Unification of life sciences

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.26.1745)]

Hi Tim et al

I’m taking the liberty of copying my comments here to CSGNet because I think your comments here are worth some more discussion:

Fundamentally, I think it’s a very attractive and seductive message that human behaviour can be controlled in some form. I think it’s ultimately attractive to governments, policy makers, and researchers to think that there is a particular arrangement of “conditions” that will produce desirable behaviour from the masses. Even the success of the pharmaceutical companies in the peddling of drugs to promote mental health could be seen as them capitalising on this basic desire by many people to control behaviour.

An explanation that demonstrates robustly and rigorously that the notion that behaviour can be controlled is fatally flawed will face stiff opposition (as your explanation has done). In many ways, I don’t think the reasons for the lack of appeal of PCT are any more complicated than that. For lots of people, PCT is just not a sexy idea. But the idea of controlling other people, on the other hand, … mmm, delicious!

I don’t think the notion that behaviour (OK, I’ll spell it your way;-) can be controlled is fatally flawed. Indeed, I think it’s easy to show that behaviour can be controlled; for example, ask a person to keep their finger aligned with yours and if agree to have this goal you can easily control the position of the person’s finger by moving your finger about. I think PCT shows how behavior can be controlled: the main method is disturbance to a controlled variable (which is how behaviour is controlled in operant experiments, for example).

I think what PCT shows is not that there is a fatal flaw in the idea that behaviour can be controlled. The fatal flaw is in the idea that behaviour can be controlled arbitrarily and with impunity (without consequence in the form of “blow back”). Non-arbitrary control is control that takes into account the purposes of the would-be controllee. In civilized societies non-arbitrary control is achieved through cooperation. For example, a common example of cooperative control is the monetary exchange for goods: buyers control sellers by giving them money for their goods they take and sellers control buyers by taking money for the goods they give. This works because buyers and sellers have agreed to be controlled in this way.

Cooperative control of behavior like this is, I believe, the basis of civilized society. It’s the reason we can produce incredibly complex results, like computers and cities, that could not be produced by any individual alone nor by millions of individuals controlling independently. Management, for example, which involves coordination of the activities of many individuals, involves control of behaviour. And it works best when it’s cooperative rather than arbitrary. A good manager gets “buy in” regarding what the workers will do for the manager and what the manager in turn will do for the workers.

So I would argue that it’s not control of behaviour that is the problem; it’s arbitrary control of behaviour that is the problem. Arbitrary control leads to conflict; cooperative control leads to civil society. The value of PCT, I think, is not that it shows that there is a flaw in the idea that behavior can be controlled; the value of PCT is that it shows that we are always controlling, and the other people’s behaviour is among the things we want to control. But while we can arbitrarily control the behaviour of the inanimate would, we cannot arbitrarily control the behaviour of other people because they are controllers too.

I think this is the tough message to get across. It’s not that PCT says that you can’t control behavior; it’s that you can control it but shouldn’t control it arbitrarily (if you want to avoid conflict).

Whadaya think? (It was a real pain trying to make sure that all the behaviors were spelled behaviour; I hope you appreciate the effort;-)

Best

Rick

···


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com

Rick:

This is a very useful distinction. Thanks for posting it.

Fred Nickols

···

Sent from my iPad

On Feb 26, 2012, at 18:45, Richard Marken rsmarken@GMAIL.COM wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.26.1745)]

Hi Tim et al

I’m taking the liberty of copying my comments here to CSGNet because I think your comments here are worth some more discussion:

Fundamentally, I think it’s a very attractive and seductive message that human behaviour can be controlled in some form. I think it’s ultimately attractive to governments, policy makers, and researchers to think that there is a particular arrangement of “conditions” that will produce desirable behaviour from the masses. Even the success of the pharmaceutical companies in the peddling of drugs to promote mental health could be seen as them capitalising on this basic desire by many people to control behaviour.

An explanation that demonstrates robustly and rigorously that the notion that behaviour can be controlled is fatally flawed will face stiff opposition (as your explanation has done). In many ways, I don’t think the reasons for the lack of appeal of PCT are any more complicated than that. For lots of people, PCT is just not a sexy idea. But the idea of controlling other people, on the other hand, … mmm, delicious!

I don’t think the notion that behaviour (OK, I’ll spell it your way;-) can be controlled is fatally flawed. Indeed, I think it’s easy to show that behaviour can be controlled; for example, ask a person to keep their finger aligned with yours and if agree to have this goal you can easily control the position of the person’s finger by moving your finger about. I think PCT shows how behavior can be controlled: the main method is disturbance to a controlled variable (which is how behaviour is controlled in operant experiments, for example).

I think what PCT shows is not that there is a fatal flaw in the idea that behaviour can be controlled. The fatal flaw is in the idea that behaviour can be controlled arbitrarily and with impunity (without consequence in the form of “blow back”). Non-arbitrary control is control that takes into account the purposes of the would-be controllee. In civilized societies non-arbitrary control is achieved through cooperation. For example, a common example of cooperative control is the monetary exchange for goods: buyers control sellers by giving them money for their goods they take and sellers control buyers by taking money for the goods they give. This works because buyers and sellers have agreed to be controlled in this way.

Cooperative control of behavior like this is, I believe, the basis of civilized society. It’s the reason we can produce incredibly complex results, like computers and cities, that could not be produced by any individual alone nor by millions of individuals controlling independently. Management, for example, which involves coordination of the activities of many individuals, involves control of behaviour. And it works best when it’s cooperative rather than arbitrary. A good manager gets “buy in” regarding what the workers will do for the manager and what the manager in turn will do for the workers.

So I would argue that it’s not control of behaviour that is the problem; it’s arbitrary control of behaviour that is the problem. Arbitrary control leads to conflict; cooperative control leads to civil society. The value of PCT, I think, is not that it shows that there is a flaw in the idea that behavior can be controlled; the value of PCT is that it shows that we are always controlling, and the other people’s behaviour is among the things we want to control. But while we can arbitrarily control the behaviour of the inanimate would, we cannot arbitrarily control the behaviour of other people because they are controllers too.

I think this is the tough message to get across. It’s not that PCT says that you can’t control behavior; it’s that you can control it but shouldn’t control it arbitrarily (if you want to avoid conflict).

Whadaya think? (It was a real pain trying to make sure that all the behaviors were spelled behaviour; I hope you appreciate the effort;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.27.1320)]

Hi Tim –

RM: I don’t think the notion that behaviour (OK, I’ll spell it your way;-) can be controlled is fatally flawed. …

TC: Yep, I had this little example running through the back of my mind as I was typing that last email … I think it’s a great example and was one of the first “Aha!” moments I had with PCT.

The devil though is in the details … in a technical sense, output (or behavior – did you like that? ;-)) can be controlled by controlling d and r. …

So in order to control behaviour we need to control the state of the environment (which we can probably do relatively easily) and we also need to control the reference inside the head of the person being controlled. I don’t think we can do that.

