Author Archives: imitroff

About imitroff

Dr. Ian Mitroff is Professor Emeritus at the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is the president and founder of Mitroff Crisis Management, a private consulting firm based in Oakland, California, that specializes in the treatment of human-caused crises. He is a Senior Affiliate with the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley.

Getting Guns Out of Our Heads

What do the following possibly have in common?

One, Woolrich, the venerable 182-year-old clothing company, recently brought out a new line of chinos with a second pocket that has been especially designed for carrying a concealed handgun. The clincher is that the pocket has been designed so that it wouldn’t destroy the “stylish look of the pants.”

Two, Levi Johnston, former fiancé of Bristol Palin and father of their child, not only has another baby on the way, but he plans to name her “Breeze Beretta” after his favorite Italian-made pistol.

Three, over the stringent objections of Tampa’s Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Florida Governor Rick Scott upheld the decision to ban water guns during the Republican National Convention, but not concealed handguns.

If you said that these three items have nothing in common, you’re wrong! Dead wrong! Continue reading

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Truth Wars: The Bitter Divide Between Conservative and Progressive Belief Systems

Every so often, a truly great book comes along. When God Talks Back: Understanding the Evangelical Relationship With God by Stanford anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann is certainly one of these. Let me recount briefly the main argument of Luhrmann’s book. In a word, Luhrmann gives us deep insight into the nature of different belief systems and why the battle between them is often so bitter and prolonged. Continue reading

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Wall Street: An Unmitigated Culture of Risk

Earlier this year, we published Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega Crises and Mega Messes. It was an in-depth study of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. While it was written long before the latest JP Morgan Chase debacle, unfortunately, it anticipated it perfectly. Indeed, it predicted that unless there were momentous changes in the culture of Wall Street, we were in for more of the same. Continue reading

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Why I Am Not and Will Never Be a Libertarian! To Ensure Our Health and Safety, We Need to Get Tough on Crisis Prone Companies

Originally posted on The Huffington Post, May 8, 2012 Let me state my main thesis at the outset: There is a dangerous class of companies and organizations that are Severely Crisis Prone. (For brevity, I shall simply refer to them … Continue reading

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The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears and Stories: Part III

In two recent op-eds in The Huffington Post, “The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears,” and “The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears, Part II,” I talked about two masterful analysts of America’s founding myths and stories, Rupert Wilkinson and Robert Reich.

Wilkerson identified four fears have not only been present from the very founding of the Republic, but they are so basic that they are virtually synonymous with it: 1) The Fear of Being Owned; 2) The Fear of Falling Away; 3) The Fear of Winding Down; and 4) The Fear of Falling Apart. Continue reading

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Confronting Shame-Based Politics: The Biggest Challenge of All

What an incredibly boring and uninteresting world it would be if one needed nothing more than a surface understanding of things in order to take action against wrongs.

Over 40 years of professional experience has taught me that deep unconscious forces, of which we are by definition largely unaware, govern the vast majority of human behavior. At a minimum, unconscious factors impact human behavior significantly. Continue reading

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The Moral Contemptibility of the Conservative Mind

Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, is highly admirable. It deserves all the good reviews it has garnered. Nonetheless, I want to take exception with it because I believe it fundamentally violates one of its own main theses.

As someone who has taught ethics for more than 45 years, I agree strongly with Haidt that virtually all of the great traditional ethicists profoundly missed the boat, especially when it comes to morality. Continue reading

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The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears and Stories: Part II

In a recent op-ed, “The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears,” I talked about the fact that in 1988, Rupert Wilkinson published a remarkable little book. Wilkinson identified four fears that not only have been present from the very founding of the Republic, but are so basic that they are virtually synonymous with it: 1. The Fear of Being Owned; 2. The Fear of Falling Away; 3. The Fear of Winding Down; and 4. The Fear of Falling Apart.

Very few people know that just a year earlier in 1987, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich also published a book that dealt in a different but complimentary way with the same themes. In fact, I regard it as one of his best books. Continue reading

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What the Great Greek and Shakespearian Tragedies Have to Teach About Modern Crises

The senseless killing of Trayvon Martin is not only a monumental tragedy, but it has all the elements of the great epic Greek and Shakespearian tragedies. In fact, all crises do.

The prime lesson: Get thee to the Greek playwrights and Shakespeare if one would better understand crises!

First of all, individual character and institutional flaws are a prominent, if not the most important, element of all crises (think Rupert Murdoch, Goldman Sachs, etc.). Continue reading

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The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears

In 1988, Rupert Wilkinson, who has taught at leading universities in America and the U.K., published a remarkable little book, The Pursuit of American Character. It is nothing short of brilliant. I only wish that more people everywhere were aware of it. If they were, they might really understand America. Continue reading

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