Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The rare but (not endangered) Alaskan Black Swan

Great book: The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Among other things, he mentions that no one builds monuments to the leaders who prevent terror attacks, because we forget that those attacks were probable in the absence of that leadership.

The title of the book comes from the syllogism, "All swans are white. This bird is a swan. Therefore, this bird is white." That was irrefutably true for Europeans... right up until the time of Captain Cook's voyage to Australia. Australia has a native species of swan that is jet black. Taleb's point is that, just because you've never seen something, you can't assume it doesn't exist.

While Taleb is concerned mostly with rare economic events and rare political events, his admonition applies to Sarah Palin. No one had ever seen a strong, common-sense, good-looking female politician who rose from the middle middle class before. Many people who were locked into the "all swans are white" old reality therefore tried to dismiss black swan Sarah Palin as not real, not genuine, an impostor, a white swan painted black.

That explains why in the run-up to his health care address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama released talking points that mentioned Sarah Palin (and no other Republican) by name. Palin had pre-empted Obama's speech with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal addressing the foreseeable failures of government bureaucratic control of America's health care.
On Gov. Palin's Attacks

Every non-partisan organization that has looked at her claims say they are false. And the ideas in her op-ed are both scary and risky. Eliminating Medicare and giving our seniors vouchers instead is a bad idea that we shouldn't adopt.
The wonderful thing is that Liberals (up to and including Obama) and faux Conservatives are locked in a futile effort to find the white down under Sarah's black feathers, and as a consequence their attention is drawn away from the efforts of others to expose the Red underbelly of the Liberal/Progressive/Democrat enterprise.

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