Of War and Survivorship Bias

A great read about the failure to look for what is missing in your data set.

“When a company performs a survey about job satisfaction the only people who can fill out that survey are people who still work at the company. Everyone who might have quit out of dissatisfaction is no longer around to explain why.”
     
“I have to chuckle whenever I read yet another description of American frontier log cabins as having been well crafted or sturdily or beautifully built. The much more likely truth is that 99% of frontier log cabins were horribly built—it’s just that all of those fell down.”

You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: You should focus on the successful if you wish to become successful.

The Truth: When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.

Illustration by Brad Clark Illustration by Brad Clark at http://www.plus3video.com

In New York City, in an apartment a few streets away from the center of Harlem, above trees reaching out over sidewalks and dogs pulling at leashes and conversations cut short to avoid parking tickets, a group of professional thinkers once gathered and completed equations that would both snuff and spare several hundred thousand human lives.

People walking by the apartment at the time had no idea that four stories above them some of the most important work in applied mathematics was tilting the scales of a global conflict as secret agents of the United States armed forces, arithmetical soldiers, engaged in statistical combat. Nor could people today know as they open umbrellas and…

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