More Musings on Black Swans

Meech Creek in the Gatineau -- Nothing to do with this post.

I am going to ramble a bit here on Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book "The Black Swan". I don't expect anyone to really care about this esoterica, but I just want to post it because it crossed my mind. So here is a Cosmological Cabbage parable about Black Swans.

Two physicists are arguing about the nature of light. The first one says "For over a thousand experiments, I measured beams of light using waveform methods, and every time that I measured, it confirmed that light is a wave."

The second physicist says "Just yesterday I measured it using particle analysis methods, and I have observed with my own eyes that light is definitely a particle. This did not behave like a wave at all".

The second physicist goes on to write a book whose central premise is that even though you measure light a million times over a year, if just once you see light as a particle instead of a wave, then light is definitely a particle and not a wave if you wait long enough. Never mind that other physicists are doing nicely by predicting that light is a wave, and for eleven and a half months of the year they are right.

Each physicist is right at a given point in time when he is right. But quantum physics tells us that light has a duality and that it is both a particle and a wave, solely dependent on quantum decoherence.

Taleb in his book says that the predictable is a world called Mediocristan and the unpredictable is a place called Extremistan. He contends that Black Swans are unpredictable and a nature of our world.

Could it be that our world has a duality of Mediocristan and Extremistan? Just because you see a Black Swan once, doesn't necessarily guarantee that you will see another one.

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