I argued this position myself some time ago, saying that it was ultimately impossible to control behavior because the controllee can always autonomously vary the reference (r) for the controlled variable that is being disturbed, rendering the controllee uncontrollable. But it turns out that I was wrong (this was particularly unpleasant for me because I was arguing with Bruce Abbott; so he was, once again, right, dammit;-)

It turns out that you can control behavior by disturbing a controlled variable even if the reference for that variable is being continuously varied by the would-be controllee. I demonstrated this fact to myself in a demo I created which is at:

http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/Coercion.html

It’s not an easy demo to understand. But if you do take the trouble to understand what’s going on you will see that you are able the control the behavior of another control system (the output of which is the movement of the upper cursor) by disturbing, using mouse movements, a variable controlled by that control system. The problem with the demo is that all you can see of the control system you are controlling is the output (the upper cursor). For this demo to be useful I probably should show the control system being controlled as an animated figure or something. But in it’s present form it at least demonstrates that you can still control the behavior of a control system that is autonomous even when it is varying it’s reference for a controlled variable.

I just thought of a way to do this demo using the rubber band demo. Just have the controllee keep moving the knot around randomly instead of keeping it on a dot. You will find that you (the controller) can still control the position of the controllee’s finger (the one in the loop of the rubber band) by moving your end of the rubber bands appropriately.

I’m assuming that’s what you’re getting at with the idea of “arbitrary control” – control without regard for other goals that are important or relevant. But if we need to control both r and d in order to control qo, and if we can’t ever really control r (except without the other person’s consent), what does it mean to say that we can control qo? We can control qo only if the other person agrees to set a particular r. That seems like a pretty fragile type of control but I guess that’s the point you’re highlighting.

No, when I say arbitrary control I mean controlling another person without consulting them about whether it’s OK with them for you to do it. It’s the difference between getting an employee to follow you instructions by threatening to fire them if they don’t versus asking the person if they are willing to do so and, if not, if there are any circumstances under which they would be willing to do it. It’s the difference between democracy and dictatorship (and anarchy. the dictatorship of many individuals).

Maybe we’re both really saying the same thing fundamentally. PCT shows, on the one hand, how trivially easy it is to control another person’s behaviour (by getting them to agree to a certain goal and then systematically disturbing it), and on the other hand, the impossibility of what is required.

I’m saying that many (most?) of our interactions with other people involve control. But we don’t experience them as control because we have agreed to be controlled and/or to control. As in the buyer/seller situation, the buyer and seller are controlling each other but there is no experience of control because there is no resistance to the controlling: I control the seller by giving him the money and he gives me the product; the seller controls me by getting the money before giving me the product. We are controlling each other but we don’t notice it until there is a disturbance to the variables being controlled; I’m controlling for getting the product; if I give the money and the seller doesn’t give me the product there is a disturbance to the variable I am controlling and I will start increasing my efforts to get the product; if I don’t give the money to the seller and just take the product there is a disturbance to what the seller is controlling for and he’s start working to prevent me from taking the product.

So control of behavior can work out great (as it does everyday when you buy something at the store) when this control is non-arbitrary; when there is agreement among all parties that the control is OK. When there is not agreement (as in dictatorships, bank robberies, etc) then control of behavior gets ugly.

Best

Rick

···


Richard S. Marken PhD

rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.27.1640)]

Tim Carey:

Maybe I’m more stubborn than you but I wouldn’t agree so easily … Again, a crucial factor of making your demonstration work has been overlooked. I have to agree to click on the link and do your demo. That is, I have to set a goal for doing what you want me to do. I’m can completely understand that if you can get me to agree to do what you want me to do then you can control my behaviour. No problems there at all.

Yes, but in real life control people are, of course, controlling all kinds of variables all the time. So you really don’t need to get people to agree to control something in order for them to be controllable. All you have to do is identify at least one variable they are controlling for (like their food intake) and then disturb it.

TC: Same thing with the rubber band demo – if you can get me to agree to put my finger in the rubber band and if you can get me to move it around then you can control my behaviour? Hmmm. What if I stick my finger in the rubber band and keep it completely still?

If you stop controlling a variable then someone can’t control your behavior by disturbing that variable anymore. But there are always plenty of others to choose from. There is just no getting away from it, I think; if you control then you are controllable.

But the fact that people are controllable doesn’t mean that they can (or should) be controlled. If you do try to control someone arbitrarily the result is likely to be conflict (I speak here from experience;-) And even of you are in an agreed on control situation there is still the possibility of conflict (anyone who is married knows about this). So, again, I think the important message of PCT is not that people can’t be controlled (if that were actually true then people would have no problems; people would never have to say “you’re not the boss of me” because it would simply be true). But people can be controlled and often agree to control and be controller (Linda, who is barely half my size, controls me with ease; this is because we have an agreement; when she says “jump” I say “how high”; she is controlling my jumping while I am controlling her happiness because it makes her so happy when I do what she wants;-) But when people control each other arbitrarily it looks like a failure of control because the controllee fights back; but I would argue that the failure of control in this case is not a result of the fact that people can’t be controlled – I’ve described several examples of where they clearly can be and are (the buyer-seller, the conductor-player, the husband -wife) – but because of the fact that attempts at arbitrary control typically lead to conflict.

TC: Sure, if we can arrange the environment so that we have pretty tight control over the variables that are important to another person (even in something as simple as a rubber band demo) we can do things so it appears that we’re controlling the other person’s behaviour … almost all the time! And the “almost” is enough to sink the argument for me. Not all of Pavlov’s dogs did what he wanted them to do even when they were in a harness upon a table with a tube stuck in their salivary gland. And not all of Skinner’s rats would do what he wanted them to. Even with Skinner’s might and reputation he would almost always use male rats because he couldn’t be sure of his success in controlling female rats.

I see it a bit differently. I think the fact that there are cases when behavior can clearly be controlled means that behavior can clearly be controlled. PCT explains what is going on when behavior is being successfully control and it also explains what is going on when control of behavior fails.

TC: For me, the control of behaviour argument still has some holes in no matter what theory it is viewed from. Happy to be out on a limb with this and happy to be proven wrong yet again … I just can’t see how systematic and arbitrary control of behaviour can occur.

I don’t think it’s a matter of right and wrong. You are certainly correct in observing that there are many cases of failure of control of behavior. But I am also correct in observing that behavior can be controlled. You take the failures as evidence that behavior is intrinsically uncontrollable. I see them as cases where control has failed for various reasons (just as control of inanimate objects often fails).

Maybe it’s a temperament difference. When I was young like you I also railed against the idea that people were controllable. There seemed to be something dehumanizing about it. It’s actually why I got into PCT; I was looking for the flaw in Skinner’s control of behavior ideas. Actually, I was looking to show that behavior really couldn’t be controlled; that people were really “free”. And all that. But I was so much younger then; I’m older than that now. And I have a much more nuanced view of the situation.

