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 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    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?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (4051 previous messages)

rshow55 - 08:17am Aug 31, 2002 EST (# 4052 of 4055) Delete Message
Can we do a better job of finding truth? YES. Click "rshow55" for some things Lchic and I have done and worked for on this thread.

The questions

    " how do people figure things out?

    " how does the process fail or mislead?
have been central questions in philosophy for 2500 years - and we can make progress here. Not on the broadest part of the question of how human reasoning works - but on a related question.

    " What are the odds that we can figure things out in more orderly, more useful ways?"
They are very good, and getting better. We can do MANY things a LOT better - when we learn more about how "connecting the dots" works - and how it goes wrong.

Working with and inspired by lchic, I'm trying to get things organized to explain some simple facts that elementary school kids and teachers should know -- and statesmen, too. I've blocked out the explanatin in terms of reading instruction - an area of wider interest and more lasting importance than the missile defense boondoggle.

Both to explain how technical solutions that get breakthrough results can be found and proven - - and how the processes of finding these solutions can be learned and taught.

And to explain how socio-technical aspects of these problems are hard. Hard, but not hopeless. The social and psychological difficulties with getting solutions implemented can be handled more easily than they are handled now --- because of thigs that lchic and I have worked out.

3992-93 rshow55 8/26/02 7:44pm

Since Socrates' time, at the latest, philosophers and ordinary people have discussed questions close to these questions:

How can "connecting the dots" work as well as it most often does? (This is "Plato's problem." )

We know a prodigious amount, and everybody agrees on an enormous body of common ground, about the meaning of words and many other things. How can the process work as badly as it sometimes does? When the process goes wrong, how can we know that it has gone wrong?

We don't agree on even very basic things about how human reason works when it works well. Or how it sometimes fails.

How can we know that one answer is better than another?

lchic - 08:18am Aug 31, 2002 EST (# 4053 of 4055)

My take on the tax cut (re the top 1%) is that the taxes they paid went into the 100% pool. They could afford (more than anyone) to pay into the pool.

If cuts were to come out of that same pool they should have gone to those MOST in need ... the bottom 1%

That 1% would spend their gift on necessities - basics (as opposed to imported luxury items).

That the country's potential income was a skewed misprojection should be recognised - as Krugman is saying and has said previously .... NO ONE's LISTENING ....

Take the example of GERMANY .... tax cuts were in the offing - it rained rained rained - flooded flooded flooded

Germany put the needs of the COUNTRY ahead of the needs of those in line for a tax cut

Germany recognised a change in status and RE-ACT-ED !!

America WAKE-UP!!

rshow55 - 08:18am Aug 31, 2002 EST (# 4054 of 4055) Delete Message
Can we do a better job of finding truth? YES. Click "rshow55" for some things Lchic and I have done and worked for on this thread.

Landauer, Dumais, and co-workers made a big contribution - that had precedents, of course - but that made a big difference.

    Landauer T.K. and Dumais, S.T. “A Solution to Plato’s Problem: The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition, Induction, and Representation of Knowledge” Psychological Review, v 104, n.2, 211-240, 1997 --- draft:
Even so, I'd have chosen a different title . . . something like - "a BIG STEP toward the solution of Plato's problem . . . "

We're trying to clarify -- and simplify - - and generalize some of the basic points of Landauer, Dumais, and co-workers - and carry them further.

What's new is a clear sense of HOW VERY BIG the payoffs with simplification usually are -- how VERY likely checked sequences are to converge on useful (if imperfect) order. And how VERY large the number of checks often are.

Looking hard at the statistics of induction is worthwhile. That hard look lets us think about induction in a more orderly, hopeful way.

I have tremendous respect for the references cited in 3936-3945 rshow55 8/23/02 6:11pm

But it seems to me that as far as human welfare goes, lchic's rhyme, widely taught, might do as much good as all those references put together. In part by summarizing much of what those references teach. With an added "sense of the odds" that hasn't been taught enough.

Adults need secrets, lies and fictions
To live within their contradictions

If children and adults understood that - we'd be more humane, and solve more practical problems.

Before adults would let children learn lchic's little rhyme -- they'd have to learn some things themselves.

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