OODA-PISRR, Part IV: System Perturbations

“You’re such an inspiration for the ways
That I’ll never ever choose to be

He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way

It’s not like you killed someone”
Judith, by A Perfect Circle, from the Album, Mer de Noms

“It’s the meteor that will separate dinosaurs form mammals in defense. It will tell us what we need to know about war within the context of everything else. The impact on our community will unfold over years, but eventually this will change everything.
– Thomas PM Barnett, The Pentagon’s New Map, pg 260


The is a bi-stable system. It alternates between two attractors, high-intensity operations and low-intensity operations. High-intensity operations occur at the very end of the (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) loop and the very beginning of the (Penetrate-Isolate-Subvert-Subdue-Reorient-Reharmonize) loop. As intensity falls, the PISRR Cognition Loop turns to the stability of low-intensity operations. Then, the OODA loop ratchets up intensity to complete the circle.

This cognitive circle:


can also be viewed as a cognitive wave:


Part of victory is going through the the cycle faster — increasing the wave’s frequency. But that alone is not enough. Creating a high-frequency waveform allows the adversary to know what we are doing, and guard against it.

Explaining one of his suggestions, the thinker wrote:

Why? Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns they are competing against.

In other words, victory requires that we break the stable OODA-PISRR cycle. Not just make the OODA-PISRR cycle go faster, not just increasing the frequency of our waveform, but breaking the waveform.

If one thinks of social cognition as a system, we know one of five things will happen if we break (“perturb“) the system. The system may:

  • Return to its original state
  • Settle in another stable state, perhaps after some period of unpredictable behavior
  • Bifurcate, that is, begin to oscillate among tow states, but not settle in either of them. It may bifurcate repeatedly, generating a collection of states among which it oscillates.
  • Wander among various states, but not settle in or even return to any of them
  • Become unstable, that is, lock up, disintegrate, or in any other way cease to function as a system

(from Page 45 of Richards’ . The passage draws on Beckerman’s The Non-Linear Dynamics of War, which has also been featured on ZenPundit).

Ff the OODA-PISRR social cognitive system is perturbed for a while…


There is not an equal chance that each of the five possible outcomes will happen. At least as far as social cognition goes, we know that the system will return to its original state.

Unlike non-linear systems that can display emergence, social cognition is closer to a pendulum. The waveform of an pendulum looks very similar to the OODA-PISRR waveform, and has two attractors:


A swing of a pendulum is “attracted” by both the maximum height and the minimum. (See Wikipedia for the mathematics).

Just as the pendulum-based intertial guidance systems maintain a form of repeated perturbations, human-based social cognition loops will also tend to the waveform. Over and over we see this. The cyclical patterns of football games allow knowledgeable observers to routinely predict, in detail, several plays out. In many countries, political cycles are also well documented. Even historical long-cycles have been observed.

The Social Cognitive Wave, the OODA-PISRR loop, can be perturbed for a while. Wise strategists will use this fact to their advantages. But in any system with two players (whether on the systemic, alliance, state, organizational, or individual levels), the attractors will win out over time. Wise strategists will use this fact as well.

The world is a system of systems. Some systems, such as the national defense system, have changed forever as a result of 9/11 and the Iraq War. Yet others, such social cognition loop between the United States and everything else, were just perturbed for a time.

Then the system is restored:


An event can be an inspiration for us – it can reorient us. It can even be an ideal which makes us want to change “everything.” It can throw us into unpredictability. But the old cognitive patterns will come back.

It’s not like we killed them. Or can.

OODA-PISRR, a tdaxp series in four parts
Part I: The Social Cognition Loop
Part II: The PISRR Cognition Loop
Part III: Formless Fast Transients
Part IV: System Perturbations

7 thoughts on “OODA-PISRR, Part IV: System Perturbations”

  1. Larry,

    I got the Hagar and Ishmael reference, but first I thought of Abraham smashing the idols. The idols, who could not see nor hear nor think, are gone forever. The clan of Ishmael lives on.

    Thinking enemies can be destroyed by attacking them until they go away. That rarely works with people.

    From the Koran 30:2-3 [1]

    “Certainly, the Romans will be defeated. In the nearest land. After their defeat, they will rise again and win.”

    To summarize this series:

    Certainly one will act. At the OODA attractor. After observation, one will rise and act again.”

    Continuing from the Romans (7-8)

    “They care only about things of this world that are visible to them, while being totally oblivious to the Hereafter.

    Why do they not reflect on themselves? GOD did not create the heavens and the earth, and everything between them, except for a specific purpose, and for a specific life span. However, most people, with regard to meeting their Lord, are disbelievers.

