This is a GREAT ONE to wrap your head around, I also think it’s one of the hardest ones for me to put in a way to understand, so let me know how I did! This is about Life, Walls, and the Armor you put on to protect yourself.
Survivorship Bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. It is a form of selection bias.
During World War II, the statistician Abraham Wald took Survivorship Bias into his calculations when considering how to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire. He saved A LOT of LIVES in doing so!
A fleet of planes lands after a mission it is your job to re-armor the plane. You have to put it in the right place. Armor is in high demand during wartime. In the wrong place, it will just use more fuel. Where do you add the armor?
Most people will say where the holes are (red dots) because that’s where they get hit the most!
Except… before they made a hideous mistake, statistician Abraham Wald pointed out that bullet holes in the places NOT shown meant the craft never made it back to have the damage recorded. Get it?
Yep, if you made it back with bullet holes, that didn’t mean you needed to add armor there… Because… Well… You’re back… AND ALIVE!
You add armor to the areas that don’t have any bullet holes. The reason is that if there is no hole, the hit caused the plane to crash… You’re NOT back to record the data!
When seatbelts were first introduced the number of cases in the ICU and Emergency room went up, why is this? How could this be? Later it was realized that the number in the morgue went way down. People were surviving vehicle accidents that they wouldn’t have.
So what about Life, Walls, and the Armor you put on to protect yourself? I think it’s the same thing. I think we put Walls and Armor up in the wrong places. For example, if you are cheated on. You’re now armored to protect against future cheaters. But here you are reading this… Alive… You made it… You might even be thriving… You have to put it in the right place. Armor uses a lot of personal energy. In the wrong place, it will just weigh you down. You change for two reasons, either you learn enough that you want to or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to. BUT you can’t let yourself be controlled by three things: People, Money, or Past Experiences.
So maybe, just maybe, you Walled or Armored the wrong spot. And it was really just extra weight you’ve been carrying around. Just extra weight holding you back. This is something I had to learn. Maybe this will help you learn also.
That error could have cost thousands of more lives during World War II. That same error could cost you your future. and happiness.
Image Credit: Kah Ly