Wired has an excellent article on research on near-misses:
It is the paradox of the close call. Probability wise, near misses aren’t successes. They are indicators of near failure. And if the flaw is systemic, it requires only a small twist of fate for the next incident to result in disaster. Rather than celebrating then ignoring close calls, we should be learning from them and doing our very best to prevent their recurrence. But we often don’t.
“People don’t learn from a near miss, they just say, ‘It worked, so let’s do it again,’” Dillon-Merrill says. Other studies have shown that the more often someone gets away with risky behavior, the more likely they are to repeat it; there is a sort of invincibility complex. “For ego protection reasons, we like to assume that past events are a product of what we controlled rather than chance,” Tinsley adds.
This reminds me of similar research mentioned in Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic, on driving accidents and a device that teaches young drivers using near-misses, which are far more common than the drivers realize others.
HT: Jordan Peacock