As we all contemplate a move to Level 2 and then the even more exciting Level 1 we will all look back on the weeks since the Covid 19 crisis began. How did it go? Should we have acted sooner, more aggressively, less aggressively, given more support or less support, allowed more exceptions by business or region or population cohort? Did we trust the experts too much or not enough? Can pandemic modelling be trusted? All these questions and many more.

Did anyone write down their analysis down, their views on what should or should not have been done, their predictions on the impact on health or the economy? Probably not and as it turns out that will be really helpful in helping us all conclude that what we thought was really accurate and that we are remarkably prescient.

To help us in that quest for affirmation, there are well over 100 documented biases and tendencies at our disposal. Here are a few to watch out for when thinking about our own recollection of events and the statements of the many commentators who have spoken or written so confidently [with special reference to Mike Hosking and Duncan Garner.]

  • Confirmation bias - searching for and focusing on information that confirms our own views.
  • Egocentric bias - recalling the past in a self-serving manner.
  • False consensus effect - a tendency to overestimate the degree to which others agree with us.
  • Expectation bias - where research agrees with our own expectations it is more likely to be published.
  • Hindsight bias - “I knew it all along.” 
  • Subjective validation - the perception that something must be true if an important belief which we hold requires it to be true.
  • Self-serving bias - a tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures.