Timing the black swans, and wishing for Gray Champions


Taleb defines a black swan as

“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.”

We don’t know (on the basis of history) what a black swan will be or where it will hit – that’s what makes it a “black swan.”

However, we can look at history and say, “Black swans inevitably happen.”

Strauss and Howe go further and claim that the timing of some disruptions can be predicted. We can’t really predict the arrival of a black swan (by definition – something whose timing can be predicted is not really a black swan).

However, AFTER the black swans invade and set up new nests, observers will claim that they SHOULD have been able to predict them.

Now, lots of people would LIKE to believe that Ron Paul Stormcrow will be the Gray Champion – the legendary leader who is recognized as a virtuous man of the community, who rallies the common men in the street.

Ron Paul – The Gray Champion

There are a few men who might be Gray Champions. Binney, McGovern, even the woman who writes the Boiling Frogs Post.

We can hope that the Gray Champion will be a Gandalf-like figure – noble, wise, selfless. But it might be someone more like a sharp-elbowed, egotistical, vulgar populist.

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