Thursday, March 13, 2003

"The occurence of an event increases its reconstructed probability and makes it less surprising than it would have been had the original probability been remembered." -- Psychologist Baruch Fischhoff. see, this is the kind of thing that i suprise myself by (a) understanding and (b) liking. i think the U of C is destroying my ability to read and write anything other than obtuse, verbose critical essays. =) this section of the article in the -guess what- New Yorker that i am currently engrossed in reminds me of the many critical essays that i've had to read for soc and various other social sciences classes. hey, i guess i was born for this work. none of this science stuff for ME! =) that, by the way, is Fischhoff's definition of 'creeping determinism' - the sense that what has happened was inevitable. referring back to the inquiry into 9/11 - why weren't we able to 'connect the dots' as it were, and stop these attacks before they became reality: well, because before they became a reality, the dots couldn't BE connected; the 'pattern' doesn't exist until after the outcome is clear. does that make sense to you? in some senses, it does -because it is only after the fact that the important information becomes highlighted; before the outcome is certain, no one knows what information is more pertinent, no one knows who or what to focus on. it comes as a timely reminder to everyone who is angry at the CIA, the FBI, and all the other government initials who appear to have been in a position to prevent 9/11 and didn't - well, if you were in their place in their time, would you have done better?

speaking of government initials, i have only recently realised that the INS -Immigration and Naturalization Service- that handled among other things student F-1 and J-1 visas for study in the United States no longer exists. in its place we have the DHS - Department of Homeland Security- to perform the same functions, only keeping an even closer eye on the immigrants than before. our spanking new I-20s now come with barcodes, so we can be tracked in and out of the country with instanteous accuracy. my initial, visceral reaction was 'what kind of message are you sending to immigrants and students -- that you view us all as potential terrorist threats now?' even on reconsideration, it still upsets me. i think it's because it creates a very insider/outsider feeling for me, and i like the illusion that when i'm here, i'm no different from the people i live with who were born here. but it's not like my uneasiness is going to have any effect on what the Bush Administration wants to call anything and which initials get assigned what duties.


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