Why are we susceptible to the “Good Old Days” fallacy?

Everybody at one time or the other will mention the “Good Ol’ Days”. It seems that our past is such a great place to have been… compared to the present or the future

Good old days
Were the Good Old Days so good? Or is that a psychological illusion?

This psychological effect is due to hindsight. “It is the future that frighten us, not the past. Even if it has not been easy, it always seems sweet because certain.” explains Dan Gardner in ‘Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail – and Why We Believe Them Anyway‘. He continues, “The profound perceptual distortion created by hindsight bias can make almost anyone nostalgic for the good old days“.

Even people who had to live through rough times in their youths, for example during the Great Recession of the 1930’s and the following World War, will tend to remember the past with affection.

This illusion is pervasive and yet it is seldom recognized. In books, articles, blogs and broadcasts, we call our time the ‘age of uncertainty‘, believing that there is something uniquely uncertain about this moment. But the phrase ‘age of uncertainty‘ which has appeared in the New York Times 5,720 times, made its debut in 1924!

Uncertainty is scary. We tend to fall in the trap of the security of hindsight. Let us not do that, and let’s lean decidedly into the Fourth Revolution.