Representation and misrepresentation: Tufte and the Morton Thiokol engineers on the Challenger

@article{Robison2002RepresentationAM,
  title={Representation and misrepresentation: Tufte and the Morton Thiokol engineers on the Challenger},
  author={Wade L. Robison},
  journal={Science and Engineering Ethics},
  year={2002},
  volume={8},
  pages={59-81}
}
  • W. Robison
  • Published 2002
  • Engineering
  • Science and Engineering Ethics
This paper examines the role of the Morton Thiokol engineers in the decisions surrounding the launch of the Challenger, particularly with reference to an analysis of this event by Edward Tufte. The engineers at Morton Thiokol recommended against the launch of Challenger because the projected launch temperature between 26°F to 29°F was far outside their field database of successful launches. The engineers had asked for, but not received, data necessary to determine the cause of massive blow-by… 
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Examination of interview testimony, published hearings, and tabular data examined by the decision participants at the time of the Challenger launch shows that analysis of data and reasoning were flawed and that the flaws are attributable in large measure not to personal or even organizational failings but rather to a professional weakness shared by all participants.
Decisions in Doubt: The Environment and Public Policy
Using examples from the area of waste management but touching also upon issues like the ozone layer, contaminated foodstuffs, and asbestos removal, Robison presents a new vision for rational decision