The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, July 21, 2006

Anti-Science Friday: WSJ calls for more Star Wars funding

Unbelievable. I've long railed against the boondoggle of missile defense-- it's a great concept, but it's also proven to be nothing more than an extremely expensive pipe dream in the decades since it was first dreamt up by the Reagan White House. Never mind what a nutty idea it was then, Reagan has been elevated to the status of false idol by America's right wing, and can retroactively do no wrong.

As physicist Robert Park observes in his latest newsletter:

In 1984, President Reagan called on the scientific community to
render nuclear missiles "impotent and obsolete" with the Star
Wars missile defense system. Nine years and $30B later SDI was
terminated. There was nothing to show for it. George W. Bush,
who knows as much science as Reagan did, declared we would
have a
missile defense by 2004. When North Korea announced
last month
it would test a missile capable of reaching San
Francisco, the
Pentagon revealed our missile defense had never been turned on.

It didn't work, doesn't work, and I've never heard a scientist claim that technology has reached a point where a system would be viable. That hasn't stopped the batshit crazy Wall Street Journal editorial board from blaming Democrats (huh?) for that fact.

You can read it if you like, but it's only useful as a lesson in sophistry-- the science is ignored, and rigged tests are cited as successes. They vaguely acknowledge that missile defense doesn't work, but talk of the "strategic value," presumably as a decoy. The problem with that is that decoys tend to work only once in wartime, and if the missiles have been fired, it's a moot point anyway. Weak. And while they claim that petulant Democrats would've killed the program a long time ago (and led us to a nuclear holocaust, naturally), the fact that some $100 billion has been spent on the failed program seems to be a pretty weak platform for launching an attack against naysayers.

The piece ends with the claim that "missile defenses are a necessary part of America's intiterror state arsenal." Maybe someone should tell them that we've had some pretty unpleasant experiences with terrorists who didn't use ballistic missiles. It wouldn't cost $10 billion a year to prevent another 9/11, but no one on the right seems interested.