Re: What is a theory? LO3682

Andrew Moreno (
Sun, 12 Nov 1995 11:14:10 -0800 (PST)

Replying to LO3672 --

On Sat, 11 Nov 1995, Jim Michmerhuizen wrote:

> questions is "complex", like asking "are you still beating your wife". In
> other words:
> - *are* there generic components of theories? (I think not)
> - if there are such things, *can* they be reused?
> - if they can, can this be known? (In general, I think not)

Hi Jim,

I don't know what you or John O'Neill are referring to by the word theory.
I just got back on this list after an extended absence.

I think the people reading a description of a theory after the original
people forumlated the theory usually have a different meaning of the words
describing the theory so that the theory would be useless to the new
readers, or at least useful to them in ways that the theory originators
didn't intend.

I don't think there are generic components of theories. I do think that
there are logical levels of a particular theory. The logical levels of a
theory can be reused across theories. Unfortunately, the people reusing
the logical levels of a theory would need two sets of skills, eliciting
parts of a mental model and logical typing those parts of a mental model.

For the above question, "are you still beating your wife?" the parts of
the mental model a person would have to have to even ask this question to
another person would be

there exists an entity known as wives
you have a wife
you were beating your wife
(there's probably more in there but I just woke up and I'm a bit groggy)

The logical levels and time frames of the mental model would be;

other Present Role - (Implied) - Husband
other Present Role - Wife Beater
other Present Value - Mysogyny
other Past Behaviour - You beat your wife
other Present Environment - Wife

other Future Behaviour - You will beat your wife

A more useful example would be;

Identity - Albert Einstein
Role - Theoretical Physicist
Value - Theory testing - Using positive hallucination to test out physics
theories (riding on a light beam)
Value - Precision - Using the laws of physics rigourously to predict
ramifications of a physics theory
Capability - Positive hallucination (imagery)
Behaviour - Hasn't had a haircut for 5 years
Environment - Wife's contributions to physics theories
Environment - Academy of Sciences
Environment - America, Poland

What's the point of this? The logical levels of the theory can be used
across theories to align the theory. For instance, it's unlikely that
since Einstein had a capability of positive hallucination, or thinking
with vivid imagery, he'd have an environmental part to his theory as "I
need a computer to do my predictions." Why would he need a computer since
he could do the calculations in his head?

Chunking is another skill that can also be applied across each logical
level of each mental model/theory. On the environmental level, the chunks
might consist of

      University                Research Institute
Academy of Sciences          
            Canada         America       Poland

              Wife    Ex-Wife   Ex-Girlfriends

I think chunking could be an important part to scenario planning. John
O'Neill mentioned that part of scenario planning was planning for changes
in the environment. Chunking the environment could help managers make
technological policy decisions. For instance, to plan for obsolescense of
computer equipment used in WWW based businesses;

                                                      delivery mediums
                                     WWW based delivery mediums
                      Internet Connections
     28.8 direct internet connection   T3 direct connection       

There are specific questions used to chunk up, but I'd be giving away
trade secrets if I told you them. :)

Andrew Moreno
Andrew Moreno <>