A Black Swan event … sort of

The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying that presumed black swans did not exist – a saying that became reinterpreted to teach a different lesson after black swans were discovered in the wild.

The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:

  • The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history,  science, finance, and technology.
  • The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).
  • The psychological biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and to a rare event’s massive role in historical affairs.

Last weekend I visited a lovely shallow, freshwater wetland on the Moolort Plains, at the southern end of the plains near Campbelltown. Two things surprised me, firstly that the wetland was close to full (it’s been an ‘average’ winter but not especially wet), and secondly, that there were five active Black Swan nests scattered across the wetland. This is a great result and demonstrates the ability of this species to breed opportunistically when conditions and habitat are suitable.

Black Swan on nest, near White’s Swamp on the Moolort Plains, 4th August 2019

II

Black Swan sentinel

5 responses to “A Black Swan event … sort of

  1. Very subtley smart Geoff. Laughing. Not. Hasn’t been in my culture Will be hereafter.

    Particularly personally amusing as black swan were my mother’s totem, doesn’t fit her. But, does fit current events

    Usefk, text great photos as usual. Dunno how you create them. Awes

    Going to Phee 630 for fire as friend gig. I hope he talks of birds and fire.

    And even the Siberian fires as large as Belgium projected to burn till October impacting ice and glacier melt.

    And EU farmers saying wildfires are perceived to be about double this year.

    On and on…

    We knew wayback

    Carol

    On Thu., 8 Aug. 2019, 10:34 am Natural Newstead, wrote:

    > Geoff Park posted: “The black swan theory or theory of black swan events > is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major > effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the > benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancien” >

  2. Thanks for that

  3. So nice to see a fellow Western Australian in Central Victoria 🙂

  4. How wonderful to see the swans nesting – and that there is water after the last dry winter – beautiful, heartening

  5. Hi Geoff

    I was visiting the Tatyoon area, south of Ararat, last week, where there had been a significant rain event in June or July – a storm event that dumped around 100mm. The relatively small area, perhaps 15km by 15km, was waterlogged and all the local swamps were full. The black swans were building nests on all of the available water. Extraordinary how the species responds – a black swan event that doesn’t qualify as a true “black swan event”.

    kind regards and many thanks

    Allan

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