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Decide and Conquer: The Ultimate Guide for Improving Your Decision Making, Second Edition by Stephen P. Robbins

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20. What Have You Done for Me Lately? The Availability Bias

I remember things the way they should have been.

—T. Capote

In May 2013, the lead story in every newspaper and on every TV network in the United States was about three young women in Cleveland being found after having been missing for ten years.1 The girls had been kidnapped and held captive by a stranger. Quickly following this upbeat conclusion to what had been a decade-long mystery, the media began running stories of missing children around the country. The media was clearly exploiting the popular fear among parents of their children being abducted by strangers.

I use the term “exploiting” because the truth is that the parental fear of their children being kidnapped by strangers is ...

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