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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> What the Dog Saw #11: Connecting the Dots

thought-leaders20/20 hindsight is a boon for lazy and irresponsible journalists.

While the intelligence services have to sift through thousands of clues, leads, chatter, patterns, and threats across a variety of agencies with diverse mandates and structures before any of an infinite number of possible futures unfolds, the journalist simply waits until after-the-fact and then follows the maze backwards to suggest (fallaciously) that the actual course of events was evident all along.

What-the-Dog-SawI am growing in my appreciation for how deftly Gladwell is able to keep me intellectually honest.

In example after example in this week’s chapter Gladwell gets into the shoes of those operating before-the-fact. From the perspective of those for whom the thousands of clues, (some legitimate, some not) may or may not in fact be connected radically impacts how we evaluate the efficacy of their work.

The lazy journalist is able to accuse the intelligence services of failure (and make a lot of money doing so, I might add), because they did not see before-the-fact what seems so obvious after-the-fact.

One set of professionals (intelligence services) gets accused of bungling their jobs because another set of professionals (journalists) actually bungles their job.

If there is any dynamic that those of us in the writing professions should be the most aware, it is the power of perspective, point of view, and knowing full well how deeply the interpretation of the story is influenced by how you choose to tell the story.

It’s a shame that in matters as grave as national security, some of our public story-tellers are lazy and irresponsible.

Each Friday I post my reflections from one chapter of What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.


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