Freedom no longer means to me “I can do whatever the hell I want” because I know from control theory that I can’t do whatever I want if I want to achieve what I want. “Doing” is controlling and in order to control I have to vary lower order doings appropriately (to compensate for disturbances) in order to achieve higher level doings. Freedom’s just another word for being in control. And when we are in control we are vulnerable to being controlled because, in order to stay in control, we have to protect controlled variables from disturbances (that may come from others trying to control us)

So people who are the most free (Best controllers) are also the most controllable (wow, bet you didn’t see that coming;-) When controllers do try to control each other arbitrarily there will almost certainly be conflict – and violence. But when controllers control each other cooperatively you get Apple, Ford and the Berlin Philharmonic: you get civilization (and freedom).

Best

Rick

···

Go on … make me order a ham and pickle sandwich for lunch :wink:

Tim


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

Hi, Tim –

For me it’s just simple maths
(or “math” as you guys like to say) … qo depends on both r
and d. Therefore, controlling qo necessarily implies controlling r and d.
d can be controlled - most of the time but I’ve yet to see a way that r
can be controlled with any certainty.

I think you’re missing something here. Yes, qo depends on r and d. But if
you, the external disturber, want qo to change, all you have to do is to
apply d to the controlled variable, just strongly enough and in the right
direction so the opposing action is the behavior you want. It doesn’t
matter what r is, because r is specifying qi, not qo. For you, r is just
another disturbance of what you’re trying to control, the other person’s
qo.
When you alter d to cause qi to change, the person being controlled just
changes qo to keep the controlled variable, qi, the same. You’re not
actually disturbing what the other person is controlling – he won’t let
you, and that’s what gives you control of his behavior. You end up
controlling only the means by which he is controlling – his behavior,
which he doesn’t care about. Unless he has some other specific desire to
keep qo where it is, he will not resist changing his output, his
behavior. You have to use whatever behavior is reuqired if you want to
maintain control of something, don’t you? You have to NOT control your
own behavior if you want to use it to control something else that’s
subject to disturbances. The disturber is just being a disturbance, and
the disturbee will change qo however he needs to in order to keep the CV
from changing in spite of that disturbance. Let him succeed, by all
means, because his CV is not what you’re trying to control.
People resist this way of controlling their behavior only when the
disturber is trying to change their behavior in a way that causes a
conflict for the disturbee. Of course this can happen, and when it does,
the disturber loses control. But as long as the disturber doesn’t cause
any problems for the disturbee by succeeding in disturbing
something the disturbee is actually controlling, controlling the behavior
is easy.

A common mistake in understanding the test for the controlled variable is
to think of a disturbance as a change in the controlled variable. It’s
not; you don’t want to use such a large disturbing force that the
controlled variable will change appreciably. You just want it large
enough so the other person will change his action enough to prevent any
significant effect on what he’s controlling. Very small errors are
amplified when control is skillful, so that only a tiny error is enough
to produce the maximum disturbance-opposing action. This means that your
attempt to disturb the controlled variable has very little effect, and
that’s how you want it. The small change that does occur is enough to
generate a large change in the behavior, and that’s what gives you
control over the behavior without actually bothering the control system.
The control system is successfully counteracting small and large
disturbances all the time – one more won’t cause any distress, unless
resisting it calls for moving your hand so it touches a hot
stove.

Best,

Bill

[From Adam Matic 28.2.2012.20.00 CET]

If I understand correctly what you guys are talking about, this video is a good example of successfully controlling someone else’s behavior:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5b1qeZIn6g

The subject is, I assume, doing a tracking task of some kind, and the program (or the experimenter) is controlling for her to write ‘hello’ by applying disturbances.

Same thing with the 'SquareCircle" program on LCS3 where the person is controlling for the cursor to move in a circle, and does that successfully, while his hand moves following a square.

Could someone give an example of a more complicated, high-level behavior?

Best,

Adam

Hi, Tim –

Tim:

I think what I’m missing is the
ease with which people seem to be able to identify and disturb controlled
variables. You say “all you have to do is apply d to the controlled
variable” … in my experience that’s a pretty big “all”.
I agree that it’s pretty straightforward when a person has (willingly)
agreed to sit at your computer and move the mouse as you’ve instructed
for the duration of the tracking task. I’m suggesting it’s alot more
difficult to a) identify the controlled variable of the person sitting at
the desk beside you, and b) ensure that they continue to control that
variable while you apply disturbances to it.

You appear to be thinking in terms of attaining complete, continuing
control of another’s behavior forever rather than just controlling of one
aspect of the behavior for long enough to prove you can do it. I can
understand your skepticism if that’s the case. What Rick is talking
about, and I am too, is just demonstrating that if you can see a person
controlling something, you can demonstrate control of his behavior by
doing something to change the thing he is controlling. He might not let
you do it again if he catches on, or he might cooperate by not changing
what he’s controlling. Or he might just correct the error and not even
notice that you’ve just controlled his behavior.

Bill:

It doesn’t matter what r is, because r is specifying qi, not qo.
For you, r is just another disturbance of what you’re trying to control,
the other person’s qo.

Tim:

I can’t understand this statement at all - doesn’t r define what cv is?

BP: No, the perceptual input function defines what the cv is – that is,
what aspect of the sensory inputs is to be represented as a perceptual
signal. The reference signal specifies what the magnitude of the
perceptual signal is to be, very small or very large or anywhere between.
If the perception is the sweetness of a glass of lemonade, the reference
signal selects how sweet the lemonade is to be. Changing a
reference signal can’t change the nature of the perception that is being
controlled, only its magnitude.

TC: In fact, r will define what
d is … you can’t disturb something if it’s not a controlled variable.

Sure you can. I just disturbed the position of a pen on the table by the
keyboard. It’s still where I pushed it, so nothing was trying to keep it
where it was.

Telling someone who speaks
Swahili that they’re a ‘dork’ probably won’t disturb their self-esteem
unless they have an r for the term ‘dork’ - or the Swahilian equivalent
of it.

BP: I see the problem here. Telling someone they’re a dork doesn’t bother
them if they don’t perceive what a dork is. If I tell you you’re too
crembled, I’m saying you should raise your reference level for
crembledness, but you won’t know what I mean because you don’t perceive
any aspect of yourself that’s called crembled. So you won’t know what you
should be less of. The reference signal indicates only the desired
magnitude of a perception that has already been defined by a perceptual
input function.

Bill:

When you alter d to cause qi to change, the person being controlled just
changes qo to keep the controlled variable, qi, the same.

Tim:

As long as you, the applier of d, can guarantee they continue to control
the same variable (and don’t just leave the environment or hit you with a
plank of wood or slash your tyres).

