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    Missile Defense

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?

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rshowalter - 02:54pm Jul 31, 2001 EST (#7653 of 7772) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Handling the complexity involved isn't hopeless, and it is best done when different kinds of people, with different equipment and skills, work together in a medium that can accomodate those skills.

The analogy to courtroom exposition is so close that I'm copying parts of a very interesting web site, for Exhibit Services . . . run by a photographer and artist who started in newspapers, Mike Hendrickson

Here are topics on that web page.

Models . . . Documents ...Preparation ... Graphics ...Creation ....Commercial Photography ....Typesetting ....TimeLines ....How Do We Remember? . . . .Top Ten Reasons To Use Demonstrative Evidence . . . Check out who's winning what. . . . .

3D Models as demonstrative evidence includes working models, roadway models, equipment models, . . . these models in the courtroom make a statement with impact.

Graphics as demonstrative evidence include graphs, illustrations, floor plans, technical drawings, roadway drawings, intersection diagrams.

Photography as demonstrative evidence include scene photography, commercial photography, interior, exterior, roadway, aerial photography, injury photography.

Documents as demonstrative evidence are cleaned up, important information is enlarged and highlighted.

Cut and paste to maximize the data in the space available.

Patterns like these are well known, and well worked out -- and often used already, all over the internet.

Dawn and I have been suggesting that crucial issues about missile defense, and related matters of military balances, be checked in detail, in ways that other people could judge. In a real sense, for people with enough interest, background, and attention span, this thread has shown some of that checking and shown how more checking can be done. But the evidence wouldn't work well in a courtroom, for real jurors, and probably wouldn't work as well as it "logically" should even for juries of engineers. The jobs of persuasion and illustration done here may be good in some ways, but in other ways they fall short of standards that are needed to convince real people. Especially, to convince enough people.

If some basic facts could be checked, especially about the existence and dynamics of mistrust between our nation states, the problems of nuclear terror, and related issues of missile defense and military balances, may find solutions of disciplined beauty.

The requirements of that checking are small compared to the stakes, but they may, given the barriers, involve some institutional responses. There have to be ways to get things to closure.

The requirements are comparatively small, but they involve resources that no one person can bring to bear. Including illustration and evidence presentation skills. For example, I've shown, in words, simple calculations, and references, that lasar based space militarization is technically hopeless. Logically, and in words, the job is pretty good.

MD7136 rshowalter 7/17/01 12:05pm ... MD7137 rshowalter 7/17/01 12:08pm
MD7139 rshowalter 7/17/01 5:24pm ... MD7140 rshowalter 7/17/01 5:25pm
MD7141 rshowalter 7/17/01 5:26pm ...

By the standards of exposition needed, in a competitive environment, before juries, the presentation is nothing like complete. With a few tens of thousands of dollars worth of effort, spent on skills I lack, that case could be much better.

rshowalter - 03:02pm Jul 31, 2001 EST (#7654 of 7772) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

There's gross error in the control logic, such as it is, that leads people to think they can make any of the militarization of space schemes now being floated work.

To show that, ideally, in an ideal world working with super people, you'd want words, pictures, and math, together.

We don't live in that ideal world. Words and math might work for a few people. But most people, including most scientists and engineers, are allergic to math. One needs clear words, and pictures -- including pictures fashioned so that the quantitative issues that matter can be illustrated so that people can understand.

Essentially all the missile defense computer programs (at least, the big ones that matter most) have an error in one of the standard algorithms that they trust without checking. There's no question about the fact, but to show it would take data presentation skills - - so that complete checking would be possible, that would be b clearer to professionals, and much, much clearer to other people.

There are many other problems, too, that make it clear that "missile defense", as it has been sold, simply doesn't make military sense. Many are set out, in indigestible but technically clear form, in the Coyle report. In every case, there are persuasion challenges involved in explaining these difficulties.

In court, resources count -- but the quality of the case to be made counts, too. For anything like comparable resources, the better factual case usually carries the day. As of now, the military-industrial complex, and the Bush administration, has a miserable factual case, sensationally well illustrated, and with all the salesmanship money can buy supporting it. The factual case against missile defense is much stronger -- but the persuasive resources brought to bear so far have been, in some crucial ways, much, much less.

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