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November 25, 1981 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-11-25

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OPINION

Wednesday, November 25, 1981

The Michigan Daily

0

An examination of military research

By John Adam
In recent months, Defense Department spon-
sored research at the University has come un-
der fire from several student and faculty
groups.
Military research, they charge, is
synonomous with research for destructive pur-
poses. In addition,, they claim that much
military sponsored research is applied or
classified which threatens the exchange of free
ideas that any university community should
foster. Before making any decisions, however,
one should carefully examine the evidence.
Exhibit A: Gov. William Milliken plans the
establishment of a Defense Research and
Development Procurement Panel to coordinate
cooperative efforts among businesses, colleges
and universities, and state government agen-
cies to aggressively pursue Defense Depar-

tment research and development oppor-
tunities.
Exhibit B: George Gamota, former director
for research in the Defense Department Of-
fice of Research and Engineering, was appoin-
ted director of the University's Institute of
Science and Technology in June.
Speaking to the American Association for the
Avancement of Science last year, Gamota
reportedly advocated a close relationship bet-
ween the Defense Department and universities
similar to the one shared in World War IL
"The premise was to build up large univer-
sity graduate centers around skilled resear-
ches who were not only working on the frontiers
of science but were also cognizant of the defen-
se needs of the nation," Gamota said.
Exhibit C: Robert Law, Executive
Assistant to the Governor and Director of the
High Technology Task Force, when asked
about the relationship between the Defense
Research and Development Procurement

Panel- and the proposed $200 million robotics
center told the Daily: "Clearly there are
dollars out there that could be assisting in sup-
porting the initial research activities that
would go on in a center like this."
Exhibit D: The University's Center for
Robotics and Integrated Manufacturing sub-
mits large research proposals to the Air Force
Office of Scientific Research and the Army
Research Office. These grants will total over
$2 million a year.
Verdict: Because of a lack of any existing
incriminating evidence, the state and the
University are not guilty.
Defense Department sponsored research
does not mean that the University will become
an outlet for weapon-making. While currently,
there is a push to solicit military funds for
'University research, it does not meal that
University scientists will be making contracts
to build bombs and that the ideals of the
University ultimately will be sacrificed.

Carefully monitored, Defense Department
research can allow the University to flourish.
As Engineering College Dean James Duder
stadt said, "They're (the military) better about
supporting basic research in many areas than
the National Science Foundation is."
AN EXAMPLE OF this is the robotics center
(CRIM) recently established with the Univer-
sity's College of Engineering.
Duderstadt said that the military is in-
terested in supporting robotics because the
vitality of American industry is important for
national security. A U.S. House of Represen-
tatives trade subcommittee recently said the
lack of U.S. industrial progress and economic
goals as compared with Japan "should be as
shocking to Americans as was Sputnik." From
this, one can see why the military is so in-
terested in promoting industry by funding
robotics research.
Dunderstadt said that both proposals for
research in robotics to the military were for

basic research, with no strings attached. The
Acting Director of CRIM, Daniel Atkins, even
said that one-third of the proposed Air Force
grant is for training graduate students.
IN THE FUTURE, both the state and the
University will have growing ties with the
Defense Department. To assume that this in-
creased cooperation is malevolent is shor-
tsighted. The Defense Department has demon-
strated its willingness to sponsor basic resear-
ch-the core of the University's research
program. Promoting this research will only
benefit the University in the long run.
However, such research must be closely
watched. It would be advisable to establish
strong bi-partisan panels, both at the state and
University level, to monitor this increased ac-
tivity with the military and to ensure the
University will not compromise its values.
Adam is a Daily staff writer.

a

a

_.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Daily didn 't interview director

0

Vol. XCII, No. 66

420 Maynord St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

I'

Giving thanks

AT A TIME when unemployment is
A at an historic high, the arms race
is at its peak, social programs are con-
stantly cut and slashed, and term
paper deadlines loom, it seems like
there is little to be thankful for on
Thursday. It's almost hypocritical, a
lot of us think, to "give thanks" one
day of the year when we bitch the other
364.
4ven most editorials in the Daily
complain about things that aren't
good: nuclear arms; changes in the
Consumer Price Index; U.S. in-
volvement in El Salvador; lack of
student involvement in budget-making
decisions. It's just a lot easier to find
fault than it is to find something good.
But if you try really hard, you can
find some things to be thankful for on

Thursday. The administration hasn't
succeeded in eliminating all depar-
tments that don't do money-making
research; Michigan is playing a decent
team in the Bluebonnet Bowl; the
country hasn't really run out of
money; and there are only two weeks
of classes left.
Thanksgiving doesn't have to be
pious-Pilgrim-loving-prayer-it can
just be being thankful for some small
things that affect you. Whether its
something as serious as the fact that
we aren't in a nuclear war or
something as little as winter break
coming, there's usually something you
can find to be thankful for.
We're happy that we have vacation
for the next four days.
Happy Thanksgiving.

To the Daily:
It's a bit peculiar that the Daily,
would publish an article regar-
ding the usefulness and accuracy
of the econometric forecasting
program of the Research
Seminar in Quantitative'
Economics (Daily, Nov. 22)
without interviewing the
program's director. I would,
therefore, appreciate the oppor-
tunity to contribute a few of my
own thoughts and to correct some
gregarious errors which crept
into the published article.
Our sole contact with the
author of the article was to
provide a tableareviewing the
accuracy of all past RSQE
forecastsback to 1954.
Unfortunately the author
misread the table, despite the
heading which explained the
numbers quite carefully. Thus
the article claims that 1977 was
'a year in which the forecasted
growth in real Gross National
Product was off by nearly 13 per-
cent" and that's pretty bad in-
deed.
Fortunately for our credibility,
the truth is that our forecast was
off by nearly 13 billion dollars,
not percent-an error of about
one percent of the level of real
GNP. Quite a good forecast, ac-
tually, when correctly inter-
preted.
The 1974 situation (the oil em-
bargo, OPEC .period) did indeed
produce a large forecast error,
butagain the incorrect and naive
interpretationdingthe article.is
grossly misleading. We had
forecast that real GNP would in-
crease by 19.3 billion dollars, in-
stead it decreased by 18 billion
dollars-clearly a big error.
The article, however, claims
thatthese were the predicted and
actual percentage changes. Now'
a 19.3 percent growth in real GNP
is enormous as is an 18 percent

drop. Thus it appears from the t
article that we were predicting 1
an unprecedentedly strong 1
economic boom while the reality r
was the Great Depression!<
In point of fact, our forecast 1
was useless despite the error.
Real GNP had grown by more
than 5.5 percent both in 1972 and
1973. In the fall of 1973, with the
dimensions of the OPEC period
only dimly understood, we were
forecasting that the growth of
real GNP would be cut to only 2.3
percent ($19.3 billion) in 1974. We
were wrong in not seeing that the
real GNP would actually drop in
1974, but we sure knew that the
OPEC shock was going to change f
the tone of economic activity by a
substantial degree. I would claim
that we-and others of our
colleagues in the economic
forecasting business-were in-
deed providing useful infor-
mation about 1974 even though we
missed the magnitude of the
OPEC impact.
Some ecomonists do indeed, as
the Daily article implies,
question whether econometric
forecastingecould possibly be a
useful guide to policymaking or t
to private decision processes.
That is part of a sometimes-
subtle debate currently
flourishing in the economics
literature. In the midst of a
debate, the proponents of oneside
or the other often take polar
positions in order to make their t
debating points.
The debate is useful because
we're all learning from it, but the.
unfortunate fact is that the ap-
parently strongest criticisms of
econometric forecasting are
being levelled at 'straw men"
(again, a common debating tac-
tic). We provide information
about the short term outlook for
the economy, while the big +

Students lacked class

debate is primarily about the
long run and has relatively little
to say about the short run. I have
no trouble citing RSQE's record
as evidence that our procedures
provide very useful information

