The Case of Jim 1)

[From Dick Robertson (2000.08.26 1830CDT)]

Kenneth Kitzke Value Creation Systems wrote:

[From Kenny Kitzke (2000.08.26.1100EDT)]
<Rick Marken (2000.08.24.1830)>

<There is quite a bit of observable (is that what you mean by physical?)
evidence of reorganization....>

I believe you. I have not had an opportunity to study this version. I don't
recall seeing a model in either B:CP or MSoB. I guess Bruce Gregory has not
seen this either since it was to his claim that there is no model that I
responding surprisingly, "Really?"

<I have written reorganization algorithms (see mention of this
model in my discussion of the Fowler/Turvey experiment in the
first chapter in _Mind Readings_).>

I'm not trying to convince anyone, even intelligent people as you must
consider yourself to be, that humans do not have a "reorganization" system.
I am trying to get intelligent people who claim there is one to offer some
scientific evidence of its existence.

Ken: Would you grant that "scientific evidence" often comes in several stages,
e.g. first speculations derived from facts that are established, then hypothesis
gleaned from such speculations, and then research testing the hypotheses? If so,
I would offer IMP Ch. 7, section 4 as at least a speculation based upon accepted
knowledge about the brain -- regarding how the neurological machinery of
reorganization _might_ work. I'll reprint it here in an attachment, if you don't
have it handy.

Best, Dick R.

7.4 (57 Bytes)

71.4 (58 Bytes)

[From Dick Robertson (2000.8.28,2155CDT]

Kenneth Kitzke Value Creation Systems wrote:

[From Kenny Kitzke (2000.08.28.1030EDT)]

<Dick Robertson (2000.08.26 1830CDT)>

<Ken: Would you grant that "scientific evidence" often comes in several
stages, e.g. first speculations derived from facts that are established, then
hypothesis gleaned from such speculations, and then research testing the

I would grant that "scientific evidence" can start that way and you can
choose to define such speculations as scientific evidence. But, I do not
accept speculations as scientific evidence. I would call them scientific

Ken, I don't call speculations evidence either. The point I was trying to make
was that you might come upon a view of reorganization gradually. Most
established views in science don't blossom fully blown all at once. Since I
thought you were asking for those of us who think "reorganization" is such a
valuable concept to account for it I thought I was adding to the arguments for
it. I assumed (mistakely perhaps) that you accepted the problem Bill points out
in B:CP, pp 178-179, namely that: Given the characteristic of an hierarchical
control system--to correct immediately any error it can correct_then_how does it
change its organization to do something new? Bill's tentative answer (call it a
speculation or an hypothesis at this point) was that the question could be
answered _if_ there were a system that could reorganize the hierarchy to change
its parameters--to re-arrange the hard wiring, if you will. In the absence of
any other theory to account for the phenomenon in question _this_ view would
work. He called it the Reorganization System. He then cited the evidence that
Ashby had developed just such a system for his homeostat and it did work.

I would say Bill's speculation could honestly then be called an hypothesis. I
imagined that your questions about it implied that you were asking something
like, "If it did exist how would it work in a human?" To which I was offering
the answer: The known facts about the reticular activating system might make it
a good candidate for supplying some of the functions that a reorganizing system
would have to fill according to Bill's postulation--namely, by acting as an
amplifier, to send a flood of signals throughout the cortex, disrupting many
functioning control loops (like I might think I see in, e.g. the behavior of a
person in deep water who can't swim) and (thereby) giving rise to the possibility
of initiating movements/actions which--if followed by reduction of intrinsic
error signals--would persist as a newly learned pattern of action.

All this is admittedly still a matter of surmise and hypothesis. However, it is
often tempting to hold on to an hypothesis even before the march of science
comes up with the critical experimental test, if it seems to solve problems that
no other theory or hypothesis can do as well. In this case I had a real
candidate. Vivian was pushed off the deep end of a swimming pool by a coach
acting on the belief that people sometimes learned to swim that way. ( I have
heard that reported as a fact too). In her case she reorganized in such a way
that she panics whenever her face gets submerged and lifts it straight up.
Several courses of swimming lessons have not been successful. But the two
facts--that some people do learn to swim by this method while others learn never
to be able to submit to learning to swim--make a great deal of sense to me on the
basis of reorganization functioning as Bill postulated. Namely, that it must
work with a random element (something like _ecoli's_ steering) such that
different hookups are possible. In the case of flailing around in the water the
results could be that some people randomly make the "right" motions and others
make the "wrong" motions.

