Monday, December 15, 2008

Well, it was a fairly quiet weekend so y.t. sat down with an idea which came from a radio interview heard late Friday.

The question behind the interview was "Which nationality pilot would you prefer to have in command when you fly?"

The basis for the question was the "Critical Distance Index". A bit of google shows that this comes in part from one Richard Hofstadter, and that name gives another link to the past - Douglas Hofstadter. Any relation? No idea.

The idea behind the Critical Distance Index is the relationship between authority and the cultural ability to criticise those with more or greater authority. So, if for example you were flying Korea or JAL or Emirates, the CDI in the cockpit would be large as Korea, Japan and UAE are all nations with great respect for authority; their culture does not allow for subordinates to communicate freely with their superiors.

So, why the connection to airline pilots? Very simple really. The command and successful flying of a modern aircraft requires communication between at least three people on the flightdeck, as well as the ability to communicate and receive the information coming from aircraft systems.

If the CDI is large, that ability to communicate is curtailed and the risk to aircraft increases.

So that was the general context of the interview. I missed who was being interviewed, which is a shame. But it did have the outcome of putting me on the trail of the idea. It seems that it originally came from Hofstedter's study of the relationships between electorate and politicians, and the stability of the political system in place. The higher the CDI, the less the criticism of government action, the greater the acceptance of those in power, and the lower the available freedom of the electorate.

It appears that the whole idea is in a book Hofstadter has just published. I think that I know what I will be reading on those long warm summer evenings in Opo over the next couple weeks.

Oh, and of specific mention; the two nations with the lowest CDI are (apparently Australia and NZ. Does that say something? Like fly Air New Zealand or QANTAS? Mebbe. It also shows up in our national disrespect for authority and especially unreasonable authority.

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