Hindsight – the Superpower everybody possesses?

As a child, I dreamed of having a superpower. Invisibility, flying, incredible strength, teleporting – any would have been just fine, I wasn’t choosy! Unfortunately it didn’t take too long for me to realise I was not ‘on the list’ so I went to work for BT instead and started on the road to a career in Fraud Management!

Over 25 years later it suddenly became clear to me, as I watched events unfold in Brazil over the last two weeks, that I may have been wrong all along.  In fact I DID have a superpower. I was, in fact, “Hindsight Man”! Unfortunately my hindsight powers did seem to have limitations in that they only worked in connection with the performance of the England Football (Soccer) team – but you have to start somewhere! However, once I realised I may possess this power I quickly noticed that nearly everyone else I came into contact with also seemed to be blessed with this ability – and it is always completely accurate (20:20), right? A pretty useful Superpower for a fraud professional then!

Before investing in the cape and mask, I decided to do some further research on the subject of Hindsight.  So, what is hindsight?  It is defined as ‘the ability to understand, after something has happened, what should have been done or what caused the event’. As I delved deeper, I realised that I, as with many others, am most likely suffering from something psychologists call Hindsight Bias…. also known as the ‘Knew-it-all-along effect’.

It appears we humans have a tendency to suggest predictability even in events where there is little or no evidence to support the prediction prior to the event. Unfortunately, it gets worse….even where some evidence may be present in order to validate our ‘Hindsight’ we may change our recollections to support newly provided information. The level of memory distortion this involves is not just affected by whether there is a positive or negative outcome, but also the severity of the negative outcome. Dangerous Stuff!

So it looks like I may not possess the power of hindsight after all and looking at it from a Fraud Management perspective that may be a good thing. Hindsight, as we have seen, can be based on no factual evidence and, even where there is some basis in fact, is prone to a significant number of external factors that can have a hugely negative impact on our assessment/judgement.

No, it’s clear to me now, to be a better fraud professional I don’t need Hindsight – I need Insight!

Read about Subex Insight here.

Will Richards
Head of Fraud Practice – Americas - Will Richards has worked in the telecommunications sector for 25 years, specialising in fraud for the last 18 years. He has fulfilled a number of roles during this time including fraud consultancy, Presales, Operational management and product development and has played a central role in the creation, development and launch of a range of Revenue Management products and services. Will is regarded as an expert in Fraud Operations and has spoken many times on the International conference circuit on a wide range of subjects. In 2008, Will received an Outstanding Achievement Award from TUFF for his contribution to Telecommunications Fraud Management in the UK.

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