BP: That depends on whether you want to demonstrate that you can control
a person’s behavior from now on, or just to show that it’s possible to do
it until the person stops controlling the variable you’re
disturbing, stops using that particular behavior to control it, or
fends you off in some way. However, you can be pretty sure of some
variables people will almost always try to control – breathing, for
example, or eating, or the safety of their children. If I wanted you to
act protective, all I would have to do would be to make an anonymous
phone call threatening to harm Jack unless you do something I want you to
do, like picking up a parcel and delivering it to some location. If you
actually did that, I would be thwarted and you wouldn’t find any package
to pick up, because what I really want you to do is get all upset and
call the cops and hide Jack away, which I am perfectly happy to see you
doing because that’s an example of the protective behavior I wanted to
see. I never wanted you do deliver the parcel, only to think there was a
threat to Jack and start running around in a panic. Only a real sick-o
would enjoy that, but like computer hackers, such sick-os are among
us.

Bill:

You’re not actually disturbing what the other person is controlling – he
won’t let you, and that’s what gives you control of his behavior.

Tim:

Provided he stays in the same environment with you (even a virtual
environment such as an email exchange).

BP: Yes, he might eventually come up with that solution if having his
behavior controlled bothered him. But you can’t assume everyone knows he
is being deliberately disturbed, or is bothered by that, or that a person
can’t go along for a while if it’s not inconvenient, just to please you.
Like Grampa who acts terribly startled and scared when a little boy comes
to the door in a zombie mask at Halloween. If you’re good at doing this,
you can disguise what you’re doing so the person doesn’t realize that a
disturbance is being generated intentionally by someone else, to control
his behavior. One trick kids used to do in my home town was to sneak up
behind someone and tickle his ear with a stalk of grass – especially
someone busy doing something outdoors like reading a book or just dozing.
The person will wave a hand to brush the insect away, and keep doing it
until realizing that everyone is watching and laughing. Another one is
“Made you look, made you look,” which is chanted after saying
something like “Is that policeman looking at you?” Children
recognize the vulnerability to being controlled, and make games of it to
learn to be suspicious.

BP: Let him succeed, by all
means, because his CV is not what you’re trying to control.

Tim:

No, but you rely on him continuing to control that variable in order to
maintain your current control over his behaviour.

BP: That’s true, but I’m not trying to gain permanent unbreakable control
over someone else – just trying to show that it can be done for a while.
Magicians do this all the time, misdirecting your attention just long
enough to let them reach out right in front of you and slip the card into
your pocket where you and the audience will later discover it to your and
their astonishment because as far as you or they know, the magician never
came near you.
Close-up magic can be utterly uncanny. A magician drops the half-dollar
onto the floor and says “Oh, damn! Sorry!”, and still
apologizing, reaches for the coin. I saw this done at a show by magicians
for other magicians, and when the performer straightened up with the coin
in his hand there was an evil smile on his face. The whole audience
groaned – Oh, no, you did it to us again, didn’t you? He nods at
the salt-shaker two feet from the nose of the person sitting at the card
table, the person who is supposed to catch any sneaky moves and has
already been fooled four or five times. The person tips the salt-shaker,
and picks up the other half-dollar under it which wasn’t there ten
seconds ago. Oh, you bastard. Deafening applause. The magician was Al
Goshman, the king of close-up magic. The person at the card table was
Mary. She absolutely didn’t see him put the coin there, but he did, right
in front of everyone including me. Nobody else saw him do it, either.
Goshman really seemed upset at dropping the coin while he was
demonstrating how to manipulate it. What an actor.

Tim:

Then, at best, it’s a pretty fragile, flimsy, restricted kind of control.
As you’re suggesting, we can’t control the other person’s behaviour to
make them do whatever we want. We have to control them in a careful
considered way so that they don’t get into conflict otherwise we lose
control? That, to me, doesn’t sound like we ever had control in the first
place. If we had control, how could it be that we could lose it just
because we get a bit sloppy with our disturbing? We stay in control of
the controllee as long as we don’t cause any problems for the
controllee?? Controlling behaviour is easy then if we only control
behaviour in a fairly restricted or vague way … and the restricted
range or the vagueness is, ironically, determined by the controllee and
what they find disturbing.

BP: Well, I can see what your reference level for controlling other
people is, or would be if you decided to go that way. But you do
indirectly make a point. There are, for example, parents who want control
of every detail of their children’s appearance and behavior and are
willing to do whatever it takes to get that control, even to harming the
child. “Tots in Tiaras.” In an uneven contest like that, if
necessary there is a lot of direct application of physical force, which
the parent is strong enough to keep applying and increasing until the
child gives in. The parent (or whoever) wants complete control forever.
I’m sure you’ve seen that happening in your career, especially with your
interest in the subject of bullying. Bullying is about one person wanting
irresistable permanent control over another, isn’t it? And going to
extremes to get it. But that’s not what I have in mind, nor does Rick, I
think.

Bill:

A common mistake in understanding the test for the controlled variable is
to think of a disturbance as a change in the controlled variable. It’s
not; you don’t want to use such a large disturbing force that the
controlled variable will change appreciably. You just want it large
enough so the other person will change his action enough to prevent any
significant effect on what he’s controlling.

Tim:

Yep, for sure. And “large enough” is determined by the
controllee and their sensory abilities (whispering to someone in Swahili
that they are a dork won’t be a disturbance if they’re hard of hearing).
In fact, what is or is not a disturbance is defined by the controllee and
the particular variables they are controlling for. Turning up the room
temperature will be a disturbance for people who like cool rooms but it
won’t be a disturbance to people who like it warmer.

BP: I’m not sure what your objective here is. Are you trying to show that
permanent control is impossible or at least highly unlikely without the
use of overwhelming physical force, or that even temporary control is? I
would agree with the first part, but not the second.

Tim:

Assuming of course that you’ve correctly identified the controlled
variable and can guarantee, by your artful disturbing, that the
controllee keeps controlling it.

BP: OK, so is the issue here how long the control is likely to last? How
hard it is to achieve? All I’m talking about is achieving some degree of
control for some time – say, long enough to get an old person to sign
over a pension check as a downpayment to hold a winning lottery ticket
until it can be cashed in, or long enough to collect the ransom payment
for a missing child that you supposedly have abducted, but who just
wandered off. Such things are done all the time. It’s not permanent
control of behavior, but it’s certainly control of behavior.

Best,

Bill

[Martin Taylor 2012.02.28.22.49]

Hi, Tim --

You appear to be thinking in terms of attaining complete, continuing control of another's behavior forever rather than just controlling of one aspect of the behavior for long enough to prove you can do it. I can understand your skepticism if that's the case. What Rick is talking about, and I am too, is just demonstrating that if you can see a person controlling something, you can demonstrate control of his behavior by doing something to change the thing he is controlling. He might not let you do it again if he catches on, or he might cooperate by not changing what he's controlling. Or he might just correct the error and not even notice that you've just controlled his behavior.

Tim, perhaps it might help if you considered a simple conversation. In a conversation, each party is controlling the other at several levels, and both are (usually) quite happy about it. I like to call the partners "Oliver" the originator who issues the opening gambit, and "Rachel" the receiver of the initial utterance.

