A Trump presidency in the wings who’d have thought! And what a total shock it was to all those pollsters, commentators and apparatchiks who are now trying to explain why they got it so wrong. All of which is a textbook example of what students of risk theory call a Black Swan event.
Now, you might ask, ‘What’s a Black Swan event?” Well in short they’re a metaphor coined by Nasim Taleb to explain why we are perpetually being surprised by ‘out of left field’ events. From the GFC to Fukushima and of course the latest American election such events, according to Talib, go through three stages:
- First it’s a complete and shocking surprise (tick)
- Second it has a major effect (we’ll give this a provisional tick), and
- Finally after the event there’s a whole lot of rationalising of how (with hindsight) it could have been predicted (yep, tick, tick, tick).
Returning to the American election we’re definitely into the third stage with a whole lot of the aforementioned professional pundits explaining how, they could have predicted such a win. Very amusing all around. I’m sure the surviving Thanksgiving turkey’s will also be just as busy explaining away their failures in prediction likewise.
What’s almost as funny, is watching all the politicians who’d written off Trump as a huckster and a fraud, “barking mad” comes to mind, having to scramble back from their previous positions given that in a little over two months he’ll be the leader of the free world. There’s also a deal of desperate wishful thinking, read denial, going on… Ah schadenfreude how sweet you are.