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Survivorship bias

Logical error, form of selection bias / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Survivorship bias or survival bias is the logical error of concentrating on entities that passed a selection process while overlooking those that did not. This can lead to incorrect conclusions because of incomplete data.

This hypothetical pattern of damage of surviving aircraft shows locations where they can sustain damage and still return home. If the aircraft was reinforced in the most commonly hit areas, this would be a result of survivorship bias because crucial data from fatally damaged planes was being ignored; those hit in other places did not survive.

Survivorship bias is a form of selection bias that can lead to overly optimistic beliefs because multiple failures are overlooked, such as when companies that no longer exist are excluded from analyses of financial performance. It can also lead to the false belief that the successes in a group have some special property, rather than just coincidence as in correlation "proves" causality.

Another kind of survivorship bias would involve thinking that an incident happened in a particular way because the only people who were involved in the incident who can speak about it are those who survived it. Even if one knew that some people are dead, they would not have their voice to add to the conversation, making it biased.

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