Cognitive Dissonance in the After Action Report

There is a genetic benefit in being able to lie; it generally increases an organism’s fitness. “She means nothing to me, baby.” In turn, there is a selective benefit in being able to spot lies; we humans are very good at it. The next step in the arms race is to believe our own lies. Then others cannot spot us lying, because we appear sincere. We tend to believe what we want to believe, whatever would be most advantageous for us. This particular explanation of why we believe what we want to believe is just a hypothesis. It is a fact that we lie to ourselves regularly, and normally this serves us well. In the face of failure, it allows us to point fingers at others and shirk the blame. This is important in social settings. We are quick to eat our own when they let us down. Look at politicians, who are some of the most powerful people in the world. They lie all the time, and this mostly gets them more power. When navigating a social power structure, self-deception is a key tool. “I did not have sex with that woman.” (No really, I didn’t.) When you are trying to refine strategy in the face of failure, self-deception sabotages that process at the very beginning. When you have shifted the blame to someone else, you cannot own it and you cannot change it. Many of the worst disasters in the business world and in politics have come from self-deceptions that were strong political tools but led to terrible real world practices. In Eve, after-action reports are filled with these things. “She did not broadcast for reps in time.” “The logi anchor fucked up.” “The guys did not shoot the primary.” FCs may never bother to write it down, but you will at least hear it on comms. Listen to almost any FC, and if you believe him, he is a tactical genius beset by idiots, incompetents, and terribly bad luck. Fuck that. Here is a rule of thumb: The FC is responsible for everything that happens in and to his/her fleet. S/he needed to instruct how to do it right, he needed to tell the logi anchor where to be, and she needed to anticipate the hotdrop. By taking responsibility, s/he empowers him/herself to learn and to do better next time. It takes five minutes to take the logi anchor aside, and talk to him/her about positioning. It takes a little more effort to get a scout to watch the hotdropper’s staging system. The first step in making either of these things happen, is the FC deciding that it is his responsibility. In order for it to be her responsibility, s/he has to own the original mistake. If you’re prideful, you don’t have to tell anyone but yourself what you did wrong. Fuck all those other guys. This is about your obligation to yourself. This is about responsibility, which is not exactly the same thing as blame, and is definitely not about punishing failure. Who here thinks Darth Vader empowered the Imperial Fleet when he started strangling his officers? I think he inspired a load of cowardice and ass covering. Ga7HE6Nl In that spirit, I’m going to tell a bunch of judgmental anonymous assholes about the time I lost a titan. I had a 30 man Machariel roaming gang in GE-8. We won some small skirmishes and were enjoying all the ganks. Then something amazing happened. Brave dropped two unsupported dreadnoughts on a hidey-hole POS we had set up in V-3Y. It had just come out of reinforced. We warped the Machariels over there and started killing one of the dreads. At around this time, Perseus Kalistratos came on comms. PL super pilots know in seconds when capitals get tackled. He was ready. He had a titan in U-QV prepared to drop. He wanted in on the kills. My response was hesitant. We did not need a titan to kill two dreadnoughts. Proper play is that you never escalate if you don’t have to. It’s just like how you don’t show your poker hand until you actually have to. When the first dread died I had a change of mind. Perseus Kalistratos could bring in Hurley to get on the killmail. Capital pilots like to show up on killmails with their shiny stuff. I think purples were mentioned at some point. So he comes in and blasts the second dread with my permission. That was a big mistake. Black Legion pour in a massive Ishtar fleet after Brave bubbled the titan. We actually smartbombed the first bubble but Hurley was not aligned and the second Brave bubbler got him. The Ishtars chased off our roaming fleet and put up a mobile inhibitor. Hurley did not light a cyno before the inhibitor went up. At that point I suicided the Machariel fleet to try to kill the inhibitor. We got in tantalizingly low in structure before we all died. Next, Bipster lights a rescue cyno a bit beyond 70 km and the titan dies before we can get reps in range. We lost a few carriers and a super that had warped to a gate during extraction. Let us take a moment to document Persues Kalistratos’ actions with an eye to throwing him under the bus. What is the argument that he was responsible?
  • He lobbied long and hard to take his enormous ship into the danger-zone.
  • He did not GTFO after he got on the dreadnought killmail.
  • He did not light a cyno on his titan when he should have seen the inhibitor going online.
  • As a kicker, he yelled at Bipster, who was doing his best to help, and he rage quit comms when the capital fleet was still in jeopardy.
Let us assume I make the above argument seriously. Perseus is to blame for the titan loss. What can I learn about the situation? The lesson is, piloting the big ships takes skill. That might be news to people who have not piloted capitals before. Fighting them can feel daunting, but the truth is, that sometimes billions of ISK rest on the razor’s edge. One dumb move in a moment of panic or distraction can be the end. This is not really helpful, because for capital jockeys, this is not news. The correct way to view it from my perspective, is that I am responsible for the titan loss. In fact, bringing up Perseus’ mistakes is in rather bad taste because it smacks of evasion. Yes, I could duck the blame and let people’s anger at Perseus cover my own mistakes. But that would be poor leadership. I carry a link in the chain of causation. As FC, I’m the guy with overwatch. I gave Perseus permission to come in, when we knew Brave were trying to be sneaky. If I had said, “no”, it would not have mattered how long nor how hard Perseus was. We would not be discussing the finer details of capital piloting if I had not given him permission. Nothing he would have done would have led to his loss. Furthermore, I knew better. “You do not escalate if you do not have to.” I can learn a great deal more from that vantage point. To start with, I am motivated to investigate what happened. There is that obvious point. Breaking rules of thumb is not a good thing. They exist because of lessons drawn from earlier failures. But more interesting statements also come:
  • Post Pheobe wormholes are the number one method for hunting distant capitals. Use them and watch for them.
  • Saving a capital ship two jumps from the staging system is an order of magnitude harder than one jump from the staging system.
  • I need to stop listening to people who want to whore killmails.
  • During a fleet, pilots have a tendency to advocate for themselves and not for the fleet. To be in control of the situation, it is important to discern what kind of lobbying is going on. (It is your own fault if you listen to bad advice.)
  • I have developed a relatively reasonable strategy for saving a capital under a mobile jammer. No, I will not tell you about it.
I’m sorry I got your titan exploded, Perseus. And, no I won’t pay for a new one.
Tags: fleet command, Mukk

About the author

Mukk Barovian

Mukk is a long time skirmish FC with a penchant for overpropping his ships.