Why Bangalore Came Last in IPL

Virat_Kohli_26_Feb_2012

The Indian Premier League(IPL) is just about to come to an end. The Bangalore team did not do particularly well in this year’s edition and won only three out of their 14 games. They lost 10 games and one game was drawn because of rains.

The team was a finalist last year and lost to Hyderabad in the final. Given this, at the beginning of the 2017 season, nobody expected that the Bangalore team would come last among the 8 teams. Nevertheless, reasons are now being offered on why the Bangalore team did not do well this time around.

While analysing and offering reasons is fine, some of the cricket experts are now saying that they always knew that Bangalore wouldn’t do well this year. Multiple reasons have been offered. Here are a few that I have heard.

The captain Virat Kohli was injured and missed the first few games. KL Rahul missed the entire tournament because of an injury. Chris Gayle was not in his usual form. AB de Villiers was also injured and came in only after the first few games. One expert even said that the injury to batsman Sarfaraz Khan hit the team hard.  And hence, the team was never able to build the momentum that is required to keep winning T20 games.

While all this sounds fine, none of these reasons were offered at the beginning of the tournament. At the beginning of the tournament none of the experts said that they don’t expect the Bangalore team to do well this year. But now once the Bangalore team has not done well, they are busy coming up with various reasons to explain the non-performance.

And along with that they are convinced about the fact that they had always believed that the Bangalore team would not do well this year. As David Hand writes in The Improbability Principle: “After the fact, it’s easy to put the pieces together, and show how they form a continuous chain leading to the outcome.” Or to put it simply, everything is obvious once you know the answer. Hence, Bangalore did not do well because Kohli was injured and could not play in the first few games. Bangalore did not do well in these games and in the process, they were never able to build the required momentum which is an essential part of a tournament of this kind.

This kind of storyline could not have been offered at the beginning of the tournament. As Hand writes: “Before the fact, however, there are many pieces and potential chains and it’s just not possible to know which events fit together. This isn’t because there are too many pieces, but simply because they can be put together in a vast number of possible ways, and there’s no reason to select any one of them.”

Hence, before this year’s IPL started one did not know that Chris Gayle, the master of the T20 game, would have the kind of disastrous year he did. It was always difficult to predict that the likes of de Villiers, Travis Head and Shane Watson, brilliant T20 players in their own right, wouldn’t have much of an impact on Bangalore’s overall performance. Even Kedhar Jadhav burdened with the  responsibility to keep wickets, looked out of touch.

But all this and more can be now said with confidence, almost at the end of the tournament. As Hand writes: “Our innate tendency to retrospectively adjust a new recollection as new information becomes available, to identify the chain which led to the disaster and to say, after the fact, ‘Look, it was staring us in the face!’ is called hindisight bias.”

The point being that Bangalore lost because they did not score enough runs and they did not take enough wickets. Any analysis beyond this, is essentially hindsight bias.

The column originally appeared in the Bangalore Mirror on May 17, 2017

EVERYBODY LOVES A GOOD STORY…

smriti-irani

Last week, prime minister Narendra Modi, expanded the Union Cabinet, and 19 new ministers were inducted into it.

The swearing in of the new ministers happened at 11AM in the morning and did not hold any surprises. But a late evening announcement spelling out the change in ministries of existing ministers, had its share of surprises.

Smriti Irani, the youngest cabinet minister in the present Cabinet, was moved from Human Resources Development to Textiles. Jayant Sinha, the minister of state for finance was moved to the Civil Aviation ministry. Both these moves were surprises and were a step down for the ministers.

But it took the social media no time to come up with explanations for these moves and give a positive spin to the entire thing.

So, Irani, apparently had been moved to the textiles ministry because she could have a big role to play in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections. While people suggested that Sinha was basically paying for the outbursts of his father, former finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, against the Modi government. Some others suggested that his wife is an investor and there is a conflict of interest.

There are multiple issues that come up here. If people were so sure that Irani being moved from a high profile ministry to a low-profile one, why didn’t they talk about it earlier? If they knew that this was a possibility, they could have at least speculated about it, before the decision was made.

Coming up with explanations after something has happened is an excellent example of hindsight bias. As Jason Zweig writes in The Devil’s Financial Dictionary: “Hindsight bias [is] the mechanism in the human mind that makes surprises vanish. Once you learn what did happen, your mind tricks you into believing that you always knew that it would happen.”

