Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
...except, the whole problem is you can't avoid it. What is a Black Swan? I'm glad you asked, because Nassim Nicholas Taleb will be here to tell you all about his new theory, detailed in his book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. This is a tough concept, so in preparation, I'm going to give it a whirl. (Also, here's a glossary.) A Black Swan is a highly unlikely event; something that we cannot predict. What makes a true Black Swan are three characteristics, 1) it is unpredictable, and 2) it has a huge impact, and 3) it is something that we usually say we could have predicted, but not until after the fact. Stock market crashes and spikes are Black Swans, so was the devastating Tsunami of 2004. The reverse is also true: a Black Swan is also when something that is highly likely doesn't happen. So, what is there to be done about these catastrophic events? Taleb-- who, incidentally, used to hold the title of Professor in the Science of Uncertainty-- has got some interesting theories about how to deal with the giant birds, and even how to turn them to your advantage.