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How Reason Almost Lost Its MindThe Strange Career of Cold War Rationality$
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Paul Erickson, Judy L. Klein, Lorraine Daston, Rebecca Lemov, Thomas Sturm, and Michael D. Gordin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226046631

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226046778.001.0001

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Saving the Planet from Nuclear Weapons and the Human Mind

Saving the Planet from Nuclear Weapons and the Human Mind

(p.81) Three Saving the Planet from Nuclear Weapons and the Human Mind
How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind

Paul Erickson

Judy L. Klein

Lorraine Daston

Paul Rebecca

Thomas Sturm

Michael D. Gordin

University of Chicago Press

Framed around debates concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis, this chapter investigates three contrasting approaches to the intersection of psychology with nuclear strategy. The first is Herman Kahn’s erasure of human psychology in his proposal of a flexible response as opposed to Bertrand Russell’s articulation of the nuclear standoff as analogous to a game of “Chicken.” The two others — Charles Osgood’s graduated disarmament strategy known as GRIT and Irving Janis’s critique of collective decision-making popularized as “groupthink” — attempted to reverse Kahn’s escalatory logic by incorporating aspects of psychological behavior into the rational framework dominant in the discipline at the time.

Keywords:   Nuclear, Herman Kahn, Groupthink, Charles Osgood, GRIT, Cuban Missile Crisis, cognitive dissonance

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