Zachary Shore is Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He previously served on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State. He is the author of many books, including: What Hitler Knew: The Battle for Information in Nazi Foreign Policy, and Breeding Bin Ladens: America, Islam, and the Future of Europe. His most recent book is Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions.
In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Zachary Shore talks about decision making, both at the personal and international level, and shares reasons even smart people make bad decisions. He describes what the field of history uniquely reveals about the tools needed to avoid decision-making blunders. He details the many ways that people fall into “cognition traps,” including “exposure anxiety,” “causefusion,” “flatview,” and “static cling,” drawing from examples from individuals, international politics and statecraft, and corporate America. He identifies the various rigid mindsets that cause the cognition traps. And he suggests solutions to avoid blunders in thinking, including increasing one’s empathy, imagination, and flexibility.