Ignorance: is it bliss? or a Black Swan?

ignoramus et ignorabimus,

Meaning “we do not know and will not know”, stood for a position on the limits of scientific knowledge  in the

The Black Swan Event

The Black Swan Event (Photo credit: ecstaticist)

nineteenth century.


Or is this a Black Swan?


žAn event that:
›Is unexpected;
›Is not predicted;
›Causes unusual and often extreme disturbance [in organisations];
›Is risky.
žNassim Nicholas Taleb says they are:
žThe disproportionate role of high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations;
žThe non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods;
žThe psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs.

7 thoughts on “Ignorance: is it bliss? or a Black Swan?

  1. ukgardenfiend Post author

    I really must stop playing with my email – actually I was just buying tights for my daughter for Xmas – the Internet is a wonderful thing isn’t it – but very distracting! There is a great site which sells tights from good names such as ‘Red or Dead’ which do funky tights at a good discount…. 2000 words on my life a day – not sure I could do that – I’m not that interesting…
    Actually I need to finish the article to get on with creating some teaching ideas for China.. time is going fast….


    1. Gardengirl

      Yes, email is very distracting which is why i turn mine off when I start writing. Can’t get my daughter to wear tights. Maybe I’ll get some for me. You could write about your world travels. No more distractions for you. Bye! 🙂


  2. ukgardenfiend Post author

    Ah – well this is what they said in the nineteenth century and before – as you say – we now know that we do not know but may know tomorrow perhaps….
    I guess I am putting my academic hat on when I look at this as I actually teach students about the Black Swan concept and risk management – did a guest lecture on this only last week, hence my thinking about it!
    I like to challenge my students and get them thinking too… so am adding some of my lecture notes here on my blog as I really like to think about these things. I am also a fan of Jean Paul Sartre….


    1. Gardengirl

      Well keep it up. I love being challenged and don’t often get to have philosophical discussions. I never really studied Sartre, but I just may get a book for my Kindle. I am pretty busy too right now. I am doing a writing challenge. I’m supposed to write a novel of 50,000 words or more during the month of November. Rough draft only, but still a lot of writing.


      1. ukgardenfiend Post author

        Wow – that’s a lot of words… I’m trying to finish and article of 7000 words before I fly out to China on the 14th, and have 70 pages of a textbook to write before January but that’s noting like your challenge!


        1. Gardengirl

          Surprisingly, it’s not as hard as I thought. 1,667 words a day. I usually shoot for about 2000. It really only takes a couple of hours a day. Of course, I don’t need to do any research or try to follow a plot because I am writing about my life. I take that back, I do need to double check a couple of facts, but nothing major. To me, what you are doing sounds daunting, and you are doing that on top of teaching! Good luck with both projects.


  3. Gardengirl

    I don’t know where you come up with this stuff, but it’s intriguing. I don’t believe that anyone can accurately say ‘we will not know’. It implies that they are omniscient and that the skills and creativity of future generations are limited to what is known now, which we all know just won’t be. The idea of a Black Swan, according to what I deduced from your post, leaves open the possibility of what we perceive as the impossible.
    This is really deep, thanks for challenging my brain. I’m just glad that I didn’t read it any earlier in the morning.



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