    Machiavelli: [2]

    “The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities”

    Continuing from the Romans (17-19)

    “Therefore, you shall glorify GOD when you retire at night, and when you rise in the morning. All praise is due to Him in the heavens and the earth, throughout the evening, as well as in the middle of your day. He produces the live from the dead, and produces the dead from the live, and He revives the land after it had died; you are similarly resurrected. “

    To summarize the OODA-PISRR loop

    “Therefore, you shall follow the Social Cognition loop when you reorient at night and when you act in the morning. All living is following it on the sky and in the earth, through the evening as well as the middle of your day. It produces action from observation, and produces observation from action, and it reorients the land after it has been penetrated. You are similarly cyclical.”


    [1] http://www.quranbrowser.org/quran/frames/ch30.html
    [2] http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/2546

  2. Your first thought was a good one. The main image I had was the smashing of idols, or an implicit control re-showing itself. I had the urge to explain further on the comment, but I wanted to see how far it could go. I am well aware of your abilities, but still, I think your reply to my comment was simply amazing.

    OODA: born into the world a child observes the surroundings.

    The child develops by orienting its surroundings. It does so by assigning different potentials to folk, kin, and trades (it is a series connection).

    The child moves into the decision-making component called adolescence. Using the flux (the same flux a 4GW warrior uses) of a liberal education, it moves the components of its earlier orientation.

    The child become an adult by acting on its decisions, which enables it to once again join the world by its own death.

    The PISRR movement is the mirror image of the cognitive life cycle of OODA. Another name for a PISRR movement might be regeneration. The Muslim and Christian faiths are mirror images of each other.

  3. Pre-Script: Bonus for correctly identifying the man in the “book cover.”

    Larry, thank you for the very kind words. I'll try to reply to the substance of your comment on Friday. I'm uncomfortably busy right now.

  4. The idea of an OODA-PISRR is interesting, but I wonder if that's abstracting too much. Is a baby that cries immediately truly in low-kinetic observation or high-kinetic action? Certainly it's immediate ends are penetration into a family unit that will protect it.

    Of course, how scientific OODA-PISRR is at all would be an interesting discussion…

  5. My apologies to those who are verbal:

    It's the flow, of energy.

    The baby, sees, for nine months.

    Born into a great potential, of energy, flows to mass-es .

    Its taste begins, the first cry of flow, upon born into one.

    From dust to dust, its final, is born into the earth.

    The final potential is converted, new flow arises.

    The first movement, Pisrr was shown, in the resurrection of One.

    The beginning of flow, which penetrates Him.

    Its last was given to Caesar, which is potentially kin.


  6. Life is not energy; it is power, or energy per second. The OODA cycle represents life, from birth to death. It also represents power or the flow of energy per second. Because the OODA cycle represents power and not energy, every component can have kinetic energy and non-kinetic energy, or potential energy.

    It is not that Observation represents only potential energy (the child’s images are only in its mind); it is that the body of the child represents the kinetic energy. However, like a fluid in a closed hydraulic system (we are mostly water after all) most of the energy available is potential energy (what is in the child’s mind) and not represented by the weak body (kinetic energy) of the child.

    In a hydraulic system composed of pipes, tubing, hoses, and things; the greatest amount of energy is the potential energy stored as electrical force inside the fluid. When adding up the total energy of a system, a very small fraction of the total energy is kinetic. Upon release from the system, say by way of a fire hose, most of that potential energy is released as kinetic energy. When water coming out of a fire hose knocks down a person, the potential energy of the system is converted to kinetic energy by the increase in velocity of the mass of water. The velocity of the water knocks down the person, not by the pressure (potential energy) of the system. Similarly, the Act component is a release, or converting into, of kinetic energy.

    The baby’s cry doesn’t represent much kinetic energy (the simple vibration of the voice box, the falling of tears), but the immediate reaction by the adult is caused by converting the potential energy of the cry into kinetic energy of the adult, a true OODA movement.

    Christianity did not convert the Romans by an OODA movement, but by a PISRR movement.

    This is clearly shown in the words of one of your postings. The movement is from kinetic energy (penetrate) to potential energy (re-harmonization).

    But I tell you who hear me: Love (kinetic energy) your enemies, do good (kinetic energy) to those who hate you, bless those (kinetic energy) who curse you, pray (kinetic energy) for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes (kinetic energy) you on one cheek, turn to him (kinetic energy) the other also. If someone takes (kinetic energy) your cloak, do not stop him (potential energy) from taking your tunic. Give (kinetic energy) to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes (kinetic energy) what belongs to you, do not demand (potential energy) it back. Do (kinetic energy) to others as you would have them do to you [and you will receive potential energy, heaven.].
    Jesus (Luke 6:27-31)

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