Wednesday, September 17


The Power of Dissent is an op-ed article at which states an opinion that I have held for a long time. To summarize, it says that nay-sayers are very important for any community or organization. The article is specifically directed at NASA in the wake of the report from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, but I think, and the author seems to agree with me, the concept has implications for every community.

However, if dissent is really a necessary part of a healthy community how do we know how much dissent is good? A group can be torn apart by petty bickering. If more effort is spent "putting out fires" than achieving the community's aims, then the dissent is destructive to the group. But, dissent can be destructive at much lower levels, Sometimes the motives for dissent, and/or the motives for ignoring the dissent, are intellectually dishonest. I think most of these cases can be detected as logical fallacies. (But really, who knows all the logical fallacies? (Maybe this is why we should learn them.))

So, the real question is how much dissent is too much?