All Swans are White.


“Black Swan on Vacha reservoir, Bulgaria” by Kiril Krastev – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

At one time, Europeans thought that all swans were white as that was the only color of swan they had seen.  However, discovery of black swans in Australia and blacknecked swans in South America proved that not all swans are white. The hypothesis that “all swans are white” was falsifiable (could be – and was – proved not true).

In scientific hypotheses, it only takes one “black swan” to prove the “all swans are white” hypothesis wrong.

critters, now that’s cool!, perception, photography, science, science and nature

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  • Rummuser Jan 23, 2015

    And using that one postulate, Nassim Nicholas Taleb has made a fortune for himself as a writer. He already used that theory in his trading activities!
    Rummuser recently posted…A Winter’s Tale.My Profile

  • Cheerful Monk Jan 23, 2015

    I had to look him up too. I hadn’t heard about black swans, but I had heard the term “fooled by randomness” mentioned. That term resonated because it reminded me of the measurements Andy was making for his Ph.D. thesis over 50 years ago. Don’t remember any of the details except occasionally we would hear bursts from the electronics that sounded significant, but they were exactly what randomness predicted. Main lesson I learned was you can’t believe everything you think. Check things out. It’s interesting to notice what connections our minds make.
    Cheerful Monk recently posted…A Visit From WinterMy Profile

    • Mike Jan 24, 2015

      I’ve read about “black swans” in relationship to climate issues. A hypothesis or theory needs to be falsifiable — an inherent possibility to prove it to be false. Falsifiability is sometimes synonymous to testability. Some argue that anthropogenic global warming — warming due to man’s activities — is not falsifiable and, therefore, not a valid hypothesis or theory.
      Mike recently posted…Old SchoolMy Profile

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