Don't be the turkey

This is an example from The Black Swan that highlights how we can not rely on the past to predict the future. I find it extremely funny and pretty disturbing at the same time.

Farmer feeds his turkey everyday. He makes sure the turkey is well-fed and taken care of. The turkey is happy because it's well fed and loved.

As time goes by, the act of being fed and loved makes the Turkey feel that this is how things should and will be. Looking back into the past, this is how it has always been. Fed and loved. This is the life of a turkey. Each passing day reinforces this thought.

Come thanksgiving, farmer butchers the turkey

Woops. If you are the turkey, you will be confused because you thought the future is bright and filled with love. But if you were the farmer, you knew this day will come. You fed the turkey for this day. Each passing day reinforces your belief that one day you will have the turkey for dinner.

What comes as a surprise to the Turkey is not for the farmer. Thanksgiving is an event that's completely random and unexpected (Black Swan) if observed from the Turkey's perspective but to the farmer that's what happen every year.

So what should we do? For starters, realize that there is a lot of things that we can't predict using data from the past. If you need to make a prediction, try to identify areas that are vulnerable to these Black Swans. Minimize the negative impact of random events and position yourself to benefit from the positive ones. If you are interested in this subject, read the book and remember, don't be a turkey.