The authors of The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis make the point that the longer the discussions between President Kennedy and his advisers about what to do about the Soviet missiles in Cuba progress, the less they refer to historical events such as the attack on Pearl Harbour as a way of making sense of what is happening. The authors call this use of history as ‘intellectual shortcutting’ which is ‘a natural tendency when busy persons of active temperament confront unfamiliar circumstances’.
The authors attribute the gradual immersion in the detail of the crisis before them as the reason for the decreasing frequency with which Kennedy and his advisers refer to historical precedents. This analysis reinforces the importance of emphasising hard evidence ahead of simple and seductive assumptions that what may have explained something happening before, can explain why it happened or will happen again.
By stepping back from the information and following the other four steps towards a good decision, a decision maker increases her ability to methodically analyse the data instead of defaulting to instinct.