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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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rshow55 - 12:40pm May 22, 2002 EST (#2346 of 2359) Delete Message

I believe that Erica Goode has made a contribution to the culture, and that this thread may have done so. I'm only basing my jugement on statistics, and what I myself have noticed, and may be wrong. But the matter could be checked, pretty readily, by searching the net. It concerns the phrase "connect the dots." -- and whether that phrase has gained in meaning, and frequency, since Erica Goode's Finding Answers In Secret Plots . . which speaks of:

"a basic human urge to connect the dots and form a coherent picture."

. There are about 14,000 postings in the Missile Defense thread, most before March 2 of this year. The phrase "connect the dots" does not appear in any before this entry on March 10 - and then the phrase appears more than 33 times afterwards -- a large jump in frequency.

This is a specific case, but also matters as an example of something broader - how human reasoning works - and how classification and secrecy can devalue human intelligence. It matters because "connecting the dots" and "collecting the dots" matter - and we need a better sense of HOW MUCH indirectly connected information we actually use, and how many ways we use it. For humans, we "connect the dots" from a "collection of dots" MUCH larger than the collection we end up using to generate any particular idea.

MD324 rshow55 3/10/02 1:22pm include this:

"A central question is how we check facts (including some in the reference you posted) how we relate facts together, and how we fit those facts into ideas and patterns that matter to us, for understanding, for ordering of relationships, and for justification of what we do.

" "Facts" alone, whether they are right or wrong can't do anything. They are inputs into decisions by people who have power of decision about something.

" Facts and ideas, combined together in space and time so that people can "connect the dots" , as Erica Goode says in Finding Answers In Secret Plots form the ideas that people and groups have. -- These ideas are patterns, which work well enough to sustain action and belief in some ways, though they may be totally invalid otherwise. These ideas, constructed by "connecting the dots" may produce grossly pathological results -- fueling hatred, wars, and cycles of poverty. Or they may be correct.

" To judge that, one checks the "facts" "connected together" and one sees if the pattern conjured up fits more facts - - including many more facts. The process of judging this, like the process of putting the "explanation" together - happens in people's minds - and can't be forced. But the matching process -- the "connecting of the dots" -- is what effective persuasion is all about. And the internet offers new ways, some shown here, of connecting information in space and time that would otherwise be diffused and unconnectable. That's a source of new opportunities.

"In the case of Missile Defense, facts and relations set out and referenced in MD84 rshow55 3/2/02 11:52am can be connected up to show how much fraud, how much muddle, has motivated much of American defense policy. Setting out the facts, and discussing connection of the dots, takes work -- and is important to the extent that people with power care about the answers, and follow the logic.

"The more well validated "dots" -- the more valid, checkable things that have to fit together at the same time, the less the chances for horror.

"Some of the most horrible things in history - most perhaps, and most now, are based on "ideas" that have been crazy - grossly out of proportion -- ideas that neglect important things -- among them the humanity of real human beings.


rshow55 - 12:43pm May 22, 2002 EST (#2347 of 2359) Delete Message

"We're living in a terrible time. Facts alone aren't going to solve anything. But facts, considered together, and considered, may help solve a great deal.

"But it seems to me that if enough people, including leaders, get concerned enough, we have some soluble problems here. If they do not, we don't.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Since that posting, the phrase "connect the dots" has entered the language of this thread, where it was absent before. One can show - on very good baysian grounds, that the phrase has entered and altered the usages of one mind - my own.

But I believe that the phrase is now much more widely used, and more influential, than it was when Goode used it in Finding Answers In Secret Plots

Has Goode altered human language? In a large and influential population? Including influential journalists, and others?

I am guessing yes, on the basis of some information. The justifications are statistical in nature. But with enough checking - the probability of the guess being right or wrong could be clarified, based on exact information on statistics in a large corpus of discourse - on the web. And a point would come where it would be reasonable to stop thinking about the issue statistically - and generalize it as a fact (if true) or a wrong guess (if false.)

Worth checking? I'm not going to take the time. But I think it is a good example of statistical reasoning, as human beings do it -- and of waht Berger and Luckmann called the "social construction of reality."

The implications for national intelligence policy are direct and practical. For human reasoning - openness is much better - and safer.

MD2307 rshow55 5/19/02 2:28pm . . . MD2326 rshow55 5/20/02 12:43pm

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