I have never run across another potential explanation for why some people do and
some don't in the "same" circumstances in any other theory of learning.
Therefore I cam to accept the reorganization-system hypothesis as the best
working hypothesis for questions of this kind that yet exists. Since doing that
I have had a lot of useful practical results from applying this working

Granted that is not "proof" of the existence of a reorganization system in the
CNS, but I submit it supplies the best answer we have so far for a lot of
interesting observations about the collection of phenomena we lump together
under "learning."

Congratulations on your tennis triumphs
Best, Dick R.


[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0829.1057)]

Kenny Kitzke (2000.08.28.2100EDT)

Forces like gravity and electricity and radiation are very
even among scientists. I could not add much if Newton missed
the answers as
bad as he did. You will probably just have to live with
people who are no
match for your knowledge and wisdom. Sorry, I just can't
help myself. :sunglasses:

Since you cannot help yourself, perhaps you should consider seeking help
elsewhere. It's obvious to me at least that you might benefit from
taking this step.


[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0830.1650)]

Bill Powers (2000.08.29.1340)] (my 74th birthday)

Yes, I notice the same thing; it implies that the lowest rate of
reorganization is not zero, doesn't it? We always seem to be
at some slow rate even when there's no intrinsic error --
like an engine

Belated Happy Birthday! The fact that we have to practice seems to me to
be another indication that the lowest rate of reorganization is not
zero. Per Bak and associates have constructed simple models of systems
that undergo "reorganization" in which the element with the lowest
fitness or figure of merit is replaced by an element with a random
fitness. These models predict that systems undergo changes in which the
log of the magnitude of the change bears a linear relationship to the
log of the frequency of the change (a power law relationship). I don't
know how to test this prediction against reorganization data, but it
suggests that we should occasionally see major reorganizations in the
face of minor persisting errors.


[From Dick Robertson (2000.08.30, 2220CDT)]

[From Bill Powers (2000.08.29.1340)] (my 74th birthday)

Congratulations to Bill on your birthday!

Kenny Kitzke (2000.08.28.1215 EDT)

I have read that chapter several times. It is not persuading to me. It goes

The intent was not to "conjure up" anything, but to look for a possible
basis for explaining how it is that the hierarchy (or more complex
of organization) forms out of the almost unorganized state of the
(or even prenatal) infant. What the concept of reorganization is
to account for is learning that is not guided by practice or deduction
memory. That is the situation whenever we have to solve a novel problem
with which previous experience or analogy with other things we know
[solve the new problem.]....

Back in the 1950s while I was with Bob Clark and Bob MacFarland at the
Research Hospital in Chicago, I put together an experiment to test a
implication of the reorganization model. The experiment involved, among
other things, learning which of four buttons would turn off one of four
lights when it came on. There were several things that had to be learned
to achieve final success and each had to be learned before the next
could be learned. As each phase of learning took place, the person's
reaction time,
between the time one light came on and the person pushed the correct
button, would become shorter. There were several plateaus of reaction

The hypothesis was that just before each transition to a shorter
time, there should be (according to the reorganization model) a period
which the reaction time started varying at random, getting longer and
shorter as the new behavior was about to occur. Then, after the next
of the solution had been found, the reaction time should become more
regular again. This was observed in almost every run of the experiment.

Dick Robertson resurrected this experiment mant years later and
it into a computer -- an Apple II, I think. His results were published
in a
paper called "The Phantom Plateau." Perhaps Dick would be good enough to
post the exact reference, which I don't have at hand, and comment on the
variability effect.

