Marshall Agnew (03/03/04)
Today's conversation with Sergei Khrushchev made me think a lot about how people come to believe in things that my not necessarily be true based on news and the media and popular ideas and stop really thinking about what's going on. During the cold war, many Americans were guilty of this. People really believed that the Russians were evil people and that we had to do everything we could to be better than them. At the same time the Russians were thinking the exact same things about us. During this particular period much of the misunderstanding was due to the governments and the news media of both countries bending the facts, but people still failed to think that maybe they might actually have things in common with those on the other side of the iron curtain. I think it was really good to hear from someone who saw the whole thing from the other side, and in fact was directly involved in the competition between the two countries.
I also realized during this class that the cold war did have an upside for both countries. As Dr. Khrushchev pointed out, without the competition between the Soviets and the Americans, many amazing technical feats would never have been accomplished. It was precisely the competition that drove us to the moon. Though it was more hostile than it should have been, we must remember that sometimes such competition is important to drive us to greater heights than we normally would reach for.The other most interesting thing I thought Dr. Khrushchev talked about was the importance of people like Korolev the advancement of science. I think this harkens back to a little while ago when we were talking about Percival Lowell and Carl Sagan. It is important to have ambitious people in the sciences that are able to generate interest in their projects whether or not they are always the best scientists.