The Problem With Bad Consequences

My experience of hindsight bias when dealing with a terrible event

Darren Matthews
Thought Thinkers

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The bad consequences involving fire that fueled hindsight bias
Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash

Your biggest challenge in learning from your past rests within your head.

I’m talking about hindsight bias. It’s that unhelpful tendency to perceive an event as more probable once you know the outcome. You become a fortune teller in reverse. Events that were uncertain and unforeseen become evident to you.

The late Daniel Kahneman also left this insight about hindsight:

The worse the consequence, the greater the hindsight bias.

It appears hindsight bias also has an ally: an agent who deftly waits for a unique outcome and its consequences. This unseen force reacts to terrible consequences. The more severe the fallout from an outcome, the more it aggravates your hindsight bias.

As I experienced, the impact can be profound.

The worst possible chain of consequences

I’ll never forget the smell.

I’ll never forget the feeling radiating through me. The fear. The foreboding. Black scorch marks covered the walls where kitchen cupboards once hung. Ash littered the floor. The plastic control panel on the washing machine had melted, dribbling like wax down the…

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Darren Matthews
Thought Thinkers

Following my curiosity — which is decision-making — and sharing what I learn along the way