Malicious Protocolisation

I recently shared @Timber’s Safe New World with a friend and received the following comment (along with this Hot Fuzz snippet):

“…companies invented the “accident” nomenclature to deflect responsibility for the injuries and death they caused. This was, in turn, adopted by the auto industry.”

I don’t think it’s necessarily as simple as that but I do think there’s merit to the idea that malicious (or at least banally evil) protocolisation is a recurring pattern. So, I’m wondering what examples of *malicious protocols / protocolisation have been spotted?

  1. “Accidents” (and similar nomenclature / being-maiming normalisation)
  2. Torture protocols (e.g. dissident treatment and forcibly extracting information)

The latter comes to mind b/c of the Arendt reference. Others?

*malicious > negative side effects or externalities


I’ll have to dig into the history of the word… that’s interesting to think about. If your friend has any good reads on the subject, lmk.

Was recently reading Risk and Culture and there’s a great quote: “…the defining feature of primitive mentality is to try to nail a cause for every misfortune.”

I suppose to label a negative event an accident is to blame chance or fate. Which is convenient if you’re seeking to avoid financial or legal accountability.

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Oooo the book looks interesting. Related to that quote is this piece: Why You’ve Never Been in a Plane Crash.

"The end result was that the aviation industry became one of the first to embrace the concept of a “blameless postmortem” as a legally codified principle underpinning all investigations. In 1951, compelled by the reality that their industry was not widely regarded as safe, aviation experts from around the world gathered to compose Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. This seminal document aimed to standardize the conduct of air accident investigations among all member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Annex 13 holds that the primary purpose of an aircraft accident investigation is to prevent future accidents — a decision that implicitly privileged prevention above the search for liability. Conducting a police-style investigation that faults a deceased pilot does nothing to affect the probability of future accidents. To follow the spirit of Annex 13, investigators must ask how others could be prevented from making the same mistakes in the future. This document, and in particular this provision, formed the basis for the modern practice of aircraft accident investigation. Most aircraft accident reports around the world today open with some variant of the principle, such as the NTSB’s disclaimer…"