People often base their prediction of the frequency of an event on how easily an example can be brought to mind. This is called an Availability Bias. For example, what happens more often – murder or suicide? The correct answer is suicide but most people say murder because murders receive more publicity than suicides.
Why is this important?
Consider the news media. It’s their job to report current events; what’s going on today. Right now with the presidential election less than a week away, national politics understandably dominates the headlines. However, two weeks ago it was the banking crisis, and before that it was oil and the Iraq war. It’s important to stay abreast with current events but equally important to keep the big picture in mind and not become distracted by the new, shiny issue of the week (i.e. fall victim to availability bias).
So here’s a thought: after the election on November 4 and the spotlight leaves Sen. Obama or McCain for a few months, let’s not lose sight of the global political landscape. Undoubtedly new issues and “crises” will appear between November 4 and the January 20, 2009 inauguration but few will be as significant (to Americans at least) as the direction this country will take under new leadership.