E25: Survivorship Bias: 6 Reasons We Misinterpret Success And Misunderstand Reality

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Episode Summary:


Listen to the full episode on iTunes (and please leave a rating to help the podcast reach more people): E25: Survivorship Bias: 6 Reasons We Misinterpret Success And Misunderstand Reality

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.

Examples of survivorship bias:

  • Early bloggers and YouTubers who succeeded: Often people succeed because they’re early adopters. In the case of early bloggers and YouTubers, there was less competition and less ads taking up visible space. Therefore it was easier to achieve an automatic scale effect and become successful.
  • Citations for papers: Once you get a citation for a paper that paper get’s marked as important and it’s much more likely that people find it and cite it more.
  • Superstar effect in music: Once a video has certain amount of views it achieves an automatic scale effect and keeps getting even more views.

Overall, success is a result of a complex combination of things such as timing and even luck.

Consider the price of possibly achieving extreme financial success: Do you want to spend all your life chasing big money even if you’re miserable during the process? Or would it be better to do something that is meaningful but less likely to make you a big amount of money?

Avoid unrealistic expectations like comparing yourself to Evan Spiegel who is one of the world’s youngest billionaires and married to the model Miranda Kerr.

Be careful about who you follow, study and learn from. It might be better to study someone just a few years ahead of you because some industry leaders suffer from the curse of knowledge and thereby they are far removed from the basics.

– Oskar Faarkrog


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