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Engineering truth in competitive environments

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1 Author(s)
Wilmotte, Raymond M. ; Management Consultant, Washington, D.C.

The lack of understanding, analyzing, and communicating technological ``uncertainties'' are presented by the author as seriously undermining the effectiveness of decision-making in both public affairs and industry. Uncertainties are as important to truth as certainties and should be part of all forms of technical communication. ``Technical truth,'' it is pointed out, is not developed in the legal process of adversary confrontation. On the other hand, ``adversary truth,'' as presented by the contestants, is only part of the truth, for it excludes uncertainties, which are left to the perspicacity of the audience. In the well-publicized ABM controversy, the technical atmosphere had degenerated into that of an adversary confrontation, and technical truth with its uncertainties could not emerge. This basic and typical deficiency of the ABM controversy is not limited to public affairs: it exists strongly in industry and takes its toll in reducing the quality of decision-making in inefficient operations and in unnecessary crises, all carrying a burden of cost. It appears that the damaging effects of inattention to technical uncertainties could be radically reduced under a carefully worked out and nurtured environment.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:7 ,  Issue: 5 )