Blinded By Recency

With most things in life humans tend to think recent results are indicative of all past results and worse all future results. Of course this always ends up to be proven wrong, but people do it anyway. It’s hard to look at broad trends over long periods of time. It’s much easier and quicker to make assumptions (wrong ones of course) based on a small, finite set of data.

I bring this up because yesterday I saw this Tweet from my friend.

In the thread about the “imbalance” of the Eastern and Western conferences in the NBA a lot of folks chimed in that they should retool its playoff structure or do away with conferences and just let the best teams in. This of course is folly because if you look over time say since 1989 until today there have been 13 Western Division champions and 13 Eastern Division champions. Go back to the beginning and the East leads the West in titles 37 to 31. Still nearly perfect balance with the nod to the East (shocker!).

Looking at only one year or a few years is a very poor indicator of past and future behavior. Rather look at the long term to prevent messing with something that’s clearly working.

(Semi-related: You could say the same thing about Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon. Most “pundits” would claim it’s done. It’s over. The Mount Rushmore of tech giants has already been carved. Again, it would be a dangerous thing to do. Because absolutely, unequivocally, all four of these companies will be dust at some point. Sure, it won’t happen for a long, long time, but it will happen. There has never been a company in the history of companies that hasn’t died off eventually. Father time remains undefeated.)

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