On another blog, someone recommended this piece here. It argues that it would be very difficult for a modern nation to undergo a national mobilization on the scale of WW2.
I wrote the following, not about the piece, but about the philosophy of science:
I don't like the Elhefnawy article. The reason isn't the thesis: he may, in fact, be correct. The reason is that he pulls a rhetorical bait-and-switch in which he assumes his conclusion and dresses up a series of hypotheses as a logical argument building to a conclusion.
I really hate this form of rhetoric, and it's one that I see far too much of in the military journals that I read.
A convincing way to argue --- and one that is far more likely to lead to, well, correct arguments --- is to argue like a social scientist, and not like a lawyer.
(1) present a series of logical if-then statements (a "theory");
(2) falsify them ("if I see this out there in the world, then the theory must be false);
(3) show that the data does not contradict them ("I don't see this out there in the world");
--and with more difficulty--
(4) divide the world into A and not-A ("either my theory is correct or this counter-theory is correct");
(5) falsify the counter-theory ("if I see that out in the world, then the counter-theory must be incorrect");
(6) show that that is true. So A is not contradicted, and not-A is contradicted --- and you have a conclusion.
Better yet, you have a conclusion tied to a set of explicit assumptions, meaning you have at least some idea of the circumstances under which it does not apply. And even more better yet, you have a conclusion that can be shown to be wrong if your facts are wrong, or new facts come to light, or the facts change.
I actually think that Elhefnawy is wrong (he makes one very simple false comparison --- although I suspect that he understands it and chose deliberately to obscure it --- and his thesis shifts halfway through the article) but that's not the particular point I'm trying to make.
My point is that he not only didn't prove his point, he didn't really try ... and this problem affects a lot of military writing.
Abstracting from the point about military writing, am I right, or is the above horse manure?