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Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's
war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars"
defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make
the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an
application of science be successful? Is a militarized space
inevitable, necessary or impossible?
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- 11:51am Mar 16, 2002 EST (#604
An operational definition of Good Theory (or good ideas) in real
situations for real people. Partnership output of lchic and
In "Beauty" http://www.everreader.com/beauty.htm
Mark Anderson quotes Heisenberg's definition of beauty in the exact
" Beauty is the proper conformity of the parts
to one another and to the whole."
SUGGESTED DEFINITION: Good theory is an attempt to produce
beauty in Heisenberg's sense in a SPECIFIC context of assumption and
Goodness can be judged in terms of that context,
and also the fit with other contexts that, for
logical reasons, have to fit together.
The beauty, and ugliness, of a theory or idea can be judged, in
terms of the context it was built for, and other contexts, including
the context provided by data not previously considered.
( Facts and ideas, combined together in space and
time let people "connect the dots" to form new ideas, as Erica
Goode explains in Finding Answers In Secret Plots http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/10/weekinreview/10GOOD.html
We can check the fit of the ideas -- to the "connected
dots" -- and to other things that should fit. )
Words, pictures and math have to fit together comfortably and
as far as internal consistency goes, and in terms of fit to what
the theory or idea is supposed to describe. Ideas that are useful
work comfortably in people's heads.
Both the "beauty" and "ugliness" of theory are
Both notions are contextual, and cultural. Ugliness is an
especially interesting notion.
To make theory or idea better, you have to look for ways that the
idea is ugly, study these, and fix them. The ugly parts are where
new beauty is to be found.
( Note: Lchic thinks "dissonant" is nicer than
"ugly", and she's right about that. I think that "ugly" is
sharper, and closer to the human interest, and that seems right,
too. So we're weighing word choices here. )
A lot of people think Bob Showalter is ugly. He's
always pointing out weaknesses, uglinesses, of other people's
theories. But the reason Bob gives (which is maybe, from some
perspectives, a rationalization, but may be right in other ways)
is that the ugly parts provide clues to new progress -- hope that
new, more powerful kinds of theoretical and practical beauty can
Here's a part were I did more work than lchic:
To make good theory, in complex circumstances,
beauty coming into focus must be judged, and shaped, in a priority
ordering - and even though the priorities may be shifted for
different attempts at beauty, the priorities need to be
remembered, and questions of "what is beautiful" and
"what ugly" have to be asked in terms of these
Lchic is mostly responsible, here:
Thinking, and scientific work, is an effort to
find previously hidden beauty , and this is what moves people, and
warms people. This need for beauty must be remembered, and not
We feel that, if people paid more attention to aesthetics, and
paid especial attention to the notion of ugliness set out here, we
might have improved guidance for crafting a world of social
relations where "man's inhumanity to man and woman" was less in
Missile defense, and much else about our military arrangements is
ugly in a clear sense -- full of false assumptions, set in
false contexts, involving much deception, and gross disproportion,
rather than proper conformity, of the parts to one another and to
- 11:57am Mar 16, 2002 EST (#605
If we'd spent that money wisely -- we'd be MUCH better off.
And for the money the Bush administration is squandering on the
"missile defense" boondoggle -- we could go a LONG way toward
getting a totally sufficient energy supply for the world, forever,
fixing global warming, and getting a lot of people better fed.
A russian doll can be charming - with one charming doll inside
another. This boondoggle is ugly and gruesome -
- from the inside shells - which are misshappen - to its fit to
surrounding contexts -- which are misshapen -- to yet larger
contexts -- where fits are also misshapen.
It is ugly in many, many ways. Only "defensible" because
so much is hidden, and there have been (and continue to be) so many
- 12:08pm Mar 16, 2002 EST (#606
But you can set up assumptions, and tell stories -- that make
missile defense look beautiful - - and one can honestly say
"yes -- in terms of those assumptions -- that
context - reasonable things were done -- and it looks good now."
In terms of "disciplined beauty" -- one can disagree completely
with someone's point of view, and still see that that point of view
can be "right for him" and "beautiful to him."
But what assumptions are right - and in reasonable fit to
One can't know "a priori" - and if decisions matter - one can't
say "well, everybody's entitled to his own opinion" - - not in
societies that have to work.
You can check assumptions and facts by a matching process
-- by connecting the dots - - and come to a focus.
But for that checking to be done -- there have to be ways to
force matching to occur.
This can be resisted - but the forces of truth do have certain
advantages -- because patterns of lies and mistakes tend to be
unstable, and ugly, when they are carefully examined.
- 02:02pm Mar 16, 2002 EST (#607
GLOBAL ROGUE STATE - http://www.lol.shareworld.com/zmag/articles/feb98herman.htm
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