Sometimes, guilt motivates it. Other times, a seemingly clever murderer will bemoan his failure to spot the obvious to throw suspicion onto someone else. His brother, maybe?
Many writers and wise ones have had a lot to say about hindsight. Billy Wilder allegedly said that “Hindsight is always 20-20.” The truth of it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing. Along with it comes a lot of baggage, including some things that are quite unpleasant.
For example, you have to wonder what motivated Kurt Vonnegut to say, “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been.‘” Makes me a bit sad just writing it. Or how about when Greek playwright, Sophocles, said, “I have no desire to suffer twice, in reality and then in retrospect.”
What Is Hindsight Bias?
Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, and his collaborator, Amos Tversky, identified hindsight bias as one of those mental mechanisms we use to navigate life. In this case, we fool ourselves into thinking that an event was predictable all along, the I-knew-it-all-along effect.
For every time you’ve heard it, said it, or read it, it’s probably been repeated dozens and dozens of times more. We invoke the hindsight bias to save face within our group. We may do it to console ourselves or to rationalize a bad choice. That’s what makes mystery writers like Agatha Christie so great.
Mysteries Using Hindsight
Christie and others like her brought a sense of realism to their work by exposing our humanness. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable. After all, who likes to admit they screwed up? Guilt, of course, acts as another powerful instigator of the hindsight bias.
There’s a valuable lesson in learning about the biases and heuristics we use, even if they don’t always give us the right answer or point us in the right direction. They help us learn about ourselves. And they help us understand how important we view our place in society and within our group(s).
We gravitate to what seems the easiest course. It’s human nature. But, lest we rely too much on hindsight, lest us recall the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who knew a thing or two about logic.
“It is easy to be wise after the event.”
http://mystery.weborglodge.com/By Chris DR