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains the phenomenon through the example of a football match. As he writes in Thinking, Fast and Slow: “Imagine yourself before a football game between two teams that have the same record of wins and losses. Now the game is over, and one team trashed the other. In your revised model of the world, the winning team is much stronger than the loser, and your view of the past as well as of the future has been altered by the new perception.”

An excellent example of this is all the explanatory articles that were published after Iceland recently beat England in the Euro Cup football tournament.

The reason this happens is that the human mind wants explanations for surprises. And if there are no explanations it comes up with explanations. As Duncan J Watts writes in Everything is Obvious—Once You Know the Answer: “Whenever something interesting, dramatic, or terrible happens—Hush Puppies become popular again, a book by an unknown author becomes an international best seller, the housing bubble bursts, or terrorists crash plans into the World Trade Center—we instinctively look for explanations.”

This is precisely what happened when Irani and Sinha were demoted. In Sinha’s case, that his wife is an investor has always been known. So that leads to the question why was he moved now? If the reason was conflict of interest, that was true from the day he became minister.

Hence, things that appear to us explanations are basically just stories that we tell ourselves and others, in order to come up with an explanation. As Watts writes: “The result is that what appear to us to be causal explanations are in fact just stories—description of what happened that tell us little, if anything, about the mechanisms at work. Nevertheless, because these stories have the form of causal explanations, we treat them as if they have predictive power.” This is clearly not the case.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, everybody loves a good story, especially when one does not know the real reason behind why something happened. And that is precisely what happened in the aftermath of Irani and Sinha being demoted from high profile ministries to non-descript ones.

The column originally appeared in the Bangalore Mirror on July 12, 2016

 

Why Cricket Commentary Needs More Outsiders

harsha bhogle

I recently read the English translation of the Kannada novel Ghachar Ghochar written by Vivek Shanbhag and thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator of this novel goes to a coffee shop daily, where he interacts with a waiter called Vincent.

Vincent has a habit of saying things which are full of wisdom. These are things which you would normally associate with gurus, but given that Vincent is a waiter, he is not taken seriously. As Shanbhag writes: “Had Vincent taken on a grand name and grown a long shimmering beard, he’d have had lakhs of people falling at his feet. How different are the words of those exalted beings from his? Words after all are nothing by themselves. They burst into meaning only in the minds they’ve entered. If you think about it, even those held to be gods incarnate seldom speak of profound things. It’s their day-to-day utterances that are imbued with sublime meanings.”

The point being that while what is being said is important, it is more important who is saying it. And depending on who is saying, something gets taken seriously or not. An excellent example of this is the commentary that accompanies cricket matches these days.

Most of it is very mediocre and full of hindsight bias. Allow me to explain. A fast bowler bowls a brilliant out-swinger. The batsman edges the ball. But there is no fielder fielding at the slip position. Don’t be surprised if the commentator immediately says, I would have had a slip there, given that the ball is swinging so much. This is hindsight bias, where you adjust your analysis or comment taking into account what has already happened.

If the commentator had this insight, he should have shared it before the ball was bowled and not after it. Nevertheless, most of the analysis and commentary that accompanies cricket these days is along the lines of, if they had bowled better, if they had batted better and if they had fielded better. Of course, winning in cricket at the end of the day is about batting better, bowling better and fielding better.

Many cricketers simply end up verbalising the visuals being broadcast. That is another example of how mediocre they are. But these commentators are still followed with a lot of interest and seriousness and get paid a lot of money. A recent report in The Times of India quoted a source as saying: “Sunny[Gavaskar] gets Rs 10 lakh per match day while Sanjay[Manjerekar] gets around Rs 3 to 4 lakh. Do your math.”

That is clearly a lot of money for stating the obvious. The question is why do these commentators get paid a bomb for merely stating the obvious at most points of time. As I said earlier, they get taken seriously not because of what they say, but because who they are—retired cricketers.

They have played the game at the highest level and done a reasonably good job of it. And that allows them to get away with very shoddy commentary. Try listening to some of the Hindi commentary these days, given by the likes of VVS Laxman, Shoaib Akhtar and Kapil Dev. It is atrocious to say the least. The language is all wrong and there is very little analysis on offer.

The same can be said about many other cricketers from all parts of the world who appear as experts and analysts on myriad television news channels. The mediocrity of their analysis stands out loud and clear.

