Survivorship Bias – Mother of all Bias


Wherever Dexter looks, he finds hordes of successful people; They are on TV, they are in the newspapers, on Magazine covers, on banners and in advertisements. They are successful and everyone talks about them. No one talks about those who arent successful or famous. We look at these stars and we get inspired.

This subconsciously makes us overconfident and thus we weigh our chances of success way higher than they really are. We argue saying, when so many successful people can do it then it must be easy and even we can do it. In country like India where the population is now over 1.2 billion and steadily increasing, chances of success, be it sports, writing, startups, getting into good Grad school are very very tough. The odds are minuscule, slightly above Zero.

We spend more time staring at successful people than looking at the graveyard of unsuccessful ones, we try to identify and associate ourselves with stars and we get mesmerised with the similarities between us, thus rating are chances of success way higher than they really are.

If you ever get time, visit the graveyard of those unsuccessful people who outnumber the successful ones in the ratio greater than 1000:1 and try to identify or associate yourself with them. You would be surprised to see the similarities and I bet there will be many.

The moto here is to learn from the unsuccessful people, as in what they did wrong and never repeat those mistakes. Further weigh your chances logically, not blindly.

To read more on Survivorship Bias, try these

1) You are not so Smart
2) Art of thinking Clearly
2) wikipedia



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