Soon after earning my B.S. degree in engineering at Drexel
in 1943, I entered the U.S. Army
Air Corp. During this period, I set up a five-year reading
program to learn the fundamentals
of every subject I considered to be worth knowing.
This program had the unexpected result of changing my direction
in life. I was intrigued to find
that most people uncritically accept whatever they are taught,
whether it is correct or not.
That led me to search for other errors inherent in the human
thinking process. It was soon
obvious that most errors occur because a person’s information
is incomplete or incorrect.
Eventually I identified eight types of basic errors.
Even more interesting, I was able to trace the source of these
errors to stages in the evolution
of our thinking mechanism. The human brain evolved to serve
the needs of a succession of
primitive creatures in a much simpler environment. As a result,
it has some significant shortcomings
in serving humans in our much more complex environment.
I then tried to learn the mechanism for the way we think and
have made some useful progress in
this project. During these five decades, my other life was
progressing reasonably well. I became
the general manager of a small specialty chemical company.
Then I joined with some colleagues to
buy, manage, and sell a larger company. After that I joined
another group to start a company
from scratch. During this later period I consulted in general
management for senior executives.
This helped confirm my observation that most problems originate
not in the circumstances, but in
I decided to sponsor a fellowship at Drexel to do research
in my areas of interest. The principal benefit of this program
was to bring me into contact with Dr. Eric Zillmer. A few
years later, he suggested that we set up a professorship with
the objective of facilitating research and study by others
in the work I had started.
Fortunately, after years of struggle, the company I had co-founded
was doing well enough so that I
could use some of my stock to sponsor this professorship.
The objective of the professorship is to
bring our work to the attention of others, with the hope that
they will find it of sufficient interest to
continue this fascinating project.