Everyone Worries Too Much About 'Black Swans'

Relax. They really are pretty rare.

Now they're coming in twos.

Source: Wild Horizons/UIG/getty images

In his 2007 book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” finance writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb attempted to educate the public about the danger of rare, unusual events. This is obviously important in the world of finance -- asset market crashes come infrequently, but have an enormous impact on investors’ wealth, and potentially on the economy. Taleb implies that human beings underestimate the risk of these so-called black swans -- in fact, he started one hedge fund (which closed in 2005), and advised another, based on this thesis. But how often do people low ball the odds of catastrophe? And is it possible that we might do the opposite, overestimating the risk of things like stock-market crashes, pandemics and wars?

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