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Survivorship bias: when failure gets forgotten

Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs
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Survivorship bias occurs when we pay attention to successes rather than failures and build our conclusions on the basis of these successes alone.

This causes us to omit the role that luck and circumstance play and gives us a false sense of the true chance of success for an endeavor.

How can we avoid survivorship bias?

  • Looking for missing or unacknowledged elements of a success story.
  • Acknowledge that luck plays a role in your success.
  • Do not follow recipes for success that are only given after the fact, as they will likely be biased.
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