But these commentators and experts still manage to peddle their craft because at some point of time they had skin in the game i.e. they played cricket at the highest competitive level. Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about skin in the game in his book Anti Fragile. As he writes: “For the Romans, engineers needed to spend some time under the bridge they built…The English went further and had the families of the engineers spend time with them under the bridge, after it was built.”

Along similar lines the ex-cricketers who are now commentators and analysts, have had a skin in the game. When Gavaskar talks about facing fast bowling, he has himself faced the fastest bowlers in the world and scored many runs of them. He scored 13 centuries against the West Indies, which in the seventies and the eighties, had the best pace bowling attack in the world. When Kapil Dev, talks about outswing bowling, he knows what he is talking about, given that he had one of the best outswingers in the game. When Wasim Akram, talks about bowling yorkers, he needs to be taken seriously, given that he (along with Waqar Younis) had the meanest yorker, in the game. He was also the king of reverse swing.

Nevertheless, most of the things that these experts say are full of hindsight bias and unoriginal. They also tend to verbalise visuals quite a lot. A simple explanation for this lies in the fact that it is one thing having played the game and it is totally another thing commenting on it. They are entirely different skillsets and it is possible that the same individual may not have both.

Honestly, someone who has watched cricket regularly for a few years, can say the same things. Of course, he or she will not be taken seriously, at least initially, given that he has had no skin in the game. He has not played cricket for his country.

Any cricket match generates a lot of numbers. But you will never hear these cricketers getting into numbers. But this isn’t surprising given that you don’t expect cricketers to be good at mathematics. A good example of this is cricketers dissing about the Duckworth-Lewis system used to decide on things in cricket matches interrupted by rain. Maths is clearly not their strong point.

Use of numbers can clearly uplift the quality of analysis. In fact, this shouldn’t be very difficult, given that TV channels broadcasting cricket can hire maths geeks, get them to do the maths and simply feed it to the commentators. While some of this is happening, more needs to happen in the days to come, to lift the quality of analysis.

Also, if you look at the cricket commentators, at least in the Indian context, it looks like a closed club. You can make it to the big league, only if you have had played cricket for India. The only non-cricketer who has managed to break-in over the years is Harsha Bhogle. And honestly, even after being as over-exposed as he is, he is still one of the better commentators. The commentary accompanying the function that happened after Sachin Tendulkar’s last test match at the Wankhede Stadium, was simply fabulous.

If the boredom that has crept into cricket commentary has to be broken, more outsiders need to be allowed to break in. Some variety will do it no harm. After all, it is not rocket science.

(Vivek Kaul is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. He can be reached at vivek.kaul@gmail.com)

The column originally appeared on Value Research Online on May 14, 2016

Why I Watch Cricket on Mute

cricket

Over the four-day long weekend between March 24 and March 27, two exciting cricket matches were played. The Indian cricket team won both the matches.

I saw both these cricket matches end to end, but I had my TV on mute. I do this because I strongly feel that on most occasions TV commentary does not add any value to the visuals on the screen. And honestly, if there was an option which allowed me to just listen to the noise coming from the stadium, without the commentary, I would choose it.

Most cricket commentary and analysis is full of hindsight bias. And what is hindsight bias? As Jason Zweig writes in The Devil’s Financial Dictionary: “Only perhaps a half dozen market pundits saw the financial crisis coming before 2008, but you can’t swing a Hermès necktie on Wall Street without hitting someone who claims to have predicted it. That is typical of hindsight bias, the mechanism in the human mind that makes surprises vanish. Once you learn what did happen, your mind tricks you into believing that you knew it would happen.”

Take the match between India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh had almost won the match and needed to score two runs of three balls. They lost three wickets of the last three balls and India won the match by one run. Of these three wickets, two batsman got out trying to finish the game by hitting a six.

I think the Indian captain Mahindra Singh Dhoni summarised the situation best in what he said after the match: “At times, you look to finish it with a big shot. When you are batting well, you go for it. It is a learning for him [Mahmudullah] and others who finish games. That is what cricket is all about. If it had gone for six, everybody would have said what a shot.”

The trouble is that the Bangladeshi batsman Mahmudullah got out trying to hit a six and win the game for his team. And the commentators immediately pounced on him and declared that he should not have gone for the glory shot. The Bangladeshi cricketers were also called chokers. Nevertheless, if Mahmudullah had been able to hit a six, the same set of commentators would have had good things to say about him.

