The Logic of Failure (cont.)

The Logic of Failure presents patterns of failure in complex, dynamic situations. The heart of the book's data is taken from psychological observations made during role-playing games.

Here I have chosen a few of the author's observations with Civil War readers in mind. In the excerpts below, "good" and "bad" refer to successful and unsuccessful actors in the simulation. Success means the actor reached multiple goals across a complex simulation.

See what you make of these in an ACW context:

[G]ood participants made more decisions than bad ones.

The good paricipants acted more "complexly." Their decisions took different aspects of the entire system into account, not just one aspect.

The good participants ... tested their hypotheses. The bad participants failed to do this. For them, to propose a hypothesis was to understand reality... Instead of generating hypotheses, they generated "truths."

Also characteristic of the behavior of bad participants is a high degree of "ad hocism."

... bad participants are all too ready to be distracted.

... we also find among the bad participants ... single-minded preoccupation....

... good participants often reflected on their own behavior...

.... bad participants were frequently inclined to shift responsibility...
This closing thought is worthwhile: "An individual's reality model can be right or wrong, complete or incomplete. As a rule, it will be both incomplete and wrong, and one would do well to keep that probability in mind"

Especially when the pop historian invites you to pass judgement on historical figures.