Survivorship bias: when we focus only on success

We were sitting around with friends and family recently over some very nice red wine when our friend Noel asked me about my weekly Toastmasters meetings, and specifically about whether I thought there are some people who simply never learn to feel comfortable speaking in public even after Toastmasters training. After a moment’s contemplation, I replied to Noel:

“I can’t really say – because those who actually feel too uncomfortable probably just stop attending after a while. The ones who stay seem pretty happy!”

It turns out that what I was describing is essentially what’s known as survivorship bias.*  Continue reading

Selling Cinderella to our daughters

I have an adorable little 5-year old in my life who has spent Fridays with me since she was a newborn. She calls me Baba, Ukrainian for grandmother. Her real grandmother is my friend, Gail, who has graciously let me share her granddaughter (and her 3-year old grandson!) And because my grown kidlets are slow in producing grandchildren for me, these two are ideal targets of my grandmotherly love.

Lately, my 5-year old has developed a compelling interest in what I call ‘princess stuff’. Other than some Disney storybooks, her daily exposure to princess marketing is restricted; her family home has no television. Yet my admittedly limited observations of her and her little friends tell me that she’s not alone; most very small girls are ga-ga-girly over All Things Princess.

Enter Peggy Orenstein‘s new book called Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Continue reading