Flying to the Oblivion on a Black Swan

Flying to the Oblivion on a Black Swan

5 May , 17:17
Алина Витухновская
Even the world of academic science turned out to be blind and completely unprepared for a turbulent whirlwind of the unexpected and dangerous events that hit people.

The emerging historical situation seems to us unprecedented. But only because we are used to seeing the world as a sequence of rational, explainable, calculated situations. And in fact, for some time he was. Not the traditionalist world, rather represented by the set of desired projections and fantasies of its adherents, but the most modern, overloaded, complicated, but at the same time quite predictable. This situation lasted until about the end of the twentieth century.

The first signs and flashes of chaos were identified at the break of the collapse of the largest geopolitical state model - the USSR. There is no need to be seduced by the illusions about the ideological significance of the socialist project as such, just by the historical irony of fate, the end of the USSR coincided with the beginning of the triumph of global peace, which is certainly better than the previous one, but its laws are not yet clear, and the dangers are already multiplied and strengthened.

I constantly write that the old political, ethical and other norms no longer work, and the new ones have not yet been formulated and put into operation at full capacity. Therefore, all analytics are increasingly turning into fiction, into a retrospective analysis that perfectly describes the events of the past, but is practically helpless in front of the future.

You must admit that none of us was ready for the coronavirus pandemic. Entire states and governments were essentially powerless, trying by convulsive measures to somehow contain the onslaught of the “21st century plague” and not even thinking about preventing new large-scale probable threats. But judging by the strange, non-linear logic of the unfolding events, a pandemic is only the first wave in a whole series of dangers and challenges that threaten humanity. This is, first of all, the economy of post-epidemic society and the following new questions of safety and ecology that follow from it. I want to say about the latter separately - from the field of romantic observational, cognitive and aesthetic, ecology today has become the cornerstone of the guarantee of the survival of mankind as a biological species.

It is surprising that both the political and economic world and the world of academic science turned out to be blind and completely unprepared for the turbulent whirlwind of unexpected and dangerous events that hit people.

The lack of a single global scientific approach to the elimination and neutralization of dangerous manifestations of the natural environment is striking. Moreover, there are representative international centers with powers, budgets, people, equipment and technologies - such as the UN and WHO, which have actually been ineffective in preventing global threats. That is, we are dealing with a situation where there are entire interstate structures, but there are no methods and procedures for specific actions. Hence the total disagreement and a meeting with the aggressive elements with spread fingers instead of fists.

Perhaps there are only two modern authors who combine practicality with progressive theories in their works. Surprisingly, both of them have a traditionalist basis. These are Jordan Peterson , a Canadian professor of clinical psychiatry and Nassim Taleb, an American essayist, writer, statistician, former trader and risk manager of Lebanese descent. I already wrote about the first. And I would like to talk about the second in more detail in this article.

His 2007 book “The Black Swan” could be a textbook on the prevention of global crises in universities around the world. She approaches the situation with the coronavirus pandemic like no other. Despite the fact that it sold millions of copies and became a bestseller, apparently, it was perceived as an exalted intellectual claim. At first glance, the book seems deliberately simplified, a kind of "Dale Carnegie in chaos." However, a clearly structured idea can be traced in it, which seems to me more than relevant.

The very essence of the concept of the "black swan" consists of three foundations. By the way, the trinity in a descriptive approach to phenomena speaks of the traditionalism of the author, because he cannot see more than what he has already learned in the process of becoming his personality - upbringing, education. We will call this the “demiurgic” approach. Although, perhaps, the author intentionally uses a simplified scheme in order to be more understandable to the audience.

So, the anatomy of the “black swan,” in short. The first one. Abnormality. That is, the event does not fit into the usual causal series and therefore is absolutely unexpected. The second one. The enormous power of the event as a consequence of the effect of surprise. The third. It is almost impossible to explain and describe the phenomenon that is commonly called the “black swan” in real time, but only after the fact. This means that it is impossible to predict its appearance on the basis of existing, or outdated, statistical, historical data. The question arises - how can we effectively use this information?

I can agree with the idea of Taleb expressed by him in another book, “Anti-Fragility. How to capitalize on chaos. "

“Antifragility is primarily a decrease in losses from a potential unknown, and not an increase in acquisitions from an actual known. To achieve anti-fragility, it is necessary to get rid of the fragility of an object, to ensure that it does not fail in the future. If a thing is fragile, it does not matter what a person does to make it better or “more efficient”, as long as the risk that this thing will perish remains. It is necessary to reduce the risk of disaster. The main thing in Taleb’s definition of fragility and antifragility is the non-linearity of the reaction and the effects of a stressor or a negative factor. Fragility - negative non-linearity, antifragility, respectively, may have positive non-linearity. Taleb anti-fragility is a fundamental property of nature, as a rule, it is a kind of unity consisting of fragile parts that respond to random events and factors. The offer of Taleb regarding the construction of economic and financial anti-fragility is an option, which in the financial market is enclosed in specially organized options. Everything anti-fragile according to Taleb to one degree or another has the option of combining invulnerability and betting on a big gain from a rare event. ”

In the context of my worldview, I would interpret the term “anti-fragility” as militant subjectivity. In a more global metaphysics, I would label this as a transition to Nothing. Here Nothing we understand as “anti-being” or “non-being”, something unknown, impossible to accept by a simplified consciousness and a traditionalist-objectivist approach.

Thus, the experience of anti-fragility can only be acquired by the subject. But as in the case of the fight against the virus, when a sufficient number of subjects will acquire anti-fragility (critical "anti-mass"), society will receive something like collective immunity. But not before. However, this gives hope to all of us that we will not only saddle the “black swans”, but also, perhaps, we will become them.

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