July 03, 2014 at 09:43PM
"In complex systems we should expect that minor factors we can usually ignore will sometimes cause major incidents." #readingToday

Viewed separately, each of the failures was of a type considered both commonplace and acceptable. Polisher problems were not unusual at the plant, nor were they normally very serious; with hundreds of valves regularly being opened or closed in a nuclear power plant, leaving some valves in the wrong position was not considered rare or alarming; and the pressure-relief valve was known to be somewhat unreliable and had failed at times without major consequences in at least eleven other power plants. Yet strung together, these failures make the plant seem as if it had been run by the Keystone Kops. And so after the incident at Three Mile Island came many investigations and much laying of blame, as well as a very different consequence. That string of events spurred Yale sociologist Charles Perrow to create a new theory of accidents, in which is codified the central argument of this chapter: in complex systems (among which I count our lives) we should expect that minor factors we can usually ignore will by chance sometimes cause major incidents.

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives, Leonard Mlodinow´╗┐