To Mary

[Martin Taylor 931123 11:20]
(Mary Powers 9311.23)

Whether or not complex situations require special methods
is really an issue of whether or not there is an underlying model
and what that model is.

... and on the other hand
people talking about society and social interaction as though
there is something real floating in the air between and above
people. Making up one's mind in advance that these fields are too
special and complicated for PCT to be useful is a bit premature.

Yes, to the last.

I think the real point, as usual, is purpose. If someone wants only to
make a functioning steam engine, one doesn't need thermodynamics.
Descriptions of what has and hasn't blown up are OK. It's hard
to make a working steam engine starting from the basic thermodynamics
on which its workings are based. But if one wants to understand
steam engines, then one needs thermodynamics. Or if one wants to
develop novel, efficient, steam engine configurations.

So, to the first quoted line above, I would append "to understand them"
and then agree with you. I should probably have dwelt on the purposes
people have for using their methods, rather than on the methods themselves.
Quick-and-dirty often is more effective than careful and precise, if
that's all you need.

For research, one needs to understand. For living systems, that means
PCT is at the heart. And yes:

At least some of the specialness and complexity may be an
artifact of whatever non-PCT model is being used - like the
complexity of earth-centered epicycles versus heliocentric

But epicycles produced pretty good prediction, which must have been enough
for some purposes, or they wouldn't have been kept in use for so long.