They say hindsight is 2020 vision. I’m old but my last test at the eye doctor confirmed 20/15 vision. Two cataract surgeries and a slight magnification of the new lenses probably helped with the score.
Anything from outstretched fingertips to eyes is a bit blurry without glasses. Yet, I, as with many of us, suffer from hindsight bias.
Hindsight bias, also known as the knew-it-all-along phenomenon or creeping determinism, refers to the common tendency for people to perceive events that have already occurred as having been more predictable than they actually were before the events took place. As a result, people often believe, after an event has occurred, that they would have predicted, or perhaps even would have known with a high degree of certainty, what the outcome of the event would have been, before the event occurred.
Uh, say what?
In simpler terms, we knew something would happen a certain way but only after it already happened. It’s much easier to figure something out after we know what’s going on than it is before we knew it.
Does that make sense?
Hindsight bias may cause distortions of our memories of what we knew and/or believed before an event occurred, and is a significant source of overconfidence regarding our ability to predict the outcomes of future events.
Sometimes we think more of ourselves than we should.
I did not predict the outcome of our search for whatever was causing my symptoms. ALS is a disease of exclusion and I spent months pouring over hundreds of research papers and articles in a curious but perhaps vain attempt to help with the diagnosis.
The trip to Mayo Clinic was eventful in many respects. Mayo Clinic’s methodology is unlike anything I have experienced. Their entire staff was warm and friendly yet professional and very efficient. My neurologist looked over the detailed records I offered and asked me what I thought was going on.
I had a list.
ALS was on top.
Examples of hindsight bias can be seen in the writings of historians describing outcomes of battles, physicians recalling clinical trials, and in judicial systems as individuals attribute responsibility on the basis of the supposed predictability of accidents
That was not hindsight bias. It took nearly 18 months to reach a conclusion of three possibilities. ALS. Paraneoplastic syndrome (I have an overactive immune system. And a dark horse called thoracic radiculopathy.
If I could back up my hindsight about a year we would have lived it differently, but that’s another issue. Hindsight is 2020 vision. It’s easier to make judgements and rewrite motivation after the fact.