Black swans are everywhere these days

By August 8, 2011 6 Comments


I’m just back from a very enjoyable two week holiday with the family and on my travels to the very nice but somewhat eccentric Chateau de la Motte Beaumenoir in France I encountered the black swan pictured above.  This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this rare bird recently, far from it in fact, and I strongly suspect that black swans have become fashionable to own following the success of Nicholas Taleb’s seminal book ‘The Black Swan’, and I’m highly amused by the irony of the fact that Taleb’s success is undermining the premise behind the title, namely that black swans are such rare events that no-one expects to see them.

I’m also struck by the fact that unexpected events on significant magnitude are happening more and more frequently these days (Japanese nuclear meltdown, US downgrade, Facebook worth $100bn).  We live in exciting times.

For those that haven’t read The Black Swan, go do so now!  It is highly recommended reading for anyone in the business of investment or who wants to understand uncertainty, society, and change more generally.  According to Wikipedia it has sold 1.5m copies and been translated into 27 languages and The Sunday Times described it as one of the twelve most influential books since World War II.

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