You are an expert at gathering facts and making technical observations.  

Admittedly, I say that based on a reasonable supposition about who will end up reading these articles.  We like data, and often we want just the facts. John Stuart Mill suggested, however, that “the habit of analysis has a tendency to wear away the feelings” [1].  Years later, a neuroscientist validated a complementary idea, suggesting that “decision making is seriously compromised” in patients with the kind of brain injury or congenital defects that limit emotional response [2]. Still more recently, Daniel Kahneman has written an entire book on our mental biases and inclinations and how we often make poor decisions, even when we have all the facts we need.

This suggests that the facts are not enough.  

Journalists already know this, and they have a saying to convey the principle: “Don’t let the facts get in the way of the story” [3].  Chip and Dan Heath also suggest that stories are important, and they identify two principles that give stories their power: “simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act)” [4].

We need both facts and stories.

This profession needs statements and feedback. We need discourse. I’m asking you to read and respond, because the fact is, your words matter.


  1. Alan Jacobs. How to Think (Kindle Edition), pg 84.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Unknown.
  4. Chip and Dan Heath. Made to Stick (Kindle Edition), location 3486.

what next?

Future articles and call for topics:

  • Flight Test Fact 19-01, a newsletter published for the Flight Test Safety Committee (coming to an email inbox near you in January 2019)
  • Reach Everyone – a qualitative statement of desired readership for the Flight Test Fact newsletter
  • 117% – a quantitative target of desired readership for the Flight Test Fact Newsletter
  • “It didn’t work, but it was worth the exercise” – A review of “Systems Theoretic Process Analysis Applied to the Air Force Test Safety Process”
  • Review of “Systems Theoretic Process Analysis”
  • Values – Words should be scalpels, not swords.
  • Review of “A New Accident Model for Engineering Safer Systems”
  • Values – Life is Like a Saturn V Rocket
  • Review of “Analyzing Links Between Language, Performance, Error and Workload”

Follow @flighttestfact on twitter, or subscribe to the feed to be part of the discourse.

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