Orgasms and Black Swans

The other night the Group discussed Nassim Taleb's Black Swan book. I furnished the pizza and beer and moderated (?) the discussion because it is a known fact that I am a little obsessed with the whole Black Swan business. I printed out a Power Point that I prepared for the occasion and we managed to get through maybe 10 of the 25 slides - which was probably eight more than I thought we would do.

The digressions stayed pretty much on the subject. Descartes only got brought up because I tried to squeeze in Kant's phenomena/noumena thing (which I likened to Taleb's Mediocristan/Extremistan idea). Several wondered if an event (like Pearl Harbor) that was anticipated by some but a surprise to most everybody else was really a black swan. The general consensus was yes.

The most interesting digression was when somebody wondered if his first orgasm (at age 12 I think he said) was a black swan. Interrupting the guffaws that ensued, he insisted, no, he was serious. At that point in his life the event was an outlier - unexpected and unprecedented. It was significant and life altering. And, after the fact it was inevitable.

Given his explanation, we all had to agree that he was right.

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