Critical Thinking Failures in the Bhopal Gas Leak: Question 5C
After watching the video One Night in Bhopal, I was struck by the lack of critical thinking. There were many instances where a moment of Socratic questioning would have saved countless lives and dollars. In the following paragraphs I will highlight the most grievous of critical thinking errors as I saw them.
The first failure of critical thinking was the intellectual hypocrisy. The American workers had and emergency plan in place, but the Indian workers were not afforded the same luxury. This double standard was mainly due to the Indian managers' intellectual cowardice and conformity. They did not want to “cause a panic” by setting these precautions in place for the local populace.
The parent company, Union Carbide, also exhibited socio-centric thinking. They were concerned for their own profit margins at the expense of the safety of their workers and the people who lived in the shanty-town around the plant. The management in the plant also exhibited intellectual arrogance and distrust of reason when they dismissed the concerns of Dr. Kumkum Saxena (now Modwel). She came to them repeatedly about the safety of the plant and its' workers. When she was slowly pushed away from the management team and their meetings she got fed up and quit.
While Dr. Modwel was employed with Union Carbide, she warned of the dangers of methyl isocyanate exposure. She was handed the appeal to authority and appeal to experience arguments by her supervisor. While not expressly stated in the video, I infer that there was also appeals to tradition and begging the question used to argue the company's position. They also questioned her conclusions and tried to shift the burden of proof.
The handling of the case after the accident was a case study in “dirty tricks.” To this day the company, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, has...