But the Washington Post’s Shankar Vedantam argues that it “isn’t quite true” that opponents of the war knew it would all end in tears. Rather, he attributes this anti-war ‘triumphalism’ to a phenomenon known as hindsight bias.
Citing some academics in support, Vedantam observes: “The hindsight bias plays an important role in public debate, because it gives people a false sense of certainty. When people convince themselves that they knew something would happen, what they effectively ignore is how much that outcome may have been unpredictable.”
While some in the pro-war camp have welcomed Vedantam’s supposed debunking of anti-war triumphalists, the implications of the discussion of predictions and outcomes will most likely elude them. I predict that they will effectively ignore that, whereas opponents of the war perhaps weren’t as right as they think they were, the war’s supporters were much less right than even were the ‘naysayers’.
If the present disastrous outcome could not have been entirely predicted, then what does that say about predictions of a quick and easy victory, with flowers strewn before the invading armoured personnel carriers, and the establishment of LA in Mesopotamia?
Will the pro-war mob modify their own assumptions and biases?
Is Bismarck a herring?