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Can You Write an Accurate After Action Report When You Know How Things Turned Out?

The fact that you know the endpoint may skew the narrative.

by Eric Holdeman / December 27, 2020

Many an after action report (AAR) will be written following the pandemic's end. Likely, there may even be a national commission to study how our nation responded to the virus, its spread, the treatments, the deaths, the PPE, etc. 

This podcast from Hidden Brain, "The Halo Effect," looks at how as we look back, knowing the final outcome of the event may change how we feel about how things went down. It is like knowing the end of a mystery book about midway through the text. It spoils the ending of course, and you may not even finish the book because you know how it turns out. As you read it, you know who the villain is, which taints how you feel about the person before you know "officially" what they did. 

The particular podcast episode looks back at the safety record of the Ford Pinto and what it finally took to make for a national recall of the car and how early reports of problems were noted, but not acted upon. 

Here is the description of the podcast:

"Judy, Lyn and Donna Ulrich were driving to a volleyball game when their Ford Pinto was hit from behind by a Chevy van. The Pinto caught fire, and the three teenagers were burned to death. This week on Hidden Brain, we talk to a former Ford insider who could have voted to recall the Pinto years before the Ulrich girls were killed — but didn't. And we ask, is it possible to fairly evaluate our past actions when we know how things turned out?"

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