Talk:Black swan

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This economics related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


I will do better when I get around to finishing The Black Swan. It's a fucking doorstop of a book - and one you really shouldn't read on a plane. Scarlet A.pngmoral 16:48, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Err ... "history is actually unpredictable" = "that which has already happened cannot be predicted"? Shome mishtake shurely? 16:52, 28 October 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast
Lol. I just lost my copy of it yesterday - on a plane. I hope I can get it back somehow, I still had 30 pages or so to read. But yeah, it's way too repetitive and reads more like a collection of essays - I often thought "OK, you've been making the same point for over twenty pages now, I kinda get it." Röstigraben (talk) 17:59, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
No, it's just "the government knew about 9/11" type things are bullshit because it's just pure hindsight bias. Probably needs explained more thoroughly. I think it was Yudkowsky that expanded it to include the Challenger (unless Taleb also refers to it later than the point I'm up to), in that, yes, they knew the o-ring could be faulty but they also knew about 6000 other things that were equally faulty. What about the minor faults that people correct every day that save lives but we never know about it because it never went wrong. It's that sort of unpredictable, that trying to apply any form of cause and effect with hindsight is futile because you don't also take into account what there was evidence for but didn't actually happen. Scarlet A.pngmoral 13:30, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
I found it very readable and a great book. Finished it in a few days.--BobSpring is sprung! 09:04, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

The book is somewhat long and 'non-self-descriptive' (you know there will be still more examples later on in the book.' (talk) 18:38, 11 January 2011 (UTC)


I am terrified of Black Swans. I got attacked by a whole load of them as a child. I also hate horses and crustaceans. Just sayin... Ace of Spades 22:54, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

I am with you on the horses. Crustaceans are food. ТyTalk. 22:55, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Horses are evil. Crustaceans are the devils playthings. Ace of Spades 22:55, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I, too, have felt the wrath of the black swan as a child. RW got me over my fear of goats, however (attacked by one of those, too). Aboriginal Noise Punkrock 22:58, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

a profession which bases all its assumptions on the idea that extreme events will not occur[edit]

Really?! [1], [2], [3], [4] β=(X′X)⁻¹X′Y 00:26, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, I think the correct profession there should read Wall Street shysters who want to hype their stock. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 00:30, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

described by The Times[edit]

I'll assume London and not New York? Also, a link would be awesomesauce. P-FosterThe Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. Discuss. Moderator 17:06, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Random passer-by[edit]

Just a random passer-by here, but the comment on predicting 9/11-like things and Hollywood doesn't see totally fair. Yes, if you predicted such an attack, it would no longer be like 9/11, since the shock was the major factor there; but that doesn't imply 'Things like 9/11 fundamentally/inherently cannot be predicted', or that attempting such predictions would be counterproductive. c.f. Cobra turning Paris to grey Goo in that G.I. Joe flick. (talk) 06:58, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

No, it means if you "predict" a very specific highly unlikely event, then you still haven't successfully predicted a multitude of other very specific highly unlikely events. For instance, I predict I'm going to pull the two black aces, out of a deck of cards at random, I stake my entire life savings on that because I have done a lot of preparing for what two black aces look like, knowing how to spot when black aces are in the deck and so on. It's highly unlikely, and high impact and I have model that shows exactly how to predict two black aces being drawn from a deck. However, I draw a 3 of clubs and a queen of diamonds - a combination with equal probability, but hasn't been predicted in advance. How this sort of improbable things happen effect occurs in real life with stock market crashes and terrorist attacks is really the focus of the Black Swan problem. No matter how much time you plough into predicting very specific events, you will miss a myriad unknown unknowns that are all equally likely, which makes them counterproductive because it also blinds you to alternative possibilities simply because you didn't think them up. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 09:16, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Still, specifically in this case another terrorist attack isn't THAT improbable given it already happened once. So trying to find out other weak points isn't ridiculous in itself. Obviously this won't protect anyone from Martian invasion or zombie plague, but then no one tries to, either. Government was just trying to patch revealed security vulnerabilities after the idea of Jihad in New York became sensible. And while hiring Hollywoods to brainstorm ridiculous scenarios may seem silly, the select few that were acted upon were (hopefully) not random but chosen as most desirable by terrorists. That's how brainstorming works, ideally. It still may or may not be a waste of time in utilitarian sense, but I wouldn't say it obviously is. (talk) 22:08, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Quant passing by[edit]

