Exaggeration of programme achievements
Other Names: Exaggeration of research significance
Exaggeration of organization performance
Incidence: The Challenger space shuttle disaster has been seen as deriving from failure to effectively report on the inadequate performance of the O-rings used as sealants. Officials responsible for developing an anti-missile system to defend the USA were discovered in 1992 to have repeatedly exaggerated the achievements of space experiments and flight tests conducted in 1990 to demonstrate the success of their research efforts. The seven tests each cost between $12 million and $50 million. More questions remained unanswered than were publicly acknowledged by programme officials. During the Gulf War, the performance of high tech weaponry was repeatedly exaggerated, partly to confuse the enemy and partly to facilitate future sales of such products.
Claim: To compensate for the "bad news", including that emanating from the doomsday think-tankers, there is a backlash into "good news". In addition the capacity for dealing with negative feedback is being eroded by other priorities (career, funding, etc), especially when there is a despairing sense that nothing can be successfully achieved. Thus the art of report writing in many institutions, especially at the international level, is increasingly understood in terms of upbeat writing that avoids any negatives and exaggerates whatever is required to maintain the status quo or create the illusion of satisfactory progress.
Problem Type: F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update 01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET