What are Black Swan events?A Black Swan event is an event in human history that was unprecedented and unexpected at the point in time it occurred. However, after evaluating the surrounding context, domain experts (and in some cases even laymen) can usually conclude: “it was bound to happen”. Even though some parameters may differ (such as the event’s time, location, or specific type), it is likely that similar incidences have had similar effects in the past.
The term Black Swan originates from the (Western) belief that all swans are white because these were the only ones accounted for. However, in 1697 the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh discovered black swans in Australia. This was an unexpected event in (scientific) history and profoundly changed zoology. After the black swan were discoverd, it seemed obvious that black swans had to exist just as other animals with varying colors were known to exist as well. In retrospect, the surrounding context (i.e., the observations about other animals) seemed to imply the Black Swan assumption – empirical evidence validated it.
The theory around Black Swan events was introduced by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in 2007.Detecting and analyzing Black Swan events helps us to gain a better understanding why certain developments are recurring throughout history and what effects they have.