As Dhoni further said:In-form batsmen often try to play big shots to finish the game. If that shot by Mahmudullah had crossed the ropes, he would have been hailed as a courageous gutsy batsman. Now he will face criticism for playing such a shot.”

An almost similar thing was at view when Virat Kohli single-handedly helped India beat Australia. After India won, the commentators kept talking about his aggression and how it helped him play the innings that he did. The point is that if he had gotten out, the same aggression would have been blamed for his and the Indian team’s downfall.

The outcome of the game determines the analysis that follows. And the confidence with which the commentators speak makes you believe that they had really seen it coming. Of course, the fact that they have played the game in the past, adds to the confidence that they are able to project. But do they really see it coming? I don’t think so.

They day batsmen get out trying to hit shots, the analysis blames them for hitting rash shots. On days these shots come off, the commentators feel that taking a certain amount of risk is a very important part of modern day cricket.

In fact, hindsight bias impact even the commentary that accompanies every ball that is bowled and not just the analysis accompanying the overall result of the match. In the India versus Australia game, I was listening to the Hindi commentary and I think Shoaib Akhtar was speaking (though I am not sure about this) at that point of time. Virat Kohli hit a ball in the air and from the initial looks of it, it seemed that the ball would not cross the boundary and an Aussie fielder would take the catch.

So the first thing Akhtar said was “Kharab shot (A bad shot)”. Just a second later the ball had sailed across the boundary, Kohli had hit a six, and Akhtar said: “behtareen shot (what a good shot)”. Akhtar’s commentary immediately took into account the end result (i.e. Kohli hitting a six) and what was a bad shot suddenly became a terrific one.

The question is why does this happen? The Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has an answer for this in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. As he writes: “The mind that makes up narratives about the past is a sense-making organ. When an unpredicted event occurs we immediately adjust our view of the world to accommodate the surprise. Imagine yourself before a football game between two teams…Now the game is over, and one team trashed the other. In your revised model of the world, the winning team is much stronger than the loser, and your view of the past as well as the future has been altered by that new perception.”

Then there is this other point that Dan Gardener writes about in Future Babble: “After a football team wins a game, for example, all fans are likely to remember themselves giving the teams better odds to win than they actually did. But researchers found that they could amplify this bias simply by asking fans to construct explanations for why the team won.”

This is precisely what happens to cricket commentators and the analysis that they have to offer after any game of cricket is over. Given that they have offer explanations of why the team wining, actually won, they end up amplifying the hindsight bias.

Depending on the result, the commentators offer an analysis. Some of it can be as banal as the winning side fielded better, batted better and bowled better (Something that Mohammed Azharuddin used to say all the time in his post-match comments when he was the India captain).

This is not to say that this analysis is incorrect, but why do we need a commentator to tell us this. It is very obvious. On most occasions a team that bats better, bowls better and fields better, is likely to win.

The hindsight bias also impacts stock market experts and analysts who try and make sense of the stock market on a regular basis. After a crash you will hear all kinds of pundits trying to claim they had seen it coming all along. And believe me they will make a very compelling case for it.

Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind what Jason Zweig says. As he writes: “Contrary to popular cliché, hindsight is not 20/20; it is barely better than legally blind. If you don’t record and track your forecasts, you shouldn’t say that you knew all along what would happen in the end. And if you can’t review all predictions of pundits, you should never believe that they foresaw the future.

And that is something worth remembering.