What is this doing here? Taleb is a populist. Classic anti-intellectualism. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 2013-02-02T02:24:52 (UTC)

A blog calling Taleb boring and then posting 12 minute long videos filmed in XtraNormal is somewhat ironic. Scarlet A.pngtheist 12:25, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

The annoying bit...[edit] that anyone who lives in Australia probably encounters black swans regularly, as they are a native species (and quite populous). I can't see any place to mention that in the article sadly. But the constant focus on the 'rareness' throws me a bit, particularly when I can see one just by looking out my office window. VOXHUMANA 10:29, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

I used to live here, also known for its black swans. Don't bother going there to see them though, the town holds little else of note. SophieWilder 14:51, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

Falldownlaugh.gif. Damn you, western hemisphere bias! Scarlet A.pngtheist 11:24, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Wahhh, the snark, you're so mean[edit]

Why is everybody so intent on deleting the snark?

Okay, presuming the user looking for the film is just looking for lesbian porn might not be the most intelligent snark, but it's better than none at all! If I wanted a nice non-confrontational tone, I'd be editing wikipedia!

I won't rollback an edit again, don't want to start a war, but please think of me, or at least call me a nice whambulance with all the modern luxuries, please ?--dx (talk) 10:18, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

The Interwebz wasn't predicted by sci-fi???[edit]

I'm a bit puzzled by this claim:
"Good black swans would include the rise of the Internet, which certainly wasn't accurately predicted in science/speculative fiction even as late as the 1980s,"
because one of the blockbuster sci-fi novels of the 1980s which kicked off the whole cyberpunkWikipedia genre, William Gibson'sWikipedia NeuromancerWikipedia (1984), looks to be a pretty good candidate for a sci-fi work which did envision something quite like the internet (the "Matrix") and hackers ("cowboys"), ideas which Gibson had toyed with at least as early as 1982 when he first published Burning Chrome.Wikipedia ScepticWombat (talk) 14:54, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

Screw that, Orson Scott Card predicted that someone could take over the world via manipulating the internet chatrooms back in 1985. Maybe get enough Likes on Facebook and the UN makes you Dictator of Earth? CorruptUser (talk) 10:19, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

A Statistician's View[edit]

I'd just like to point out that the Black Swan teaches absolutely nothing that every competent statistician didn't already know. Mostly I'm pointing this out because of finding out that the author is a self absorbed twat (thanks ratwik), otherwise it was fine since pop-culture stats is sorely lacking and we get really furious that the big decisions are made by people that wouldn't know how to price a simple call option and yet turn around and try to sell a Bermudan Gap option on options with an Asian Strike (and if you have enough balls to say you have no fucking clue what any of that is, you are smarter than the average person selling it).

But here's the real kicker. The financial crash of 2007? It wasn't even a Black Swan. At all. It had happened before in the 1970's; my Grandpa worked as a lender during this time, and he had arguments with his boss. The problem then was that the banks were NEVER on the hook for making bad loans; they'd loan to someone who should never have qualified and sold the loan to some other bank dumb enough to buy it off the first bank (while the first bank got HUGE servicing fees just for the loan existing without ever holding on to the risk), and used this money to loan to someone else who should never have qualified. The Black Swan just feeds into the myth that "oh we couldn't have predicted beforehand". We didn't just "could've", plenty of people WERE predicting problems, but they were just the guys doing the math not the guys making the decision. The only real difference in the 2007 crisis was that because Glass-Steigal was gone, the banks didn't need to find other banks too dumb to be a bank, they could find mutual funds made up of even dumber people. CorruptUser (talk) 10:29, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

Whelp. If only we had a form of government that combined a meritocratic/technocratic/geniocratic administration with democratic everything-else. (talk) 11:17, 17 August 2015 (UTC)