Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2007

Prof takes war expertise to Oxford

September 8, 2007


Related document

The Nature of War ( .PDF )

Rarely will one of the most prestigious universities in western Europe ask a Kansas University professor to explain to a group of instructors that they're all, well, wrong.

But anthropology professors Felix Moos and Bart Dean will lead a study group Tuesday at Oxford University that will address changes in modern warfare.

The Nature of War conference, which runs from Sunday through Friday, will examine how warfare has changed since the end of the Cold War and the rise of global terrorism.

"Many Oxford historians believe that not much has changed in war. We've given war different names, but war is still war," Moos said. "Some of us in the United State are arguing that war that is now being fought has changed its focus."

Moos, a former member of the military and longtime researcher on intelligence and warfare, said that modern wars aren't about territory or resources, but rather because of differences in human ideas. Moos said this means warfare has moved into the "fourth generation."

"This is not a war of organized states and forces," Moos said. "The consequences are difficult to predict. We can no longer look for explanations of war using historical contexts."

Dean, a graduate of Oxford, agrees in large part with the position that Moos has staked out.

"We could go to many parts of the world and people would respond to us very negatively, without knowing anything about us," Dean said.

Dean said battles now are being fought because people disagree with the beliefs of others.

"There are larger processes here that we are only beginning to understand," Dean said. "Local conflicts are taking on global proportions."

Dean said the British have a misunderstanding of what's going on in the United States, post-9/11. Through this conference, Dean and Moos hope to bring some context on America to their international colleagues.

Moos and Dean said they hoped to make the case that the world has never been at peace and that the reason for some of the worst foreign policy blunders has been a lack of cultural understanding. As anthropologists, the two professors believe they can promote cultural understanding.

"It's a great honor to be invited to Oxford to talk on 9/11," Moos said. "The essence of the honor is that they're looking for a different voice to speak at Oxford."


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

"Moos, a former member of the military and longtime researcher on intelligence and warfare, said that modern wars aren't about territory or resources, but rather because of differences in human ideas."

If he really believes that, he has to be one of the most clueless "experts" in human history.

JSpizias 10 years, 9 months ago

I think that this exchange is a great idea and the professors are to be complimented. A good university is indeed a marketplace for ideas, a place where differing and contradictory views should be welcomed and debated. This is especially true for heretical ideas. With this in mind, I would challenge KU leaders to arrange similar visits and presentations by some very learned scholars who are skeptical of anthropogenic "global warming" and its dangers. I would suggest the following possible speakers: 1. Freeman Dyson, a distinguished physicist and member of The Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. 2. H. Von Storch, Climate Researcher at the German Institute for Coastal Research and author of a report of the results of two detailed surveys of the world's climate scientists on "The Perspectives of Climate Scientists on Global Climate Change". 3. Michael Crichton, writer and scholar, who participated in a debate sponsored by the IQ2 Society and broadcast on NPR.

Many of those in the scientific community say there is no debate, that there is a consensus of scientists that anthropogenic global warming has occurred, its consequences will be catastrophic, and that action must be taken immediately to reduce CO2 emissions if life on earth is to survive as we know it. As Crichton noted in the debate mentioned above, there is another example in fairly recent US history in which there was a clear consensus among scientists, the media, and the other powers that be on an important issue. That issue was eugenics and there is a superb eugenics archive at a site maintained by Cold Spring Harbor where this can be explored.

It is for reasons such as these that I think that it is imperative that dissenting views be heard about global warming, an issue that has such possible economic, political, and health ramifications for our world. "Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it", George Santayana.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

The views are clearly dissenting-- but in the world of science, you need well-formed hypotheses supported by well-researched data, and the ideologically driven "experts" you cite just don't got it, JSpizias.

JSpizias 10 years, 9 months ago


"The views are clearly dissenting- but in the world of science, you need well-formed hypotheses supported by well-researched data, and the ideologically driven "experts" you cite just don't got it, JS"

Are you familiar with Lysenkoism, the idea that acquired characteristics of organisms could be inherited? This ideologically driven "science" produced plenty of well researched data, and thereby set back Soviet science for decades. You want well-formed hypotheses, read SJ Gould's book on "The Mis-measure of Man" and examine the Cold Spring Harbor archives to see the influence of politics on "scientific truths".
When one examines closely "global warming" data such as that by Mann and coworkers, one often finds less than convincing data. These workers reported that the last decades of the 20th century were the warmest in over a millennium. A researcher found significant errors in their work and Congress requested an evaluation by a committee formed by the National Research Council. Among other things this committee report notes "Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann, et al and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it PLAUSIBLE that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding millennium" (page 4 of summary). Is plausibility an acceptable standard for making far ranging high impact policy changes? Second, just how valid and scientifically based are climate projections 10 or 100 years in the future., for the entire earth? You want data-examine the data in the survey of climate scientists reported by Bray and Von Storch (listed in previous post). You will find that the majority of those surveyed disagreed with the following statements: Fig 16. Climate models accurately verify the climatic conditions for which they are calibrated. Fig 17. Climate models can accurately predict climatic conditions of the future.

Figs 19 and 20 ask: To what degree do you think the current state of scientific knowledge is able to provide reasonable predictions of climatic variability on time scales of 10 or 100 years? The responses mostly range from neutral to none at all. This is certainly not surprising when one realizes that such predictions involve modeling systems (GCCM) with dozens to hundreds of variables, and that we have only a rudimentary knowledge of many aspects of climate. For example orbital ellipticity, solar activity, cloud cover, and even recently discovered emission of methane by plants can significantly affect any such models. How could anyone with a scientific background and an ability to analyze data not be skeptical of the catastrophic claims being put forth. Even if one accepts such modeling, Pielke has noted that any conceivable emission reduction policies:.cannot have a perceptible impact for many decades.

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