VS: CSGnet future and the future of PCT

[Eetu Pikkarainen 2017-06-15 2]

Wow, great congratulations Martin! I really wish I could be like you and have you eagerness to learn and openness to new points of view, connected to logical rigor and broad knowledge. (I am afraid I am left behind already 23 years earlier and probably getting just worse...)

As a newcomer I have often had a feeling that I came to some strange place or community. Two metaphors have been in my mind every now and then. The first is revolutionary partisans and the second is cloister. But luckily these figures are not predominant. I have enjoined being here but perhaps I am used to tough environments. :wink:



  Please, regard all my statements as questions,
  no matter how they are formulated.

-----Alkuper�inen viesti-----
L�hett�j�: Martin Taylor [mailto:mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net]
L�hetetty: 15. kes�kuutata 2017 6:05
Vastaanottaja: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Aihe: CSGnet future and the future of PCT
T�rkeys: Suuri

[Martin Taylor 2016.]

Today June 14 2017 is my 82nd birthday, and I am hereby claiming a privilege of age, to rant using the persona of "grumpy old fossil".

I have a concept, perhaps a vector of reference values, for how I want to perceive CSGnet. I think it has been getting less like my reference values over the last few years, and some of my contributions have, accordingly, become stronger and more vehement. I would like CSGnet to be a place to which I could point people who would like to learn about PCT, which I think it was, and which for a few years it has not been.

I was pointed to CSG-L in 1991 or 1992 and started to learn PCT by asking questions and proposing ideas that could be shot down or accepted. Questions were courteously answered and ideas considered on their merits (except when Rick rather strongly accused me of trying to improve PCT in lieu of showing why whatever the suggested improvement was was actually a non-starter). It was a nice environment for an experienced scientist trying to learn a new science, and I believe also for students. As that now-fossilized scientist, I would like CSGnet again to be a place where advances and lacunae in Perceptual Control Theory can be discussed in ways that conform to normal science, as it was ten or twenty years ago (at least as seen through rose-coloured memory glasses).

Over the years many clever people from other disciplines who seemed to offer the possibility of important advances to PCT have been turned -- or perhaps "driven" is a better word -- away from CSGnet, though not always from PCT. I think most recently of Alex Gomez-Marin and I see it being done currently to Eetu Pikkarainen, a person whose acumen I have learned to admire from our interactions outside of CSGnet.

Persons with different ideas seem to be a problem on today's CSGnet.
Novel ideas are dismissed with words along the lines of "according to PCT", rather than being considered dispassionately, and the persons go away feeling that PCT is a private toy preserve with its own rules of "science", rather than finding out why their ideas might be wrong (if they are).

I suppose my problem is that I don't think of science as a game with winners and losers. I get very annoyed at so-called scientists who accept payment from tobacco companies, drug companies, or oil companies to produce papers proving that tobacco has no health effects, particular drugs do wonders and are safe when they don't and aren't, or that burning carbon doesn't affect the climate.

I can't do anything about those, which is probably why I get annoyed about them. But I also believe that PCT could and should have the status within at least psychology, economics, and sociology that atomic theory does in chemistry, as a foundational principle on which all else is based. So it also annoys me when self-contradictory positions are taken for the purpose of winning arguments, and when aspects of mathematics are redefined to create publications. And I can at least try do do something about issues affecting PCT as perceived by others.

I have no problem with erroneous statements -- I make lots of them and expect everyone else to do so. I don't like them when other people make them, and still less do I like them when I make them. But "to err is human" and mistakes can't be avoided. We can take an erroneous statement I make (or anyone else makes), with which someone disagrees or finds questionable, and can correct it, perhaps by experiment, perhaps by logic, perhaps by argument. But we cannot do this with self-contradictory statements that are more than transient mistakes in the process of being corrected. They are beyond error. They are scientific poison. And I perceive them as poisoning the well for scientists who might otherwise drink the elixir of PCT.

End of an old fossil's rant.