By Arnold Kling
David points to an example in which Madeleine Albright is willing to see Iraqi children die, presumably because of American policy. That may be cruel, but it is not an example of the pathology that I was describing. What Angelo Mozilo or Roland Arnall would have done would have been to deny that their policies were causing any harm. They would have attempted to wall off reality altogether.
I do not say that women are perfect. However, I think that there are some men with a greater willingness/ability to create an alternate universe than I have ever observed or read about in a top woman executive. When such men get to the top of large organizations, the results sometimes can be remarkable (historians of Apple Computer have written of the “Steve Jobs reality distortion field”) and sometimes catastrophic. In the case of finance, where the downside potential seems to me so much higher than in other fields (and where, contrary to what we might prefer, the downside risk is effectively socialized), I would prefer not to see “reality distortion fields” operating at high levels.
So far, although I have seen women who lack integrity or scruples of various sorts, I do not see the sort of “reality distortion fields” or spectacular overconfidence that I see in some male CEO’s. The latter come to believe that everything good that happens to them reflects their skill, everything bad that happens reflects luck or conspiracies, their critics are liars, and their doubters can be dismissed as malcontents. Albright does not strike me as falling into that pathology.