If it is human to make errors, economists are no different from the rest of us in that they make blunders. Theories that enchant us in textbooks often lead us wrong in the actual world, and vice versa. It turns out that even the most famous minds have clumsy feet. Economic concepts, on the other hand, may have remarkable staying power. As the British economist John Maynard Keynes famously observed, “practical men” who value their independence of thought are often “the slaves of some dead economist,” according to his observations. Despite the fact that they have passed their sell-by date, deceptive statements continue to sit on the shelf in the marketplace of ideas.
Nassim 'The Black Swan,' a book by Nicholas Taleb, delves into the nature of what we believe to be random occurrences, as well as the logical fallacies that lead us to lose sight of the larger picture. He refers to these apparently random occurrences as "Black Swans," since they often have far-reaching implications for the individual and, in some cases, for whole civilizations. Taleb helps us to have a better awareness of our own limitations when it comes to forecasting. The ability to detect when our judgment is affected by the urge to fit facts into tidy, easy-to-understand narratives may be useful in identifying when we are being deceived. If you read this section carefully, you'll learn how to avoid mistaking noise for knowledge, as well as how to make better use of your ignorance. You'll discover why thinking like a turkey may be detrimental to your health in this article. You'll also learn why the most serious danger to a casino may not be related to gaming at all.