The Burnsville Socrates Cafe Message Board The Burnsville Socrates Cafe Discussion Forum › 3/4/11 questions/discussion

3/4/11 questions/discussion

Jon A.
Group Organizer
Saint Paul, MN
1. When is killing justified, or is it?

2. How prevalent are the ironies of everyday living such as the positive value of negative processes?7

3. Are there any merit goods and if so, what are they?7

4. Do we need to expand the definition of war?5

5. What are the good/bad ways our species deals with death?7


And tonight's winner?

"Is intelligence intelligent?"  --- from Dick

Dick: very little proven by our nation's "intelligence" community. How do we know when its good/bad?

Jim: there are some people good at it. We are at the mercy of whether or not the intelligence they produce is brought forward or ignored/hidden.

John: are we also discussing IQ? Could our intelligence providers do a better job if they were smarter?

Jim: no. That kind of intelligence can be used to cover for bad ideas.

Dick: one could use secrets as a part of intelligence.

Jim: the systems of intelligence production can suppress the good stuff.

Dave: from my experience working with this subject in my years in Vietnam, most of the stuff gathered is good intelligence. Human bias is what kills it (up the hierarchy). Plenty of good examples of this are found in history: Hitler's promises to Russia. Hannibal's foray into India/Persia.

Amr: another Hitler example: this time Hitler's error when he decided to bomb English cities instead of English airfields and radar facilities.

Steve: pictures are partially painted with each bit of data. What's needed (and typically lacking) are connections between the separate pieces. 9/11 is a recent and terrible example. There was ample evidence that something was up but the intelligence community failed to connect the dots

Jon: this reminds me of Barbara Tuchman's book "The March of Folly." In it she describes 3 or 4 historical events in which nations/organizations made -- in hindsight -- amazing errors of awareness. Three examples are 1) the American Revolution (how the British missed evidence that they were wrong about the reasons for revolution and how they believed they would win easily), 2) Renaissance popes' errors leading up to the Reformation, and 3) America's blunders for both getting into and prosecuting the Vietnam war.

John: how valuable is the fundamental data? Ideology can harm this data. For example the two major messages we were given during the Cold War: the Soviets were both a dysfunctional mess AND a tremendously well organized threat.

Jim: we're being too harsh. There's pure speculation, then there's intelligence to do with "going to war." 9/11 had us as a nation in a passive state. Commitment to an end can overcome long odds (see Vietnam). What one wants, where one is, and determination to finish a task must be considered.

Kevin: dead bodies are just numbers to upper mgmt. This is one way good intelligence gets overlooked.

Chris: "weapons of mass destruction" was about some Americans getting rich, not about defending our nation or making the world safer. Wikilieaks is about increasing access to knowledge/intelligence, but I can see both sides of the argument there -- I haven't picked sides yet.

Dave: there are a great many different intelligence agencies competing against each other. They don't wanna share data. It's ego, it's agenda: Stalin killed messengers who brought him intelligence he didn't want to hear. We in the intelligence gathering community during Vietnam KNEW Russian war machinery junk, yet ignored it. We should have but didn't tailor our war effort to this knowledge. Ideology: Lee lost Gettysburg because he refused to believe what his underlings said would happen. And don't forget Custer's ego.

John: could intelligence have predicted recent middle east events?

Amr: 3 different news sources, three different ideologies -- Fox, CNN, NPR.


sorry this is a partial record everybody. I was called home to bring our injured cat to the ER. All is well now. See everybody next week!
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