—Excerpt From: Nassim Nicholas Taleb. “Antifragile.”
“A turkey is fed for a thousand days by a butcher; every day confirms to its staff of analysts that butchers love turkeys with increased statistical confidence. The butcher will keep feeding the turkey until a few days before Thanksgiving.
Then comes that day when it is really not a very good idea to be a turkey. So with the butcher surprising it, the turkey will have a revision of belief—right when its confidence in the statement that the butcher loves turkeys is maximal and “it is very quiet” and soothingly predictable in the life of the turkey. This example builds on an adaptation of a metaphor by Bertrand Russell. The key here is that such a surprise will be a Black Swan event; but just for the turkey, not for the butcher.
We can also see from the turkey story the mother of all harmful mistakes: mistaking absence of evidence (of harm) for evidence of absence, a mistake that we will see tends to prevail in intellectual circles and one that is grounded in the social sciences.
So our mission in life becomes simply “how not to be a turkey,” or, if possible, how to be a turkey in reverse—antifragile, that is. “Not being a turkey” starts with figuring out the difference between true and manufactured stability.
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb