I’ve made several half-hearted attempts over the years to write publicly. I’ve never set out to write anything inflammatory, but there has always been the nagging concern that somewhere down the line, the writings of my past will be dredged up and used against me. I suspect that many people are inhibited by the same concern.
I’ve come to realize that this belief is irrational but remarkable because it exposes two common cognitive biases:
- The first consists of an unrealistic prior. The worry is predicated on us becoming prominent enough that anyone would want to weaponize our well-intentioned writing. In reality, this is so unlikely for the vast majority of people that it is not a premise worth considering.
- The second is selection bias. We think that these debacles are more common then they really are because we only see the prominent people who are affected. The vast numbers of unassuming people who are unaffected by their writings remain hidden to us.