Sunday, February 26, 2017

Failure of Imagination

In 1967, Astronaut Frank Borman blamed the Apollo 1 fire that killed three of his fellow astronauts on “failure of imagination” ... the inability of the engineers on the project to anticipate the conditions that led to that fire, and to take steps to prevent it.

After the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States concluded our biggest vulnerability was failure of imagination. We simply couldn’t conceive of anything as far from normal behavior as the plan to hijack planes and fly them into buildings, so there were no defenses.

This is the same weakness that stymies us now in the face of the Trump regime. Although safeguards such as the electoral college and, much later, the 25th Amendment were intended to protect against a complete lunatic occupying the White House, these were only theoretical measures. No one imagined anyone as off-the-rails as Trump and his appointees, so these measures have never been tested and re-enforced. In fact, it would take acts of enormous political will for enough electors to defy their states elections to block an obvious demagogue like Trump, and it would take even more brazenness to trigger the 25th Amendment’s removal from office mechanism. 

According to Wikipedia, failure of imagination has also been cited in such disasters as the Titanic’s sinking and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

Clearly, in complex and risky situations, imagination is a far more valuable asset than is usually assumed.

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