Category Archives: Philosophy + Systems

American Bhopals! It Starts with Universities

In my over 30 years of studying and consulting with crises and disasters of all kinds, one key finding emerges time and again. The major causes of all crises and disasters are due to individual operator errors, misjudgments, poor decisions, and faulty organizational priorities. Continue reading

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The Banality of Evil Arguments

In April 17, 1775, Boswell recorded one of Samuel Johnson’s most famous lines, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” If he were alive today, I believe that Johnson might well say, “Evil arguments are the first and last refuge of scoundrels.” Continue reading

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Want to End Gun Violence? Write A Good Bumper Sticker!

One of the reasons why the NRA and rabid gun “enthusiasts” are so effective in getting their ideas across is that they’ve perfected the art of writing bumper stickers. Continue reading

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Enough Is Enough: It’s Time to Get Tough on Organizations That Involve Children in Any Form or Manner

Whether we are experiencing an “actual, real epidemic” of child abuse or because of the overwhelming presence of the media we are just more aware of it is beside the point. What is not beside the point is that some of the most important and highly esteemed organizations have not only engaged in serious cases of child abuse, but engaged in concerted and repeated actions to protect and/or shelter those guilty of committing abuse. Continue reading

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Economics: The Psychologically Naïve Science

I admire Paul Krugman. I really do. His many columns in The New York Times and books (for his latest, see, End This Depression Now, ISBN 978-0-393-08877-9) are a testimony to his ability to explain arcane topics in terms that the layperson can understand. Continue reading

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The Origins of Republican Pathology: Rebuilding the Emotional Containers of Society

By now, it is of course a truism to say that the Republican Party has tilted so far to the Right that it is extreme, if not literally a cult. As harsh as this may be, it doesn’t even begin to describe what’s wrong with it. In a word, the Republican Party is deeply pathological. In saying this, I am not using the term “pathological” flippantly. Continue reading

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How Groups Become Extreme

In two recent op-eds in the Huffington Post (“Is Truth in Politics Possible? Is Truth Possible in Anything Human?” and “Absence of Truth: Why the Republican Candidates Can’t Get Anywhere Near the Truth”), I argued that historically there are at least four different kinds and meanings of “truth.” There are of course more than four. But four is enough for my purposes. Continue reading

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Managing the Mess

An odd aspect about the financial mess is how little discussion has been given to managing it, and the economic crisis with it, as messes. In all the finger-pointing, one party has escaped with less attention than deserved – business schools. Continue reading

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Redesigning People: Deciding Who and What Will Be Human in the Age of Cyborgs

There is no question whatsoever that we are well on the way to the total redesign of human beings. There is no longer any doubt that sooner rather than later, we will become Cyborgs, ungodly mixtures of flesh and machines. Continue reading

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Thinking Like an Intellectual Giant: A Tribute to West Churchman

Of all the philosophers I have studied, William James and West Churchman (who studied under James’s protégé, Edgar Arthur Singer Jr.) have exerted the greatest influence on me. James and West challenge us to make the world a more ethical place than we found it, and provide us with prime examples of large-scale systems thinking. Continue reading

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