In Star Trek lore, there's a psychological test cadets go through at Starfleet Academy called the Kobayashi Maru scenario. The basic premise simple. You're a starship captain, and your ship happens upon a distress call by the freighter Kobayashi Maru, which is under attack by Klingon birds-of-prey. No matter what you do, no matter what decisions you make, the simulation escalates the situation by introducing new threats and variables in pursuit of a true "no-win" scenario. You can respond to the distress call, or leave them to their fate. If you search for additional back-up in the area, your search will turn up dry. You can pretend to want to join in on the attack and claim to be a rogue starship captain, and other Starfleet vessels will attack you. If you attack the first ships, you may find they have an experimental shield you can't break through. There's no way to win.
The purpose, of course, is to see how a cadet will react to defeat, to constantly having one's efforts thwarted, and to being responsible for having a ship full of lives lost around you. After all, Starfleet doesn't need weak-willed officers on the command track.
There's a power to a no-win situation that we as humans recognize. Whether it's the Alamo, the idea of a "forlorn hope" company, the Song of Roland, the Charge of the Light Brigade, or the countless times in Lord of the Rings that individuals step into harm when it seems they have no hope of victory, we're deeply moved by the way people react when they face no hope.
In Eve, we see it all the time. You find yourself in a wholly untenable situation in which your ship is at mortal risk. It becomes obvious that you will lose that ship, but the way you lose it is a great test of how far you've come as a pilot.
So, here's the scenario. You're out solo roaming, looking for targets. You've made your way quite a bit from your home without any activity, and you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. A new alliance has moved in. Do they form defense fleets? Do they use bait? How tanky are their ships? Are they comfortable with the rats in the area, and as a result focus tank their ships? You don't know any of this.
Then, as you're traveling, a lone Procurer lands on your gate with you. let's say you're flying a Stratios, and you were cloaked when you landed. He obviously had to have warped to the gate before he saw you or where you were. You take the gate, and after a short period of time, he follows.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, this Procurer is bait. But you don't know that at the time. Again, you don't know whether this is typical behavior for the alliance whose space you're in. It could very well be a pilot who couldn't stop his jump in time, and he's coming back from or heading to some mining.
So, you engage. You start applying your neuts and inflicting damage, but he starts burning straight at you from a close 10 km. Then he hits you with a point and scram. It just got real.
The way you react can tell a lot about you. This is why Fraps is such a good tool to use on a regular basis; the perfect recall of a recording program can point out flaws you didn't recognize in the heat of the moment. Do you turn to run, de-aggress, or double-down? A lot of folks unfamiliar with PvP will freeze up, focused on the fact that they've lost their ship. Some will fixate on the Procurer, and neglect to watch for the inevitable back-up that will arrive to save it. More than once, I've fallen into this trap, failing to recognize the Scimitar or Oneiros that lands on grid and wondering why my damage isn't having an effect.
But, let's say you keep your wits about you, and continue to dscan, monitor your capacitor, your drone health, and keep your overview fixed on the gate - and your eyes watching changes in local - to stay alert for reinforcements. Your Procurer's shield and armor are dropping pretty well, while your damage is minimal. He's clearly afterburner fit, while you're MWD fit, and under scram, you're at his mercy. You either have to kill him or neut him out enough so you can escape.
Then, the first additional ship lands on grid. For the sake of argument, let's say it's an Eris.
At this point, your Procurer is in mid-armor and steadily, if slowly, collapsing. You've already poured about a minute of effort into it, and it's pretty clear you'll need a good bit of time to take him down. That Eris can probably do around 200 dps, likely as much as your napkin math indicates you're facing with the Procurer. but, more importantly, that Eris can render the rest of your decisions meaningless with its bubbles; even if you neut out your Procurer, a bubble will prevent you from escaping.
This is where your OODA loop comes into play. You've observed a change, and have oriented yourself to the situation; two ships putting out likely equal damage. It'd be a shame to give up on the Procurer, but starting over on the Eris seems to make sense. But, only if you've kept your wits about you can you act on this choice.
In the end, destroying the Comet makes more sense, so you abandon your heavy drones and swap to light drones to apply the most dps possible to it. You briefly consider going with medium drones, but an Eris is armor-tanked, and likely to have a smaller sig radius than a shield-tanked dictor.
And then another ship, a Comet, lands on you, and he's burning straight for you. You can see the gate flash and local begin to fill up. As your dictor dies, you see a Rapier land, and a Tengu, and a Svipul and - for good measure - another Procurer.
The ability to sift through rapidly arriving information calmly is a difficult one to acquire, and you're going to make mistakes. But by keeping calm and reading the situation for what it is - not what it was a few seconds ago - you can make the most of the opportunity. Sometimes, you can even pull out an unlikely victory. After all, just as things can go wrong for you in a fight, they can also go wrong for your opponent.
Maybe the last person with a point on you wanders out of range, so the fact that you calmly maintained alignment and were watching the effects applied to you can save you. Maybe your target will accidentally fleet warp everyone off - hey, it's happened!
A lot of folks believe the goal of a fight is to win, and that if you don't, you've lost. But in reality, your objective is to put yourself in the best position possible. You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it.
In my case, this scenario happened to me during my latest solo roam in my Stratios. Yes, in retrospect, the Procurer was clearly bait. My clue - which I overlooked in my eagerness to fight - was that he landed on the gate and held for a moment before jumping through. If he had truly been a miner, he would have warped off on the other side of the gate rather than following me through... unless the pilot was very foolish and had afk'd after hitting "Jump" as he warped to the gate. Unlikely.
But, once the fight went down, I was able to take down an Eris, Comet, and get the Procurer to 20% armor before I popped. Plus, I was able to burn far enough out of range that I didn't lose my pod until after I warped back. While it wasn't a win, it did signal improvement from when I started playing Eve, where I'd fixate on the original ship and lose all sense and reason. I've lost far too many ships that way.
I've got a long way to go, and likely you do too (unless you're freaking Stunt Flores, killing 50 ratters before he popped. I mean, what the heck, man? How does he even physically catch that many?). It's one thing to keep your calm when you're in control of the situation, but in the end, only when you have to cope with the unexpected do you really learn where you stand.