Learning to Expect the Unexpected

A black swan is an outlier, an event that lies beyond the realm of normal expectations. Most people expect all swans to be white because that’s what their experience tells them; a black swan is by definition a surprise. Nevertheless, people tend to concoct explanations for them after the fact, which makes them appear more predictable, and less random, than they are. Our minds are designed to retain, for efficient storage, past information that fits into a compressed narrative. This distortion, called the hindsight bias, prevents us from adequately learning from the past.

Here, Edge reprints a New York Times op-ed piece about the 9/11 Commission written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb along with more of his thoughts on related topics.

Editor’s Note: the op-ed piece is quite interesting but may strike some as not entirely relevant to the business world; if you feel that way, I recommend you do continue reading the discussion material which follows it as it will become more relevant…

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