Maximum, S. (2007). Arrows in the eagle’s claw — Chapter II, about 4GW analysis. Fabius Maximus. December 3, 2007. Available online: http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/arrows-in-the-eagles-claw-ii-4gw-analysts/ (from Defense and the National Interest).
Fabius Maximus (who kindly has me on his blogroll) calls for two conflicting goals in his recent post on 4GW analysis: first, he wants scientific progress on 4GW theory, and second, he wants fierce non-academic debate.
In parts of his article, Fabius appears to want a smack down brawl, a decline of community friendships, and a decrease in collaboration:
These things might result from 4GW analysis becoming over-collaborative, too congenial. The rapid development of the sciences results from the open clashing of views, often with fierce criticism between those of different views. The 4GW literature contains little of this.
Yet in other parts, Fabius holds high the banner of science as a cure for ills:
It is difficult to accurately describe a literature as large and diverse as that discussing 4GW. That being said, it seems to display some characteristics suggesting exhaustion or sterility. 4GW is a theoretical concept, only useful to the extent it generates insights for practitioners of statecraft, war, and intelligence. Otherwise it is either a hobby or an academic pursuit. The following are tendencies that seem to be appearing more frequently in discussions of 4GW.
Perhaps I am reading too much on Fabius’ words, but it seems he is calling for the development of a full-fledged field with thousands of employees and hangers-on.
If Fabius wants science to study 4GW, as some do and others do not, then we need a 4GW paradigm to guide us. This requires, among other things
a) variation to study
b) an agreement on what such a good study would look like
Such a scientific/academic program will generate significant differences between group means, practical effect sizes, and eventually links to other academic literatures. While certainly there should be disagreements, even strong disagreements, collegiality is a must if the community doesn’t fracture into incommesurable factions that just talk past each other.
Fabius also calls for useful tools to be deployed to warfighters. This is the role of an educator. It requires, among other things
b) practical experience
While scientifically/academically, xGW theory would be grown through studies analyzing variance, educationally/practically it would be spread through writing quality and utility.
These are both good goals. But Fabius appears to jump between them, attacking and embracing them in kind. Fabius should choose between his goals, or acknowledge that both are desired. Otherwise, it is hard to know what he means.