幸存者偏差与创业鼓吹

由Brad Clark绘制 http://www.plus3video.com

本文原载自

https://www.sonyaellenmann.com/2018/06/survivorship-bias-and-startup-hype.html

原创翻译, 已获原作者授权, 参照下方截图


Luck plays a significant role in business success. Not just in the mere fact of success, but in the magnitude of any given company’s triumphs. We tend to overlook this reality because of a mental distortion called survivorship bias. It is a common cognitive failure, and a dangerous one because it obscures the distastefully harsh nature of the world. 运气在商业成功上起到重要作用. 在任何公司的胜利成功上都能有所体现, 而不仅仅是个案. 由于一种称为幸存者偏差的心理错位, 我们趋向于忽略这个事实. 这是一种常见而危险的认知错误因为这会模糊这个社会极为严峻的本质.

译者注:
幸存者偏差意思是指,当取得资讯的渠道
仅来自于幸存者时此资讯可能会存在与实际情况不同的偏差。
应对这种偏差的常见方法是"让死人说话"


最著名的是二战时的经典案例
——如何减少空军被击落概率的问题
参见: https://youarenotsosmart.com/2013/05/23/survivorship-bias/

We love to fantasize that emulating the habits of extraordinary entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Elon Musk will catapult the most talented imitators to the stars. In reality, there are plenty of would-be titans of industry who simply weren’t in the right place at the right time. Even with a great product, they could have failed to make the crucial personal connection that would have accelerated their endeavor to the next level. 我们喜欢幻想着模仿一些超凡企业家的习惯, 如比尔盖茨、伊隆马斯克, 然后就能从最具天赋的模仿者一跃成为明星。实际上, 有大量的曾将成为工业巨头的公司只是它们缺了天时地利。即使拥有伟大的产品,他们可能无法建立关键的个人联系,而正是这种联系绘加速他们的努力进入下一阶段。

Survivorship bias is best summed up by a sardonic XKCD comic: “Never stop buying lottery tickets, no matter what anyone tells you,” the stick figure proclaims. “I failed again and again, but I never gave up. I took extra jobs and poured the money into tickets. And here I am, proof that if you put in the time, it pays off!” 对幸存者偏差的最佳总结来自一部讽刺漫画 XKCD, 漫画中说: "不管谁跟你说了什么, 永远不要停止购买彩票. 我一次又一次失败, 但我永不言弃. 我打多额外一份工, 然后就把钱投进彩票. 我在这里想证明的是只要你投入时间, 就会有所回报!"

参见:
XKCD Comic: https://xkcd.com/1827/

“The hard part is pinning down the cause of a successful startup,” a pseudonymous commenter on Hacker News wisely noted. “Most people just point at highly visible things,” such as hardworking founders or a friendly office culture. “The problem is that this ignores the 5,000 other startups that did all those same things, but failed.” "把创业公司成功的原因固定下来, 这是最难的问题," 一个匿名的评论者在 Hacker News( 黑客新闻 )上明智地指出道. "大部分人只指出非常表面的东西", 比如创始人很勤奋努力或是企业文化很友好. " 而问题在于, 其他5000家创业公司也是如此, 但都失败了."

参见:  
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4813044

Ambitious people with incisive minds may be fewer than schmucks, and certainly multi-billionaire CEOs tend to be both brilliant and driven. Yet there are scads of brilliant, driven people who will never make it onto the cover of a prestigious magazine. Or any magazine. 有着尖锐思想而抱负不凡的人可能比呆瓜更少, 而亿万身家的CEO们倾向于既才华横溢又发愤图强这一点是肯定的. 然而还有很多同样具备这两种优秀品质的人从未出现在主流杂志的封面上, 甚至任何杂志都没有.

Consider the mythology around hoodie-wearing college dropouts. Y Combinator founder Paul Graham once joked, “I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg.” The quip is funny because it mocks a real tendency among venture capitalists: Pattern-matching to a fault. 再来想想穿着连帽卫衣的大学辍学生们的神话. Y Combinator 的创始人曾经开玩笑说: "我可能被任何一个穿着打扮像扎克伯格的人给骗了. "这句话很讽刺, 它嘲笑了风险投资家之间的真实倾向: 模式匹配会出错.

