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Sunday, May 16, 2010

The day of Black Swan

Everyone faces this someday or other, The day when all predictions go wrong. Every moment knowingly or unknowingly we all are predicting the next. We anticipate things based on our past experiences and observations about things, events, people. People, ahh!!! most difficult of all!!! Every one face this day at least once in their life. The day of Black Swan as Taleb would say.

What is day of Black Swan Event?

First of all let me tell you what is Black Swan Event. A Black Swan Event is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives.

Based on Nassim Nicholas Taleb (a scholar, essayist, epidemiologist, statistician, risk engineer and trader) an event which satisfies the following criterion can be called a Black Swan Event.:

  • The event is a surprise (to the observer).
  • The event has a major impact.
  • After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it had been expected.
Now, it must be clear that the day when this happens is the Day of Black Swan. The day when things go haywire, nothing clicks or everything does, everything you do, say or even think fails miserably or comes out with astonishing success.  The outcome doesn't matter because the impact is always disruption of former settings, beliefs, faiths or arrangements. Returning back to an intangible world -- the world defined by emotions, feelings, this day usually causes more traumas, emotional tsunamis than all other left out days can in whole month. The upheaval this day brings, changes the course of life usually for a certain amount of time varying from person to person or in more rare events for lifetime.

The common mistake we do is we spend all our energy and resources of predicting this day, getting prepared for life after these events or trying to avoid it altogether. All of these attempts are usually fruitless. What we should do when such thing happens is to exploit positive results are learn from the negative ones, but again we shouldn't use those learning's as resources to be spend on above said Fruitless attempts. One way to enjoy positive outcomes, according to Taleb is "What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become Too Big to Fail". Imply it to emotional context and I am sure we will get amazing results.