Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thaddeus Holt and "The Deceivers"

I am listening to Thaddeus Holt discuss his book, The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War. He is describing what I guess is the opposite to the topic of this blog. I am focusing on knowledge for development. He focuses on the efforts of the military to impart false knowledge to the enemy, focusing especially on World War II.

There is a "science" of that effort -- knowing what you want the decision maker to believe, knowing what you want his intelligence sources to convey to the decision maker to achieve that belief, knowing what they already believe and are disposed to believe, and having a plan to plant false leads. Moreover, one does not want to expose the real plans of your side in the process or if your process fails, and ideally one would like to leave the enemy in a state that it can be deceived again when the current deception is complete.

The military actually developed a bureaucracy to deceive, with experts in deception working at very high levels in the chain of command.

I wonder how much we can learn from the deceivers as to how to make decisions, and especially how to avoid self deception.

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