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Black and White Swans: Pandemics, Prognostications, and Preparedness

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Abstract

This essay examines why communities around the world have tended to respond relatively poorly and belatedly to the Covid pandemic—despite the fact that the likelihood of this sort of infectious outbreak had been widely recognized by public health experts, and furthermore in early 2020 communities outside of China were, in effect, given an advance warning of the imminent threat of this particular outbreak before the virus began to spread globally. Drawing on Nassim Taleb’s recent discussion of the sociopolitical significance of “black swan events,” this essay argues that the global Covid response is symptomatic of a more general difficulty in thinking probabilistically.

Keywords

Covid-19 Black swan Probabilistic thinking 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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