We tend to think of disasters as uncontrollable acts of nature or inevitable accidents. But are such incidents unavoidable or ever truly accidental? The authors of this remarkable book say we actually do have the power to prevent tragedies such as the flooding from Hurricane Katrina, the death toll from dangerous medicines like Vioxx, and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Marc Gerstein and Michael Ellsberg insist that disasters need not be inevitable if we learn from history, prepare carefully for the worst case, and speak out when we see danger looming. This revelation makes their compelling study extremely valuable for readers in business, government, medicine, academia—indeed all walks of life.
Flirting with Disaster will do for catastrophe what Blink did for intuition, and The Black Swan did for probability: provide a popular audience with an engaging, in-depth view of a complex and important topic. Gerstein and Ellsberg examine the culture of institutions: why even people of good will and inside knowledge underestimate risk; feel psychologically incapable of averting tragedy and unable to pick up the pieces afterward; and don’t come forward forcefully enough to head off catastrophe. They also celebrate those who go beyond the call of duty to save others, including Dr. David Graham of the FDA who courageously stood up to reveal Vioxx’s deadly effects. One such whistleblower contributes both a foreword and an afterword: Daniel Ellsberg, renowned for releasing the Pentagon Papers.
Flirting with Disaster provides a pathway for those who want to foster truthtelling in their organization and head off disasters in the making. At once alarming, entertaining, and hopeful, it offers readers very real and practical lessons for everyday life.