The Red Trousers

About Confirmative Thinking and Perceptual Defense in Complex and Uncertain Domains of Reality

  • Dietrich Dörner (Author)
    University of Bamberg, Germany
  • Ute Meck (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Summary: This article is not about red trousers. The title points to a political foolishness that killed more than 100,000 soldiers. The discussion of this foolishness is an introduction to a general discussion of the reasons for political foolishness. – In her book ‘The March of Folly – From Troy to Vietnam’, Barbara Tuchman said that in the last 3,000 years mankind has made large progress, primarily in science, but also in medicine, architecture, economy, agriculture, etc. Only in politics, in the art of managing a state, nearly no progress is visible. Others share this opinion. The Swedish Chancellor in the time of Gustav II Adolph, in the time of the 30 Years’ War, Axel Oxenstierna, said to his son, who was elected for an important political position and had doubts, whether, with his 18 years, he would be able to cope with this difficult task: “If you would know, my son, with what low degree of intelligence the world is governed . . . .” – In surveys about the reputation of professions, politicians normally get low ranks. Why is that so? – In this article we try to give an answer to that question. The answer is very simple. Foolish decisions are reducible firstly to a low or wavering self-esteem. Secondly, they are based on a lack of phantasy; politicians have difficulties in finding new solutions for problems. – This answer is not at all new; already Platon and – nearly at the same time – the ancient Indian Bhagavad Gita gave the same response. In this article we develop a theory about political foolishness.




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Academic discipline and sub-disciplines
Type, method or approach
politics, errors, foolishness, decision-making, thinking