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    Missile Defense

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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lchic - 03:41am Mar 17, 2002 EST (#631 of 636)

Juries may be too big to reach a true consensus

    Twelve-member juries may be too big to reach a true consensus, say Scottish psychologists. Their research shows that in groups larger than about seven, discussion tends to be dominated by a few individuals.
    "In a group of ten, typically two people won't open their mouths," says Simon Garrod of Glasgow University, who led the study. "Three people could really drive a decision through." This may help to explain why larger groups of people have more trouble reaching a consensus.
    Garrod based his findings on a study of 150 people, who read an article on student plagiarism and discussed their opinions in groups of five or ten.
    He believes his research has important implications for many group decision-making situations in business or government, as well as in court.
    Small cliques
    The study's participants read an article about student plagiarism and Garrod's team gauged their immediate opinions with a questionnaire. They then discussed what they had read in groups of either five or ten before giving their opinions again.
    In the smaller groups, all five people tended to contribute to a consensual decision. Speakers often interrupted each other, allowing everyone to have their say.
    "In a small group, other people can finish or modify what you're saying," says Garrod. This allows a final decision to emerge from an amalgamation of everyone's opinions.
    Larger groups, on the other hand, were dominated by small cliques who did all the talking. Interruptions were infrequent and the discussion turned into a sequence of monologues.
    More effective
    The different style of discussion also affected the participants' final decisions. In the smaller group, peoples' opinions tended to be dominated by those of other people they had interacted with most - those they had preceded or followed most often in the discussion. Conversely, in the larger groups, people were more influenced by the opinions of the dominant group members.
    Garrod is currently investigating ways of making discussion in large groups more interactive by using 'facilitators'. These people do not offer opinions on the issues under discussion, but ensure that everyone has their say.
    They also force the group to resolve differences by stopping them from skirting around disagreements. Garrod suggests that facilitators could make juries more effective.
    Garrod presented his research at the British Association's Festival of Science in Glasgow.
    James Randerson, Glasgow 10:14 04 September 01 New Scientist

lchic - 03:44am Mar 17, 2002 EST (#632 of 636)

Homeland Testosterone surge - may make decision makers far too cockey ? Would better foriegn policy be made if participants were 'off shore' ?

^ Just a thought here :)

rshow55 - 09:00am Mar 17, 2002 EST (#633 of 636) Delete Message

lchic 3/17/02 3:44am

We're animals. Whether one is religious or not, we're "a little lower than the angels" - - - we're team playing, hunting, social, emotional, culture based, socio-technical animals.

Everything beautiful people do is consistent with that --- and every ugliness, too.

If we understood more about what we are - - and the limited appeal of "truth" when it is a "game plan" or a "hunting plan" being discussed - - sequencing moves and stances of a team - - not determining some academic truth - - - we'd be much safer.

But objective truth matters when life and death decisions have to be made.

We are socio-technical animals, and it much more possible than before to get facts collected together - and "connect the dots" to get reasonable closure on issues that matter. And progress is being made. The internet helps. I think that, even with the distraction here, we've made some progress.

More people in the world are paying more focused attention than before, and so the chances of getting to reasonable balances are getting better.

Without a sense of proportion - without checking for facts, and considering contexts -- words, and "logic" at the level Bush often uses -- can justify anything. MD538 rshow55 3/14/02 4:05pm

Osama bin Later By MAUREEN DOWD

Better Late Than . . . By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN ends with this:

"Mr. Bush has repeatedly told the world: If you're not with us, you're against us. He needs to remember this: The rest of the world is saying the same thing to us."

"If you're not with us, you're against us" is "team logic" -- "hunting band logic." -- "Them and us logic." Very natural indeed. Totally removed from, indifferent to, notions of objective truth about details of fact and context.

Who wants to listen to (or consider the humanity) of an "enemy" or an "outsider?" Very natural. After all, we're animals. At our very worst, people are willing to use nuclear weapons

But many of the things that make us special, and permit us to survive and prosper, require us to do better than that.

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