The Perils of “Survivorship Bias”

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    The Perils of “Survivorship Bias”

    An aspiring entrepreneur could be forgiven for thinking that dropping out of college to start a company is the key to success. After all, it worked beautifully for Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. These business moguls’ well-known stories give the impression that to become a triumph in business, all you need is a big idea in college and the will to quit school to pursue it. The problem is that college dropouts do not usually become billionaires—there are many more budding entrepreneurs who dropped out of college to start companies and failed than those who succeeded. When you focus on the people who left school and made it big and ignore the far larger set of dropouts who never got anywhere, you are succumbing to what is known as “survivorship bias.” Katy Milkman

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