Fooled by the Winners

How Survivor Bias Deceives Us

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
232 Pages
Reviewed on 07/15/2021
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Author Biography

David Lockwood is a former lecturer on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He has three decades of experience as a senior executive on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley and has served on more than twenty public and private company boards. In addition, he has been a senior advisor to the US government on nuclear and energy issues. He currently resides in the Western Rockies with his wife and three children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Francis Mont for Readers' Favorite

Fooled by the Winners: How Survivor Bias Deceives Us by David Lockwood demonstrates how this bias distorts our expectations and predictions by focusing on the winners and excluding the losers from our calculations. He systematically analyzes this phenomenon in areas such as financial services, self-help books, winning in lotteries, and successfully starting restaurants, trusting medicines, surgeries, doctors, predictions in warfare, and trusting historians. But the book doesn’t end there. In Part II he focuses on human evolution and the precarious position we occupy on the scale between survival and extinction. He concentrates on two existential threats our species faces today: nuclear wars and climate change. His conclusion is that because we are still here today, there is no guarantee that we will be tomorrow. We live with David Lockwood’s survival bias every day of our lives. The icing on the cake is his intriguing speculation about intelligent aliens and Quantum Mechanics. The 18 pages of references and 16 pages of authentic photographs at the end make this book a highly convincing documentary.

Fooled by the Winners by David Lockwood is one of the most intriguing, enlightening, and disturbing books I have ever read. It defines “Survivor Bias” as “a logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not.” The writing is crystal clear, easily followed by the average reader, the examples are convincing with merciless logic applied to our everyday experiences and, beyond making us aware of our own biases, he then proceeds to make suggestions on how to make a realistic assessment of our situation and overcome the easy temptation to follow our unconscious bias. It is also extremely informative about almost unknown facts and, most of all, it is a very enjoyable read with a narrative that contains mini-biographies of interesting characters and displays a delightful sense of humor. I consider David Lockwood’s Fooled by the Winners an extremely important book that should be read by every intelligent and concerned citizen who wants to make correct decisions for himself, his loved ones, his country, and the human species.