Suggestions, Non-Problems

[From Rick Marken (941013.2015)]

Tom Bourbon (941013.1359) --

I don't recall seeing or hearing Rick say that, "the _only_ legitimate
aim of PCT research is to find "the controlled variable.""

Thanks for bringing this up Tom. I know that you (as one of the other
people who is actually studying living control systems) know that
there is quite a bit more to PCT research than finding controlled
variables. Once we know what variables are controlled, then we can
start looking at how they are controlled (the lower order systems
involved in control, the gain and dynamics of the control loop, etc) and
why (what higher order variables are controlled by adjusting the
reference states of these variables, etc).We can also study interaction
between control systems (again, as you know better than anyone, since
you are one of the only ones who has bothered to actually study
the interaction between control systems when those systems happen to
be housed in the same or in different individuals).

The reason I am so persistant in pushing the importance of testing for
controlled variables (as I'm sure you know ) is because such testing is
what is missing from conventional behavioral science research. Indeed, the
notion that organisms might be controlling (rather than controlled by)
variables is completely alien to the basic perspective of conventional
behavioral science. The notion of a CONTROLLED variable is what
separates PCT from conventional behavioral science; PCT knows that
they exist (and knows how their existence is demonstrated);
conventional behavioral science is clueless about them. There are
many more "legitimate" aims of PCT research than just identifying
controlled variables; but surely the identification of such variables
must be the first order of business.

Bruce Abbott (941013.1100 EST) to Dennis Delprato (941012)--

Ken Bordens and I are in the midst of revisions for third edition--got
any suggestions?

Yes. I suggest that two editions is plenty;-) Now, how about devoting your
considerable talents to writing the first edition of the research methods
text that is really needed -- the text on how to study living control
systems. Of course, it probably wouldn't sell as well as your current
text but we're not in it for the money, right;-)

Bill Powers (941008.1650 MDT) writes:

>But one always comes up against the ultimate problem, which is that

. . . all that the brain can know about its own structure or the world in
which it lives must exist in the form of neural signals. The brain
attempts to make sense of its neural signals; in human beings, one
way it does this is through reasoning and imagining. If the PCT model
is right, then the brain itself is an idea existing in the form of neural
signals in a brain. For practical purposes we assume that there really is
a brain, and that it really does relate to a physical external world.
That's all very well as long as we don't dwell on the idea that the very
same assumptions end up telling us that these assumptions are
signals in a brain. If you can tell me a way out of this problem without
just saying "the hell with it," I'll be in your debt.

Bruce Buchanan (941012.13:15 (EDT) replies --

While this may be mostly a rhetorical challenge :wink: I will try an answer
of sorts.

[Detailed answer deleted]

My guess is that Bill was being a bit "rhetorical". "The hell with it"
seems like precisely the right way to deal with this "problem", which I
see as a non-problem. My assumptions about how the brain works tell
me that my assumptions about how the brain works are signals in my
brain. As my grandfather, the philosopher (well, baker -- close) used to
say "Nu? Vat's de problem?"