NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast last week devoted an episode to the folly of hindsight bias and the assumption we make that if there’s a bad outcome, then the processes that led up to it must have been flawed.
Hidden Brain cited the horrific example of police officer Joseph Gray, a drunk driver in Brooklyn who ran a red light and accidentally killed a 23-year-old pregnant mother of two and her unborn child. Gray was sentenced to 15 years jail for his crimes, which many felt appropriate given the horrific ramifications of his actions.
Gray’s real crime was driving while intoxicated, something that happens all too frequently. Had Gray been pulled over a block before the accident occurred, no one would have died and he would have potentially lost his licence for six months. Instead, it was both drunkenness and bad luck which led to the tragic fatalities.