To the Daily:
After attending the Michigan-
Ohio State football game Satur-
day, I feel disappointed in my
school. I'm not referring to
Michigan's football team. They
.did their best and unfortunately,
lost. What I am talking about is
my fellow students attending the
game.
Before the game, when OSU's
marching band prepared to take
the field at the student end of the
stadium they were pelted by'
snowballs! Not just a couple of
snowballs, but rather, a virtual
avalanch of snow was released
on the OSU band members.; '
One of the best feelings I have
about attending Michigan is that
this school and its students have

more class than any other school..
Having our, band pelted with
snowballs 'down in Columbus,
Ohio is what I would have expec.-
ted from OSU students. it was
disappointing- to see my fellow,
students acting in a manner un-
becoming to this school.
beoigt hsSho. ;,,I realize that this letter wilt
probably do nothing in stopping
this type of violent occur'ence.
But I feel is necessary to speak
out. This type of incident gives
our school a tarnished reputatioi
which is truly undeserved. Since
we leave a first-class Univer-
sity, I feel we should conduct our-
selves in a first-class manner.
-David Mehregan
November 22

to the users of' econometric
forecasts.
-Saul H. Hymans
Professor of Economics &
Statistics
Director, RSQE
November 23

6

Lauding the 'U'

"HOW ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THI
% 1
CO 3!
q S®
Y
y.y

To the Daily:
Breakthrough members wish
to express their appreciation for
the recent changes in the parking
regulations affecting handicap-
ped students.
This month, the University
Executive Officers granted han-
dicapped University students
special exemption from parking
fees for next fall.
The exemption will be of great
immediate andvlong-term benefit
to many handicapped students at
the University. Disabled students

add to the value of the University
community, and the recent
changes will help to equalize the
participation of those students at
the University who have mobility
impairments.
The reactions of the Executive
Officers are particularly ap-
propriate during this, the Inter-
national Year of Disabled Per-
sons.
-Mary Weberman
Breakthrough
President
November 23

60

Bad choice of cartoons

An alum's lament

I

To the Daily:
The Michigan Daily should use
better judgment in selecting
which editorial cartoons to
publish. A recent cartoon (Nov.
17, 1981) portrayed a comical
Menachem Begin explaining the
very serious problem of civilian
deaths which have resulted from
Israeli attacks on the Palestine
Liberation Organization in
Lebanon. Not only was the car-
toon a misrepresentation of'
Prime Minister Begin but its
supposed rgessage was contrary
to actual Israeli policy.'
" It is not nor has ever been
Israeli policy to bomb civilian
targets in Lebanon. In fact,
because of the risk of killing
civilians in bombing raids, the
Israelis have practiced restraint
from attacking the Palestine
Liberation Organization even as
the terrorist organization has ex-
panded its activities in Lebanon.
When Israel has used force
in Lebanon it has been in
response to PLO provo-
cation. This past summer's
bombing of Lebanon, for exam-
ple, resulted from the PLO's

knows that the Israelis are ap-
prehensive to attack if civilian
lives are endangered. If the
Israelis do attack, the PLO still
gains politically since it screams
bloody murder to a hypocritical
world waiting for the Israelis to
make their next mistake.
" Contrary to what the cartoon'
infers, the PLO terrorists in
Lebanon do not have the support
of the people. Ask any Lebanese,
who has seen what the PLO has
done to his/her proud nation, if
the PLO has popular support.
Brute force is how the PLO has
maintained its strong presence in
Lebanon for the past decade.
* Whatever the wisdom of
Israeli bombing raids in
Lebanon, Menachem Begin has
expressed his country's grief for
the loss of civilian life and not the
casual, carefree attitude
portrayed in the cartoon. Con-
trast this to the PLO which boasts
eash time a terrorist unit suc-
ceeds on a mission directed at
civilians.
Just last week, for example,
the PLO took "credit" for the
fatal attack on a moderate
Palestinian Arab leadier on the

To the Daily:
I write to register one alum's r
sadness that his alma mater is
now mostly thought of across the
land as a football powerhouse

rather than as a distinguished
center of scholarship and lear-
ning.
-James A. Stegenga
November 19

Letters and columns represent the opinions of ire
individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the g
attitudes or beliefs of the Daily.

an4
. I Y0
-j f

0

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