[From Dick Robertson]

The paper was "The Phantom Plateau Returns" Perceptual & Motor Skills,
1985, 61, 55-64. There were three classes of outcomes. Some subjects
never solved the problem. Some got eventual solutions from overly
complex ideas about the problem, or stumbled on an accidental solution
(because of a glitch in Apple II programming) and never knew how they
happened on it.
Among those who got a real solution their learning curve invariably had
the increased variability of reaction times preceding each drop to a new
plateau, something like this


          ****** * * **
                 * ****** * *
                            * ** **** (simplified of course)
  Reaction time in 10ths of a second on the ordinate.

On p. 181, for example, you posit two possible views of learning that deal
with what is innate and what is acquired. Then you pick one to support your
reorganization theory, the HPCT model. I am not saying you are wrong, and
certainly I believe you have convinced yourself it is most plausible. But,
what if the other view is true?

So far, all the evidence I have been able to find suggests that prior to
learning anything new, people tend to show more variable behavior (this
been observed just as a fact unconnected to theory by other
With regard to the specific "innate-acquired" behaviors referred to in
B:CP, if you had followed up the references to Konorski and Galambos,
would have found much more evidence that even the "built-in" behaviors
traditionally thought of as belonging to low-level fixed inherited
organizations are actually highly "plastic", the medical term for
"changeable." ....

They do not require divine
intervention nor preclude it. I may well experience that intervention while
you don't. Is that a problem for you, Bill?

Not at all. But if you want me to believe in that divine intervention, then

you're going to have to think up a way of challenging that theory
an experimental test that anyone could replicate, and showing that the
of divine intervention survives the challenge.

If you can show

experimentally that divine intervention is the only plausible
for the experimental results, and if I can replicate your experiment and
get the same results, then I will believe you. Until then, based on what
evidence I have so far, I will be skeptical about your claims. I don't
think you know any more than I do, in general. Claiming divine
is not enough to turn a bad idea into a good one, or make a vague one

Well, there is a small quibble I need to make at this point. Down
through history there have been a series of people who claimed to have
divine inspiration, down to and perhaps including Kenny. While I agree
that I can't see ever getting over my skepticism unless I can
independently duplicate their "observations" (and so far I haven't) the
quibble is this:
     It is theorectically possible that some people have a form of
experience that others can never have, like the difference between what
the world looks like to fully sighted persons compared with color blind
persons. True, if you concentrate too much on that example you come to
the point that science eventually created instruments/machines to help
convince the color blind that they weren't perceiving exactly what the
rest of us do. But, before they were developed there was no _sure_ way
to convince color blind people that there could be any perceptions that
were not available to all humans.

Best, Dick R.

[From Dick Robertson (2000.08.31.1750CDT)]

Bill Powers wrote:

[From Bill Powers (2000.08.31.0717 MDT)]

Dick Robertson (2000.08.30, 2220CDT)--

> ... While I agree
>that I can't see ever getting over my skepticism unless I can
>independently duplicate their "observations" (and so far I haven't) the
>quibble is this:
> It is theorectically possible that some people have a form of
>experience that others can never have, like the difference between what
>the world looks like to fully sighted persons compared with color blind

This, of course, is a possibility,

That was my only point.

. My toothaches _might_ be caused by the Pentagon's aiming their
radars at my head while I'm asleep --

Interesting example. I have a patient with just that condition. Except it is the
CIA instead of the Pentagon.

It is claimed that believing in God and all that makes one a better person.
I have yet to see any support for that idea.

I would have to agree.

There are certainly some very
nice religious people I am glad to know and whom I would trust with my


but I can say the same for many nonreligious people I have known,
And, unfortunately, some of the worst examples of twisted humanity that I
have known have also been the most insistent that their hatred, greed,
prejudice, selfishness, conceit, and indifference to the suffering of
others are justified by their religions.

Sadly, all too true.

The same, of course, can be said about people who are scientists, or
farmers, or businessmen. Anyone can want to be a good person and work
toward realizing that goal. Anyone can be totally selfish and unpleasant.
If you're concerned with being a good person, you will use religion or
science or agriculture toward that end; if you want to be a piece of
garbage, you are free to do that, too, regardless of what abstractions you
happen to believe.



Best, Dick R.