The Black Swan- From Information Environment Class


black swan

“The Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb is based on a philosophical interpretation of how reality portrays in a complex and meaningful world. A variety of occurrences and improbable events justify the meanings of life and build upon the hidden black swan that seems unnoticeable to the visible eye. These rare events seem to appear out of nowhere, in which it is difficult to control the impact of, since they emerge out of surprise, disbelief, uncertainty, and unfamiliarity. These black swans are rare in nature because of difficulties predicting them when they will appear and how long they will last in nature. Due to certain events, they might occur for a prolonged amount of time, in wars, or they might occur in a blink of an eye and then disappear. It is crucial to take note of these black swans, because what we see on the surface is far more complex than what we experience in the core.
In this ingrained novel, “The black swan” it is portrayed as a valuable piece of evidence in a random instance. These random instances seem to move history forward in a positive or negative manner. Depending on the types outliers black swans can occur instantaneously. The more times we try to forecast the errors and try to fix them, so that a black swan will not appear again, the less likely the same event is going to occur, but a similar one will occur in a different fashion. Taleb does a remarkable job at making the reader understand his own interpretation of what a black swan represents and how it plays a vital role in society of the comprehension between the cause and effect. Taleb tries to elaborate on, if you maximize your exposure to black swans, then there will be a more realization of life, in your knowledge of the unknown. If you believe in something you are more likely to see it. Also, not being aware of your surroundings, makes rarities pop up. Due to our mediocristan world, the bell curve or the normal distribution curve seems to negate the possibilities of black swans occurring. Since it equally distributes the higher percentage of what is normal in life than what is not. The outliers are the sparks on the curve that are ignored in life since they are the extremes. The extremes don’t lie in the norm, they are the outspoken wallflowers of the bunch. For instance, odd ones that don’t conform. A black swan against a group of white swans. White swans are typical in the environment they are instances like daily life. A person goes to work from 9-5, comes home, cooks diner, picks up their kids from the soccer game, reads a books, and goes straight to bed. These daily life routines are repetitive, organized, and structured in a way that the body is immune to and adjusted to. However, say a fire broke out in the house when the parent came home from work. This unusual situation came out of surprise to the daily life that the person was comfortable with. This situation would be classified as a black swan. You see there are many instances where black swans can show up in, however, the timing is key. For example, learning from the turkey based on Bertrand Russell a uberphilosopher that Taleb mentions on page 40, is one approach that is beneficial to learning. His illustration exemplified by the notion of the problem of induction. Which signifies that “there are traps built into any kind of knowledge gained from observation” (40). Implying that the more confidence you gain in your knowledge of an object, say a person, the more likely you are going to become hurt at the end. For the example in the book, it implies to a turkey gaining confidence in its owner. The turkey gained confidence and security with its owner because of having a daily routine of being fed as what the turkey thought as being liked, acknowledged, and loved. On the contrary, little did the turkey know that on that one day its life was soon to be in jeopardy and be gone forever. That is when the surprise attack came into place, appearing right between the turkey’s eyes a black swan that would destroy the innocence, but as for the owner he or she knew this was going to occur, so no black swan was visible to the owner.
In essence, black swans come out of the ordinary of a group of living objects or the minimization of one individual. In addition, knowing that one knows about and the other one doesn’t makes a blindness between the unknown. Thinking that maybe if the person per say had known about that event before it happened and spoke out, maybe the event would have been heard an prevented. However, the population that hears about events that didn’t even occur yet, a majority of them won’t take primitive action to stop the black swan from happening because they feel that this person is crazy. They might think this person is out of his or her mind. That they are an outcast, saying “what do they know?” However, that person might have been right altogether and people just went against him or her. This is why it is difficult to believe assumptions or truths because a minuscule percentage of the population are speaking out and not weighing an overall consensus.
For instance, people who believe in UFOs. People share their experiences with other people and try to speak out the truth of what they had witnessed, but it is difficult to speak the truth when they don’t have hard, concrete evidence to back up their testimony. So occurrences like these become lost in time and basically forgotten. Or trying to figure out what happen to Amelia Earhart, when she flew into the Bermuda Triangle and never returned. There are numerous unsolved mysteries, because of our unknown knowledge and its limitation of missing facts.
