'If everyone is guilty then no one is to blame' argued Greta Thunberg.  So from climate change to the possibility of nuclear catastrophe, world hunger to abject poverty, one of the first questions many ask is, 'who is to blame?'  But could this be a mistake? Recent studies show that, instead of pursuing better policies backed by new data, a culture of blame leads politicians to maintain bad policy or fault their predecessors. While an enquiry into the UK's National Health Service concluded that blame culture was a serious threat to patient safety.

Is it a mistake to blame those in power as routinely bad and incompetent, and would we be better to see errors and crises as inherent in the running of any organisation, institution or government? Should we recognise that often there is no ideal answer, no action that will avoid serious outcomes and focus on what should be done next to address current failings? Or is blame a vitally useful social sanction that is essential to limit self-serving behaviour and reckless risk-taking?

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