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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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new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every
(2345 previous messages)
- 12:40pm May 22, 2002 EST (#2346
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 http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/10/weekinreview/10GOOD.html
. . which speaks of:
"a basic human urge to connect the dots and form a
. 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
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
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 http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/10/weekinreview/10GOOD.html
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.
- 12:43pm May 22, 2002 EST (#2347
"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 http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/10/weekinreview/10GOOD.html
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
The implications for national intelligence policy are direct and
practical. For human reasoning - openness is much better -
5/19/02 2:28pm . . . MD2326 rshow55
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