The Right Coast

October 30, 2005
Questioning the Environmental Dogma
By Mike Rappaport

Michael Crichton has unexpectedly turned out to be a great critic of the overwrought and damaging claims made by environmentalists. Here, he recommends 5 books that question the conventional wisdom on the environment. This is one of his recommendations:

"Future environmentalists will heed Dietrich Dörner's "The Logic of Failure." Mr. Dörner is a cognitive psychologist who invited academic experts to manage the computer simulations of various environments (an African herding society, a town in Maine). Most experts made things worse. Those managers who did well gathered information before acting, thought in terms of complex-systems interactions instead of simple linear cause and effect, reviewed their progress, looked for unanticipated consequences, and corrected course often. Those who did badly relied on a fixed theoretical approach, did not correct course and blamed others when things went wrong. Mr. Dörner concludes that our failure to manage complex systems such as the environment reflects bad habits of thought, overreliance on theory and lazy procedures. His book is brief, cheerful and profound."