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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 - 09:12pm Mar 23, 2002 EST (#791 of 795)

Debate? Dissent? Discussion? Oh, Don't Go There! By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
lchic Wondered re Kakutani's definition of X generation .. has a USA bias ..

    Though many Boomers may have lost faith in the federal government, X'ers never had faith. .. The generation of high-top Velcro sneakers, button-fly jeans, and Y-necklaces is also the generation of smaller government, accountable legislators, and rapid response.
    ' .. could not see any unification among Xers. "We just don't have anything happening. There's nothing to motivate us to be one force for one cause," ..
    "I don't think there was one event," said Poole. "But for us, it was probably the end of the Cold War because it confirmed the U.S. as this powerful country. It probably adds to this overall notion, somewhere between arrogance and confidence, of people feeling that in this country, nothing's dangerous and that everything's safe." (1999)

rshow55 - 09:33pm Mar 23, 2002 EST (#792 of 795) Delete Message

MICHIKO KAKUTANI's piece does have a US bias. But it contains a lot of interesting stuff!

It assumes, as postmodernism does, and as the people described do, that with "cultural relativism" there are no "truths."

And in the real world, of course there ARE things that are really true - - that may have been derived "statistically" in some sense -- but where the probabilities, in the logic trees that actually apply, converge to probability values of exactly 0, or exactly 1.

Boundaries may be fuzzy -- but much in logic isn't concerned with precision where fuzziness at boundaries matters.

The statement that "there are oceans on the eastern and western boundaries of the "lower 48" United States" is a fact .

And there are many other facts, cultural relativism notwithstanding, so long as people are connecting the same dots.

There are enough such facts, if people are forced to look at them, to completely rule out all presently announced "missile defense" programs as technically valid defenses . . . whether you happen to like the abstract idea of missile defense or not.

lchic - 10:07pm Mar 23, 2002 EST (#793 of 795)

Wanted to add

    subjectivity enshrines ideas that are partial and fragmentary by definition, it tends to preclude searches for larger, overarching truths, thereby undermining a strong culture of contestation.
    At the same time, multiculturalism and identity politics were questioning the very existence of objective truths and a single historical reality.
It appears in some ways the 'simple overarching' truths are less obvious -- harder to hunt and find ? Why?

rshow55 - 10:40pm Mar 23, 2002 EST (#794 of 795) Delete Message

Part of the reason is that people are uncomfortable consciously with an idea that has a great deal to do with how we all "connect the dots." That's the idea that from statistical correllations we can infer patterns that become very, very clear. If those inferences match enough -- if they "map" a checkable "territory" in enough ways -- we may come to trust them as facts - - for many purposes - - unless there are real reasons to question them. A lot of things in the interior of math, for example, are correct - -- though when people started dealing with them, they were less certain. . . . A Solution to Plato's Problem: The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition, Induction and Representation of Knowledge by Thomas K. Landauer and Susan Dumais . . . (Here is a draft of that paper, which was accepted with revisions, and published in Psychological Review, v104, n.2, 211-240, 1997 )

Beyond issues of statistical inference -- there are other problems having to do with our nature as social, team animals, We include, and try to tell the truth to, people we regard as "sames" and exclude and often try to lie to people thought of as "others" - - people we often think of as "enemies."

Kakutani speaks of multiculturalism and identity politics . . . . words denoting "team identity." People WANT to exclude, decieve, and not listen to "outsiders." They do these things - and the consequences can often be inefficient and grisly.

Lchic and I have dealt with these issues in detail in Paradigm Shift .... whose getting there? ... (ke refs in MD116 rshow55 3/2/02 5:34pm ) and in

Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human goodness?

There's more to say, more to think through - - but I'm sure of this. We have to objectively, clinically, look at how people actually behave -- including ways where people aren't conscious, or rational -- - so that we can get a more practical, and humane sense of what it is to be human beings.

If we did that, I think we could go a long way towards what Albert Einstein was asking for when he said this:

" We must never relax our efforts to arouse in the people of the world, and especially in their governments, an awareness of the unprecedented disaster which they are absolutely certain to bring on themselves unless there is a fundamental change in their attitudes toward one another as well as in their concept of the future. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our way of thinking."

I think we're close to knowing enough to actually do as Einstein asks - if we check our work - and set about it.

The missile defense case is a very good one - it shows human "logic" flaws and deceptive patterns very clearly -- and if we could sort out the MD mess, we could sort out a number of other messes, including many that have concerned almarst , as well.

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