Why does Oliver ever say anything? It's a behaviour, and a behaviour is executed to control some perception. Since the behaviour is directed at Rachel, the perception Oliver controls must have something to do with Rachel. Maybe Oliver wants Rachel to look at something, to fetch something, to understand something, or whatever. But before Oliver speaks, his perception of Rachel is that her state is not what Oliver has a reference for it to be. She is (perhaps -- Oliver may not know) not looking, does not seem as if she is about to fetch, appears not to understand, ... Whatever it is, Oliver has acted to influence his perception of Rachel's state, and with luck, the direction of influence will change his perception nearer to his reference. Oliver is controlling Rachel.

What of Rachel? If the conversation is cooperative, Rachel controls a perception of Oliver as being satisfied with the result of his initial conversational move. Rachel does something to alter her perception of Oliver's satisfaction. Because Oliver has made this first move, Rachel perceives Oliver as not currently being satisfied, and that Oliver believes that Rachel is capable of some action that will make him more satisfied. Rachel acts in some way that will bring her perception of Oliver's satisfaction nearer to her reference for it. (If Rachel is being uncooperative or antagonistic, her reference may be that Oliver should seem less satisfied than he is, but we are talking about cooperative conversation, so we ignore that possibility). Rachel is controlling Oliver.

What might Rachel's action be? It might not be verbal at all. Perhaps she just passes the salt, as Oliver asked. Maybe she passes the pepper when Oliver asked for salt. What then? Oliver's reference for a perception of being in possession of the salt remains unsatisfied, and so is his reference for a perception of Rachel having understood his request -- or does he perceive Rachel as being uncooperative when he has a reference for perceiving her to be cooperative? His next action depends on how he perceives Rachel and his reference value for that perception. If Oliver perceives Rachel as having been cooperative but as not having understood, or perhaps as having perceived the pepperpot as being a saltshaker, he is likely to continue the conversation with a statement something like "Thank you, but I asked for salt and this is pepper". Rachel perceives Oliver still not to be satisfied, and acts again to bring her perception of his satisfaction nearer its reference level, probably by two separate action: to say "Sorry", which helps Oliver to perceive that Rachel intends to perceive him as satisfied, and to pass the other cruet, which she hopes will indeed allow her to perceive him as being satisfied.

In this simple interaction, which can be greatly elaborated (We developed a whole grammar of possible moves in the Layered Protocol Theory of communication before I knew that LPT was a special case of PCT), we see each party controlling a perception of the other, and acting so as to influence the other so as to bring that perception nearer its reference value. We do it whenever we interact with someone else. Sometimes the interaction is cooperative, as in the example where Oliver perceives Rachel as having a reference to perceive herself as cooperative; sometimes the interaction is not cooperative.

In a non-cooperative interaction, Rachel might pass the pepper deliberately, so as to increase Oliver's dissatisfaction with his perception of her or with the state of what is in his hand, or she might simply do nothing. Suppose Oliver sees Rachel with her nose in a book and asks her to pass the salt. She does not, and continues to read. Again, what Oliver does depends on what perceptions he is controlling and the actions he thinks may influence those perceptions. If Oliver has a reference for perceiving Rachel to be feeling good, he may say something like "Sorry, I didn't notice you were reading" and get the salt himself. If he has a reference for seeing Rachel to be annoyed, he may say "Rachel, I asked you for the salt, but you just have your nose in that silly book, and you don't care what I need". He may be able to control Rachel's feeling and be able to perceive that she is annoyed.

Non-cooperative interactions can be deceptive, and that is another way of controlling the other party, much used in military and other conflict situations. Passing the pepper instead of the salt could be intentionally deceptive if the containers look enough alike that Oliver actually puts pepper on his food when he wanted salt. Communicative deception is another way of exercising control, by getting the stooge to perceive something that is not actually the case. In the military arena, a classic example is the preparations for D-Day in World War II. The Allied plan was to invade in Normandy, but a plausible place to invade was the Pas de Calais. The Allies created a large phony army, complete with radio signals and imitation vehicles and weaponry, situated as though preparing an invasion through Calais. They presumed Hitler to be controlling for not seeing the Allies in control of any part of France, and would act to strengthen the defences around Calais. Hitler (personally) believed that this phony army was real, and when the Normandy invasion actually happened, he refused to allow the Panzers stationed near Calais to move to Normandy. The Allied actions controlled Hitler by influencing his perception so that it differed from reality.

In none of these examples is there any likelihood of a controlled person acting to counter the control. To do that, they would have to perceive that there was an attempt to control them and a reference value for perceiving that they are not being controlled. In cooperative conversation, the parties may well perceive that they are doing the other's bidding at different levels of the conversation or in their other actions, but they have no reference for perceiving themselves not to be controlled. In non-cooperative conversation, the situation is less obvious, but if Oliver controls for perceiving Rachel to be annoyed, and Rachel gets annoyed, he has successfully controlled her regardless of whether her annoyance is because she perceives him to be trying to control her while she has a reference to the contrary. Finally, in a deceptive interaction, the one being deceived has no opportunity to perceive that the deceiver is controlling if the deception succeeds.

That's all very sketchy. The published descriptions of Layered Protocol Theory have all been several tens of pages long, but I hope the sketch at least suggests that controlling other people is a very common occurrence, and that we notice it only when the controlling actions are perceived as having the purpose of controlling, rather than being in the service of some other controlled perception (such as getting the salt).

Martin

···

On 2012/02/28 7:07 PM, Bill Powers wrote:

Hi, Tim --

Hi Bill,

This is getting sillier by the minute.

Can I take a step back and clarify that what we're talking about when we talk about control is: "Achievement and maintenance of a preselected perceptual state in the controlling system, through actions on the environment that also cancel the effects of disturbances."

So I'm assuming that means that you and Rick are asserting that, with respect to someone else's behaviour you can achieve and maintain a preselected perceptual state through your own actions that cancel the effect of disturbances.

"Behaviour" hasn't really been defined in PCT - at least it's not in the glossary. The closest we come to a definition is the title of your book "Behavior: The control of perception".

So I guess what you're saying is you can control (achieve and maintain a preselected perceptual state) the other person's "control of perception".

When I refer to other people's "behavior", I use the ordinary meaning: what I can see another organism doing with its motor systems: pulling, pushing, twisting, and squeezing about covers it (and the immediate effects of those things).

When I say I can control another person's behavior by disturbing something I see him controlling, I mean that I can predict at least that the person will take some action aimed at opposing what I did, and often almost exactly what that action will be. I don't know what the other person's perceptions are; I can judge that I guessed right only by seeing whether my disturbance is counteracted and the variable I tried to disturb is maintained essentially constant, while the other person't disturbance-opposing behavior I predicted or something close to it actually takes place.

This might be less confusing if we talked about controlling another person's motor activities, or some other term that specifically means what an outside observer can see going on.

You probably have this demo already, but here's the link anyway. Unzip it into a folder of its own; the instructions are in a .doc file and there are some already-created pattern files.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/35647848/Challenge1.zip

This is the one where a person agrees to keep a green dot over a red one for a while, and it turns out that the person has moved the mouse to spell out a word like "hello". Control of the mouse movements that the person produces is obvious.

