Consider the parable of the three blind men and an elephant. As Wikipedia explains it (emphasis added):
The story of the blind men and an elephant originated in the Indian subcontinent from where it has widely diffused. It has been used to illustrate a range of truths and fallacies; broadly, the parable implies that one’s subjective experience can be true, but that such experience is inherently limited by its failure to account for other truths or a totality of truth.
Also consider the notion of a black swan (BS) event introduced by Nicholas Taleb. As Wikipedia describes it:
The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. … “black swan theory” refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history.
Summarizing these two notions:
- Our knowledge of anything in the world is necessarily and always partial;
- this knowledge as far as it goes may or may not be true;
- there can be events that come to pass that while being known, are considered to be so improbable they are not taken into consideration in any planning or action;
- these improbable events may have huge consequences; and
- not all BS events are known. (consider that black swans existed but were unknown before their discovery in Australia by early explorers.)
We read daily, material from a number of respected sources and by very smart people. In particular, on Zero Hedge this morning, we read the essay by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog, titled Dent, Faber, Celente, Maloney, Rogers – What Do They Say Is Coming In 2014? In it he provides quotes from 14 respected economic experts about what they believe is coming in 2014 and just beyond. This got us thinking. The thoughts of 14 of the most astute blind men, taken together, should give us a better understanding of the elephant we live with and perhaps a glimpse of the next black swan.