The tendency to focus on success, named Survivorship Bias – the tendency to emulate past patterns with an expectation toward future success, was first noted during WWII. We all do it.
During World War II, a young and brilliant mathematician working for the United States named Abraham Wald sought to find any means of gaining an advantage against the Axis powers (Gavin, 2013). As a statistician, Wald studied the devastating attrition rates and atrocious damage to Allied bombers looking for better ways to protect the pilots as they daily pounded Nazi Germany. In a stroke of genius, Wald noticed a distinctive pattern of bullet strikes on surviving aircraft. Due to this, engineers proposed that the pattern suggested that the bombers need to be armored at the point of the greatest concentration of strikes (Gavin, 2013). Wald challenged the engineers to see the missing pattern and reinforce those points. This pattern, Gavin says, describing Wald’s response, is suggested by the missing data.
Patterns are revealing
Gavin’s point is the need to understand better the pattern revealed, suggesting the best response may be to see what is missing. God asks us, too, to look at the missing data. Don’t measure success by this world – the people that rise to the top. Look to the missing data, those rising in a new, unseen Kingdom.
Patterns – not so good
God challenged us to be content today, not looking toward tomorrow (Mat 6:34), acknowledging what we have (Heb 13:5), making the best use of today (Eph 5:15-16), for we do not know what tomorrow holds (James 4:14). In our love for the brethren, the world will see the gap, those not in love with the pattern of this world (Mat 5:16). Stand in the gap is what God is telling us when he said, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom 12:2, NIV).”
Gavin, S. (August 22, 2013). Seeing what’s not there. Finweek. 44-46. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login. Aspx?