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A Snag Named Hindsight

by Saral Verma about a month ago in intellect

Conversion of hindsight into foresight is crucial

Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

Most people can't perceive the accurate results of a future circumstance before it happens because there might be plenty of variables in your formulation for the prediction, which might change with time. You only know the constants which plug into your brain to perceive a future event, but you don't know anything about variables. No one can sense a situation beforehand because all its consequences are only revealed after its occurrence, right? Let's try to answer that.

What do you think have helped people like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs achieve their goals? It was the foresight. They circumvented the problems and converted their hindsight (if they had) into foresight. All the fortunes and successes have their roots in predictions. All you have to do is guess the future with minimum uncertainty and start taking baby steps towards the forecast's goals.

Problems associated with hindsight can be observed in many small things at very early ages, and you can work on it. Almost every activity that a person does indicates his understanding of a future event. A rational person could quickly unveil a hidden snag behind each such activity, and that snag is hindsight.

Let's start with a pretty common situation faced by every human being on this planet at some point in life, and that situation is a failure. Everyone faces a failure at some point in life; it can be academic, sports, love, business, etc., but do we realize the role of hindsight in such shortcomings? Students receive bad grades in exams because of their inaccurate prediction about exam difficulty. Companies go bankrupt due to their wrong forecasts of future events. Directors and CEOs planned to introduce a new business venture but failed due to their overestimation of public response. I can list millions of conditions that prove a single point - It's all the game of foresight.

Power to Shape the Future

Elon Musk, the name that doesn't need any introduction, was the name very few people knew just a few years ago. What do you think was his secret? Determination? Intelligence? Of course, qualities like hard-working, determination, etc., play a prominent role in one's success. The people who ultimately amass a great fortune talk about these traits extensively, but the most important thing that still many successful people forget to point out is foresight. After watching hundreds of interviews of people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, and infinite scrolls of Instagram's success reels, I never found a video discussing hindsight and foresight. In my opinion, these factors play a leading role in accumulating a fortune. People prowl for the quality that can help them succeed, gather up all the content available and skip the most salient one.

Elon Musk predicted that electric cars can be the future and had the foresight of its impact on people. In precise, he made people want something that they never knew they wanted. No one could have craved an electric vehicle unless they had known what electric cars could do, and that's how the world works, right? Before the iPhones, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc., conquered the world, if you picked a person and asked a simple question - Where do you see mobile phone technology in 10 years? He could have replied with words like a better battery, better charging, responsive click, enhanced keypad, improved connectivity, etc., which were the limits of a keypad mobile phone, but barely anyone would have used terms like touch screens, software, apps, mobile games, search engines, etc. This indicates a fascinating thing about our society. People don't know what they will want in the future. After deep pondering over this thought, you can think of ways to create "wants" for people, which is the complete game.

Eventually, successful people perceive to shape the future in their foresight, and so can you. Rational thinking is the key player that backs up your predictions' strength. We don't have to be 100% certain, but distinguishing between expectation, probability, and utility is essential. Elon Musk pointed out a mistake known as wishful thinking bias that will help you understand the obstacles that prevent you from a better foresight. 

Almost every person predicts something in their life, which eventually proves to be as correct as 2012's world-ending prediction. The reasons that pull us from efficient predictions are - Clouded Judgement and Wishful Thinking Bias. Predictions like 2012 fail due to components of clouded judgment like baseless and illogical assumptions. "You don't have to believe something to be true if you want it to be true," a slight modification of what Elon said but still conveys the point. Wishful thinking is a drop of logical fallacies. Ahead of it lies an ocean, and each component of that ocean puts you two-step backward while decision-making circumstances. Anchoring, cognitive dissonance, etc. are some of the cognitive bias that ultimately clouds judgments. I have also written an article on ways to circumvent logical fallacies, do check it out - Circumventing Logical Fallacies.

You can shape the future in the way you want if logical fallacies are bypassed, and unclouded foresight is a quality that helps you circumvent them. Proper analysis and time should be put on to develop a better foresight. Your foresight is directly proportional to the number of wrong predictions made. The more failures, the lesser you'll trust your further prophecies, which will eventually lead to even less efficiency in other predictions. In precise, you'll lose confidence in the projections or foresight and ultimately develop hindsight.

