Black Swans or Wishful Thinking and Misinterpretation

By Geary Sikich

There seem to be a lot of sightings of “Black Swans” lately. Should we be concerned or are we wishfully thinking, caught up in media hype; or are we misinterpreting what a “Black Swan” event really is? The term “Black Swan” has become a popular buzzword for many; including, contingency planners, risk managers and consultants. However, are there really that many occurrences that qualify to meet the requirement of being termed a “Black Swan” or are we just caught up in the popularity of the moment?

The definition of a Black Swan according to Nassim Taleb, author of the book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” is:

“A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: it is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was.”

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