TUTSIM info; influencing ideology

From Greg Williams (920923)



Information about the TUTSIM simulation program for IBM-compatibles is
available from TUTSIM Products, 200 California Ave., Suite 212, Palo Alto, CA
94306; phone 415-325-4800. Ask for the "Classic Edition" of TUT'S BLOCKS, a
tabloid newsletter which contains several examples of systems simulated using


Bill Powers (920922.0900)

It's just too general to say that "changes in the environment"
influence actions.


And it's too general to say that such changes, even if they do amount
to disturbances, "influence the operation of the .. control systems."
Influence WHAT about the operation of the control systems?


All that can be influenced is the action used to correct any induced error,
and that can be influenced only in the sense of making more or less of it

Yes. Well, actually, "more or less" in a not strictly real-number-line way,
but possibly very complexly "qualitative," being multidimensional. Even in
plain old rubber-banding, the actions needed to compensate for the
applied disturbances are not simply "more or less" in one dimension, but
simultaneously in TWO dimensions.

The nature of the action is already determined by the organization of the
control system, which takes into account the environmental link through which
action affects perception.

Take another look at the generic PCT diagram. The action is determined
conjointly by BOTH the reference signal AND the disturbance, via subtraction,
one from the other, at the comparator. To say that the reference signal is the
SOLE determiner of the action is simply false. To say that the reference
signal is "more important" than the disturbance in determining the action can
be considered true for at least some ideologies -- but not for other

This mode of influence can have no effect unless there is a variable already
under active control by the system.


That means that the organism is already using a particular action or set of
actions to maintain a specific controlled variable at a reference level. By
applying your influence to the state of the controlled variable, you simply
call on the control system to increase or decrease the actions it is already
using for control.

Yes, with "increase/decrease" interpreted broadly, as above.

You can claim credit for those increases and decreases, but not for the
nature of the action. That was established before you arrived on the scene.

"You" cannot claim FULL credit. Only SHARED credit. SHARED with the organism.
The nature of possible actions, given possible disturbances, WAS established
by the organism, but YOU select WHICH of the possible disturbances ACTUALLY is
applied. The ACTUAL resulting action is determined by the organism's
establishment of pairs of possible actions and possible disturbances TOGETHER
WITH your selection of the actual disturbance. To say that one of these
factors is "more important" than the other is ideology, not fact. To say that
your contribution is "all important" is radical environmentalism; to say that
the organism's contribution is "all important" is radical organismism; To say
that the contributions are "both important" is a middle-way ideology which
does not contradict PCT-science.

From the standpoint of the control system whose actions are being
influenced by disturbances in this way, it doesn't matter whether
those influences are being used for a purpose or simply occur
accidentally. Similar influences probably occur all the time,
naturally. There's no difference in the action used to counteract an
accidental influence or an intentional influence.

Correct. But that is beside the point. Purposive influence matters to the
influencer ALWAYS.

I think I now am beginning to understand how your tenacious clinging to the
organism's point-of-view, which serves you so well scientifically (one can
simply get farther in psychology with models of "innards" than without, contra
Skinner) seduces you into an ideological position at odds with PCT-science.
The organism role IS more important than the environment's role to the
psychologist who wants to see order (invariable goals) behind the chaos
(variable actions). But it is a mistake -- because it contradicts PCT-science
-- to carry that importance over to ideology. Skinner made the opposite
mistake, but because he didn't have a model of the "innards," he didn't have
an opportunity to see the contradiction. You have that opportunity, but
steadfastly refuse to take advantage of it. And, as I've said before, my
ideology is that your refusal is bad for the more widespread adoption of PCT


As I understand your goal in this argument, it is to prove that the
environment has influences on the organization of the organism's
control systems, shaping the organism in some causal way. This goal
includes proving an effect of both non-living and living influences on
the organism, independent of its heredity.

Yes, that's my aim in the second of our two arguments. The first argument
involves purposive influence only, not environmental influence in general. Of
course, they have been intertwined somewhat.

All the specific examples of the shaping of behavior that have come up turn
out to be examples in which an already-existing control system prevents
environmental effects from influencing what matters to it, its structure of

Not all. I've mentioned education, for example.

If you want to find ways in which the environment can actually alter
the organization of a control system, rather than just inducing
transient changes in its actions, you will have to turn elsewhere.

"Transient changes" (I called them "short-term") are really all I need, but I
think there can also be what I have termed "long-term" changes, requiring
influencing the outcome of reorganization.

We've been going around and around talking about changes in what the
organization is DOING. That's only changing the content of behavior, not the

You think the "only" is "important"; I don't. But it doesn't really matter vis
a vis PCT-science -- or to purposive influencers. The content of the
influencee's behavior changes, and the influencer gets what he wants. Later,
the influencee might regret or appreciate enormously that changed content.
That it was not changed form, too, is a trivial consideration for the

Mary brought this up the other day, and I'm just getting around to
seeing the significance in what she said. All that stuff about con-men
and advertisers and feeding kids healthful food is beside the point.
None of that stuff changes how people are organized. It just says that
they will do one thing instead of another, maybe.

Precisely THE point, not beside it.

Whatever the people do, they will do it with a particular organization of
control systems, and exercising those control systems or bumping them up
against each other is not going to change anything.

Look around. Peoples' lives are changed in both trivial and profound ways (as
judged by the influencees themselves) everyday, all over the globe, by acts of
purposive influence. Ask THEM whether "anything" has changed.