Humanity’s Reaction To The Moon-Munching Remina Reveals How Cognitive Bias Can Destroy Product Manager Ability To Correctly Address Client Problems

Humanity’s Reaction To The Moon-Munching Remina Reveals How Cognitive Bias Can Destroy Product Manager Ability To Correctly Address Client Problems

Junji Ito’s sci-fi horror Remina explores the savagery of a hopeless humanity as a cosmic-level catastrophe approaches. Truly, a product management saga not for the faint of heart!

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We’ll reveal key plot points of Remina as we explore the perils of cognitive bias for product managers. And we’ll do it all in 12 panels or less. You have been warned!

< / SPOILER WARNING > 

Professor Oguro witnesses a planet emerging from a distant wormhole. The astronomer names his discovery after his daughter, Remina. Both become world-famous.

Reluctantly, the shy (human) Remina agrees to embrace her newfound-identity as a pop idol. Her manager Mitsumura promises to have her back. Mineishi Construction pays Remina to be the new face of their company.

Meanwhile, Professor Oguro’s assistant notices the Planet Remina has changed course and is devouring planets as it heads toward Earth. People everywhere begin to panic… and blame the Oguros for the impending cosmic catastrophe.

Remina’s fans turn on her and anyone associated with her.

The Planet Remina slows to a halt once it nears Earth orbit. The Japanese government sends a team of astronauts to investigate. When contact with the astroauts is lost, riots unfold across the world.

Hooded cultists push the conspiracy theory that killing Remina and her father will send the Planet Remina away. Mitsumara sacrifices his life to protect Remina from a murderous mob.

The mob straps Remina and her father to wooden crosses. They murder the professor before his daughter’s eyes. As they’re about to kill Remina, the Planet Remina turns an enormous inhuman eye toward them — right before a slithering tongue escapes the planet’s surface, wraps itself around the moon, and pulls the moon into its ravenous maw.

World governments launch missiles at the demon planet, which rebuffs the missiles and sends them back at the earth with devastating results. In the ensuing carnage, the human Remina escapes thanks to one of her few remaining allies.

Meanwhile, the Mineishi family and other global elites decide to abandon their home shelters and colonize the Planet Remina. They believe Remina will be inhabitable because of a transmission from what appears to be the missing astronauts. When the elites land on Remina and try to breathe the atmosphere, they discover how wrong they were. The ensuing killer space flora seals their fate.

Back on earth, gravity has gone haywire. Almost all humanity has been driven mad by despair. One of the few sane people left is a homeless man who rescues Remina…

… and takes her on a physics-defying, worldwide race to escape the murderous mob that still wants to kill her.

The homeless man is the Mineichis’ long-lost son who was once an astronaut. He also has the key to their basement bomb shelter.

Planet Remina devours the Earth. Remina and a handful of survivors ride out the destruction in the shelter.

Set adrift in the now-empty solar system, the last humans alive have just enough supplies to survive for one year.

Remina is still devastated by the loss of her father and Mitsumura. Even though their situation looks bleak, Mineichi muses that their survival is a miracle… and maybe another miracle is not out of the question.

“They Still Believe They Can Save The Earth If They Kill You”

In Remina, the characters embrace several different theories about how to stop the coming apocalypse:

  • The panicked public suspect that Remina and her father are responsible for the demon planet coming to earth because Remina the person was born on the same day Remina the planet emerged from the wormhole.
  • The panicked public concoct a plan to stop the apocalypse by murdering Remina and her father with no supporting evidence their deaths would do anything to avert the planet’s destruction.
  • The elites abandon Earth with the intention of colonizing the demon planet with very little reason to believe that would be a success.

You may see a recurring theme in those theories: People are jumping to conclusions based on pretty flimsy evidence.

This is cognitive bias in action. Faced with an extinction-level event, they’re trying to make sense of a rapidly evolving situation and decide on a course of action.

Confronting Our Biases For Better Decision-Making

The American Medical Association warns that cognitive bias can “affect one’s ability to gather evidence, interpret evidence, take action and evaluate their decisions.” Clearly that could have horrific consequences in a medical setting. But cognitive bias could have negative impact on product, too.

Let’s look at some of the cognitive biases evidenced in Remina, how those same biases may emerge from the wormholes in your work as a Product Manager, and how they can be handled with the least bloodshed possible.

Cognitive Bias in ReminaSimilar Bias in Product ManagementBeating the Bias
Narrative Fallacy – The public believes in a significant link between Remina the woman and Remina the planet based on their names and a coincidence of timing. Product Managers love stories — especially client-related stories that support our roadmap ideas. But if we’re manipulating data points to generate a false narrative just to get our way, we’re not helping the business make an informed decision; we’re knowingly or unknowingly engaged in cognitive bias.Stories help us make sense of events. To avoid the narrative fallacy, be clear in your own thinking. What’s hard evidence? What’s a spin on that evidence? For the sake of your own credibility, be clear in your discussions with others about what you truly know and what is a reasoned assumption.
Herd Mentality – A conspiracy theory drives the public to believe the key to stopping planetary destruction is murdering Remina and her father.Are you promoting a certain feature based solely on what your competitors are doing in the marketplace? When Product Managers do this, we’re being influenced by emotion instead of independent analysis. The fear of missing out could lead you away from a different feature that would be more profitable for the business in the long run.Innate curiosity is a character trait of all great Product Managers. Cultivate that. Lean into it. It may feel safer to go with the crowd because “Competitor X must have launched Feature Y for compelling reasons so we should follow suit!” Resist that urge. Question everything. Build an evidence-based business case for what you intend to do.
Confirmation Bias – Because of their riches, technology access, and social prestige, the elites feel their blessings will naturally results in the successful colonization of a hostile alien world.Product Managers exhibit confirmation bias when we seek out information and data that confirm our pre-existing ideas… when we talk with the same analysts every time… and ignore information sources that present contrary or challenging information. This cognitive bias can have devastating business results.Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”. That applies doubly so to Product Managers. We’re constantly pressed to make decisions. But we should delay snap decisions so we can challenge the assumptions and validate with relevant external feedback.

Product Managers contend with a dazzling array of choices and fervent opinions from across the business about those choices.

Confronting the biases in our decision-making may not help us avoid being noticed by an eldritch cosmic horror from beyond the stars, but it is central to product success and future career growth.

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Christopher Cummings

Blogs about product management. Loves Jesus, his family, comic books, video games, and giant robots. Occasionally crawls through mud and leaps over fire.
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