In World War Z, one of the characters described something called "the tenth man rule."

After several disasters that NO ONE thought could happen, the Council decided that if a vote was unanimous against a possible outcome, one member would act as if it was ABSOLUTELY going to happen, and trying to prevent it. This way, if they have a crisis, one man is prepared for it, and assumes directorship of the council for the duration of the crisis.

It sounds familiar to me, but I can't place it...

Does this have any basis in fact/policy in any real government, or was this a pure fabrication? If it's purely fictional, has this concept been used in other works?

  • 1
    Where is your quoted text from? Sep 7, 2013 at 8:32
  • A bit OT-answer, but there are some similarly named rules in other fiction; like "the odd man" rule ("The Andromeda Strain"), and "the two man" rule for using nuclear weapons ("The Sum of All Fears", "The Dead Zone") (which may actually be a real procedure) Mar 3, 2014 at 14:56
  • Perhaps agreement is not the goal in a world where conformity is like a cancer. He who thinks, wins.
    – user13058
    Aug 4, 2014 at 13:16

4 Answers 4


I do remember talking about this in Political Science class. This does happen. It's based on the Argumentative Theory.

  • 13
    if you posted the relevant items discussed in the link instead of just linking to it, you will probably get more up votes
    – Tablemaker
    Jul 21, 2013 at 21:13

In the Wikipedia article Capital and corporal punishment in Judaism, it's stated that if the Beth Din (a rabbinical court) was judging a capital case, and there was a unanimous verdict of guilty, the accused was released, because there must be something wrong with the court if no judge could find anything to excuse the accused.

A unanimous verdict being treated with suspicion would be consistent with "the tenth man rule."


The Vatican used to have the Devil's Advocate. During canonisation, which is part of the selection of people for elevation to sainthood, somebody is selected to play Devil's Advocate. Their job is to cast doubt on the person's character. They also try to prove that the miracles required for canonisation are fraudulent and so on.

The Vatican still actively looks for critics of the potential saints but they are no longer required by their own laws to do so.


I don't know if there is such rule in Israel, but in the intelligence section of the IDF there is a unit called "Ipha mistabra". The purpose of this unit is to doubt everything and come out with alternative theories to every regular theory the intel section has. It was founded after the war at 1973.

  • 5
    Some links or quotes to back up what you are saying would go a long way to actually "answering" this question. Can you fill in some blanks here? Sep 3, 2013 at 17:30
  • As written be user6011 ^ , there is a such unit in IDF's research department that it's purpose is doubt everything. It's Research Department (Aman).
    – Avni Yayin
    Dec 1, 2013 at 5:29

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