Survivorship bias: Why failures get forgotten

Survivorship bias is the fallacy of focusing on things that survived, counting them in the data and analysis, while ignoring the things that didn’t survive.

A magician can ask you to choose a number, 1-5, and then pull your chosen number out of a pocket. Wow! It gets some applause. Of course, if you’d chosen a different number, the magician would have just pulled a different number out of a different pocket. You don’t see the other options, though, the ones that would have failed, so the trick seems amazing.

A friend once said she admired me because I’m always able to accomplish the crazy goals I set for myself. She might legitimately admire me for that, but it’s not true that I’m always able to accomplish the goals I set for myself.

She just doesn’t see the goals I miss, the times I fail.

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