Perspectives and Peers 6, Conclusion

Note: This is a selection from Perspectives and Peers, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

Multiple Perspectives Peer Interaction
Elkind Mixed Mixed
Moshman Yes Mixed
Maalouf Mixed Mixed
In-Class Papers
Steinberg and Morris Mixed Mixed
Allen et al Yes Mixed
von Glasersfeld Yes Yes
Out-of-Class Papers
Driver Yes Mixed
Frank Yes Both
Hursh Yes Mixed
Schulman Yes Yes
Schwartz Yes Yes
Subject Yes Mixed

From the above table, one can easily see the strong field support for multiple perspectives but the mixed field support in peer interaction in constructing rationality.

The readings clearly support the value of multiple perspectives. Only three readings do not: David Elkin, Amin Maalouf, and Steinberg and Morris. However, each of these three can be explained as due to particularities of the author or study. David Elkind’s reaction was not explicit and against multiple perspectives as such, but rather implicit in his criticisms of the economic viability of life in the United States. Amin Maalouf’s skepticism towards both is explained by the fact tha the is looking at general populations, not individuals. It is well known that large crowds, and even countries, can act significantly less rational than their constituent members. Likewise, the mixed reading Steinberg and Morris is only possible if one assumes that multiple perspectives are needed to sustain rationality, not just create it. That may be too great of an assumption. Otherwise, every reading argues in support of multiple perspectives. As do the statements of the interview subject.

No such conclusion can be reached about the value of peer interaction. Not only are Elkind and Maalouf still skeptical, but even Moshman qualifies his support The assigned reading in class is generally mixed, and the out-of-class material can contradict each other. Opinions range from peer interaction is needed, to peer interaction and non-peer interaction, to warnings about the “counterproductive” effects of peer interaction from the interview subject.

Given this, multiple perspectives can be seen as the vital element in building rationality and rational behavior. Further research must be done for peer interaction, though, to see what place it has to play.

Perspectives and Peers, a tdaxp series:
Perspectives and Peers 1. Introduction
Perspectives and Peers 2. Books Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 3. Articles Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 4. Other Articles
Perspectives and Peers 5. Interview with the Subject
Perspectives and Peers 6. Conclusion
Perspectives and Peers 7. Bibliography
Perspectives and Peers 8. Interview with Mark Safranski

Best Globalization Pundits Agree

The Book Is Flatulent: A Brief Review of Thomas L. Friedman’s “The World Is Flat” Op-Ed,” by Thomas Barnett, The Newsletter from Thomas P.M. Barnett, 20 June 2005,

Friedman’s excellent capture on why Iraq still matters–and still must be won,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2006,

After ‘s scortched earth review of ‘s The World is Flat, I was defensive. I had enjoyed the book, and expected Barnett (whose work is obviously influenced by Friedman’s) to pen a positive review. Reading World was a wonderful vacation, and Tom Friedman and Tom Barnett are the two authors I advice my international relations students to read.

In particular, to this section:

Friedman is stupefying in his efforts to interpret everything in terms of flatness (Southwest lets you print your boarding tickets online? “Yet another brilliant example that the world is getting flat!”; You can eat sushi in a small Midwestern town? “OMYGOD the world is sooooo flat!”) that by the end of the book you have no idea what the terms means anymore. Flatness is a euphemism for everything from “cool” to “new” to “high-tech” to “competitive” to “innovative” to “globalization” to “flat” (no, wait a minute, that last one doesn’t work . . . or does it?) am not kidding you, as you read this book you’re so trained, almost in a Pavlovian sort of way, to see the word “flat” that when you go more than a paragraph or two without seeing it, you start to get anxious.

I responded by giving a detailed description, with charts, of what Tom Friedman means by flat. I found Barclay’s Bank using the term the same way.

Happily, things have changed. From a recent Barnett blog post:

Friedman remains one of our best analysts on the Middle East. It’s been so long since he was known for just that, thanks to “Lexus and the Olive Tree,” that you tend to forget that that is where he cut his teeth.

The killer line here: “Every major transformation since Napoleon in this part of the world has been the function of an external jolt,” Mr. Ibrahim said.”

That, in a nutshell, is why Bush’s Big Bang strategy was so visionary and so bold–and so dead-on.

Put Friedman’s op-ed on Iraq together with Ignatius’ (above) on Iran and you basically have why I still support the Big Bang strategy and favor the soft-kill option of connectivity with Iran. Taken together, you might it call it a blueprint for action in the GWOT (except I’d add strategic alliance with China and building an East Asian NATO on Kim Jong Il’s empty throne; then it’s on to Africa!).

These are seriously good signs: serious consensus emerging among the nation’s top opinion leaders (a strategy of connectivity and System Perturbations) and among the nation’s top military generals (the Long War and the “first war of globalization”).

This makes me extremely happy.

Maybe even… thrilled.