THE MAGAZINE

When Did You Last Clean Out Your Mental Closet?

By Sherry Harowitz

More recently, the New York Times had an article about how the United Nations was able to deflect charges that a contingent of the U.N.’s foreign volunteer forces from Nepal had brought cholera to Haiti. The U.N. played on the world’s faith in the integrity of the U.N. and willingness to blame Haiti’s poor sanitation and conditions created by the earthquake.

The media propagated that line, but now forensic analysis shows that the cause was indeed infected Nepalese troops.
Sometimes opinions harden into doctrine with little supporting evidence. Everyone believes they need eight glasses of water daily. Repeated news investigations find absolutely no basis for the claim. It has become dogma nonetheless. Many other “truisms” deserve a skeptical second thought.

So how can we clean our mental house of such dross? French philosopher Rene Descartes said it best, “[I]t is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”

More than once in your life is probably even better. Security professionals can apply that principle by periodically questioning everything from the assumptions behind risk management strategies to the accepted wisdom of who commits crimes.

 

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