I recently was asked to read an article on "Survivorship Bias
." It is fairly long and it may take some people a bit to wrap their brains around the concept, but it is provocative and sound. If one considers how pervasive this paradigm really is at every echelon of human existence, one has to wonder why thinking people have allowed Survivorship Bias to go so long unchecked and unchallenged? While a search of the Internet would lead one to think Survivorship Bias is confined to the financial realm of investing, the author of the article allows us to see it painted with a broader swash. This is good, IMO.
WARNING: Not to be too melodramatic, it is not so much the concept which will give you brain strain, but the inevitable and involuntary response to apply it will create quite a mental tussle (at least it has for me). Assimilating the concept will require nothing less than a paradigm-shift in your thinking. Personally, it has been almost eight weeks since I was challenged to read the article. I have been trying to digest the ramifications from the first day and I still get a headache if I try to think it through to its logical end (haven't made it yet). Further, in imagining what a world would look like if Survivorship Bias had been identified and precluded from society, I am led down a corridor which becomes quite complex.
At the end of the day... my two-month long mental sparring with Survivorship Bias leaves me with some questions which continually provoke me...
- Has there ever been a human society which was able to rise above the trap of Survivorship Bias?
- What would that culture have looked like?
- How would have technology advanced if it had been born and nurtured in an environment free of Survivorship Bias?
- How did Survivorship Bias become so globally accepted given the effects are so harmful?
- Is it even possible to completely un-learn Survivorship Bias?
Again, the read itself is long (you may want to print it out). Anyway, here is what I suggest...
<> Find yourself a good hour(s) of uninterrupted time to read the article and absorb its contents.
<> Grab yourself a friendly cup of hot tea or other familiar (favorite) beverage.
<> Take your laptop, iPad, etc. to your comfy spot and get ready for your mind to be bent in a way never before conceived.
<> Please report back when you've had a chance to let it sift through your considerations and have mentally applied it to your everyday life. I am very curious to learn if my experience of the effects are common or unique.
One final thought. After one reads the article please come back here and consider the following...
DC is a community of coders, et.al., who have had to struggle through a variety of challenges of unruly design and syntax (read: failures). In consideration of Survivorship Bias, one has to wonder how many unrealized "successes" never saw the light of day because the programmers were led away from the opportunity by the Pied Piper's notes?
[Disclaimer - It is obvious I am zealous on the subject, so it behooves me to advise the reader I have no relationship with the author and I receive no compensation.]