New York Times on the Web Forums Science
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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(1905 previous messages)
- 03:47pm Apr 30, 2002 EST (#1906
For those who may not know, the Arabs are Semites just as Jews
are. They can't by definition be Anti-Semitic.
If and When history looks back on events of a recent centuries
defined by a Hegemony of White European Nations responcible for all
the horrors of Imperialism, Colonization, Rasism, Nazionalism,
Religious puritanism and extremism, Wasteful Expluatation of wast
majority of World's populations and resources and Brutality of its
Wars, it may hardly find a printable words to properly describe it.
- 04:02pm Apr 30, 2002 EST (#1907
Even when "All the News that's Fit to Print" is actually printed,
and even if bias is nonexistent, not every American can read - and
too few do. Fewer think clearly all the time. All the same, juries
often do make sensible decisions. Sometimes exposition and logic has
to be set out at high, or detailed levels, and at simpler, more
elementary levels, too. Not everybody wants to deal with the kinds
of details that experts do - but often enough, the experts actually
can and do explain themselves well.
3/26/02 12:49pm ... MD835 rshow55
Some words and ideas need to be understood - - and
failures recognized, and fixed. Here's part of an undelivered speech
by Franklin D. Roosevelt, written shortly before his death:
" Today, we are faced with the pre-eminent fact
that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science
of human relationships --- the ability of all peoples, of all
kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at
Americans, often enough -- are VERY far below the level needed
even to read these words. The rest of the world needs to know this -
and make some decisions that reflect discourse that is, often
enough, as crude as it looks.
- 04:06pm Apr 30, 2002 EST (#1908
4/30/02 2:55pm . . . Wonderful post, wonderful column by Cohen.
When life is complicated, easy answers can be grotesquely bad
fits to real cases -- and classify hope out of existence.
It seems to me that more people are learning this - - and that as
they do, hope for a better world gets more realistic.
One fact, that needs to be understood, is the brute complexity of
things. Just a count of NYT articles on the subject of Missile
Defense offers a daunting sense of how complex patterns of fact are
-- last year, I posted a number of lists of NYT articles, some with
links to text on this thread - some week by week. I've collected
them - there are 30 html pages of these lists. Something over 200
articles -- all written to NYT standards, which are high standards.
There are limits to what condensation can do. Sometimes, it is
necessary to "connect the dots" and there are a lot of dots to fit
in and check for consistency.
With the internet, "collecting the dots" and "connecting the
dots" can be done in new ways, at different levels of detail -
including very condensed ones, and also very complete ones.
4/27/02 12:00pm . . . asks
" When large news organizations such as The New
York Times cannot solve problems by covering the facts about
them -- why don't the solutions happen, when they often seem very
Part of the reason, sometimes, involves the brute complexity
persuasion takes -- in formats that simply aren't set up for
"collecting the dots" and "connecting the dots" at the level human
beings really need. We can do better now - with new tools that are
now possible, and need to be developed (and funded.)
We need both condensed explanations and detailed formats
that make crosschecking to closure possible.
Patterns don't have to be perfect to be a lot better than the
patterns we have now.
- 04:28pm Apr 30, 2002 EST (#1909
4/30/02 3:21pm . . .
"at least half of Americans polled in a recent
survey by the National Science Foundation did not know that Earth
orbits the Sun"
Almarst , you're right to be concerned, but very often
America works well, and it happens because Americans, in their day
to day lives, know a great deal, know what they have to know, and
know how to check."
Dealing with people, including Americans, the best persuasion is
at the level of
"Look for yourself."
But a great deal happens on trust. You'd be hard pressed to find
a person who is widely trusted, who would stand up in public and
deny that the earth orbits the sun. When pressed, people very
often check, and very often get what they have to get right right.
Most people in America likes a sufficiently diffuse "idea of
missile defense". But it might be very hard to find real people,
with real reputations, who would be willing to answer the following
key questions -- subject to discussion in public about details. The
questions, for real systems, subject to real countermeasures -- are
Can it see the target?
Can it hit the target?
Can it hurt the target?
People who said that a particular system could see, hit, and hurt
the real targets it would have to might be scarce indeed. That is,
if they had to answer in the face of detailed questions, if evidence
was brought to bear and organized where people could actually
look for themselves.
By convention, it is very hard to force people who are trusted
into the position where they have to react to evidence.
The conventions should be challenged.
Almarst , I think your links are very interesting!
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