Virus fears cut through ‘Black Swan Blindness’
Post coronavirus world will have no place for the illusionary certainty of hindsight
It has become fashionable to label events. Among all the descriptors, there is a huge temptation to label any event outside the realm of regular expectations as a ‘Black Swan’ event. That’s not necessarily inappropriate, too. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb who wrote the seminal book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, a Black Swan is largely characterized by the triplet: rarity, extreme impact and retrospective predictability. This combination of uncertainty and large impact makes the Black Swan a great puzzle, where fads, epidemics, fashion, ideas, and just about everything of significance follows such dynamics. Except that we still have not been able to jolt out of Black Swan blindness—we act as if it doesn’t exist—particularly with respect to randomness, the large deviations.