10 May 2012

How to make bad decisions: The Self-Delusion Problem #nlpoli

Politicians don’t set out to screw up but their good intentions are no proof against making bad decisions.

Asked in the House of Assembly on Thursday about the decision by the Nova Scotia government to ask their utilities regulator to conduct an independent review of the Nova Scotian bits of the Muskrat Falls deal, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said this:

I have encouraged people to show us, show us in a very concrete way where the gap in our analysis might occur, if they have identified one. Nobody has been able to do it to this end, Mr. Speaker. [Emphasis added]

You can make a bad decision by ignoring information that doesn’t agree with your preconceived conclusion.  Call it selective perception.  Call it wilful blindness. It adds up to the same thing.

Lots of well-informed, smart people who don’t work for the provincial government have pointed to flaws in the work done by the well-informed, smart people doing work for the provincial government.  They have pointed out viable, cheaper alternatives to Muskrat Falls.

They pointed out the flaws.

Kathy Dunderdale is ignoring them.

She is deceiving herself and  - by extension – she is deceiving others.

And self-deception will lead anyone to make a bad decision, no matter how pure her intentions might be.