It is a pleasure, after the less-than-positive review posted 12/21/09, to give an unqualified “thumbs up” to DEADLY DECISIONS by Christophen Burns (Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY).

The book’s sub-title is How False Knowledge Sank The Titanic, Blew Up The Shuttle, And Led America Into War, which is a synopsis of situations in which false knowledge prevailed in the decision-making leading to those (and other) preventable disasters. This is a book one wishes was required reading for every governmental & non-governmental authority whose decisions impact those they put at risk. Alas (as is too often the case), the very people who need to be open to the critical thinking prescribed in DEADLY DECISIONS are ostensibly least likely to read it, or take it to heart if they do read it.

This discouraging observation is not only a shame, but a jeopardous shame, for (as Burns tells us in his book) dissonant information is particularly dangerous “because it brings the threat of confusion. The truth may make men free, but it’s certitude that makes them happy.” For some, in other words, holding on to one’s own “truth” at all costs trumps consideration of evidence to the contrary….even compelling evidence to the contrary. “The mind is wired for learning, not unlearning,” again quoting Burns.

DEADLY DECISIONS will challenge your mindset if you’re heavily invested in the kind of thinking Burns exposes. Take up the challenge. Read this book. What are you afraid of losing?


  1. tomgnh says:

    If you want to follow up on this idea, check out “March of Folly” by Barbara Tuchman. She traces several truly stupid political decisions to try to understand the forces that lead to them despite arguments to the contrary.
    Her chapters on the Trojan Horse and Vietnam are particularly good.


  2. mistermuse says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, tomgnh. I’ll post a brief follow-up to my review, mentioning your suggestion of “March of Folly” as well as another book I’ve found to which reference could be made if anyone is interested in additional reading in this area. If you have a blog and would like me to mention it in my follow up, let me know. Thanks again.


  3. […] ADDED ABSTRACTIONS As a follow-up to my review of DEADLY DECISIONS, I would like to commend two additional books to the attention of anyone interested in continuing […]


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