Why We Should Move On From The Idea Of The ‘Cowboy Leader’

Early on in You’re About To Make A Terrible Mistake, author Olivier Sibony tells a story that sounds like the plot of a caper movie. Back in 1975, the French state-owned oil company Elf Aquitaine was approached by two men who claimed to have developed a method of discovering oil without drilling. A specially-equipped plane would “sniff” oil from a high altitude. It sounds ridiculous, but this was in the wake of the first oil shock and governments and businesses were in a panic about what they would do for energy if the crisis continued. The French government, says Sibony, had launched an advertising campaign under the slogan “In France, we don’t have oil, but we do have ideas.”

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