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Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans
for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be
limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI
all over again?
(1565 previous messages)
- 06:33am Mar 27, 2001 EST (#1566
Barriers to communication may be severe, even extraordinary,
between members of the same culture, when all the trappings of
openness seem apparent at first. For example, ExxonMobil sometimes
posts thoughtful ads on the New York Times op ed page. On the NYT on
the web OpEd section, they have an ad directing people to these, and
to other writings. Through links from this ad, I found some speeches
by Ken P. Cohen, that I've referred to here.
I made a number of postings, all courteous, referring to Cohen,
both as an individual, and as an example of an individual placed
where he would have contacts and skills in which, I've argued, the
Russian state is deficient. Here are links to those postings.
Ken P. Cohen references. referred to matters in http://www.exxonmobil.com/public_policy/presentations/kpc_int_org_tech.html
1512 - rshowalter
As a courtesy, I called the ExxonMobil News Media Desk http://www.exxonmobil.com/media_contacts/contacts.html
and talked to a person. My purpose was to let Cohen know of the
postings. There was no direct email contact avaliable to me. Might I
have Cohen's email adress - or might I leave the numbers of the
postings? Might I have another email contact, so that I might pass
on the links, so that they could be looked at through channels at
ExxonMobil if there was interest? The answers were very high anxiety
"no's". I'd somehow surpassed the authority of the person I
contacted on the phone. I was told I'd get a call back - that hasn't
happened. My guess is that the contact will not occur. Here is an
example, among many others, where a very "open" looking contact
mechanism actually wasn't open at all.
Barriers to communication of this kind, at many, many levels,
can isolate, and make complex cooperation between individuals,
groups, or nation states impossible -- especially if emotions become
involved -- if someone takes offense.
In this way, societies that look "open" can cut off all
contacts that could actually permit complex cooperation. It can
waste many, many chances, and it can be very dangerous.
- 06:35am Mar 27, 2001 EST (#1567
I don't believe anyone, on either the American side or the
Russian side, has anything remotely resembling an understanding of
the barriers to contact, communication and understanding that exist
It is possible that a great many misunderstandings, not entirely
innocent, perhaps, on either side, but partly innocent on both
sides, have occurred, and persist. I have a particular bias -- in
the area of nuclear weapons these barriers could destroy us all.
Certainly opportunities are lost. Looking at the situation from
the position of ExxonMobil exclusively, it would be in the interest
of the company if people in it knew how to talk to Russians, at
various levels, including informal levels, better than they can now
do. It might be worth many tens or hundreds of millions to them, and
the lack of it might cost the company similar or larger sums.
I'll be making an effort to get this information conveyed to
ExxonMobil, if only as a reconnaisance to yeild information about
how barriers of this kind are constructed.
But it is already clear that communication that should be
direct and easy is very difficult indeed, and in a world where NO
ONE can deal intellectually with the complexities of the
sociotechnical systems they face, this is sheer loss to us all.
- 06:58am Mar 27, 2001 EST (#1568
3/27/01 6:30am had an incomplete sentence, without citations.
Here is that sentence, with the citations:
"The difficulties, on relatively simple matters
involving the determination of technical fact, are difficult. I
made a suggestion on how these might be resolved in rshowalt
"Science in the News" 1/4/00 7:43am
"Science in the News" 1/4/00 7:45am
"Science in the News" 1/4/00 7:46am
I believe that an analogous mechanism, not for determining ideas
(except at the factual level of formal logic, if the ideas could be
so framed) but facts might be of decisive importance in the
resolution of longstanding disputes between social groups, including
states. For example, the nuclear impasse, which may destroy us all,
is nested in a framework of disagreement about facts, and of facts
that people are refusing to admit or discuss.
Many other disagreements between human groups have similar
Groups are, of course, entitled to their own ideas. But where
complex cooperation is necessary, or when competition needs to be
held within bounds, and if possible nonlethal bounds, then groups
ought not to be entitled to different "facts" that are not true.
At the level where groups contact, facts must match.
- 07:30am Mar 27, 2001 EST (#1569
An appreciation and understanding of the barriers between two
groups might include the concept of 'empathy'.
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