The column originally appeared on the Vivek Kaul Diary on March 29, 2016

Investing lessons from Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi win

Arvind-Kejriwal3
Last week saw David(read the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP)) beat Goliath(read the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)) in the Delhi elections. AAP won 67 out of the seventy seats in the Delhi assembly, leaving only three seats for the BJP. This led to one WhatsApp forward which suggested that Delhi should now allow tripling(three people travelling on a bike) so that BJP legislators could ride to the Delhi assembly on a bike. Another forward suggested that the BJP legislators could drive to the assembly in a Tata Nano.
Jokes apart, in the aftermath of this electoral debacle many reasons have been offered on why and how the BJP lost Delhi. Reasons have also been offered on why and how the AAP won Delhi. Let’s sample a few here. The ghar wapasi campaign launched by the Sangh Parivar backfired in Delhi. The BJP ran a very negative and a highly vitriolic campaign against AAP and that didn’t quite work.
The AAP supporters on the other hand have been pointing out to the fact that the party ran a positive campaign and that went down well with Delhi residents. Further, the 49 days that Arvind Kejriwal was chief minister of Delhi, the levels of petty corruption in Delhi had come down dramatically. And this, we are told, is something that the people of Delhi haven’t forgotten.
Long story short—the number of reasons offered on AAP’s spectacular performance and BJP’s wipe out, is directly proportional to the number of political pundits analysing the issue. Nevertheless, most of these reasons have been offered with the benefit of hindsight. Most political pundits had no clue about BJP ending with up three seats and the Narendra Modi juggernaut losing steam. But now that it has happened, they need to find reasons and explanations for the same.
As Gary Smith writes in Standard Deviations—Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data and Other Ways to Lie With Statistics: “Through countless generations of natural selection, we have become hardwired to look for patterns and to think of explanations for the patterns we find…We yearn to make an uncertain world more certain, to gain control over things we do not control, to predict the unpredictable.”
Also, some political pundits have now even said that they saw the whole thing coming and offered explanations of the same. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in Fooled by Randomness: “Things are always obvious after the fact…It has to do with the way our mind handles historical information…Our mind will interpret most events not with the preceding ones in mind, but the following ones.” This tendency is referred to as hindsight bias in psychology.
Daniel Kahneman defines this in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow: “When an unpredicted event occurs, we immediately adjust our view of the world to accommodate that surprise…Once you adopt a new view of the world(or of any part of it), you immediately lose much of your ability to recall what you used to believe in before your mind changed.”
This leads to a situation where one feels that one has understood as well as predicted the past and given that one further feels that one can predict as well as control the future. As Jason Zweig writes in Your Money & Your Brain—How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich: “Hindsight bias is another cruel trick that your inner con man plays on you. By making you believe that the past was more predictable than it really was, hindsight bias fools you into thinking that the future is more predictable than it ever can be.”
This is exploited in particular by financial pundits. As Kahneman writes: “Our tendency to construct and believe coherent narratives of the past makes it difficult for us to accept the limits of our forecasting ability. Everything makes sense in hindsight, a fact that financial pundits exploit every evening as they offer convincing accounts of the day’s events. And we cannot suppress the powerful intuition that what makes sense in hindsight today was predictable yesterday.” That of course is not the case.
Hindsight bias also is also at work when we invest. An excellent example, is of investors saying after a bubble has burst, that they knew all along it was a bubble. But the thing is that if a bubble is obvious to enough investors at the time it is in its initial stage, there would be no bubble in the first place.
Zweig has an excellent example in his book of the link between hindsight bias and investing. As he writes: “In the fall of 2001, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, you tell yourself, “Nothing will ever be the same again. The U.S. isn’t safe any more. Who knows what they’ll do next? Even if stocks are cheap, nobody will have the guts to invest.” Then the market goes on to gain 15% by the end of 2003, and what do you say? “I knew
stocks were cheap after September 11th!””
The moral of the story here is that you may have been able to explain the entire situation to yourself, but you have missed out on the rally.
Then there is the case of missing out on a bumper initial public offering. Zweig offers the case of Google which first sold its shares in August 2004. At that point of time, an investor wanting to invest in the stock, would have thought back about the bursting of the dotcom bubble and the money that he had lost back then.
Using this logic he would have decided not to invest in the stock. He would have then seen the price of the stock jump from the initial price of $85 to $460 by end 2006 and told himself: “I knew I should have bought Google!”
And this would lead to a change in the worldview of the investor and may well make him “more eager to take the plunge” the next time he has “a chance to get in on the ground floor of a risky high-tech start-up.” But as Zweig puts it: “Of course, “the next Google” may turn out to be the next Enron instead.”
Given these reasons it is very important for investors not to become victims of the hindsight bias while investing.