What hasn't been said yet is that controlling other people's motor activities is trivial and without importance because motor activities are not what the other person is trying to accomplish (sometimes people do that, but not often enough to worry about). As long as the other person can easily counteract your disturbances, the actions needed to do that will be generated without any fuss.

Best,

Bill

···

At 08:25 PM 2/28/2012 -0800, Tim Carey wrote:

Hi, Tim –

TC: We’ve come to a place where
we’ve reached complete consensus … at least, I agree with what I
understand that particular string of words to mean.

BP: **HOORAY!**Bill.

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.29.1520)]

But I have a niggly background thought that goes something like this “It’s all too easy … we haven’t heard from Rick yet!” :wink:

Here I am! And I say HOORAY right along with Bill. I think we’re all on the same page.

Now can I get someone to produce the actions that say “Happy Birthday Rick”. If I manage to get anyone to say it it would be one day late anyway, but since I was teaching a class last night (on my birthday – but my students made cupcakes for me and gave me a lovely card signed by all; I’m still wiping the tears away) and since there is one extra day in February this year I consider my birthday to be the last day in February.

Great discussion everyone. I even agree with Martin Taylor for a change;-)

Best

Rick

···

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 3:11 PM, Tim Carey tim.carey@flinders.edu.au wrote:

From: Bill Powers [mailto:powers_w@frontier.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 8:35 AM
To: Tim Carey; Richard Marken
Cc: sara.tai@manchester.ac.uk; warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk; wmansell@gmail.com; stevenchayes@gmail.com; Hugh Petrie; dag@livingcontrolsystems.com; hotelvillanirvana@prodigy.net.mx; Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
Subject: RE: Unification of life sciences

Hi, Tim –

TC: We’ve come to a place where we’ve reached complete consensus … at least, I agree with what I understand that particular string of words to mean.

BP: **HOORAY!**Bill.


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

Well,

Happy the day after your birthday then.

Dick Robertson

···

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For more information please visit http://www.symanteccloud.com


Hi, Rick --

We've been on the same page together for over 30 years now, haven't we? Thirty birthdays, too -- a very happy one to a sometimes exasperating but still dear friend.

Bill

Hi, Marten --

A very nicely ordered analysis of the control-of-others problem. I think we may have it pretty well straightened out now. Thanks.

Bill

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.29.2055)]

···

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM, Tim Carey tim.carey@flinders.edu.au wrote:

You need to sharpen up your control skills a bit Rick so there’s no more of these terms like “exasperating” :wink: … unless of course that’s exactly what you wanted Bill to type … ahhh, you’re craftier than I thought!

No, just a lousy controller. I don’t know whether it was that particular post that was exasperating or whether I’ve just been exasperating for the last 30+ years of our acquaintance. But I was actually going for something more like “exhilarating”. I think perhaps that’s what Bill meant to type but he just couldn’t spell it (I certainly couldn’t).

I know that I can be exasperating, though. Sometimes I have to sit on the other end of the couch in order to avoid my exasperating ways. Unfortunately, Linda finds that quite exasperating since she’s usually over there trying to avoid me too;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

Hi Tim et al

Well, actually that’s pretty good control … you got the “ex” and the “rating” bits out of him … he just goofed up on the “aspe” instead of “hila”

You got 8 out of 12 possible letters, that’s pretty good. I’d buy a lottery ticket with those odds :wink:

Maybe the problem is you’re too exhilarating … Linda maybe has to get a bit of space to calm herself down!!

They don’t call me Mr Excitment for nothing;-)

Best

Rick

···

On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, Tim Carey wrote:

Tim

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 2:26 PM
To: Tim Carey
Cc: Bill Powers; sara.tai@manchester.ac.uk; warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk; wmansell@gmail.com; stevenchayes@gmail.com; Hugh Petrie; dag@livingcontrolsystems.com; hotelvillanirvana@prodigy.net.mx; Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
Subject: Re: Unification of life sciences

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.29.2055)]

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM, Tim Carey tim.carey@flinders.edu.au wrote:

You need to sharpen up your control skills a bit Rick so there’s no more of these terms like “exasperating” :wink: … unless of course that’s exactly what you wanted Bill to type … ahhh, you’re craftier than I thought!

No, just a lousy controller. I don’t know whether it was that particular post that was exasperating or whether I’ve just been exasperating for the last 30+ years of our acquaintance. But I was actually going for something more like “exhilarating”. I think perhaps that’s what Bill meant to type but he just couldn’t spell it (I certainly couldn’t).

I know that I can be exasperating, though. Sometimes I have to sit on the other end of the couch in order to avoid my exasperating ways. Unfortunately, Linda finds that quite exasperating since she’s usually over there trying to avoid me too;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2012.03.01.1100)]

Hi Tim et al

Well,
actually that’s pretty good control … you got the “ex” and the “rating”
bits out of him … he just goofed up on the “aspe” instead of “hila”

Hi Tim

I think I should try to answer this more seriously. I, of course, was not trying to control Bill when I posted my little reply that apparently exasperated him. But I was controlling for something that involved the behavior of others. I was controlling for ending the discussion on amicable terms. Bill seemed to be ending it when he said “HOORAY” and I concurred to show that I was for ending it too. My mistake, apparently, was adding that I thought we were on the same page; perhaps Bill thought that comment was insulting to you and that’s what exasperated him. So let me explain why I think we are now on the same page, in terms of our ideas about control of behavior.

What started all this was my response to your suggestion that PCT shows that control of behavior is impossible. I protested this claim because one of the (many) cool things about PCT from my perspective is that it shows why external stimuli appear to cause behavior (this happens when the stimuli are a disturbance to a controlled variable, of course). In other words, PCT shows why the causal model has appeared to be correct; and it shows why under certain circumstances stimuli can be used to control behavior.

But I think your point is that this control of behavior only exists from the point of view of the person doing the controlling; the person being controlled is still an autonomous agent in the sense that he or she can change the organization of their controlling in order to make themselves uncontrollable at will. This can’t be done by simply varying their reference for the controlled variable but it can be done by no longer controlling for that variable at all or by controlling for it in a completely different way so that the behavior (action) that was being controlled by the external agent is no longer the means of protecting the controlled variable from disturbance.

So one person’s behavior (the actions they use to protect a controlled variable from disturbance) can be controlled by another person but this control does not deprive the person being controlled of their autonomy; they can reorganize themselves to prevent this controlling if they want to do so. So saying that a person can or can’t be controlled is ambiguous; both are true, and false. The only solution to this ambiguity, I believe, is to abandon this particular slogan (people can be controlled or people can’t be controlled) and just go with the nuanced understanding of the situation from a PCT perspective.

Best

Rick

···

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:
On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, Tim Carey wrote:

You got 8 out of 12 possible letters, that’s pretty good. I’d buy a lottery ticket with those odds :wink:

Maybe the problem is you’re too exhilarating … Linda maybe has to get a bit of space to calm herself down!!

