Deadly Decisions: How False Knowledge Sank the Titanic, Blew Up the Shuttle, and Led America into War

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9781591026600: Deadly Decisions: How False Knowledge Sank the Titanic, Blew Up the Shuttle, and Led America into War
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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 Burns—one of the country’s leading experts on modern information management—searches the biology of the brain, "group think," and the structure of organizations for practical answers to the problem of virtual truth—internally 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.

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About the Author:

Christopher Burns (Ipswich, MA) has been a news executive and an independent consultant to government and the private sector for thirty years, advising clients on emerging information management technologies and the evolution of the information economy. His previous positions include vice president of the Washington Post Company; senior vice president of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune; executive editor of UPI; and president of Christopher Burns, Inc.

Review:

"Beginning with the Titanic disaster, Burns compellingly argues that some of the worst "accidents" and mishaps in modern times can be directly attributed to misinformation or misinterpretation of the available data. Burns examines the foundations used in the decision making processes that determined the events of Three Mile Island, the space shuttle Challenger, 9/11, hurricane Katrina response, the invasion of Iraq and more. What emerges is a frightening picture of deliberate distortion of the facts, false information, erroneous assumptions and sheer arrogance that should serve as a wakeup call to us all.

Outlining six tests for truth including detail, verifiable evidence and consistency, Burns shows how easily even knowledgeable professionals can be led astray. Learn how to avoid the pitfalls of a crowd mentality and information overload while discovering some basic hard-wired biology in this eye opening examination of the "information age" . From Wall Street investments to invading foreign countries, the ability to make intelligent informed decisions is vital. Understanding the dynamics of information processing has never been more critical and Burns goes a long way toward providing the necessary tools to separate clever fiction from solid facts." --monstersandcritics.com, Sandy Amazeen, Dec 27, 2008

"Beginning with the Titanic disaster, Burns compellingly argues that some of the worst "accidents" and mishaps in modern times can be directly attributed to misinformation or misinterpretation of the available data. Burns examines the foundations used in the decision making processes that determined the events of Three Mile Island, the space shuttle Challenger, 9/11, hurricane Katrina response, the invasion of Iraq and more. What emerges is a frightening picture of deliberate distortion of the facts, false information, erroneous assumptions and sheer arrogance that should serve as a wakeup call to us all.

Outlining six tests for truth including detail, verifiable evidence and consistency, Burns shows how easily even knowledgeable professionals can be led astray. Learn how to avoid the pitfalls of a crowd mentality and information overload while discovering some basic hard-wired biology in this eye opening examination of the "information age" . From Wall Street investments to invading foreign countries, the ability to make intelligent informed decisions is vital. Understanding the dynamics of information processing has never been more critical and Burns goes a long way toward providing the necessary tools to separate clever fiction from solid facts." --monstersandcritics.com, Sandy Amazeen, Dec 27, 2008

"Christopher Burns has searched through the details of a dozen disasters in recent years to find an alarming and consistent pattern of false knowledge and failed decisions, explaining in the process how many of these are the natural result of the brain s biology, individual behavior, and group decision-making. Deadly Decisions is a horrifying tale of error, delusion, and deceit. Catastrophes that were 'no one's fault' turn out to have been everyone's fault. But then he shows how we can overcome this danger through critical thinking, information literacy, and a greater commitment to the truth. If your company's success, your security, or your life are riding on someone else's information skills, urge them to read this book." --Paul Zurkowski, founder and former president of the Information Industry Association

"If the Information Age ever had a wakeup call it is this. Deadly Decisions does for information what An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change, what Silent Spring did for the environment. It points out the perils as well as the promise of betting our lives on information, at a time when we have no other choice. Brilliant, terrifying, true." --Leland Schwartz, Editor and Publisher, States News Service

"This is a very important book for this particular time." -- Benjamin C. Bradlee, Former Editor, The Washington Post

"[A] stunning array of insights, Deadly Decisions opens the way to an age of thinking truthfully together. Burns has given us a new conceptual framework of startling importance." --Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy and publisher of Brain/Mind Bulletin

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