Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Hindsight Bias and 9/11

Here is a great post from The desk of Jane Galt about the role of hindsight bias in the current political battle being waged around the 9/11 commission.

One of the games conservatives used to play back in the Clinton years was trying to guess what sorts of horrible disasters were getting swept under the rug, only to rear their ugly heads in the next administration. Asked for my guess (circa 1998 or 1999 or so), I replied with a recession and a major terrorist attack.

The logic on the recession was that given President Clinton's cozy relationships with Big Business (you don't really think that Enron was playing by the rules until Bush came around, do you?), Clinton would try to postpone the upcoming major recession as long as possible and hopefully have it fall on the head of his Republican successor. As for the terrorist attack, I assumed that if Clinton was depeleting the capabilities of our armed forces and that his Republican successor would naturally try to improve the capabilities of our armed forces, then the "local minimum" in America's military might, i.e. 2001, would be the ideal time for our enemies to launch an attack. Of course, given that the most pissed off belligerents around were Middle Eastern terrorists, I assumed the major 2001 terrorist strike would be on Israel, and not the United States.

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