October 24, 2022

Second of three parts

AS I explained at the beginning of this list on Thursday, these are presented in the order I think is most to least likely to happen. To save time and space (because a three-installment column is awkwardly long enough), let’s jump right into it:

4. A Black Swan: The metaphor has been around since the time of the Roman Empire, but “Black Swan Theory,” as we understand it in the modern world, comes to us from the work of statistician and historian Nicholas Nassim Taleb in his seminal 2007 book, “The Black Swan.” A Black Swan (capitalized) as defined by Taleb is a surprise event that could not have been predicted, has a major effect and is, usually, inappropriately rationalized by hindsight.

Some examples provided by Taleb include the outbreak of World War 1, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the rise of the internet and the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US. An event like the Covid-19 pandemic, though it was unexpected, would not qualify as a Black Swan; there was sufficient historical and other pieces of evidence prior to its occurrence that it (or at least a pandemic of some kind) could have been predicted, and in fact, such predictions have been made.

Surprises happen all the time, but the world has not seen a true Black Swan — other than the literal birds, which are native to Australia — in about 20 years, but it will in 2022. Humanity has created too much tension in too many systems —…

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