参见:  
http://www.paulgraham.com/tricked.html

In the same vein, a stunning proportion of partners at VC firms graduated from a handful of tony universities, as if the seal on a person’s diploma were what indicated investing abilities. (Granted, the incidence of leveraged social connections and postgraduate degrees may amplify that trend.) 同样的, 风险投资公司的合作伙伴中从顶尖学府毕业的占了很惊人的比例, 就如同人们学位上的印章便表明了投资能力一样. (当然,促使社会关系和研究生学位改变的发生率可能会放大这一趋势)

参见:
https://news.crunchbase.com/news/venture-capitalists-go-college/

Steve Jobs, along with Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, became fantastically successful after quitting school to start a company. “How many people have followed the Jobs model and failed?” Scientific American askedrhetorically in 2014. “Who knows? No one writes books about them and their unsuccessful companies.” 乔布斯与扎克伯格和比尔盖茨一样在辍学后开了一家公司, 取得巨大成功. "有多少人模仿乔布斯失败了呢?" Scientific American 反问道. "谁知道呢? 没有谁去撰写关于他们自己和他们失败的公司的书."

Scientific American, 即科学美国人
一本美国科普杂志
参见:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-survivor-bias-distorts-reality/

The press inadvertently helps perpetuate survivorship bias. People find famous entrepreneurs fascinating and inspirational, so journalists write about them extensively. The general public is primarily interested in the fates of companies that are household names or close to that status. And of course, reporters themselves are susceptible to survivorship bias just like anyone else. This is reflected in their coverage. 媒体不经意间让幸存者偏差得以延续. 人们对企业家们着迷并发现他们的励志之处, 因此记者们大篇幅报道了他们. 大众主要关心那些家喻户晓或者相近地位的公司的命运. 当然, 记者本身也像其他人一样很容易受到幸存者偏差的影响. 这体现在他们的报道上.

So what’s the antidote? Well, it’s boring: Being careful and thorough. Make sure to look for counterexamples whenever you think you’ve identified a trend or a pattern. Resources do exist, although not always on the first page of Google results. 那么, 解决方法是什么? 行吧, 答案很无聊: 小心谨慎. 任何时候你觉得你发现了一种趋势或者模式时, 确保你找了反例. 资源是有的, 尽管不总在 Google 搜索结果的首页上.

For example, CB Insights compiled a list of 242 startup postmortems from 2014 through 2017. The analysts wrote, “In the spirit of failure, we dug into the data on startup death and found that 70% of upstart tech companies fail — usually around 20 months after first raising financing (with around $1.3M in total funding closed).” 举个例子, CB Insights 汇集了一份从 2014 到 2017 年的 242 家创业公司倒闭原因的清单. 分析指出, "我们深挖这些倒闭的创业公司数据发现有近 70% 的初创科技公司失败了 —— 通常在他们首轮融资后的 20 个月左右(总资金大约 130 万美元)"

参见:
https://www.cbinsights.com/research/startup-failure-post-mortem/

Most of all, don't let the headlines rule your worldview. “The press is a lossy and biased compression of events in the actual world, and is singularly consumed with its own rituals, status games, and incentives,” as three-time SaaS founder Patrick McKenzie put it. 最重要的是别让那些头条新闻凌驾于你的世界观之上。正如 three-time SaaS 所说的, “媒体是对现实世界事件的有损和有偏差的压缩,媒体只是沉浸于自己的仪式、地位把戏和打鸡血之中”

参见:
https://twitter.com/patio11/status/936616122949844992

Listen to Walter Lippmann, in his 1922 book Public Opinion. “Looking back we can see how indirectly we know the environment in which nevertheless we live,” Lippmann wrote, reflecting on the inaccuracies of tick-tock reporting during World War I. “We can see that the news of it comes to us now fast, now slowly; but that whatever we believe to be a true picture, we treat as if it were the environment itself.” 听听 Walter Lippmann 是怎么说的,他在他 1922 年的书 民意 (Public Opinion) 中写到: "回顾过往,我们会发现我们所了解到的生活的环境是经过多间接得到的", 这里反映第一次世界大战期间机动报告的不准确性. "我们知道新闻时快时慢, 但不管怎样, 我们都相信它就是真实的画面, 我们把它当做就是事实本身."

参见:
(https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6456)

原文发布于微信公众号 - 程序员的碎碎念(gh_53e607dd4782)

原文发表时间:2018-07-12

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