Tag Archives: survivorship bias

Survivorship Bias

In my recent blog post I reflected on the wealth of news articles about highly successful people who failed their A Levels, or how everyone can be a millionaire I was reminded of this great XKCD cartoon.

They say you can't argue with results, but what kind of defeatist attitude is that? If you stick with it, you can argue with ANYTHING.

Every inspirational speech by someone successful should have to start with a disclaimer about survivorship bias.

Survivorship bias or survival 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.

These stories are designed to bring hope to some people, but I also feel they send a stark message to others that don’t need to worry about working hard for exams, because regardless of the result, you will become a millionaire!

News outlets at this time, never tell the stories of those who failed their A levels and never have financial success, which is the majority of those students who failed to make the grade. Many of these will though have successful and happy lives. They also never tell the stories of those who did succeed and went onto happiness and financial success.

So what’s your failure story?