Essence of Decision

Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow's book Essence of Decision is much more than what its subtitle "Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis" promises. It's a case study in how to think about international events using mental models. Allison & Zelikow explore three methods at increasing levels of detail:

The events of 1962, when the USSR moved nuclear missiles into Cuba and then withdrew them, are Allison & Zelikow's archetypal example. In the concluding chapter the authors suggest a checklist of questions to ponder for each technique:

Analogous analytic tools directly apply to countless situations in history, business, and even personal life!

And what's missing? Perhaps an explicit recognition of probability — rough odds associated with competing hypotheses and alternatives — with thoughts on how to estimate and update those Bayesian likelihoods, along with comments on quantitative tests of one's models and their implications. Cue "Expert Political Judgment" by Phil Tetlock and colleagues, a few decades later ...

^z - 2019-04-09