Forecasting, Causality, the Black Swan, and Your Edge
Instances of which we have had experience do not allow us to reason or argue the probability of instances of which we have had no experience, any more than to the certainty of such instances.
The following psychological question: How is it that nevertheless all reasonable people expect and believe that instances of which they have had no experience will conform to those of which they have had experience? Or in other words, why do we all have expectations, and why do we hold on to them with such great confidence, or such strong belief?
Hume’s answer to this psychological problem of induction was: Because of custom or habit; or in other words, because of the irrational but irresistible power or the law of association. We are conditioned by repetition; a conditioning mechanism without which, Hume says, we could hardly survive.
Okay! I realize this is getting thick, hang in there, almost there.
Popper agreed with the first part of what Hume talked about; the logical problem. But Popper couldn’t accept the irrationality of the second part—the psychological problem.
It is here where we get to the black swan. Popper posed that yes we must use experience of past instances to advance our knowledge but we must accept the fact that just because so many past instances were effectively consistent, or the same, it does not therefore mean a theory based upon those past instances has been proven. The reason he says this is because there may be some future instance out there which invalidates all that has come before it, and it only takes one such instance to do that. Therefore, all theories can be falsified, but they cannot be proven simply by past experience.
…Or in other words, from a purely logical point of view, the acceptance of one counter instance to the view that, “All swans are white,” implies the falsity of the law “All swans are white”—that law, that is, whose counter instance we accepted.
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