(The article originally appeared on www.equitymaster.com as a part of The Daily Reckoning on Feb 16, 2015)

One lesson from many lessons offered on BJP’s Delhi defeat

narendra_modiA small industry seems to have evolved around trying to explain why the Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP) lost the Delhi elections. A spate of reasons have been offered. One gentleman even went to the extent of saying that it was a weekend, and the BJP voters were not in Delhi.
And then there have been regular reasons like the fringe elements in the Sangh Parivar and the comments they have been making, costing BJP the election. It was also said that the BJP ran a very negative campaign in Delhi, where they targeted Arvind Kejriwal more often than they should have.
Some political pundits have done a complete turnaround and been telling us that they knew all along that the BJP would lose big time in Delhi. The best explanation for this came on one of the Hindi news channels on the day when votes polled for the Delhi election were being counted.
A journalist explained that he had covered the prime minister Narendra Modi’s rallies in Delhi and they did not attract the same kind of crowd that they had when the BJP organized rallies with Modi as the star speaker, at the time of the Lok Sabha elections. He further explained that he saw people leaving the rally even before Modi’s speech had ended. And that was a clear habinger of things to come.
The question is—if this journalist was so sure about all this, why didn’t he say so at the time the rallies were held. Or even other analysts and journalists who have been coming up with different reasons for BJP’s loss in Delhi—if they were so sure, why didn’t they say so earlier?
The “I already told you so,” explanations that have been offered in the aftermath of BJP’s Delhi defeat are an excellent example of what psychologists and behavioural economists call “hindsight bias”.
The Nobel Prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman defines hindsight bias in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, as follows: “When an unpredicted event occurs, we immediately adjust our view of the world to accommodate that surprise…A general limitation of the human mind is its imperfect ability to reconstruct past states of knowledge, or beliefs that have changed. Once you adopt a new view of the world(or of any part of it), you immediately lose much of your ability to recall what you used to believe in before your mind changed.”
Hindsight bias is also referred to as “I knew it all along effect”. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in Fooled by Randomness: “Our minds are not quite desinged to understand how the world works, but, rather, to get out of trouble rapidly and have progeny. If they were made for us to understand things, then we would have machine in it that would run the past history as in a VCR, with a correct chronology, and it would slow us down so much that we would have trouble operating. Psychologists call this overestimation of what one knew at the time of the event due to subsequent information…the “I knew it all along” effect.”
This bias is clearly at work in the explanations that are now being offered for BJP’s shocking defeat in Delhi. One explanation that has been offered is that the freebies/sops offered by the Aam Aadmi Party, essentially led to BJP’s wipe out. But if that were the case then Ashok Gehlot would not have lost in Rajasthan and neither would have M Karunanidhi, the last time they faced the electorate. Oh, and what about Sonia Gandhi? If it were just about offering freebies to voters, would the Congress have been reduced to 44 seats in the current Lok Sabha?
This brings us back to the question, why did the BJP lose so badly in Delhi? One answer lies in the fact that the vote share of the Congress party collapsed and it moved lock, stock and barrel to the Aam Aadmi Party. Why did this vote share not move to the BJP? This is where all the explanations start to come in. But almost all these theories are a matter of conjecture because nobody really knows what’s going on in the minds of a huge number of voters.
The human mind likes explanations for what it does not understand. As Gary Smith writes in Standard Deviations—Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data and Other Ways to Lie With Statistics: “Our inherited desire to explain what we see fuels two kinds of cognitive errors. First, we are too easily seduced by patterns and by the theories and discount contradicting evidence. We believe stories simply because they are consistent with the patterns we observe and, once we have a story, we are reluctant to let it go.”
In the context of the Delhi elections what this means is that if you are a BJP supporter you would like to believe that the BJP lost because the Aam Aadmi Party offered freebies to voters. If you are an Aam Aadmi Party supporter you would like to believe that the party won because of the positive campaign that it ran. But as Smith points out: “Order is more comforting than chaos…Our vulnerability comes from a deep desire to make sense of the world, and it’s notoriously hard to shake off.”
Further, the more unpredicted an event is, the greater is the hindsight bias. Kahneman explains this through the example of 9/11. As he writes: “In the case of a catastrophe, such as 9/11, we are especially ready to believe that the officials who failed to anticipate were negligent or blind.”
On July 10, 2001, the CIA received information that al-Qaeda was planning an attack on the United States. The CIA director George Tenet told the National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and not President George Bush.
When Ben Bradlee the legendary executive editor of The Washington Post came to know of it, he remarked: “It seems to me elementary that if you’ve got the story that’s going to dominate history you might as well go right to the president.” This is classic hindsight bias.
As Kahneman writes: “But on July 10, no one knew—or could have known—that this tidbit of intelligence would turn out to dominate history.”
Long story short—it is always easy to be wise after the event. And that is what is happening with all the lessons/explanations that have been offered for BJP’s defeat in Delhi.

(Vivek Kaul is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

The column originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on Feb14, 2015