WFH Daily #204: The hindsight bias

October 14, 2020: Getting inside the game; Joe Biden’s little-known India connection; Examining all perspectives

Founding Fuel

[Image by Richard Park from Pixabay]

Good morning,

A book we like to revisit every once a while is Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of Thinking Clearly because it contains pointers to the fallacies we are prone to and decision making tools we must absolutely equip ourselves with. Consider hindsight bias for instance. Most of us are familiar with the term and get what it means. But Dobelli spells it out explicitly.    

“The hindsight bias is one of the most prevailing fallacies of all. We can aptly describe it as the ‘I told you so’ phenomenon: In retrospect, everything seems clear and inevitable. If a CEO becomes successful due to fortunate circumstances, he will, looking back, rate the probability of his success a lot higher than it actually was. Similarly, following Ronald Reagan’s massive election victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980, commentators announced his appointment to be foreseeable, even though the election lay on a knife edge until a few days before the final vote. Today, business journalists opine that Google’s dominance was predestined, even though each of them would have snorted had such a prediction been made in 1998….

“So why is the hindsight bias so perilous? Well, it makes us believe we are better predictors than we actually are, causing us to be arrogant about our knowledge and consequently to take too much risk.

“Overcoming the hindsight bias is not easy. Studies have shown that people who are aware of it fall for it just as much as everyone else,” he says.

How to avoid this? Dobelli offers a simple tip: Journaling. 

He writes, “Keep a journal. Write down your predictions—for political changes, your career, your weight, the stock market, and so on. Then, from time to time, compare your notes with actual developments. You will be amazed at what a poor forecaster you are. Don’t forget to read history, too—not the retrospective, compacted theories compiled in textbooks, but the diaries, oral histories, and historical documents from the period. If you can’t live without news, read newspapers from five, ten, or twenty years ago. This will give you a much better sense of just how unpredictable the world is. Hindsight may provide temporary comfort to those overwhelmed by complexity, but as for providing deeper revelations about how the world works, you’ll benefit by looking elsewhere.”

Have a good day.

In this issue

  • Getting inside the game
  • Joe Biden’s little-known India connection
  • Examining all perspectives

Getting inside the game

In Episode 03 of Season 02 of Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation, intergenerational conversations exploring key themes of our times, father and son duo Partha and Atreyo Sinha explore how the pandemic has changed our relationship with sports, and how we're likely to experience the game differently as sports fans.

One of the points they discussed is the difference between watching a match live versus experiencing it on TV or online. Here’s an excerpt from their conversation.

Partha: Our generation grew up going to the ground to watch a match. We are part of the setup. The players were in the arena enacting something epic. There was something really epic about the match. Television turned epicness into everydayness.

Atreyo: As someone who's grown up watching it on TV, the lack of angles, the lack of close ups… even when you're in the box watching a cricket game, most people's eyes are on the TV anyway. Having that sort of detail that you can see during the game—Hawk-Eye, goal-line technology, in tennis you can see where the ball landed—that's interesting to think about. Because users now want to be able to see the game in different ways.

Also, users want to be able to control some of the outcome. That's simulation.

When I'm on the PlayStation, I'm in the game. When I'm playing FIFA, I’m managing it and I’m making my own tactical tweaks. That changes the way I engage with the game. It’s taken my fandom and my relationship with my team to a very different place.

Partha: We accepted the fact that we are outside the game. Your generation can't accept the fact that you are outside the game.

Dig Deeper

Biden’s little-known India connection

One of the debates that kick up in India every time the US gets into the election season is on who among the two candidates is a better friend of India. It was debated in 2016, when Donald Trump was fighting Hillary Clinton. And it is being debated now, when Trump is fighting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

In an interview published in American Bazaar Online, former National Security Advisor and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon throws some light on Biden’s Indian connections.

He says: “Mr. Biden has been a friend of India for a long time. When he was in the Senate Foreign Relations committee, for instance…

“He was the chairman when we did the nuclear deal. He came to India as vice president. He has a family connection which goes all the way back, actually.

“There are Bidens in Chennai, there were. Started in Chennai but there were Bidens from, I think, from the 19th century. And there was, there are still some Bidens in Mumbai. It is from the East India Company, all the way back. I think in India there’s a tremendous amount of goodwill for him, as an individual and expectations of somebody who chose a vice presidential candidate, who [is] partly Indian origin. I think that made a huge impact throughout the country. It seems to me even if you look at it purely from the real politic point of view, India and the U.S. have more and more in common. And that congruence that is growing is going to keep growing. So I would expect both countries to do much more together in the years to come. I think this is a relationship which will actually do well, which will grow, which will flourish deeply. And I think it will expand beyond just the pure hard security issues into the other issues. There’s a natural convergence in the economy, for instance, which I think both sides need to now actually go out and do something.”

Dig Deeper

Examining all perspectives

(via @smitanairjain on Twitter)

How do you look at other people’s perspective? Let us know on our Slack channel.

And if you missed previous editions of this newsletter, they’re all archived here.

Bookmark Founding Fuel’s special section on Thriving in Volatile Times. All our stories on how individuals and businesses are responding to the pandemic until now are posted there. 

Warm regards,

Team Founding Fuel 

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