Mother Knows Best
By: Jennae Haug
Outcomes are constantly presenting themselves. Because people have an innate desire to be right, people often falsely claim to have correctly predicted an outcome. Once the outcome has presented itself, a person may state that s/he foresaw exactly what happened when in reality, the prediction s/he originally made was not similar to the actual outcome. In other words, a person may claim to have known it was going to happen all along. This phenomenon is known as hindsight bias.
Although this phenomenon has just recently been named in my life, it is a rather constant occurrence, particularly with my mother. Because she wants to correctly predict her children’s future, she often claims to have seen a consequence coming, when in reality she predicted a completely different outcome. Most recently, my sister’s legs developed a series of painful blisters. After seeing a number of doctors and doing our own research online, my mother diagnosed my sister with Brazilian Blister Beetle Bites. This did not make incredible sense as my sister has never been out of the country. However, my mother was convinced, and she began treating the blisters as such. Days later, the pediatrician finally diagnosed my sister with not Brazilian Blister Beetle Bites, but rather scalding skin staff. When my mother and sister returned from the doctor, I was eager to find out what the professional had to say. My mom quickly responded with, “It was just what I thought, staff!” I kindly pointed out that she had never mentioned staff before, and she quickly reminded me that the treatment is the same, so therefore, she was right.
My mom exemplified hindsight bias well. Although she was wrong in her own prediction of the Brazilian Blister Beetle Bites, she claimed to have known the Staff diagnosis all along. Again, hindsight bias, in this case, has a lot to do with my mom’s desire to cure my pained sister. She wanted the credit of beginning the healing process rather than the condemnation of not eliminating the horrid irritations the blisters were causing. She saw how uncomfortable my sister was at any given time, and she did not want to be blamed, even though no one was placing fault. This is just one of many examples of hindsight bias I encounter regularly.