Past success is no predictor of future eminence


“Survivorship bias” is the bias which is created by concentrating on the businesses/products/services that "survive" within an industry sector – and are thus considered “successes” – whilst overlooking those that didn't survive - because we are often not told about them – and thus, do not enter the equation.

This can sometimes lead to false conclusions.

In the case of Medical Tourism / Travel Destinations, the survivors are those  who have made it past some selection process and are still prominent (highly visible) enough to be regarded as “exemplars” and “models to emulate”.

Media coverage, advertorial, and PR activity in general are responsible for shaping these “biases”.

Survivorship bias can lead to overly optimistic beliefs because failures are ignored.

Survivorship bias, which is a form of selection bias, can lead to the false belief.

For example, that the, "top three medical tourism destinations" have some special attributes and knew how to do the right thing rather than just being "lucky" or just happening to do the right thing at the right time in the right place.

If three of the five top medical tourism destinations implemented the same approach to development, it can lead one to believe that this approach is “the best and only approach” ...and is the approach to emulate.

This could be true, but the question cannot be answered without looking at the outcome and current status of the other destinations which adopted the same approach and strategy but which did not make the top 3 or even the top 20.

Rephrasing Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Fooled by Randomness), we are trained (or brainwashed) to base decisions on the information that is in front of our eyes which often means on the Internet  and ignoring or being oblivious to the information that we do not see.

In the case of medical tourism destinations, the information in front of our eyes usually refers to stories of successful destinations, suggesting that they are the ones whose model and approach to development we should all emulate.

But the question that should be asked is: how many emulated the model and adopted this approach but failed?

This is something we do not get to read about.

No doubt, we can blame this “failure to report failures” on the media (“how to succeed” stories, press releases, advertorials and the work of paid bloggers).

No doubt, "gurus", several of whom opportunistically, address the medical tourism sector,  likewise contribute to the phenomenon of survivorship bias and to the shaping our selection bias.

But as, once again, Taleb points out: Gurus will fall into the trap and be shown to be wrong, since most have not had any proper training in inference (and the relationship between cause and effect).

When it comes to medical tourism destinations and their future,  I have come to the conclusion that past prominence is no guarantee of future eminence.

Which also brings to mind my caveat referring to “Medical Tourism and the West’sRevenge”.


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