Is there a word or phrase for the bias of not knowing what came before? Of thinking that an idea under consideration is truly new? I'm looking for a word to describe the bias that comes from this thinking, and not the act of not knowing itself (i. e. "reinvent the wheel").

For instance, I work as a web developer, and junior developers are all the time coming up with "new" ideas that have been with us for decades. In not being aware of the history, they end up wasting time recreating existing work and making old mistakes. I'm also pretty sure this happened to the field of semiotics, which was discovered twice because the work done by earlier groups was somehow not evident to later semioticians.

I was looking for "historical bias" or "ahistorical bias," but couldn't really find anything. I'm sure there must be a word! It would be used in the following way:

The ignorance of the developers was an example of __________.


1 Answer 1


recency illusion

The name of that bias is recency illusion. Recency illusion is a cognitive bias arising from a misbelief that something one's noticed just recently is also recent itself, thus believing it to be a new discovery when it is actually already long-known— or "old news," as you put it.

Recency illusion is a cognitive bias commonly reinforced by the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon, which occurs when one suddenly starts noticing something one's noticed for the first time so frequently that as frequency of noticing it increases, so too increases a belief in it being unlikely to have failed to notice it ever before. That increasing belief tends to lead to a strengthening belief that that something can't have existed before because one would have noticed it before and so that something must be new, a basis for the formation of a recency illusion.

  • 1
    That is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you! May 17, 2021 at 16:10

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