The virtue of coolness

Some historical aircraft had horrible handling characteristics in a stall. Modern high authority autopilots can tame aircraft which have even more horrible handling characteristics, but back in the 40's or 60's this technology wasn't available yet.

Some aircraft stalled suddenly, spiralled out of control and pilots died trying to steer against this. Others effectively broke apart because of violent pitching. Counter-intuitively, in some aircraft designs the best method to leave the a hazardous situation was to leave the control stick alone. 
Once the aircraft wasn't tortured with the frantic attempts at steering, their built-in aerodynamic stability did (slowly) the job of recovering from the hazardous flight situation.
This is extremely counter-intuitive, and I wonder how pilots were ever able to find out about this solution at all.

This wouldn't be fit for a blog post here if it wasn't an enticing analogy: 

Sometimes, leaning back and staying cool may be the right thing to do. Think of this especially in face of errorist threats and in regard to systems / communities which have a great deal of inertia or ability to absorb trouble.
Frantic attempts to fight an acute problem may prolong or even worsen the problem.

The COIN people had some insights (keyword "accidental guerilla") in this direction, but this certain coolness and readiness to apply self-discipline and to not do the most obvious thing is not in the mainstream yet.

Don't get me wrong; usually the best recipe against problems is action. It's the cases where action does not yield success in a reasonable timeframe after great expenditures where we should consider the virtues of coolness. The study of history (not just the own country's) can help us to identify these cases even without great expenditure and much waste of time.

I suppose the persistent security policy problems are prime candidates which deserve a coolness-based therapy. Let's ignore North Korea.
Let's calm down about cyber threats (which happen to be addressed by private agents better than by public ones anyway).
Let's calm down about the errorist threat. 12 years of frenzy are plenty - let's regain coolness and remember they can at most scratch us superficially while even largely tolerated issues such as tobacco are pushing our intestines into a meat chopper.


1 comment:

  1. Ah but the press and the politicians what would they do without it all. I agree about NK the most I think we should just ignore them and let them die off. They throw a fit every ones in awhile and the world would give them things to get them to stop and like a spoiled child they did it over and over again.