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11 February 2006

Revisiting black swans

Your authors are consistently amazed that even given the fragmented state of today’s intelligence literature, and the lack of incentives provided to make it worth the time of analysts and collectors to keep pace with it (as well as the active dis-incentives often imposed on those that do so attempt) that there are entire concepts of discussion that entirely pass by senior individuals or entire organizations. Whether the originator may be right or wrong, controversial or dull, there are some new ideas which have had such an impact on the discussion of the craft or offer the potential to so completely disrupt the profession’s underlying tenets that to be ignorant of them is unimaginable.

It is for this reason we revisit once again Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s use of the metaphor of the Black Swan. Circulating in both paper and podcast form, please pass this around to the analysts, collectors, and managers around you and hopefully spare us and yourself from the kind of painful discussions we have lately endured.