There is this thing in Psychology called Absence Bias, where events that are not happening, are not recalled. Hence they seem to have probability zero in hindsight. If the product is free of bugs, you might think there weren’t any, to begin with, or there won’t be any bugs in near future, and you would be wrong.

Of course, even before the question of bug fixing comes the question of bug avoiding. Many techniques help a programmer to fix bugs, few exist to help them avoid a bug altogether. Considered in the abstract, a programmer who keeps fixing lots of new bugs may look intelligent to the management, than the one who hardly fixes any bugs. Problem-solving behavior is often rewarded, and is thought to be more intelligent than problem-avoiding behavior.

The same goes for management. A manager who is killing fires throughout the day is rewarded generously, than the one who is doing nothing most of the time, mainly because they prevented most of the blunders from happening.

Let’s take off our developer glasses and ponder about the real-world consequences of this heuristic. Let’s just be grateful for all the negative events that haven’t happened. It will always be difficult to appreciate how much trouble we are not having.