They don’t call me Mr Excitment for nothing;-)

Best

Rick

Tim

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 2:26 PM
To: Tim Carey
Cc: Bill Powers; sara.tai@manchester.ac.uk; warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk; wmansell@gmail.com; stevenchayes@gmail.com; Hugh Petrie; dag@livingcontrolsystems.com; hotelvillanirvana@prodigy.net.mx; Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
Subject: Re: Unification of life sciences

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.29.2055)]

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM, Tim Carey tim.carey@flinders.edu.au wrote:

You need to sharpen up your control skills a bit Rick so there’s no more of these terms like “exasperating” :wink: … unless of course that’s exactly what you wanted Bill to type … ahhh, you’re craftier than I thought!

No, just a lousy controller. I don’t know whether it was that particular post that was exasperating or whether I’ve just been exasperating for the last 30+ years of our acquaintance. But I was actually going for something more like “exhilarating”. I think perhaps that’s what Bill meant to type but he just couldn’t spell it (I certainly couldn’t).

I know that I can be exasperating, though. Sometimes I have to sit on the other end of the couch in order to avoid my exasperating ways. Unfortunately, Linda finds that quite exasperating since she’s usually over there trying to avoid me too;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2012.03.01.1130)]

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your reply. Yep, that clarifies things. Actually, to be pedantic, I didn’t say that “PCT shows that control of behavior is impossible” I said that PCT suggests that “the notion that behaviour can be controlled is fatally flawed”. It’s maybe not a big difference in the scheme of things.

It does make a big difference. Your point is much better! It’s fatally flawed.

Best

Rick

···

On Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 11:16 AM, Tim Carey tim.carey@flinders.edu.au wrote:

Maybe it would have been more accurate to say that under certain conditions PCT demonstrates how it’s possible to control the motor activity of another person but PCT also explains that, even though a person’s motor activity can be controlled given certain conditions, the actual person cannot be controlled.

Tim

Associate Professor Tim Carey PhD, MAPS

Mental Health Academic

Centre for Remote Health

a joint Centre of Flinders University & Charles Darwin University

Central Australian Mental Health Service

Centre of Research Excellence in Rural and Remote Primary Health Care

https://www.crerrphc.org.au/

PO Box 4066

Alice Springs

NT Australia 0871

Tel + 61 8 8951 4700

Fax + 61 8 8951 4777

Mobile + 61 435 073 419

www.crh.org.au/

This email and any attachments may be confidential. If you are not the intended recipient,

please inform the sender by reply email and delete all copies of this message.


From: Richard Marken [rsmarken@gmail.com]

Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 4:29 AM
To: Tim Carey

Cc: Bill Powers; sara.tai@manchester.ac.uk; warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk; wmansell@gmail.com; stevenchayes@gmail.com; Hugh Petrie; dag@livingcontrolsystems.com; hotelvillanirvana@prodigy.net.mx; Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)

Subject: Re: Unification of life sciences

[From Rick Marken (2012.03.01.1100)]

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM, Richard Marken <rsmarken@gmail.commailto:rsmarken@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Tim et al

On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, Tim Carey wrote:

Well, actually that’s pretty good control … you got the “ex” and the “rating” bits out of him … he just goofed up on the “aspe” instead of “hila”

Hi Tim

I think I should try to answer this more seriously. I, of course, was not trying to control Bill when I posted my little reply that apparently exasperated him. But I was controlling for something that involved the behavior of others. I was controlling for ending the discussion on amicable terms. Bill seemed to be ending it when he said “HOORAY” and I concurred to show that I was for ending it too. My mistake, apparently, was adding that I thought we were on the same page; perhaps Bill thought that comment was insulting to you and that’s what exasperated him. So let me explain why I think we are now on the same page, in terms of our ideas about control of behavior.

What started all this was my response to your suggestion that PCT shows that control of behavior is impossible. I protested this claim because one of the (many) cool things about PCT from my perspective is that it shows why external stimuli appear to cause behavior (this happens when the stimuli are a disturbance to a controlled variable, of course). In other words, PCT shows why the causal model has appeared to be correct; and it shows why under certain circumstances stimuli can be used to control behavior.

But I think your point is that this control of behavior only exists from the point of view of the person doing the controlling; the person being controlled is still an autonomous agent in the sense that he or she can change the organization of their controlling in order to make themselves uncontrollable at will. This can’t be done by simply varying their reference for the controlled variable but it can be done by no longer controlling for that variable at all or by controlling for it in a completely different way so that the behavior (action) that was being controlled by the external agent is no longer the means of protecting the controlled variable from disturbance.

So one person’s behavior (the actions they use to protect a controlled variable from disturbance) can be controlled by another person but this control does not deprive the person being controlled of their autonomy; they can reorganize themselves to prevent this controlling if they want to do so. So saying that a person can or can’t be controlled is ambiguous; both are true, and false. The only solution to this ambiguity, I believe, is to abandon this particular slogan (people can be controlled or people can’t be controlled) and just go with the nuanced understanding of the situation from a PCT perspective.

Best

Rick

You got 8 out of 12 possible letters, that’s pretty good. I’d buy a lottery ticket with those odds :wink:

Maybe the problem is you’re too exhilarating … Linda maybe has to get a bit of space to calm herself down!!

They don’t call me Mr Excitment for nothing;-)

Best

Rick

Tim

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com]

Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 2:26 PM

To: Tim Carey

Cc: Bill Powers; sara.tai@manchester.ac.uk; warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk; wmansell@gmail.com; stevenchayes@gmail.com; Hugh Petrie; dag@livingcontrolsystems.com; hotelvillanirvana@prodigy.net.mx; Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)

Subject: Re: Unification of life sciences

[From Rick Marken (2012.02.29.2055)]

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM, Tim Carey tim.carey@flinders.edu.au wrote:

You need to sharpen up your control skills a bit Rick so there’s no more of these terms like “exasperating” :wink: … unless of course that’s exactly what you wanted Bill to type … ahhh, you’re craftier than I thought!

No, just a lousy controller. I don’t know whether it was that particular post that was exasperating or whether I’ve just been exasperating for the last 30+ years of our acquaintance. But I was actually going for something more like “exhilarating”. I think perhaps that’s what Bill meant to type but he just couldn’t spell it (I certainly couldn’t).

I know that I can be exasperating, though. Sometimes I have to sit on the other end of the couch in order to avoid my exasperating ways. Unfortunately, Linda finds that quite exasperating since she’s usually over there trying to avoid me too;-)

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken PhD

rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com<http://www.mindreadings.com>

Richard S. Marken PhD

rsmarken@gmail.commailto:rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com<http://www.mindreadings.com>

Richard S. Marken PhD

rsmarken@gmail.commailto:rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com<http://www.mindreadings.com>


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2012.03.01.1845)]

Hi Tim

TC: steady on!! All this agreement is making me nervous :wink:

Well, I’m going to cure your nervousness;-) I think control of behavior actual is feasible. Indeed, control is all around us. We are controlled by all kinds of social, legal and cultural rules; I just spent the last few minutes being controlled by traffic lights and signs, parking meters, etc. I am going to pay my taxes because that’s the rules here in the US. The rules that control my behavior are made up by people so it’s really other people who are controlling my behavior; and I’m controlling other people behavior in many circumstances; my students have to turn in homework assignments; my rule is you get credit for the class if you turn in adequately done assignments.