Why do people develop hindsight?

Hindsight is automatically developed in a human being, and foresight needs to be developed to replace hindsight. How does hindsight develop itself? 

It starts at a very early age, and let's provide the perspicacity through an example - A boy named Alex didn't study for his mathematics examination because he "thought" the paper would be simple because he was able to solve previous year papers. However, the reality was the contrast. Alex had already spoiled his previous paper, and according to him, they were difficult. Three exams were still left in the upcoming week, and Alex could have prepared for them, but he "thought" that the last few papers were very challenging, so the upcoming ones should be easy. Ultimately, the next exam was much more difficult than the previous one. Days went by, and the day of the next exam came. Somehow Alex did well in that one, and he was elated. He didn't study for the upcoming exams due to the past exam's happiness and spoilt the remaining exams. Now, Alex knew he had spoiled his exams, but he still hopes for a good result, predicts that maybe he did well in the exams but was underestimating himself.

By Japheth Mast on Unsplash

This story provides us with three massive loopholes in a person's general psychology- Anchoring, Disjunction Effect & Magical Thinking. Dr. Robert Shiller had beautifully presented the synopsis of these fallacies in his Financial Markets online course and explained the enormities of the harm associated with it. Let's break up our story - 

Anchoring - There was absolutely no link between the question paper of the preceding year's questions with the upcoming exam, but still, Alex anchored it with the future and tried to prognosticate the future event. 

Disjunction Effect - Two completely independent events cannot be related to each other. The outcome of one should not influence your beliefs about the other. Alex's experience in one exam should not affect his belief about the upcoming exam.

Magical Thinking - Irrational belief that my actions are somehow connected to an event is called magical thinking. The famous pigeon experiment by BF Skinner helps to envision the complete theory. Alex wished for a favorable result even after being conscious of his performance.

These all form a coalition government in your mind and cloud the judgments. In short, they remove the rationality from your foresight and transmute it into empty prophecies. Kids and teenagers like to predict plenty of things in a day, like wishing that maths teacher gets ill. As a matter of fact, the number of such small baseless forecasts that kids state in their mind, which ultimately proves to be wrong, gradually deteriorates their confidence in their foresight. You sprinkle virus on your foresight whenever you make a baseless prophecy.


The example and scenarios that are listed above are not exhaustive. You can discern millions of cases where foresight and hindsight play a dirty tug-of-war. The ultimate way to help get you towards better predictions is by developing rationality, no illogical praying, no baseless prediction, no false beliefs, and most prominently, never underestimate the Alex that sits inside you. Whenever you believe that you "don't know" about a particular thing to predict efficiently or don't have the proper intelligence for the prediction of any situation, just read out this quote in your mind - 

What you don't know is how much you know without knowing you know it.

- Patrick Jane (The Mentalist)

If you find yourself in a situation where you predict something, don't count the things you don't know and concentrate on the things you know. Remember Jane's quotes and find your "not knowing box" to see what you don't know. Without further using the word "know," let's quickly shift to our concluding point. 

I have already emphasized the blunders affiliated with wrong predictions and how it deteriorated your confidence. So, next time whenever you do anything that relates to a future event or you are predicting something, remember this - 

Hope for the best and plan for the worst. Do it once and do it right.

- Jack Reacher

Don't misplace your hope with beliefs and analyze any situation once. Remember just once, you have plenty of other things to think about apart from one event, distribute time accordingly, and do it right. I have tried to list almost everything I learned from my failures. My hindsight was working on full power in December, then came a storming failure, which gave me the real tool to analyze my drawbacks and helped me find the snag.

By the blowup on Unsplash

I believe failures are the best teachers. Share any failure or success event that you could relate with the foresight-hindsight theory through e-mail or Instagram, I'll love to hear from you : )

Think big, think better, stop living for acceptance and start shaping the future

See You Soon : )

Saral Verma
Saral Verma
Read next: Understanding the Collective Intelligence of Pro-opinion
Saral Verma

A wanderer who finds faults in the society and a techie who finds ways to make life interesting : )

Medium profile - https://saralverma.medium.com/

E-mail - [email protected]

Instagram - @the__lost_stories_

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