Deadly decisions : how false knowledge sank the Titanic, blew up the shuttle and led America into war /
Christopher Burns.
imprint
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2008.
description
360 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
1591026601 (hbk.), 9781591026600 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
subject
More Details
imprint
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2008.
isbn
1591026601 (hbk.)
9781591026600 (hbk.)
catalogue key
6826226
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 337-346) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-04-01:
Burns (news executive and information management consultant) devotes the first three chapters of Deadly Decisions to identifying information-related tragedies and explaining group-think processes and their likeness to individual brain functions. Chapter 4 introduces contemporary and historical truth tests/systems and suggests that opposing authority to find truth is often challenging and sometimes dangerous but always necessary. Chapter 5 chronicles pre-9/11 events; most information is substantiated via other cited sources, but some falls into a "he said/she said" category. Ironically, this chapter's politically biased tone prompts one to invoke against Burns's own work the very skepticism he recommends. Burns's point, however, is adequately supported: information transfer during these events was chaotic, and it hindered rather than helped the situation. Chapter 6 stresses the importance of overcoming false knowledge by listening for the warnings, being attuned to dissonant information, and not relying on a closed circle of informants. Chapters 7-8 provoke readers to perform a "truth test" about the avian flu and Iraq invasion, while examining relationships between truth, propaganda, and the media. In chapter 9, Burns returns to truth systems and their impact upon democracy, knowledge, and the future. An interesting read with compelling arguments about information and truth finding. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels of academic and general readers. B. G. Turner Faulkner University
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Choice, April 2009
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Summaries
Main Description
One of the country's leading experts on modern information management, searches the biology of the brain, the behavior of groups, and the structure of organizations for practical answers to the problem of "virtual truth."
Main Description
How did we get into today's financial mess that not only threatens America but the entire world? Remember Enron? Why did that debacle happen? How do groups privy to special knowledge and "truths" make decisions that lead to disasters like the Iraq War, the sinking of the Titanic, and the blow up of the Challenger Shuttle? How could such informed experts end up being so wrong? In Deadly Decisions, Christopher Burnsone of the country's leading experts on modern information managementsearches the biology of the brain, "group think," and the structure of organizations for practical answers to the problem of virtual truthinternally consistent evidence and assumptions that purport to describe reality, but often are dead wrong! How can we avoid wishful thinking, information overload, uncertainty absorption, and an unintentional twisting of the facts? Why are startup groups agile and innovative while large organizations lumber along, bogged down in false knowledge? How can societies rediscover the power of truthful communication? Burns suggests that, as individuals, we must learn to be skeptical of our own sly and beguiling minds. As members of a group, we need to be more wary of the omissions, inventions, and distortions that come all too naturally to all of us. And as consumers of information we have to hold professionals, politicians, and the media more accountable. As Deadly Decisions makes clear, only through a deeper understanding of how individuals, groups, and society process information can we succeed in those extraordinary endeavors that are the promise of the Information Age.
Main Description
A month before its catastrophic failure, Wall Street analysts rated Enron a "buy". In 2001, at the CIA, FBI, and Department of Defense, a squabbling bureaucracy buried warnings of a looming terrorist attack. And Congress and the country were talked into war against a collapsing dictatorship on the basis of detailed and compelling intelligence, which turned out to be false. How could all of the experts be so wrong? In "Deadly Decisions", Christopher Burns, one of America's leading experts on modern information management, searches the biology of the brain, the behaviour of groups, and the structure of organisations for practical answers to the problem of "virtual truth" -- elaborate constructs of internally consistent evidence and assumptions that purport to describe reality, but can often be dead wrong! How can we avoid wishful thinking, information overload, uncertainty absorption, and an unintentional twisting of the facts? Why are start-up groups agile and innovative while large organisations lumber along, bogged down in false knowledge? How can societies rediscover the power of truthful communication? Burns suggests that, as individuals, we must learn to be sceptical of our own sly and beguiling minds. As members of a group, we need to be more wary of the omissions, inventions, and distortions that come all too naturally to all of us. And as con-sumers of information we have to hold professionals, politicians, and the media more accountable. As the book makes clear, only through a deeper un-derstanding of how individuals, groups, and society process in-formation can we succeed in those extraordinary endeavours that are the promise of the Information Age.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Christopher Burns searches the biology of the brain, the behaviour of groups and the structure of organisations for practical answers to the problem of 'virtual truth' - elaborate constructs of internally consistent evidence and assumptions that purport to describe reality, but can often be dead wrong!
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 11
False Knowledgep. 17
Titanic: Unsinkablep. 17
Medicine, Money, and War: Unthinkablep. 23
Virtual Truthp. 31
Three Mile Island: The Opposite Is Truep. 32
Ignore, Deny, Forgetp. 40
Shuttle Challenger: No One Is to Blamep. 44
A Conspiracy of Silencep. 54
Members of the Mindp. 59
The Truthful Brainp. 61
Some Things Must Be Believed to Be Seenp. 69
USS Vincennes: The System Worked Finep. 76
Faster Than the Speed of Thoughtp. 85
Challenging Truthp. 93
Betsy Lehman: Truth to Powerp. 94
The Truthful Teamp. 99
Inspiration, Reason, and Consensusp. 102
Les Philosophesp. 109
The Information Warp. 119
The Stag Huntp. 122
Blinking Redp. 132
Facts, Values, and Conceptsp. 138
9/11: Reality Hits Homep. 140
What Went Wrong?p. 155
Deadly Decisionsp. 161
The Information Bubblep. 162
Katrina: Warners and Warneesp. 165
Uncertainty Absorptionp. 172
Mrs. Aristotle's Teethp. 178
Six Tests for Truthp. 183
The Truth/Action Paradoxp. 188
The Coming Epidemicp. 191
Avian Flu: The Factsp. 192
Believing WHO?p. 202
Considering Disasterp. 206
Waltzing Into Warp. 213
Faking the Newsp. 213
Manufacturing Truthp. 225
There Is Less to This Than Meets the Eyep. 232
Invading Iraq: The Smoking Gunp. 245
Mission Accomplishedp. 259
Truth Systemsp. 267
The Truthful Organizationp. 269
Truth Systems Crumblep. 275
Can Democracy Survive?p. 281
The Machinery of Knowledgep. 285
So?p. 292
The Future Isn't What It Used to Bep. 297
Endnotesp. 301
Selected Bibliographyp. 337
Indexp. 347
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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