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Issue 33 - 04 | Few and Far Between: Black Swans and the Impossibility of Prediction

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Published April 5, 2007 7:06 p.m.
Taleb, author of The Black Swan, contributes this thought-provoking essay on what we know about what we don’t know. A ‘black swan’ is an improbable, dynamic event that, once it occurs, we rationalize to make it seem predictable (e.g. 9/11). Taleb discusses that while these black swans are actually impossible to predict, we must relearn how to learn from their impact.

About Nassim Nicholas Taleb | Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. Part literary essayist, part empiricist, part no-nonsense mathematical trader, he is currently taking a break as Dean’s Professor in the Sciences of Uncertainty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His last book, the bestseller Fooled by Randomness, has been published in nineteen languages. Taleb lives mostly in New York.

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