Stemming off of this, is what we might know out there might be misleading too, because being certain can even break a person’s stride. Or say that your business is doing well for so many years, making healthy profits and being prosperous. Then all of a sudden, your company makes a bad invest and goes bankrupt. A person might have had a sense of platonicity. Being in that narrow mind set can take a sudden jolt on your outlook on life.
In addition, Taleb goes into the example of the library. In the library, there are many books that a person has read and many books that a person hasn’t read. The more books that are unread are the books that are unknown to the person and unknown to their knowledge. The black swan appears in the unknown section of the book shelf. The more the person starts reading the unread books, the more certain information will tie into place and the understanding of the unknown. However, even if you try and obtain as much information as possible, there is always the shortage of information out there to try and prevent the black swan from happening. So, it seems that there could be no win-win situation, where life can fall into place and no errors can occur. The world cannot be perfect. There will always be imperfections no matter what. Not even if we were programmed so precisely as a robot. Even a robot can be prone to malfunction.
On the other hand, it seems that if you look at the world from a landscape, everything is drawn out to be in a certain order, direction, and format. The trees are on the ground, the sky is up above. Observing that the earth is on a precise tilt creates the seasons. As you zoom in, you can see classes are scheduled at the same times on specific days. So putting it all together, our world is patterned and organized in a huge dynamic structure. So placing imperfections on things, are like placing imperfections in media, newspapers, to make it sound more appealing than what it actually is. Thinking that science are true facts is wrong. Science has sensationalism and distorts the public to what is the actual truth.
It appears that based on the narrative fallacy, it seems impossible to have raw facts unless attaching a reason behind them. That receiving raw data and compacting it into a compressed format for the person to interpret it, leaves out other information that could be blinding. For instance, telling a story about September 11, 2001. Leaving out crucial data and facts of what really occurred, can be not the full interpretation. Compact stories over raw truths could distort our mental representation of the world. Knowing more truths than other people can draw different conclusions about the people. Simplification of information leaves out perceptions of the black swan and its uncertainty.
Our interpretation of the raw material is what we make of it. If we are prone to one view point of what a employee does, for instance, pressing buttons all day at Burger King, then that might be the underlining factor of what a person thinks of what kind of job that is. Boring, minimum wage work, that doesn’t seem to be very complicated or hardworking at all. Say for instance, that I work at one of those fast-food jobs and it so happens to be Burger King. Well I can tell you it is no easy job. I do multiple, constantly on your feet, fast past, hands on work. There is more to just pressing buttons. There is expediting meaning preparing each order in a timely manner and sending it out to the customer. There is cash register, cleaning the dining room, cleaning the dishes, preparation of condiments, making the sandwiches, cooking the meat and chicken products, cleaning the station, being fast, cooperating & working as a team. Those and many other components which I haven’t listed are the necessities of working as an employee for me in a fast-food environment.
Seeing that black swans can appear anywhere and in anything depends on what type of rare events are going to come up in the mediocre world that we live in. Society doesn’t try to wish for black swans to take place, but sometimes it is the benefit of the doubt and cannot control the one in a million. We tried to learn through history of correcting the black swan problem, but it seems no matter of overestimating or underestimating history there is no balance. The world is a very imperfect place. Hiding imperfection and pretending that the world is perfect only creates black swans to build up little by little and occur. So in reality I feel like this book is so complex, that I had such a difficulty trying to understand if there is actually an existence of black swans. Since we can never stop black swans from occurring because of our unknown, how do we even know that they exist in human nature? What I feel might be a black swan are dreams. Dreams are unexpected events that occur when you are sleeping. You fall under the unconsciousness and can’t control them because it is internal thought. Dreams could be predictors of black swans in reality. Even if you cannot remember a lot of dreams maybe they could be subliminal messages that are giving you hints that rare occurrences might be happening in reality. Whatever a black swan is, it is a complex and rare instance that makes you think deeply about and creates another dimension for the reader to interpret.


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