Clustering Bias/Illusion

Clustering Bias/Illusion

What is it?

Clustering Illusion is an illusion/bias that makes people see patterns in random data.

Clustering bias, also known as the clustering illusion, is a cognitive bias where people tend to see patterns or clusters in random data when there is actually no underlying pattern. Our brains are wired to look for patterns and connections, even when they don't exist, leading to incorrect assumptions or conclusions.

Here are two simple examples to help you understand clustering bias:

  1. Coin tosses: Suppose you toss a coin 10 times, and the results are: HHTTHTHHHT (H for heads and T for tails). You might think that there's a pattern in the coin tosses, like the three heads in a row at the end, and assume that the next toss is more likely to be tails. In reality, each coin toss is independent, and the chance of getting heads or tails is always 50%. The perceived pattern is due to clustering bias.

  2. Shooting stars: Imagine you're watching a meteor shower, and you see several shooting stars in one part of the sky within a short period. You might assume that shooting stars are more likely to appear in that area. However, this apparent clustering could be just a random occurrence, and shooting stars are equally likely to appear anywhere in the sky during a meteor shower. The percei ...