Left/right brain integration

Ton Maas tonmaas at xs4all.nl
Tue Dec 3 03:23:21 EST 1996

In article <57umq7$2pg at netty.york.ac.uk>,
Ian Walker <iw103 at york.ac.uk> wrote:

>>be tied in with Mittelstaedt/Bateson's notion of feedback vs. calibration!
>>Mmm :-)
>By the way, I'm not familiar with the research you mention above...could you
>give more information about this?

With pleasure. Gregory Bateson used some groundwork done by
fellow-cybernetician Horst Mittelstaedt in outlining a possible new theory
of learning. The most basical notion is that of the distinction between two
fundamental modes of learning (which are always present in any learning
process in some proportion), which they referred to as "feedback" and

The paradigm example of "fedback" learning is that of a man aiming to shoot
with a rifle. As he is looking through the telescopic sight, he can see the
target and how far he is off, so he can correct (and re-correct) during the
act of aiming and shooting. The whole process is conscious and so are the
results of the learning process.

The paradigm case for "calibration" OTOH is a man who has to aim at a
target with a pistol he is holding underneath the table he's sitting at, a
situation where there's only *one* option: give it a (random) try. If the
first shot is a hit, that's actually a problem since nothing was learned.
This person needs to make (many) mistakes to get it right. In this case the
learning process requires a prolongued practice with repeated excercise and
the results of it are partly unconscious, or rather "embodied". Calibration
gives you a "feel" of it (or a "nose" for it). "Intuition" is also a
popular term for the outcome of "calibration".

Modern education (in school) has become more and more exclusively
"feedback" oriented, while the kids have taken "calibration" to the streets
(skate boarding, graffiti and the like).

Like I said, this is only a *very* sketchy outline and together with Frits
Smeets I have just finished writing a book on the sobject of natural
learning, based on Bateson's principles. The Bateson references can be
found in his "Mind & Nature - a necessary unity" (Dutton, NY 1979) and
"Angels Fear" (Macmillan, NY 1987).


Ton Maas

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