Survivorship Bias

How often do we focus our analysis on winners? They could be winners in any aspect of life; sport, business, medicine, but the case is clear – we tend to look towards those who are successful for clues and lessons on how to be more successful ourselves. But is this actually the right way to do things?


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5 replies
    • Martin Bingisser
      Martin Bingisser says:

      And Syed’s stuff is from other people. I first read about the story in Jordan Ellenberg’s “How Not to Be Wrong”, but the story has been told for more than a half century . . . information goes around and we all add our new ideas to it.

      Reply
      • Marc
        Marc says:

        Dunning-Kruger syndrome (as it’s often called) was identified by the Greeks millennia ago. Nothing is really new – but that doesn’t invalidate the point.

      • Martin Bingisser
        Martin Bingisser says:

        Dunning-Kruger (overvaluing your own skills in some situations) is slightly different than the Survivorship Bias (assuming success of others is attributable to their skills), but both are important and hardly new. As long as humans could think they’ve likely had these issues. It is just helpful to bring them to light. The more we know about them, the better we can account for them.

  1. Mr H
    Mr H says:

    This is very important for young athletes and educating them as to what constitutes successful training. Trying to get youngsters working on long and triple jump out of the habit of wanting to do full runups all the time and obsess about hitting the board when working on technical elements can be very hard, especially when it gets reinforced by parents. It is very depressing when they run from 10 metres further back than you asked, don’t execute the skill you are focusing on and when you try to point this out to them they reply, “Yeah, but I hit the board,” supported by a “Good jump son!” from the sidelines. The majority get it in the end, some quicker than others, but there is always a small gaggle that fall by the wayside, normally those that play team sports at a club that just do full games for their ‘training’, often run by the same shouty dads!

    Reply

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