People are always controlling each other. Sometimes the control is weak (like when I control my wife by asking her to do something for me; if she doesn’t want to do what I ask it’s usually OK; but she usually does what I ask and I usually do what she asks; we are both willing to accept some reasonable degree of mutual control because we can both control better that way). Sometimes it is strong (like the IRSs control of my paying my taxes; if I don’t the IRS agent experiences a large error and act as necessary – to the point of threatening me with incarceration – to get me to pay.

The fact that there is all this mutual control going on doesn’t mean that people are not autonomous; it’s just that people are willing to allow themselves to be controlled in this way in order to achieve higher level goals. I’m willing to follow the traffic rules because I know that if I didn’t I would likely get hurt and so would many other people. My autonomy shows up when following the rules makes things worse (from my perspective) than they would be if I followed them. So if I have been sitting at a red light for more than 5 minutes I can tell that the light is probably broken; if the situation is deemed safe by me I will go through the red light. I have have done this and it shows that I was simply allowing myself to be controlled by the light and thus control could be exerted only as long as I kept controlling for following the “stop at red light” rule. Once I autonomously decide to stop controlling for that rule (the controlled variable) the red light is no longer a disturbance and I go right through.

So from my perspective it looks like people are always controlling each other, and they do it by asking each other to control certain variables (like the traffic rules or the IRS rules or the marriage relationship rules). And as long as they agree to control for these variables, they are allowing themselves to be controlled by disturbances to those rules (like red lights or April 15 or your wife asking for help). But people are still autonomous and they can always stop allowing themselves to be controlled by those rules, in which case we get what we see as disobedience, criminality, civil disobedience and/or revolution.

Hope this makes sense; kind of harried after being controlled by all those traffic signs; you really do gotta watch your parkin’ meters;-) But fortunately you still don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows;-)

Best

Rick

···

Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

I guess a lot of this just seems more like stimulus-response type of rational, and I realize that I know less about control theory than most of the people on here.
When I think of traffic lights, I don’t see them as controlling me anymore than the IRS does. My values and priorities that I am controlling for are harmony and civil obedience and so I go along with the rules. I am choosing to do so and still controlling. If the IRS audits me and I agree with their assessment, I will pay the additional money, if not, and there is error, I will fight it.

With my partner I am controlling for the idea of a good relationship and peace in the home. If she asks me to do something, I don’t see that as her controlling me, but me choosing to control based on my reference for what a good relationship is and how to act accordingly. If I don’t value making her happy and peace at home above the idea of always being right and having to prove it has to be ‘my way’, then I will not worry about making her happy and will be controlling for a different reference of how I feel a relationship should be.

I remember in an older post when Powers talked about how in society the goal should be to help everyone understand that they are controlling, but to do so in a way that doesn’t interfere with the rights and lives of those around you. In that respect, it would seem that obeying traffic lights isn’t the government controlling me, but instead that I have set a reference regarding lights that they are important and should be followed so that society functions safely.

I guess it just seems that some of this conversation has overtones of the ability of someone to manipulate, force or ‘trick’ someone into doing something, but not controlling them. They are still controlling it would seem, just unaware of what is going on in the background. If they aren’t aware, they can’t perceive, and perception is reality.

You can manipulate or force inmates into doing what you want, but you aren’t, in my opinion, controlling them. They are choosing to follow the orders given to them and controlling their actions based on an understanding of the consequences of what will happen if they don’t, and perhaps valuing the limited safety and personal freedom they may have at the moment to the alternative if they act up.

Indeed, control is all around us. We are controlled by all kinds of social, legal and cultural rules; I just spent the last few minutes being controlled by traffic lights and signs, parking meters, etc. I am going to pay my taxes because that’s the rules here in the US. The rules that control my behavior are made up by people so it’s really other people who are controlling my behavior;

My understanding is that we control our perceptions, which produces our behavior, and we do so because in many instances we have chosen to place a high value on following the rules.

Andrew Speaker

Lions For Change

3040 Peachtree Rd, Suite 312

Atlanta, Ga. 30305

404-913-3193

www.LionsForChange.com

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

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On Mar 1, 2012, at 9:45 PM, Richard Marken wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2012.03.01.1845)]

Hi Tim

TC: steady on!! All this agreement is making me nervous :wink:

Well, I’m going to cure your nervousness;-) I think control of behavior actual is feasible. Indeed, control is all around us. We are controlled by all kinds of social, legal and cultural rules; I just spent the last few minutes being controlled by traffic lights and signs, parking meters, etc. I am going to pay my taxes because that’s the rules here in the US. The rules that control my behavior are made up by people so it’s really other people who are controlling my behavior; and I’m controlling other people behavior in many circumstances; my students have to turn in homework assignments; my rule is you get credit for the class if you turn in adequately done assignments.

People are always controlling each other. Sometimes the control is weak (like when I control my wife by asking her to do something for me; if she doesn’t want to do what I ask it’s usually OK; but she usually does what I ask and I usually do what she asks; we are both willing to accept some reasonable degree of mutual control because we can both control better that way). Sometimes it is strong (like the IRSs control of my paying my taxes; if I don’t the IRS agent experiences a large error and act as necessary – to the point of threatening me with incarceration – to get me to pay.

The fact that there is all this mutual control going on doesn’t mean that people are not autonomous; it’s just that people are willing to allow themselves to be controlled in this way in order to achieve higher level goals. I’m willing to follow the traffic rules because I know that if I didn’t I would likely get hurt and so would many other people. My autonomy shows up when following the rules makes things worse (from my perspective) than they would be if I followed them. So if I have been sitting at a red light for more than 5 minutes I can tell that the light is probably broken; if the situation is deemed safe by me I will go through the red light. I have have done this and it shows that I was simply allowing myself to be controlled by the light and thus control could be exerted only as long as I kept controlling for following the “stop at red light” rule. Once I autonomously decide to stop controlling for that rule (the controlled variable) the red light is no longer a disturbance and I go right through.

So from my perspective it looks like people are always controlling each other, and they do it by asking each other to control certain variables (like the traffic rules or the IRS rules or the marriage relationship rules). And as long as they agree to control for these variables, they are allowing themselves to be controlled by disturbances to those rules (like red lights or April 15 or your wife asking for help). But people are still autonomous and they can always stop allowing themselves to be controlled by those rules, in which case we get what we see as disobedience, criminality, civil disobedience and/or revolution.

Hope this makes sense; kind of harried after being controlled by all those traffic signs; you really do gotta watch your parkin’ meters;-) But fortunately you still don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com